Kerala expat driver wins Dh1 million in UAE raffle
Abu Dhabi - He works as a family driver.
While expats from rain-ravaged Indian state of Kerala are in a panicky mood, there is a reason to cheer for one Abu Dhabi resident.
Abdul Salam Shanavas, a family driver from Thiruvananthapuram district, has had a rich strike. Not only did he win Dh1 million through a mall contest, the Keralite got a makeover, was dressed up and chauffeur-driven by the organisers to collect his prize money.
Shanavas, 43, is over the moon and told Khaleej Times: "Even if I had worked for 50 years, I wouldn't have earned anything close to this amount. I arrived here in 1997 empty-handed, but with lot of expectations. I took my driver's licence and started off as a driver in Sharjah but couldn't save much. I then moved to Abu Dhabi as a family driver and now earn Dh2,500."
Shanavas won the mega prize through 'Mall Millionaire' campaign launched by Line Investments and Property at its eight malls in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. This drive comes as part of 47-day Retail Abu Dhabi summer sales by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi. Shanavas had spent more than Dh200 at Khalidiyah Mall to enter the campaign draw.
"I was informed on August 5 that I am the draw winner and had to keep it a secret till official announcement was made. I didn't even tell my family back in Kerala. I just told my wife there's a big surprise in store. Now, my daughters aged seven and 14 years are very happy," he said.
There was a brief setback in this fairy tale as Shanavas had deleted the SMS which was sent to his mobile after registering for the draw. "I almost had a minor heart attack when I couldn't find the SMS. But luckily the organisers could confirm me as the winner by matching my phone number and other details."
So what's next? "With my little savings, I had recently bought a piece of land. I had planned to start construction of home by 2021. This money has come at the right time."
His heart goes out to people back home. "My prayers are with people affected by rain. I hope things settle down for people to celebrate Eid."