InPicture: The GCC’s 100 Most Powerful Indians 2014
We present the most influential men and women of Indian origin who are making a difference in the GCC’s business and industry today.
1. Yusuffali MA
\nIt’s now five years at the top of the list for the founder of one of the UAE’s biggest private companies. You name it, Yusuffali MA has done it. The boss of the EMKE Group owns many brands including the LuLu chain of hypermarkets. It recently opened its 110th store. EMKE Group, which is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and has offices in 31 countries, employs around 27,000 people — including 22,000 Indians — and has an annual turnover of $4.5bn.
\nEMKE Group opened its first supermarket in the early 1990s in Abu Dhabi and gradually expanded to cover different parts of the UAE capital. Today the LuLu Hypermarkets, Supermarkets and Department Stores control 32 percent of retail market share with 110 stores spread across the GCC, Yemen and Egypt. Yusuffali also became the first expat to be elected as a board member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ADCCI) in 2005.
2. Dr Ravi Pillai
\nLast week’s cover star in Arabian Business, Dr Ravi Pillai rises from seventh place in last year’s list to second place in 2014. With over 80,000 employees today, his company is a multi-billion-dollar operation.
Not bad for the boy from Kerala who at the age of 14 started running his first business just so he could pay for school books.
\n“To me it’s just been one step at a time, it’s never been about the money, just trying to work hard and do things the right way,” he told us.
\nThe Saudi-based RP Group has interests in construction, travel and tourism, healthcare, retail and education sectors. The most prominent of these is Nasser S Al Hajri Corporation, the largest industrial contractor in the Middle East.
\nPillai has an MBA from Cochin University and an honorary doctorate from Excelsior State University in the United States. In 2007, Pillai was bestowed with the coveted Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the president of India for his commendable services to Non-Resident Indians and exemplary track record in entrepreneurship.
\nNext on Pillai’s hit list is Dubai, where his RP Global subsidiary has huge plans in the property, education and hospitality segments. Can Dr Pillai take the top spot next year? Watch this space.
3. Feroz Allana
\nIt’s been another big year for Feroz Allana, one of the biggest names in the global food business. His son Irfan Allana is the chairman of the Allana Group, but Feroz is credited with its staggering success. His vision and business acumen not only drives his business, but also ensures that his expertise is liberally employed by the federal government and various state governments of India, in the development of long-term plans for exports from India in general and agro-based products in particular.
\nEstablished in 1975, IFFCO is a UAE- based business house, which manufactures and markets a well-integrated range of consumer products. IFFCO operates under the following business segments: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), commodities, oils, frozen foods, and institutional services. IFFCO also manufactures related derivatives and intermediates associated with these business segments. IFFCO brands include London Dairy, Tiffany, Noor, Rahma, Igloo and Al Baker.
4. Ashish Mehta
\nAshish Mehta & Associates
\nHe is the founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates, operating in the UAE, UK and India. The Dubai-based Indian lawyer’s list of clients is both impressive and diverse. It includes multinational, regional and local corporates, ultra-high net worth families, Bollywood actors and leading political personalities from the sub-continent.
\nThe 48-year-old Mehta was born in Delhi but has practised as a lawyer in Dubai or over 20 years and he is reportedly the only licensed, independent Indian lawyer in Dubai.
\nHe is also
\n• Advisor, Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Trust, New Delhi;
\n• Member, Board of the Managing Committee, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology (SZABIST), Dubai campus;
\n• He is a political analyst and has written various columns on politics and current affairs;
\n• Author of Legal View, a weekly feature in Khaleej Times;
\n• Licensed to practice law in UAE, DIFC, UK and India;
\n• Fellow, Indian Council of Arbitrators, New Delhi and an accredited Arbitrator on the panel of the Indian Council of Arbitrators;
\n• Solicitor, Supreme Court of England & Wales; and
\n• Member, the Chartered Institute of Arbitration, United Kingdom and a approved mediator on their panel of mediators; and
\n• Fellow, Indian Council of Arbitrators.
5. BR Shetty
\nBR Shetty made the headlines again with his eye-catching takeover of exchange giant Travelex this year. If anything, the deal proves Shetty’s determination to keep on building what is already an impressive portfolio of businesses. Shetty is pretty much an institution in his own right having created one of the UAE’s best known medical outfits. He is considering opening hospitals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with further expansion across the MENA region once political stability returns.
