A 2009 World Health Organization study found that 39.9% of women and 25.6% of men in the UAE are obese.

DUBAI’S NEW weight-loss incentive program, colorfully titled “Your Weight in Gold” on the Dubai Municipality government website, is now open to residents and will award 1 gram of gold per kilogram of weight lost during the current month (which happens to be Ramadan). The three biggest losers will be entered into a drawing for a gold coin worth AED 20,000, the equivalent of around US $5,400.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, prominent Dubai businessman and politician, sums up the initiative:

Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) is proud to work with Dubai Municipality and [the Dubai Gold & Jewelry Group] to further support HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum…to encourage society to change their daily routines in return for a healthier lifestyle.

We would highly encourage everyone from all walks of life to take part in this great initiative and hope DMCC’s contribution of AED 100,000 worth of gold coins will help motivate individuals to reach the final target of improving and sustaining a healthy lifestyle and consequently a better quality of life.

Following an apparently highly successful signup period, the eyes of the world are watching to see how much weight Dubai will lose with this unusual incentive in place.

Would you diet for gold?