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Top 30 Powerful Indians in UAE: making their fortune
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Top 30 Powerful Indians in UAE: making their fortune

  • Dubai has 3,000 start-ups with 200 Indian nationalities
  • The country is also home to a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.
  • UAE is the highest contributor to India’s remittance kitty.

The UAE has experienced a tremendous increase in the population of resident Indians who initially migrated to the country as a result of opportunities in petroleum. Now, Indians are key to the UAE’s construction, retail, financial services, manufacturing sectors, and transport sectors. A sizeable minority of Indian migrants are involved in professional services and entrepreneurship. Relations between India and the UAE have traditionally been friendly.

Desire, burning desire, is basic to achieving anything beyond the ordinary.”

The above line applies exactly to the people we are going to talk about, let’s have a look.

According to India power list 2021, the top 30 powerful Indians in UAE are:

  • Yusuffali MA

Industry: Retailer

Company: Lulu Group International

Designation: Chairman and managing director

Networth: $4.8 billion

Middle East retail king M.A. Yusuff Ali presides over $7.4 billion (revenue) Lulu Group International, with 193 stores in the Gulf and elsewhere. Hailing from a village in Kerala state in south India, Yusuff Ali left for Abu Dhabi in 1973 to join his uncle’s small distribution business. Yusuff Ali donated $6.8 million to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He also built and donated a treatment center with 1,400 beds in Kerala.

  • Sunil Vaswani

Industry: Industry

Company: Stallion Group

Designation: Chairman Stallion Group Chairman

Networth: $1.2 billion

Sunil Vaswani’s Dubai-headquartered Stallion Group, named after his favorite animal, gets the bulk of its $4 billion in revenue from Africa. Stallion’s businesses span commodities trading, frozen foods, auto assembly, and dealerships, including Nissan, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche. Vaswani is expandingStallion’s African footprint with a $9 billion investment in sectors such as steel, petrochemicals, and agriculture.

  • Kabir Mulchandani

Industry: Construction/Real estate

Company: FIVE Holdings Estate

Designation: Chairman and Group CEO

Net worth: $3.6 billion

Kabir Mulchandaniis a hands-on developer who famously forwent his air-conditioned office in Downtown Dubai for a construction site while building his flagship FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai. It was only two years later, after the hotel was given regulatory approval, that he finally walked offsite. The completion of the $1.17bn hotels sealed his successful comeback in the Dubai

  • ShamsheerVayalil

Industry: Healthcare

Company: VPS Healthcare

Designation: Founder and managing director

Networth: $1.4 billion

ShamsheerVayalil, the son-in-law of Gulf retailing billionaire M.A. Yusuff Ali, founded VPS Healthcare, a network of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. Born into a business family in Kerala state, he migrated to the Middle East after his medical studies and worked as a radiologist at a local hospital. Backed initially by his wealthy father-in-law, Vayalil started with one hospital in Abu Dhabi in 2007.VPS also owns the Rockland Hospital chain in Delhi and the VPS Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi. Vayalil is also vice-chairman and managing director of investment firm Amanat Holdings, in which he has a 21% stake.

  • Rizwan Sajan

Industry: Real Estate Construction

Company: Danube Group

Designation: Founder and chairman

Networth: $2.5 billion

Sajan was born in a middle-class family in MumbaiMaharashtraIndia. He lost his father at the age of 16. As a teenager, he started selling books and fireworks to support his family. At the age of 18, he went to Kuwait for a job but the Kuwait war changed everything and he had to return to Mumbai in 1991. Then He moved to Dubai in 1993 and started working at a hardware store. He started his own business with his wife Sameera Sajan, and she was his first employee. He established the Danube as a small trading firm in 1993. Today the company’s turnover exceeds $1.4 billion and has operations in over 50 plus locations globally, 3,300 plus employees across the world

  • Ashish Mehta

Industry: Law

Company: Ashish Mehta & Associates

Designation: Founder and managing partner

Net worth: $1.2 billion

As the founder and managing partner of multi-jurisdictional law practice Ashish Mehta & Associates, the Dubai-based Indian lawyer’s list of clients is both impressive and diverse. His company operates in the UAE, UK, and India and includes multinational, regional and local corporates, ultra-high net worth individuals, Bollywood actors, and leading political personalities

  • Shaji Ul Mulk

Industry: manufacturing

Company: Mulk holdings

Designation: founder and chairman

Networth: $2.5 billion

With a net worth of $2.5bn, Shaji Ul Mulk is the seventh most powerful Indian in the GCC. A keen cricket promoter and the only Indian member on the Emirates Cricket Board, Ul Mulk hails from the aristocratic family of Nawabs of Kurnool, a district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The family claims to have about $700m worth of land and assets in India.

  • Yogesh Mehta

Industry: energy

Designation: CEO

Company: petrochem middle east

Networth: $1.08 billion

Driven by passion and a need to succeed, Yogesh Mehta established Petrochem Middle East in 1995. Yogesh is credited with an ability to carve water out of stone and a burning desire to succeed against odds, having established a business by opening a state-of-the-art storage terminal for bulk and drum chemicals. Within five years, Petrochem Middle East grew from strength to strength to become one of the largest independent petrochemical distributors in the Middle East with global offices and a turnover of more than a billion dollars.

  • ThumbayMoideen

Industry: diversified

Company: Thumbay group

Designation: Founder and president

Networth: $2 billion

ThumbayMoideen is the Founder and President of Thumbay Group, a diversified international conglomerate headquartered at DIFC- Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Starting with the establishment of Thumbay Group in 1998, he has set up business operations in 20 sectors. Today, the Group has activities in Education, Healthcare, Medical Research, Diagnostics, Retail Pharmacy, Health Communications, Retail Opticals, Wellness, Nutrition Stores, Hospitality, Real Estate, Publishing. Technology, Media, Events, Medical Tourism, Trading, and Marketing & Distribution.

  • Sunil John

Industry: media

Company: ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller

Designation: Founder and CEO

Networth: $1 billion

Sunil John is the founder and CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, one of the region’s largest public relations agencies, with clients including multiple government departments and entities.

  • Gaurav Sinha

Industry: media

Company: insignia Worldwide

Designation: CEO

Net worth: $760 million

Former hotelier Gaurav Sinha launched Insignia in 2003, setting up as one of the first companies in the then-new Dubai Media City free zone. The firm soon branched out to India, Sydney, London, and beyond, fast becoming known as the region’s first branding agency solely dedicated to supporting hospitality, travel, and leisure companies.

  • Renuka Jagtiani

Industry: Retail

Company: landmark group

Designation: chairwoman and CEO

Networth: $2.8 billion

Renuka Jagtiani was the force behind the creation of high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993 and has been closely involved with Landmark Group, one of the region’s largest retailers, for more than two decades. As well as building its fashion and hospitality businesses, she has led its expansion into new countries and launched its e-commerce platform.

  • BR Shetty

Industry: healthcare

Company: NMC health

Designation: non-executive chairman

Net worth: $ 3.15 billion

Hailing from Karnataka, India, BR Shetty is a well-known face in UAE healthcare. Although he hung up his clipboard as CEO of NMC Health earlier this year, the passionate founder is certain to remain a key figurehead at the medical firm for some time.

  • Prashanth Manghat

Industry: healthcare

Company: NMC health

Designation: CEO

Net worth: $1.22 billion

The long-standing deputy CEO of Abu Dhabi-based healthcare provider NMC Health replaced the company’s founder, BR Shetty, as CEO in March. He has been with the company for 14 years, helping it enter new global markets and acquire new assets.

  • Abeed Ahamed

Industry: financial services

Company: Lulu international exchange

Designation: CEO

Networth: $1.7 billion

Lulu International Exchange is one of the largest worldwide remittance and foreign exchange service providers in the GCC, and Adeeb Ahamed has played a vital part in its growth. While the first branch opened in Abu Dhabi in September 2009, the firm today has 130 outlets across the globe.

  • AzadMoopen

Industry: healthcare

Company: aster DM healthcare

Designation: chairman and managing director

Net-worth: $1billion

It’s been 30 years since Dr. Azad Moopen founded Aster DM Healthcare as a single doctor practice in Dubai. The physician has grown the company to a remarkable 317 health facilities, including 18 hospitals 98 clinics, and 201 pharmacies across three brands: Aster, Medicare, and Access.

  • Dhananjay Datar

Industry: retail

Company: AL Adil trading

Designation: chairman and managing director

Net worth: $1.27 billion

Dr. Dhananjay Datar is responsible for turning Al Adil Trading, a small grocery store established by his father, into a major spice company that enjoys a presence across the GCC and beyond.

  • Firoz Merchant

Industry: retail

Company: pure gold group

Designation: chairman

Net worth: $1 billion

Firoz Merchant is an Indian expatriate businessman, and the founder and chairman of Pure Gold Jewellers, La Moda Sunglasses, and Pure Gold Properties. He moved to Dubai in 1989 and set up his own gold and diamonds trading business, Pure Gold Jewellers.

  • Sudhakar Rao

Industry: energy

Company: Gemini energy and Gemini property developers

Designation: managing director

Net worth: $2 billion

It’s hard not to qualify as powerful when you run one of the leading power, oil, and gas trading companies in the Middle East, Africa, and India. But it took Rao decades of burning the midnight oil to get there. The managing director of Gemini Energy started his career as a quaThe firm specialized in non-destructive testing (NDT) and Group, in 1980s firm specialized in NDT and group, in 1980s quickly control expanded into nine countries and several industries. Today, it continues to grow under the Gemini brand, with solid operations in the UAE and Oman.

  • Shamlal Ahamad

Industry: retail

Company: Malabar gold & diamonds

Designation: managing director of international operations

Net-worth: $1 billion

He might have left behind a career in computer science, but Shamlal Ahamed’s next move was good as gold-literally. He joined the family’s jewellery business, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, only to find retail was his calling. Despite starting at a young age, he helped in turning the firm into one of the most successful jewellery firms in the world, raking in $4b in annual turnover. In 2008, he took the decision to expand to the UAE. Less than a decade later, the company has over 180 stores spread across nine countries, including countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.

  • Nilesh Ved

Industry: retail

Company: apparel group

Designation: founder and chairman

Net-worth:$880 million

Apparel Group owes its growth to the vision of its dynamic Chairman, Nilesh Ved, who has helped the company grow astronomically in the past two decades. Starting with just one brand in 1999, Apparel Group now has the rights to more than 75 brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, Nautica, Aldo, Nine West, and Aeropostale. It caters to thousands of shoppers in 1,530-plus stores, employing 12.000 multicultural staff, and covering four continents.

  • Khurshid Vakil

Industry: retail

Company: marina home interiors

Designation: co-founder

Net-worth: $370 million

Born in the picturesque Kashmir valley, Vakil started his career in a US Fortune 100 company but his interest in the world of interiors led him to give up that successful international career in 1997 and join his two brothers in launching Marina Home Interiors in 1997.

  • Harish Tahiliani

Industry: retail

Company: Arab & India spices LLC

Designation: managing director

Net-worth: $1.6 billion

Harish Tahiliani helped turn a small Indian spices and pulses trading firm in Sharjah into one of the largest food sourcing and processing firms in the GCC, working hand-in-hand with farmers in Canada, Australia, China, and Africa.

  • PromothManghat

Industry: financial services

Company: UAE exchange

Designation: CEO

Net-worth: $1.4 billion

It is not an easy task heading a global remittance and foreign exchange business, even when it is one of the UAE’s oldest exchange houses. But PromothManghat, CEO of Abu Dhabi-based UAE Exchange, is meeting the challenge, having played a key role in the firm’s acquisition of Travelex in 2015.

  • Mohammed jafermusthafa

Industry: diversified

Company: Daemaar group

Designation: founder and managing director

Net-worth: $2.2 billion

Mohammed JaferMusthafa decided to launch Doemaar Group when he was just 26 years old, having started it as a single construction company, Duemaar Contracting, specializing in civil engineering and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP).

  • Sunny Varkey

Industry: education

Company: GEMS education

Designation: founder and chairman

Net worth: $1.9 billion

GEMS founder Sunny Varkey has proven year after year that education pays. His parents, who were both teachers, traveled to Dubai in 1959 seeking a better life. Twenty-one years later, Sunny opened his first school in the emirate and began one of the region’s most successful private education companies.

  • Faizal Kottikollon

Industry: diversified

Company: KEF Holdings

Designation: founder and chairman

Networth: $1.68 billion

Dikoon decided to opt out of the family steel business in India and into his own manufacturing empire, KEF Holdings, in the UAE. The multinational firm, based in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Specializes in offsite manufacturing technology in several industries, including healthcare, education, sports, and agriculture.

  • C. Menon

Industry: construction and real estate

Company: Sobha group

Designation: Founder and chairman

Networth: $1.1 billion

Property developer PNC Menon hails from Kerala, southern India. He has built up his reputation over decades, since working as an interior designer in Oman in the 1970s on projects such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. He then moved to Dubai and founded Subha Group, which is building two of Menon’s biggest projects yet, the $8.5bn Mohammed Bin Rashid District One development, and the $4bn Sobha Hartland scheme.

  • K KUMAR

Industry: culture

Company: Indian community /welfare committee

Designation: founder

Net worth: $560 million

Chennai-born K Kumar moved to Dubai from his home country in eastern India 40 years ago and has since gained recognition for delivering free legal services to Indian ex-pats in need. As chairman of the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC), Kumar has helped bailout Indians in the UAE who have fallen foul of the law, are mistreated by their employers, or require medical attention. Kumar’s work began in 1998 when he and his friends raised AED75,000 ($20,400) in blood money funds to get a young Indian involved in an accidental death case off the hook and out of jail. Since then, he has grouped together with other community leaders to create the ICWC, with the permission of the Indian Embassy in the UAE.

  • Ravi Pillai

Industry: construction

Company: RP group

Designation: chairman

Networth: $2.5 billion

Indian-born farmer’s son, Ravi Pillai migrated to Saudi Arabia after his small construction business in his native Kerala state went bust. With help from a well-connected local partner, he started over in 1978 and built his RP Group into a $7.8 billion (revenue) construction heavyweight. The construction magnate has used his Gulf riches to invest back home, picking up stakes in banks, hotels, and real estate.

Hence, UAE’s entrepreneurial culture, world-class infrastructure, diverse base of industries, and geographic proximity to India makes the country attractive for emerging Indian startups that are keen to expand overseas, the Middle East nation is also keen to work with Indian start-ups because of their market-readiness and India’s abundant technical talent. The governments of India and UAE are working towards fostering a healthy relationship between the two start-up ecosystems, to increase engagement, access to funds,    and build innovation.

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