GCC Real Estate Titans 2019

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Rizwan Sajan

Rizwan Sajan

Company:

Danube Group

Designation:

Founder and chairman

He’s called the man with the Midas touch, but he was born and brought up in a middle class family in Mumbai, India, before building his company from scratch, and into one of the Middle East’s most recognised building materials firms.

Under the guidance of founder and chairman Rizwan Sajan, Danube Group recorded a turnover of $1.3bn in 2018. Over the last 25 years, the company has grown from one shop with one employee to having operations in over 50 locations in nine countries worldwide, including the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Africa and India, as well as employing more than 3,300 people.

The Danube Group occupies over 5.5 million sq ft of land in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), making it one of the biggest land bank occupiers in the area, while its warehouses across the UAE stock more than 50,000 products.

Sajan believes it is his ability to think differently which has helped build his empire. It was not just his experience but perspective and commitment that established Danube, he told Arabian Business.

The elements behind his success are simple: “Find the right people then empower them to run the business,” he says.

He calls himself a workaholic, and has always believed that “there are no shortcuts to success.” But when he’s not working, he enjoys “partying, travelling and watching movies with my wife, Sameera.”

Sajan has regularly been recognised as one of the most powerful Indians in the UAE by Arabian Business, and has won prestigious awards such as the Most Admired Retailer award by Herald Global & BARC Asia, Real Estate Tycoon Award in 2017 from the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Excellence Award, among others.

In March 2018, he ventured into another favourite interest, publishing, and re-launched Filmfare Middle East – a magazine with a clear focus on films, fashion and lifestyle and in-depth exclusive interviews.

He also started Danube Welfare Centre in November 2012. It helps Dubai’s blue-collar workers improve their language skills with a three-month basic English programme. In 2016, over 1,000 workers benefitted from this programme and at the end of 2017, the number had doubled.

So what lies ahead for the founder of one of the UAE’s biggest brand names?

“Slowing down is very difficult for me,” he told Arabian Business this year. “I’d love to slow down, but unfortunately, it’s in my genes to work.”

Watch this space for what he achieves next.