\nIn an interview with Arabian Business recently, the chairman of the group said the company could use cash generated from the business, or else it has the option of bond issuances and additional loans. “In about three years’ time, we plan to open one hospital in Doha and one in Saudi [Arabia]. In Saudi they give the land but also give some money. We have been approached by so many people, but we don’t have anything planned yet. When the political situation improves we might look at the MENA region,” he said.
6. Sanjeev Chadha
\nSanjeev Chadha is chief executive of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA). With net revenues of over $65bn, PepsiCo’s businesses make hundreds of enjoyable food and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world. In its global portfolio, PepsiCo has 22 different brands that generate more than $1bn each in annual retail sales.
\nChadha assumed this role in September 2013 and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of PepsiCo’s food and beverage businesses across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Australia and New Zealand as well as beverages in sub-Sahara Africa, which together generated over $6.6bn in revenues in 2012.
7. Raghuvinder Kataria
\nBanking and finance
\nRaghuvinder Kataria is one of the best known wheeler dealers in the region with a spectacular track record of success. Raised in Uganda, Kataria moved to the UK as a young man. Early in his professional career, he led the formation of JT Telecom — a joint venture between Telia of Sweden and Thailand-based Jasmine Telecom — that pioneered mobile telephony in India. That JV company later merged with Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises to provide coverage across the world’s second-most populous nation.
\nToday, Bharti Airtel is the number one provider in India and the third-largest in-country mobile operator in the world.\nKataria remains a founding shareholder in that company — which now serves nearly 250 million subscribers.
8. PNC Menon
\nPNC Menon didn’t mince his words when he told us about his involvement in Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid City project in November last year. Almost three decades after his entrepreneurial journey began, and at the age of 65, the founder of the Sobha Group of companies said it is “the most exciting thing to have happened in my life”.
\n “It’s a dream project for me,” he said in the surroundings of his Dubai home in Emirates Hills.
\nMenon started his entrepreneurial journey from very small beginnings. He set up an interior decoration firm in Oman in 1976. Today his organisation, the Sobha Group is a multinational, multiproduct group with significant interests and investments in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Brunei, Tanzania and India.
9. Rizwan Sajan
\nIn many ways, Rizwan Sajan has literally helped build Dubai.
\nAs the billionaire founder and chairman of Danube Group, one of the emirate’s most successful business conglomerates, he has supplied building materials to just about every development since the property boom began. The company is now the undisputed market leader in building materials in the emirate, created through years of astute growth under Sajan’s leadership. Danube Group also is evidence that Dubai’s property market is back: “The business doubled in the past year,” Sajan told us in September.
\nAnd some business it is: today the Danube Group is a sprawling empire with 38 offices spread across the Gulf, India and China, with 1,800 employees and revenues on track to touch a billion dollars by 2015.
10. Kabir Mulchandani
\nAnother year, another rise on the Power List for Kabir Mulchandani, who enters the top ten for the first time in 2014. His massive $1bn hotel and furnished residences project on The Palm Jumeirah is well under way. The Viceroy Palm Jumeirah — which is fully sold out — is all set to open its doors in the last quarter of 2014.
\nThe beachside property will host ten restaurants, as well as a gourmet market and bakery. In addition, the hotel will also have a spa, indoor fitness facilities and three outdoor swimming pools.
\nNot content with that, Mulchandani set up a second project in Jumeirah Village Circle and helped it secure AED927m ($252.4m) worth of sales.
11. V Shankar
\nEurope, Middle East, Africa and Americas, Standard Chartered Bank
\nBanking and finance
\nV Shankar has dropped down the list in 2014, after a tough year for his bank, Standard Chartered (SCB). He was appointed as CEO, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas back in 2010.
\nBased in Dubai, Shankar is regarded as the most senior executive of an international bank to be located in the Gulf. A Singaporean, Shankar is known as ‘Bhagwan’ by his team and before joining SCB in September 2001, he was with Bank of America in Asia and USA for 19 years. Shankar completed his Masters in Business Administration at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Physics at the Loyola College, Madras. He is married with one son.
12. Sunil John
\nSunil John has been at the heart of the public relations business in the region for over two decades. During this time he has shaped ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller to be the benchmark of public relations consultancy in the Arab world, advising regional governments, global brands and local companies.
\nThe consultancy has over 160 professionals working in 11 wholly-owned offices across the Middle East. The success of the company has been widely acknowledged, notably when ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller was named the MEA PR Agency of the Year by the New York-based International Business Awards in 2014.
\nJohn is the first PR professional in the Middle East to receive the Outstanding Individual Achievement SABRE Award (EMEA) from The Holmes Report in May 2014.
13. Vipen Sethi
\nVipen Sethi started his journey with the Landmark Group in 1990. Today as CEO — Corporate, he is involved in driving corporate governance and recommending strategies to support growth. And what a job he has on his hands — as one of the largest retail conglomerates in the Middle East, Africa and India, the Landmark Group has a diverse portfolio of retail and hospitality brands. Founded in 1973, it has a presence in 19 countries, employs more than 50,000 people and runs more than 20 home-grown and 30 franchise brands. In total, Landmark’s 1,900 outlets cover a huge 24 million square feet.
14. Adnan Chilwan
\nDubai Islamic Bank
\nBanking and finance
\nAdnan Chilwan is a veteran marketing professional and an Islamic banker by practice has a career spanning nearly two decades with both reputed conventional and Islamic banks in the Gulf region including names like Dubai Bank, Commercial Bank of Qatar, Mashreq Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and HSBC. He currently serves as the CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the UAE with a balance sheet footing of nearly $30bn, market capitalisation of $6.53bn, a workforce of more than 7,000 employees within the group and a strong presence across all emirates with a growing international operations in Asia, Middle East and Africa.
15. Yogesh Mehta
\nPetrochem Middle East
\nDriven by passion and a need to succeed, Yogesh Mehta established Petrochem Middle East in 1995 with friend and business partner David Lubbock.
\nMehta graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from National College Bandra in Mumbai, India, and his first job was at his father’s chemical manufacturing factory in western India, where he honed his innate leadership skills and gained valuable hands-on business experience. Mehta then went on to open his own chemical trading business, which enjoyed fair success. In a bold move, he relocated to Dubai in 1990.
\nWithin five years, he managed to establish a business by opening a state-of-the-art storage terminal for bulk and drum chemicals. Petrochem Middle East has since grown from strength-to-strength to become one of the largest independent petrochemical distributors in the Middle East.
\nMehta became a Harvard Business School Alumnus when he obtained his Executive MBA in 2003; his success story has been widely documented, and in 2010 he was ranked seventh in the Arabian Business Indian Power List. Mehta strongly believes that Petrochem Middle East’s success has been as a result of forecasting and anticipating market and customer needs, he is an enthusiast of “the people”, constantly asserting that his employees are the business’ greatest assets.
\nPetrochem is having a good 2014 so far, and has just finished constructing its new tank terminal at a cost of $13m. “This will give us more storage capacity and grow our business in the region,” Mehta told us. He added that the firm has restructured its chemicals business to suit the current landscape and meet growing demand in the Middle East.
\nEntrepreneurialism runs in the family, it seems. Raging Tiger, the events company managed by Mehta’s son, Rohan, is also doing well and has quickly acquired a reputation for putting on top-drawer events in the UAE.
\nMehta’s greatest attributes are mentoring and leading by example. His grasp on the dynamics of the chemicals industry, and on building a strong reputation with buyers and sellers in the fraternity, has contributed to making the “Petrochem Brand” and raising the company to new heights.
16. Dr Dhananjay Datar
\nAl Adil Group
\nLast month, Al Adil Trading opened up its 27th GCC outlet in Fujairah. Dhananjay Datar, \nmanaging director of the import-export firm the Al Adil Group, is the protagonist in a major business success story.
\nDatar is responsible for turning Al Adil Trading, a small grocery store established by his father in 1984, into a major spice company that enjoys a presence across the GCC and beyond. Products are largely sourced from his Mumbai-based firm, Masala King Exports. He received the Best Enterprise Award from the Europe Business Assembly at the Oxford Summit of Leaders this year and has prestigious customers such as Dubai Duty Free and five-star hotels.
18. Sunny Varkey
\nSunny Varkey is the brains behind GEMS Education, one of the largest private school operators in the world for students from kindergarten to grade 12. Under Varkey’s leadership the group morphed from a single school, Our Own English High School — which he established in Dubai in 1980 — to an operator that oversees 50 schools across 19 countries in the Middle East, North America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
\nHe established the Varkey GEMS Foundation, a philanthropic trust — which is chaired by former US president Bill Clinton — and introduced the Guruvar Awards in India, which honours over 144,000 teachers in around 3,000 schools across 45 cities in India.
