Some struck gold when they had nothing left in their bank accounts. For others, the windfall came at an opportune time, when they were either unemployed or needed it to help pay for a loved one's surgery.
Suffice it to say, the UAE's raffle draws - which include Mahzooz, Emirates Draw, Big Ticket Abu Dhabi and Dubai Duty Free - have not only helped many become millionaires overnight, but also had a significant impact on their lives.
Khaleej Times spoke to a few who became millionaires in 2021 to learn how their lives changed since their big wins.
French-Tunisian national Hamdi, a local TV producer in Abu Dhabi, became a multi-millionaire overnight after winning the Mahzooz's grand prize of Dh10 million.
But as he had said earlier, he still has no plans of quitting his job.
"I cannot think of quitting my job," he said. "I love it and will continue to work with the company."
Hamdi, who became the 20th millionaire of the Mahzooz draw matching five winning numbers, said he used to participate at least once a month, but never won anything. "It was luck that favoured me this time. I could never imagine winning this big amount," he said.
While he is still unsure about what to do with the winning amount, he plans to take a vacation soon to visit his family. "My family is my backbone and we will think of what to do with the money," he said. "We may invest the money to secure our future."
Hamdi has also said he will not stop participating in Mahzooz and will continue to buy tickets. "Who knows? Luck may favour me again."
When Rasika JDS first got the call that he had won Dh15 million in the Big Ticket Abu Dhabi draw, he thought it was a prank. "I replied to (the person on the call) don't play with me," he said.
The Sri Lankan expat, who was travelling from Ras Al Khaimah every day for work, has finally rented out a flat in Dubai. Not only that, but his wife and four sons are also staying with him now.
"It's a dream come true for me. I have my wife and sons staying with me," he said. "Now that they have a permanent visa, they can travel to Dubai whenever they feel like."
Rasika's share in the winning amount was Dh3 million. The rest was divided amongst eight of his friends. "Our group had participated in the draw three times before winning. And I am participating every month in the Big Ticket."
With his win, Rasika helped his sister build a house in his hometown. He also gave away Dh500,000 to charity. "It's my duty to help people in need. I will continue the noble work for people in need."
Indian expat Mir Raif Ali first participated in Mahzooz because his wife advised him to. That was the turning point in their lives, as they won Dh1 million.
A sales manager at a private firm in Dubai, Ali said his life continues to remain the same after becoming a millionaire. "I will not be quitting my job anytime soon. It is the bread and butter of my family," he said. "I wish to stay down to earth."
Ali has plans to invest in the real estate and also gave away a part of it to charity. Now, the couple is expecting their first child and will continue participating in Mahzooz in the future.
Apart from UAE residents, those from other parts of the world have also hit the jackpot in the country's raffle draws.
Vartan Haji Narinian, a 67-year-old Lebanese national who lives in Kuwait, has been participating in the Dubai Duty Free draw since 2011. After spending over $40,000 in ticket purchases for more than 10 years, he finally struck gold and won Dh1 million on November 3, 2021.
Vartan is a civil engineer who has been staying in Kuwait for 40 years. "I used to travel to Dubai or through Dubai for work," he said. "And I always purchased a ticket whenever I was here."
He even remembers the number of the very first ticket he purchased: 117.
"Earlier, we had to physically be present at the Dubai airport to buy a ticket," he said. "But since the last three years, we can get one online."
Vartan still hasn't touched his winnings. "We are still learning where to invest the winning amount. We shall do it soon in real estate and business," he said and added that he was thankful he was selected.
"One thing makes me confident. For the next couple of years, we will not have financial problems," Vartan said.
He won with the number 373 and added that he will continue to participate in the draw every month.
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