x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Winners of Dubai’s weight-for-gold competition trade gold for cash

Winners of Dubai’s weight-for-gold competition try to trade gold for cash, with some already selling to shop-owners at Deira's gold souk.

Gold coins won at the Your Weight for Gold competition in Dubai were spotted at the the gold souq in Deira as some winners cash in on their prizes. Amy Leang/The National
Gold coins won at the Your Weight for Gold competition in Dubai were spotted at the the gold souq in Deira as some winners cash in on their prizes. Amy Leang/The National

DUBAI // Residents who won gold coins as part of a Government weight-loss campaign have started swapping them for cash.

Traders at the gold souq in Deira said several participants of the Your Weight in Gold competition had tried to exchange their winnings.

About 3,224 people completed the six-week challenge, collecting up to 63 grams of 24-carat gold each.

Dubai Municipality, which ran the competition, gave out 16.872 kilograms of gold, which is worth about Dh2.5 million at today’s prices.

“I have seen one or two grams this week,” said Hicham Al Khatib, the manager at Al Khatib Jewellers.

“Someone came in here to sell it but it wasn’t much. There could be a lot more around but there are hundreds of shops in the souq, maybe it’s spread around more.”

The Your Weight in Gold campaign ran from July 19 to August 30 and competitors had to step on the scales before and after to see how much weight they had lost.

Those who lost between 1kg and 5kg received 1g of gold for every kilo lost. For every kilo over 5kg, 2g of gold was awarded.

For every kilo above 10kg lost, the reward rose to 3g of gold.

Twenty-nine people lost more than 15kg. Five lost more than 20kg and one person, Ahmad Al Shiekh, from Syria, lost more than 26kg.

Mr Al Shiekh was awarded 63 grams of gold for his effort, but he said he would not immediately exchange it for cash.

“It’s a gift from Dubai, so I’d like to keep it as gold,” he said. “I will keep it for as long as I can, so it will remind me of how much I changed my life.

“However, whenever I look at my savings, I will always add an extra Dh10,000 to it in my head.”

He said he had some friends who were trying to sell their gold but jewellers would pay them only Dh125 a gram.

The international rate today was Dh151.65 for one gram of 24-carat gold.

Mr Al Khatib was offering Dh147 a gram today. Opposite his shop, Just Jewels was offering Dh146.

Nasser Mohammed, the manager at Just Jewels, said he had not seen anyone trying to sell the gold so far.

“Now is not really the best time to sell as gold prices are very low. They will probably go up again in a year and maybe more people will sell then.

“Plus, it’s a nice keepsake for the people who participated.”

The gold coins are embossed with a Dubai Municipality logo on one side, a Your Weight in Gold logo on the other and are housed in a credit-card-sized presentation sheet.

Majid Al Khatib, a shopkeeper at gold shop Al Taj, said it did not matter that the gold had a municipality logo on it.

“If we needed it for the cash, we would just smelt it,” he said. “Otherwise we would keep it. It’s quite unique.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae