Indian expat Tojo Mathew received the perfect farewell gift as he bid goodbye to the UAE. The 30-year old civil supervisor, who was based in Abu Dhabi, won the Dh7 million Big Ticket raffle for a ticket he purchased at the Abu Dhabi International Airport as he was leaving for good.
Mathew's winning ticket number 075171 was announced on Tuesday at the monthly raffle draw conducted at the airport.
He will share the jackpot with 18 other colleagues, including his brother Titto, from Abu Dhabi-based Skyline Contracting Company, where he had been working since the last six years.
"I bought the ticket at the Abu Dhabi airport just before boarding the flight for India on June 24. I was leaving the UAE for good to join my wife, who got a job in New Delhi. I still cannot believe I won," an ecstatic Mathew told Khaleej Times over the phone from Delhi.
He got married to Minu, a nurse, last year.
Mathew and his friends got the good news when they checked the Big Ticket website on July 3 morning.
"My brother's mobile number was with a company supervisor and he got the call first. When he informed me, I did not believe it till I checked online and saw his name," said Titto, who is also a civil supervisor at the same company.
Friends and colleagues had a tough time convincing Mathew. "We had to send the Big Ticket website's screengrabs through WhatsApp for him to believe it was not a prank," Titto added.
Mathew said he was sad to miss the celebration in his company accommodation as almost all his friends had won.
"This is the eighth or 10th time we had pooled in money to buy the raffle ticket. I am so happy because all my friends in the company - including the supervisor, office boy and a watchman - have won. All of these people are from middle or lower middle class backgrounds who struggle to save. Winning a raffle is a big thing for them."
For himself, Mathew said, the big dream is to own a house in Kerala. "That has been my long pending dream. Now it can be a reality with the raffle money," he said.
Nine other residents won Dh100,000 at the draw on Tuesday. The winners included five Indians, one Pakistani and a Kuwait resident.
Indian expat Eqlaqh Kamil Qureshi won the BMW series 02.
By Anjana Sankar
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