This weekend looks set to make some Dubai residents a whole lot richer – and thinner – as the city-state's "Your weight in gold" program comes to an end.
The 30-day anti-obesity campaign, which pays participants in gold for shifting the pounds was launched in July. The first weigh-ins are set to take place on Saturday, and will continue until September 3.
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The government-led program is part of an ongoing effort to fight increasing obesity rates in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a whole. According to a recent World Health Organization study, 30.2 percent of males and 43 percent of women in the UAE are obese.
Participants who shed more than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) will receive a gram of gold - currently worth about $49 - per kilogram lost. The three "biggest losers" will pocket even more, taking home gold coins worth up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,445).
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Dubai Municipality said it had seen strong interest in the scheme, which is sponsored by Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, from across the emirate.
"Many in Dubai, who registered their names hoping to shed their flab according to healthy lifestyle practices, are excited to know their final weight figures, as well as to win gold coins," the municipal body said in a statement on Thursday. It is encouraging all participating dieters to attend a final weigh-in before the competition ends.
The scheme was launched during the month of Ramadan, when religious Muslims fast during the hours of sunlight. Dubai Municipality Director General Hussain Nasser Lootah said this was the "most appropriate season" to launch healthy-eating initiatives.
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"It reminds us about many health benefits of reducing weight, and encourages us to take strong steps to change our bad lifestyles," he said.
The "Your Weight in Gold" program is not the first in Dubai to reward weigh loss. The "Yallah Walk" – or "Let's Walk" - offered cars as prizes to those who lost weight by walking in Dubai's parks in 2011.