Dubai Government Pays by the Pound

By Rashida Wallace

Sometimes, all someone needs is a little push to achieve a goal that they‘ve set for themselves. And it seems as though the leaders of Dubai have found the perfect incentive!

The phrase “worth your weight in gold” is taking on a new meaning in Dubai, as a new health initiative – the Your Weight in Gold – program is rewarding citizens of Dubai with gold in return for losing weight. The program seeks to inspire citizens to adopt healthy lifestyles and encourages them to shed the pounds for good.

The initiative is being sponsored by the “Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group” and the “Dubai Multi Commodities Centre” who have both pledged a total of about $27,225 worth of gold coins. The program lasts for 30 days and easily overlaps with the Islamic holiday Ramadan.

Ramadan sets aside about 30 days that are supposed to be devoted to self-control, devotion to God and inner reflection.  The creator of this initiative, Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah stated, “Ramadan is the most appropriate season to launch such initiatives, as it reminds us about many health benefits of reducing weight and encourages us to take strong steps to change our bad lifestyles.”

The “Your Weight in Gold” program trades citizens a gram of gold, which is worth about $45, for each kilogram of weight lost by the participants – who are aptly dubbed “golden losers.” The program requires participants to lose at least two kilograms of weight in a month before being awarded in at least 2 grams of gold. The winner of the program will be the participant who loses the highest amount of weight after the period of 30 days – which kicked off on July 19th. Ultimately, three winners will each receive 20,000 grams of gold (about $1600 US dollars).

The creator of this initiative, Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah, is the Director General of Dubai Municipality.  He was inspired to launch the program after seeing the success of another city-wide health initiative the Yallah Walk in 2011. Health and fitness have become a growing concern for Dubai officials.

Burj Al Arab Dubai - Photo by Jósa Piroska

As the popularity of fast food restaurants and shopping mall food courts has increased, so, too, has the average weight of much of the wealthy nation’s population.  A recent report published by the Dubai Health Authority found that one in three children in Dubai is overweight, and about 25% of Dubai’s citizens admit to being unhealthy and overweight.

In addition to promoting initiatives like the Your Weight in Gold program, the Yallah Walk and the “Dubai Fitness Championship, Dubai currently allocates about 4% of its national budget to health and wellness matters.

Skeptics questions whether or not the golden prize will prove to be as motivating an enticement as officials hope since the majority of Dubai’s citizens are already well-off financially.


So you tell us: Would gold be a good incentive to help you shed unwanted pounds? Join the Conversation on Facebook and let us know!

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