A year on, $1m jackpot winner and EK521 survivor enjoys life in Kerala

EK521 accident survivor says he misses nice people in Dubai, thanks the emirate for giving him a life and a rebirth

06:56 August 13, 2017
NAT 170812 Basheer Abdul Khadar

Dubai: Hitting a jackpot is a life-changing, lucky event for anybody. For Mohammad Basheer Abdul Khadar, it happened six days after he survived a plane accident in Dubai last year, which he calls his rebirth.

The then 62-year-old grandfather from India had hit the headlines across the world as “the world’s luckiest man” after Gulf News first reported about him winning the $1-million Millennium Millionaire raffle of Dubai Duty Free (DDF).

A year after his August 9 win, Khadar, who now lives back home, still considers the escape from the August 3 accident — of Emirates flight EK 521 from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai at Dubai International Airport — as the bigger luck.

Basheer Abdul Khadar with his wife

Basheer Abdul Khadar with his wife. Supplied image

Speaking from his hometown in Pallickal in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the South Indian state of Kerala, Khadar said the lottery was Dubai’s second biggest parting gift for him — the first being his rescue from the burning plane.

He said his initial plan was to invest the money in agriculture, aquaponics and a dairy farm. But due to the difficulties in getting proper land and labourers in Kerala, he said, he changed his mind and bought a four-storey building in Anchal, a town in Kollam district.

“I managed to finish the deal only last month. The whole amount of the cash prize has been spent for that. In fact, I had to even add a portion of my gratuity also.”

He said two floors of the buildings have already been rented out. “I will use 50 per cent of the income I get from the building for charity work. I will keep aside 25 per cent for future maintenance works and will only take 25 per cent for me and family,” said Khadar who has a married daughter and a disabled son.

Khadar said it took time for him to settle down after his retirement from Dubai due to unforeseen reasons. He was already scheduled to leave Dubai for good after 37 years of service in Dubai by December 2016.

A fleet administrator with Al Tayer Motors in Dubai, Khadar, however, sought his early retirement within one month after his lottery win.

“It was not because I won the lottery that I had to leave early. My wife had fallen ill with a severe infection in her leg and my presence was very urgently needed back home. So, I couldn’t stay back or take long leave at that time,” he explained.

Once he returned, he was busy making hospital rounds with her. “She underwent two surgeries. For about five months, she had to go to the hospital every day for getting the wound dressed.”

In between, Khadar said he had come back to the UAE to collect his end-of-service benefits and also the $1-million jackpot cash prize.

“I want to thank Salah Tahlak of Dubai Duty Free for helping me collect the money which was deposited in my bank account after my visa was cancelled because I left Dubai all of a sudden. Without the intervention of his office, it would have been very difficult for me to claim the money as my visa was already cancelled.”

Basheer Abdul Khadar and his wife

He also fondly remembered how Tahlak, the executive vice-president, Corporate Services, DDF, phoned him on August 3.

“I had given my India number to him when I met him while collecting the ceremonial cheque. I didn’t expect him to save it and never imagined he would remember me on the day that marked a year of the accident.”

Khadar had earlier said that he was surprised to see Tahlak, one of his high-profile clients for whom he used to deliver cars personally, at the cheque handing-over ceremony.

“They are all nice people. I miss all such nice people in Dubai, especially my friends and colleagues. I can never forget Dubai which gave me a life first and a rebirth later,” said Khadar who also remembered with gratitude Jasem Al Beloushi, the UAE firefighter who died while battling the flames on the ill-fated flight.