Dubai offers emirate’s top dieters $5,400 in gold coins for weight loss

DUBAI – Dubai’s government will pay residents in gold for losing those extra pounds as part of a government campaign to fight growing obesity in the Gulf Arab emirate.

he 30-day weight-loss challenge was launched on Friday to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when the faithful refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.

Many eat too much after breaking the fast, tucking into traditional dishes loaded with fat and sugar that can push their daily calorie intake well above levels outside of Ramadan.

For every kilogram dropped by August 16, contestants who register from Friday can walk away with a gram of gold, currently worth about $42, Dubai’s civic authority announced as part of its ‘Your Weight in Gold’ initiative.

The top three dieters can win gold coins worth up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,400). The contestant has to lose a minimum 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) to qualify for the contest.

“Participant must have excess weight to reduce and stay away from unhealthy methods to lose weight and should be present on the final day to measure weight,” Dubai Municipality said in a press release.

Health officials in Dubai, the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates, and in neighboring Gulf nations, are spending millions to control obesity among their citizens.

Oil wealth and high household incomes have led to overeating, high-sugar diets and a heavy reliance on cars for getting around, leading to an explosion of diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

Five of the 10 countries where diabetes is most prevalent are in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), an umbrella organization of more than 200 national associations.

Dubai is known for its larger-than-life offers. It has a history of giving away luxury cars and yachts in lucky draws and is home to one the largest gold markets in the region. The emirate even has gold vending machines in shopping malls. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirhams)


Dubai Is Going To Pay Its Residents In Gold If They Lose Weight

Nothing burns calories like a nice monetary incentive.

At least that’s the theory being tested in Dubai, where the city is offering residents 2 grams of solid gold if they lose at least 2 kg (4.4 lbs) within 30 days, Emirates 24/7 reports.

It’s all part of a contest called “Your Weight In Gold,” which has been billed by the city government as a way to promote healthy living and raise awareness about sporting activities.

The deal gets sweeter with every pound people drop. Once they hit the 2 kg weight loss mark, participants are guaranteed to earn 1 extra gram of gold for each additional kilo they drop.

At today’s rate, a gram (.03 oz) of gold is worth about $45, which means you’d earn $90 for dropping the initial 2 kg of weight, plus another $45 for every kg thereafter.

There’s no limit to how much gold you can earn, but doctors recommend losing about 4 to 8 pounds per month (1-2 lbs/week) to stay healthy. At that rate, you could pocket $180 – $360.

It’s not exactly enough to buy a new treadmill, but you could probably get all the skinny jeans you could want.

Participants can sign up at local parks and will weigh in at public scales manned by trained dieticians.

Obesity is cause for major concern in the United Arab Emirates, where it’s on track to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death. More than two-thirds of men and nearly three-fourths of women are considered overweight.

“When people come here they become obese,” Dr Fuad Ahmed, a consultant specializing in obesity surgery, told The National. ”The curse of this civilization is that we have stopped using our bodies and we eat too much.”

The contest begins July 19 and runs through Aug. 16.


Gold Vending Machine, Dubai

A gold vending machine in Dubai.

This week I’m continuing with sharing some pictures from my January 2012 trip to visit my friend Karima in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. One day we drove over to Dubai for some sightseeing. We drove around, did some shopping, and visited the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. When we were at the Burj Khalifa, I noticed a strange vending machine: one that sells gold! Specifically, the vending machine sells small souvenir gold bars with a picture of the Burj Khalifa on them. Those are some expensive souvenirs! I’m afraid I couldn’t afford one… although I did try out the golden dessert at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Golden souvenirs for sale in the vending machine.

A family checks out the gold vending machine.