A 30-day weight-loss challenge launched last Friday in Dubai offers citizens solid gold for shedding weight. Citizens that signed up for the program will be offered 1 gram (0.035 ounces) of gold for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) they lose. That's roughly $19 per pound, although Emiratis will have to lose at least 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) before becoming eligible for a bullion reward.
The start of the month-long program partially coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims fast during daylight hours, consuming no food or drink. Ramadan ends on August 7th, followed by Eid al-Fitr, a festival celebrating the breaking of the fast. Contrary to what you'd think, many Muslims actually consume more during Ramadan than other months, as they eat high-energy dishes at night to keep them going throughout the next day. The contest ends August 16th, after which the top three dieters will be rewarded with bonus gold coins worth as much at $5,400.
With adult obesity rates over 33 percent, the United Arab Emirates is one of a number of Gulf nations struggling with lifestyle-related diseases such as adult-onset diabetes. Of the world's top 10 countries for diabetes prevalence, six can be found in the Middle East. By investing a small amount of gold in citizens' weight loss, Dubai could be saving millions in healthcare bills later on.