Abu Dhabi: A 43-year-old driver from Kerala has won USD 272,260 in a mall raffle draw contest here, according to a media report on Saturday.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Abdul Salam Shanavas, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, said, "Even if I had worked for 50 years, I wouldn't have earned anything close to this amount. I arrived here in 1997 empty-handed, but with lot of expectations. I took my driver's licence and started off as a driver in Sharjah but couldn't save much. I then moved to Abu Dhabi as a family driver and now earn Dh2,500 (USD 650)." 

Shanavas won the prize through 'Mall Millionaire' campaign which is part of the 47-day Retail Abu Dhabi summer sales by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi. He spent about USD 54 for entering the draw.

"I was informed on August 5 that I am the draw winner and had to keep it a secret till official announcement was made. I didn't even tell my family back in Kerala. I just told my wife there's a big surprise in store," he said.

However, all was not smooth sailing for Shanavas, as he deleted the mobile message which was sent to him after registering for the draw.

"I almost had a minor heart attack when I couldn't find the SMS. But luckily the organisers could confirm me as the winner by matching my phone number and other details," he quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times.

Now Shanavas plans to build a permanent home. "With my little savings, I had recently bought a piece of land. I had planned to start construction of home by 2021. This money has come at the right time," Shanavas told the newspaper.