3. Yusuffali MA
Food and clothes have made Yusuffali one of the richest Indians on the planet with a fortune of $2.6bn. Not bad for a virtually penniless man who made his way to the UAE in 1973 on a small boat to work in his uncle’s tiny distribution company.
Make no mistake: 40 years on, Yusuffali has definitely hit the big time. The numbers are impressive: 104 stores in the Middle East, 500,000 shoppers a day, and a whopping 32 percent share of the grocery retail sector. The company also has interests in manufacturing and food processing, food imports and exports, cold stores and warehousing as well as logistics and trade. LuLu International Exchange is one of the biggest exchanges in the world, carrying out roughly 6 percent of all global remittances.
Through Line Investment & Properties LLC it has also moved into shopping malls and real estate projects, opening up 12 malls in five years with plans for seven more, as well as mixed-use projects in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and India. EMKE opened India’s biggest shopping mall, in Kochi, in March last year. With $400m of investment planned for the sub-continent — “a huge market” — it includes a five-star Marriott Hotel, adjacent to the Lulu Shopping Mall, as well as India’s biggest convention centre and a five-star Hyatt hotel in Bolghati, Kochi, and another convention centre in Calicut.