x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Ain driver rides a scooter, but his first car’s a Lamborghini

Soupi Abdulla, 44, wins Dh750,000 sportscar in raffle, but has plans to cash out and pay off debts

Soupi Abdulla with the Lamborghini he won in a raffle at the Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain.
Soupi Abdulla with the Lamborghini he won in a raffle at the Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain.

AL AIN // Soupi Abdulla had never owned a car before he was flipped the keys to a spanking new Lambhorgini today.

The company driver, 44, who rides around on a motor scooter in his “very poor region” of Kerala, was today announced the winner of the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550, valued at Dh750,000, in a raffle at Al Jimi Mall.

Men of all ages surrounded him after the ceremony, yelling out offers of cash, phone numbers and advice.

“How much? Six and a half? It’s worth more than six and a half. Don’t sell it for less than seven,” said Saeed Mohammed, of Al Ain.

“Four hundred thousand,” said another Emirati man. “Now. Cash. Take it. You will not ever get Dh600,000. Nobody will give you. You know my contact number. Take my number.”

Mr Abdulla will probably never drive the fancy, 550-horsepower sportscar. He plans to keep it at the mall until he can sell it.

And while the cash offers are coming in fast, he has no plans to leave the one-bedroom flat he shares with his two brothers in Al Ain or his job at a food company.

So what does his future hold? “Loan settlement,” he said.

He wants to sell the Lamborghini to repay a loan he took out to build his family home in Kerala. He will save the rest, and build houses for the needy in his village and donate to his local mosque.

“My region is very poor,” Mr Abdulla said. “I will help these people from my village. Also my mother. My mother is very happy.”

He does not look like a racing car driver. His hair is neatly gelled, his moustache always trimmed and he wears a purple plaid shirt tidily tucked into his jeans, with a pen secured to his breast pocket.

When asked what his dream car would be if he were rich, Mr Abdulla said, “A low-price car. Something that would be Dh40,000 or maybe Dh50,000.”

He has worked in the UAE and Oman since 1992. When he is working, he drives a Toyota delivery van with an average speed of 80kph. The Lamborghini can hit speeds of up to 323kph with its V-10 engine

“I always follow UAE laws and regulations,” Mr Abdulla said.

He entered the raffle after buying food and new clothes before Ramadan.

The competition attracted nearly a quarter of a million entries. To be eligible for the draw, shoppers had to spend more than Dh250 at any of Al Jimi Mall’s shops.

The supervisor who notified Mr Abdulla said the driver could not believe the news.

“He’s not believing. It’s like heart paining. It’s so, so much the heart was beating, the high pressure coming,” said Jerald Fernandez.

“We were doubting,” said Mr Abdulla’s brother Ahmed, 52. “Maybe it was somebody joking.”

Lamborghini sales representatives estimate annual insurance rates would be at least Dh21,000 – even for someone with Mr Abdulla’s good sense and excellent driving record.

He earns Dh1,000 a month as a driver for a food company. He budgets Dh300 for himself and sends the rest to his wife, two children, disabled brother and widowed mother.

His father died more than 10 years ago after working as a family cook for 20 years in Ras Al Khaimah.

His brothers Ahmed and Assainar have lived in the UAE for 30 and 22 years. Assainar, 46, received his driving licence an hour before Mr Abdulla got the keys to the Lamborghini.

“The first thought was thank God, it’s a gift from God for Eid,” said Assainar.

azacharias@thenational.ae