From UAE's new 'second salary' to Titan sub tragedy: Top 10 stories that grabbed your attention in 2023

Let's revisit some of the headlines that shook communities; tales that broke our hearts; and snippets of life that made you go 'this can't be real'


Kirstin Bernabe

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Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 1:26 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Dec 2023, 9:45 AM

Take a glance at 2023 and it would be easy to say it had been a gloomy year — with headlines like the ongoing Israel-Gaza war killing more than 20,000 and a Titanic-bound submersible imploding in the depths of the Atlantic.

But take a closer look and you'll find some silver lining. There remained news stories that made us smile and go 'wow'. In the UAE, new laws and initiatives earned two thumbs up from thousands of readers.

Then, there are stories that gave hope, allowing us to dream and believe that perhaps, one day, we'll find our luck and get Dh50 million richer overnight.

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Let's revisit the top 10 Khaleej Times stories that grabbed your attention and made you hit that share button in 2023:

1. Final footage from inside ill-fated Titan sub recovered?

The Titan sub tragedy — which killed a Dubai-based billionaire and four other brave adventurers on their way to the Titanic wreckage — was one of the biggest stories that fascinated the world in 2023. But it wasn't the desperate search-and-rescue mission nor the confirmation of a catastrophic implosion that topped the charts.

It was this, a story on a Facebook video claiming to be a footage from inside the sub. It seemed like everybody wanted to know what it was like to sit inside that tiny submersible and then vanishing all of a sudden. While it woud be easier to imagine if a video was indeed taken, there was none. The footage, which was viewed millions of times, was taken inside a tourist submarine and shows a sunken ship off the coast of Barbados. Read the full story here.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo banned from making Al Nassr debut

The year started with Cristiano Ronaldo — and his sensational move to Saudi Arabia. While we already know how the Portuguese football superstar has made Al Nassr proud in several occasions this year (and the times that he had let fans down), the most intriguing part of the journey was when he wasn't allowed to play.

All his fans in the Kingdom and the rest of the Middle East could hardly wait to see a yellow-clad Ronaldo on the pitch — but surprise, surprise, they had to wait a little longer because of a two-match ban. The legendary striker eventually made his debut on January 22.

3. Five Filipino expats arrested over TikTok video

This is a story that served as a reminder to UAE residents: In the age of Snapchat and TikTok, decency should be maintained and local customs should always be respected. The group said they uploaded the video "just for fun" — but they ended up being "mistaken as prostitutes".

4. Lulu family hosts a big fat Indian wedding in UAE

Who doesn't love weddings? And when the talk revolves around a "big fat Indian wedding" in town hosted one of the most prominent expat families in the country, one can expect only the grandest event. In this story, Khaleej Times delivered all the details about the wedding of Lulu group MA Yusuff Ali's niece Dr Fahima Ashraf Ali — from the rain of flowers to the stars that descended on Dubai just for the event.

5. When millions worth of cash rained down on a Philippine highway

It wasn't a scene from a movie. Filipinos did see real peso bills flying in the air on a coastal highway and, in just a snap, dozens of people were seen swarming the road, scooping up all the cash that could fit into their bags.

But it wasn't free money — all of it came from a collector's backpack, which broke while he was riding a motorcycle on the Philippines' Cebu South Coastal Road. He lost nearly 2 million pesos (Dh130,000) that he was supposed to remit as part of his job. And if not returned, he would have to pay all of it. Read the full story here.

6. Meet the 10 UAE businessmen on the world's billionaires list

With the UAE's welcoming environment for innovators and entrepreneurs, it isn't surprising to learn that some of the world's richest people are here — living among us, enjoying the same views, watching the same sunset.

Forbes' annual list of billionaires, released in April, included prominent Emirati families and some of the most notable names in business in the country — from Telegram founder Pavel Durov to Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair, Abdulla Al Futtaim and family, as well as Yusuffali M.A., and the late Micky Jagtiani. Get to know them here.

7. Dubai tightens traffic law with new fines of up to Dh100,000

Dubai proved its zero tolerance for reckless driving when it amended its traffic law in July to impose heftier fines. The new penalties? Up to Dh100,000.

Expats could even get deported over certain violations. The KT explainer on this new law covers the full list of offences, penalties and other sanctions.

8. UAE rolls out 'second salary' plan for residents

This was a big deal, especially for families who have been looking for easier ways to save up and invest without having to take huge financial risks.

Here's how the new scheme from the National Bonds works: If customers save Dh5,000 monthly for 10 years, they could expect to receive Dh7,500 monthly for the subsequent 10 years. Similarly, if customers were to save Dh5,000 per month for 5 years, but choose to redeem within a period of the next 3 years, they could take home a monthly amount of Dh10,020 for three years — more than double the monthly savings. Interested? Here's an overview of the scheme, and here are more details.

9. Sixteen dead in Al Ras fire tragedy

This was a tragedy that shook the emirate in April. One expat lost three family members. Two workers died while trying to save others.

It was found that “lack of compliance with building security and safety requirements caused the fire”. And as Khaleej Times dug deeper, workers and residents in the area revealed that they did notice a number of red flags that could have led to the blaze.

10. Remember the Pakistani driver who won Dh50 million?

Two years after bagging the dizzying Mahzooz grand prize in 2021, we checked on Pakistani national Junaid Rana. How was life?

From being a driver, the expat now lives in a villa, drives his dream car and even won a Mercedes Benz from an exchange house after sending a portion of his winnings to his home country. And if there's one story from 2023 that you should read before ringing in 2024, this is it: A story about dreams coming true. Who knows? Your lucky day could be just around the corner.


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