With more than AED30 million being given away in prizes in January alone during the 27th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival, the world’s longest-running retail festival with winning at its core, we speak to the man who’s seen it all - Abdulla Al Ameeri, Director of Raffles and Promotions at Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE).
When a young Abdulla Al Ameeri started his career with Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), as coordinator selling tickets from a kiosk in Deira's Rigga Street in 1999, little did he know that decades later he would become the face of DSF Raffles.
Now, as the Director of Raffles and Promotions at DFRE, he is the man who gets on stage every night during DSF, and throughout the rest of Dubai's retail calendar year, to change people’s lives.
“When I first started out, the DSF raffle draws were held in the Dubai TV studios, and it was actually my suggestion to change the set-up and make it a huge live stage event,” said Al Ameeri. “And in the summer of 2000, I was given the go-ahead and went live for the first time during Dubai Summer Surprises at Modesh World.”
Taking the stage in front of almost 600 people, it was at that moment the skyrocketing future of Dubai Raffles was born. And ever since that summer evening in 2000, Al Ameeri has been the man to announce the winners of truly life-changing prizes, awarded year-round as part of DFRE’s raffles calendar that sees more than 1,000 raffle promotions take place annually, changing the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
“Honestly, the best part of my job is being part of a team that really does change people’s lives,” he said. “I remember all of the stories of the people who win, and the prizes do have a real impact.” From lifting people out of debilitating debt to securing the future of entire families, Al Ameeri has seen it all. “It is a joy to be a part of people’s happiness,” he said. “It’s an indescribable feeling.”
A Huge Operation
In the month of January alone, during the 27th edition of DSF, a total of more than AED 30 million worth of prizes will have been awarded to citizens, residents, and visitors of Dubai. And although Al Ameeri may be the face of Dubai’s incredible raffle giveaways, he is part of a mammoth team that makes the whole thing possible.
“There is a huge operation and mechanism behind the raffles that nobody sees,” he said. “A team of roughly 800 people work very hard to run Dubai’s raffles operation, controlling tickets, coupons, selections, sales and so much more – it really is a significant undertaking.”
And so, when Al Ameeri takes to the stage every night at 9 pm during DSF at Global Village, he has been briefed, and debriefed, by the team with hourly reports throughout the day.
One Team One Dream
However, the incredible life-changing raffles would not be possible without the support of the raffle partners who provide the prizes. Be they mega cash prizes from the Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG) or Idealz; or vehicles and luxury items from Infiniti, Nissan or Madinat Jumeirah Living; or gold and jewellery from the Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group (DGJG); or incredible travel prizes from Emirates Airline or Dubai Duty-Free.
Because in Dubai’s business of winning, there is only one team, with Al Ameeri likening DRFE’s role for its partners to a supporting consultant, where both parties benefit. “At DFRE, when it comes to raffles and our partners, we work for the city of Dubai,” said Al Ameeri. “Our aim, objective and job, is the name of Dubai and keeping it on the map – which cannot be done without the support of both the private and public sectors.”
Unmatched by No Other
And it’s an approach that seems to be working, because not only is DSF the longest-running retail festival in the world, but the DSF raffles, and the rest of DFRE’s year-round raffles, remain unmatched anywhere else in the world.
“I’ve been in this business for nearly 27 years, and I can say there is nowhere else in the world where life-changing prizes are given away every single day,” said Al Ameeri. “Honestly, I’ve never seen it, and this reality you will never find anywhere else.”
Even Al Ameeri needs to stop to catch his breath sometimes. “I’m very glad that even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to immediately switch to digital, enabling us to never stop the raffles,” he said. “And today, seeing what the city has achieved with Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai Shopping Festival, Global Village and more, even myself, as a UAE National, I am in awe.”
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