Dubai Municipality's 'Your Weight In Gold' challenge could cost organisers Dh1m as thousands sign up for the campaign.
Thousands make a beeline for golden opportunity in Dubai weight-loss campaign
Thousands of people have signed up for Dubai Municipality's weight loss campaign to be in with a chance of winning gold for every kilogramme they lose.
Organisers said they were overwhelmed with the response at the launch of the "Your Weight In Gold" challenge at the weekend.
"We had 2,000 people sign up on Friday, and 1,500 on Saturday," said Ali Al Gaffari, who is on the campaign's organising committee. "This is about five times the number of people we had expected. We are expecting more to sign up over the next few days, though I would be surprised if it matches the numbers we had over the weekend."
Should everyone who signed up lose the minimum 2kg required to receive the reward - a gram of gold for each kilogram lost including the 2kg - the civic body will be expected to handout at least 7kg of gold, which at current market prices is worth more than Dh1 million.
With such a high number of people keen to take part in the campaign, which is sponsored by the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), many were concerned that new rules or restrictions would be placed to limit the reward.
However, organisers insist that no such steps are being taken.
"There are no restrictions, we have made it so that even more people can win," said Mr Gaffari.
Registration is open throughout the duration of the month-long campaign. All you need to register is a working mobile number, which also doubles as your registration number.
And municipality bosses are welcoming participants not just from the emirate, or even the UAE, with visitors and tourists able to take part. "Because we've had to simplify the registration to just your weight and mobile number, this campaign is not just for the residents of Dubai, and not just for residents of the UAE. Anyone from any country who is here even if they are just here for a visit, can join.
"We are accepting international mobile numbers for registration," explained Mr Gaffari.
The registration was simplified on the orders of Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of the municipality, to handle the high numbers of participants.
"This month Dubai will truly be the city of gold," said Mr Al Gaffari, who added he was surprised by how far news of the campaign has spread.
"It was in the news in some countries I hadn't even heard of."
The campaign runs until August 16 when everyone will have to be weighed again.
The organising committee originally planned three days to weigh all the participants and calculate their final results, but because of the huge number of people who turned out, they may extend that.
"We are debating if three days will be enough or not. After you weigh in, we will SMS everyone with their results. They will then have to attend the award ceremony to receive their gold."
The three participants who lose the most weight will be entered in a draw to win Dh20,000 in gold coins.
Registration is open from 8pm to midnight every night throughout the duration of the campaign.
There are five registrations points, gate 3 of Zabeel Park, the main gate of the Khawaneej jogging track, the starting point of the jogging track at Mamzar Beach, gate 2 of Safa Park, and the main gate of Al Barsha Park.