In an effort to curb the obesity epidemic in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has launched a new weight loss program where it will literally give people gold if they lose weight.
The city is offering residents 2 grams of solid gold (roughly $45) if they lose at least 2 kilograms (or 4.4 pounds) within 30 days. An additional gram is offered for every additional kilo they drop, with no limit to how much gold you can pocket.
35-year-old Ryan, an Executive Director at real estate company Khidmah who has lived in Dubai for five years, decided to take the challenge. He told us what the process has been like for him so far. Answers are in his own words, but have been condensed and edited:
What signing up was like:
The announcement was very sudden and was a week before the event. All the news agencies were running stories locally here so we all knew where to go. [Ed note: There were five locations in the city for participating residents to register and get weighed.]
We had to wait from 8 PM to almost midnight to sign up, and many were turned away at the registration that I visited. We are in the middle of summer and Ramadan is here, so you had people fainting from the heat and dehydration as they waited in line to be weighed.
The actual process, after waiting, was very fast and just required our UAE ID along with taking our measurements.
On obesity in Dubai:
Many people talk about the “Dubai Stone,” which you tend to put on after living here for a few years. Working hours can be long here and many of us drive over 200 kms (124 miles) each day to and from Abu Dhabi to work.
The sedentary lifestyle along with the numerous easy food options here make for a weight watcher’s nightmare.
Why he’s participating:
I have a fairly hectic lifestyle and don’t tend to take time out to eat properly or exercise, usually leading to a late night dinner and limited sleep. The gold weight loss competition came along at the right time to kick-start those changes for me.
It was not so much about the gold, but more about the competition.
Ryan’s diet so far:
We are right in the middle of Ramadan at the moment, so during the daylight hours there is no public eating or drinking in the UAE. Many people eat right through to 3 or 4 AM to ensure they have the energy throughout the day.
As a non-Muslim I just get up a little earlier and ensure I have had breakfast and plenty of water for the day. This has been a big benefit as I am not typically a breakfast person so I am really feeling the difference now.
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