Dubai dishes out $950,000 worth of gold in weight-loss challenge

DUBAI (AFP) - Dubai municipality has dished out 2.8 million dirhams (S$950,600) worth of gold in prizes to contestants in a weight-loss challenge, an initiative by the Gulf emirate to fight obesity.

The Your Weight in Gold campaign promised 1g of gold for each kilogram shed, provided the contestants lost at least 2kg by Aug 16, when the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ended.

Mr Ahmad al-Sheikh, a 27-year-old Syrian architect, claimed the top prize of 63g of gold worth 10,048 dirhams after losing 26kg.

Mr Sheikh, who weighed 146.7kg at the start of the competition, was one of 2,648 winners who together received 16.82kg of gold on Thursday.

"I actually registered 15 days later in the campaign and was worried at first, because I thought I lost a head start to all the other contestants," he told the Gulf News daily.

The second and third place winners shed 23kg and 22kg, respectively.

Gulf News said that those who shed 5kg and above got 2g of gold for each kg lost, while those shedding 10kg and above were entitled to 3g of gold for every kg lost.

During Ramadan, the faithful refrain from eating, drinking and smoking between dawn and sunset.

But many tend to tuck in heartily after dark, despite warnings that overindulgence can be bad for the health.

Many Gulf countries are struggling to reduce the level of obesity among their populations.