\nEarlier this month, Varkey sold a “significant minority stake” in GEMS to a group including Blackstone, Fajr Capital and Mumtalakat for an undisclosed sum.
19. Tony Jashanmal
\nThe rapid economic recovery in the region has been great for Tony Jashanmal and his retail outfit which continues to break its own very impressive sales records. There is no shortage of retailers on this list, but few are as accomplished as Jashanmal. The firm started from humble beginnings with just one store in Iraq in 1919 and has grown into one of the most successful retail conglomerates in the region. Jashanmal overseas the retail and wholesale trading of high-end luxury and consumer goods and services. The company represents various global retail franchises in the region and operates a newspaper and magazines division which oversees the marketing and distribution of books and magazines in the Gulf region.
20. Dr Pramod Warhekar
\nDr Warhekar has gained a reputation as one the planet’s finest eye surgeons. He specialises in a range of techniques and procedures including Lasik eye surgery. Warhekar trained in cataract surgery, glaucoma and laser surgeries in various hospitals in the UK, India and Canada and has recently worked as a consultant in Riyadh. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.
21. Avi Bhojani
\nBates Pan Gulf Group
\nGroup chief executive
\nAvi Bhojani’s 34-year career spans the marketing services, media, education, private equity and government sectors. At the helm of the BPG Group since 1991, Bhojani has assisted in the conceptualisation and execution of a number of strategic Dubai initiatives (DSF) and has served the Government of Dubai while assisting with the development of knowledge economy hubs in the emirate.
\nAn alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Bhojani is also the managing director of Innoventures Education and sits on the boards of Dubai Private Schools Group, PanIIM Alumni Network Gulf, Endeavor UAE, the Advisory Board of Abu Dhabi Capital Management and the Global Advisory Board of IIMPact in Singapore.
22. Azad Moopen
\nThe story continues for Azad Moopen, founder and chairman of DM Healthcare, who is looking at listing one of the UAE’s biggest private healthcare providers in the next two to three years. He’s also in the middle of financing a $300m expansion drive across the Gulf, with a similar amount set aside for growth into India. It’s all a far cry from 1987, when Moopen came to Dubai and set up his own clinic.
\nOver the next 20 years, he established a chain of healthcare facilities across Asia and the Gulf, under DM Healthcare (Dr Moopen Healthcare), which today employs about 2,000 people in the Gulf, and serves more than 3 million patients a year.
\nElsewhere, DM Healthcare is also working on a project to provide 3,100 hospital beds in Kerala via eight different projects. One of the projects is Aster Medcity, a hi-tech healthcare destination being developed in over 40 acres of land in Kochi.
23. Shaji Ul Mulk
\nMulk Holdings is a multinational conglomerate with a diversified business interests spanning primarily three sectors — construction materials, renewable energy and healthcare. It has ten different divisions in the UAE, plus interests in Europe, Oman, the USA and India. According to Mulk himself: “Our goal is not just to be the largest manufacturer of metal composite panel in the world.” So far he is well on the way to achieving that with the company already worth close to $1bn.
24. Firoz Merchant
\nThere are many Indians on this list working in the jewellery sector, and Firoz Merchant is one of the biggest. He moved to Dubai in 1989 to set up his own gold trading business, Pure Gold Jewellers. Today the chain has 85 stores across India and the Middle East as well as two jewellery manufacturing factories in India and in China, employing over 1,500 workers.
\nBut he is perhaps best known for his generosity to those in distress. Every year, he is planning to give away just under $1m of his hard-earned wealth bailing out prisoners who have found themselves in the UAE’s jails.
26. Joy Alukkas
\nJoy Alukkas Group
\nHe is one of the most respected businessmen in the region. Alukkas, who set up the $1bn global conglomerate almost a quarter of a century ago, has become a key player in the Middle East jewellery market, with as many as 80 stores and 5,000 staff. Founded in 1987, the company has over 10 million customers and Joyalukkas has the distinction of being awarded the Dubai Quality Awards Certification by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai.
27. Shashank Srivastava
\nQatar Financial Centre Authority
\nBanking and finance
\nTwo years ago, Shashank Srivastava officially took on the top position at Qatar’s financial authority after a period of time as acting CEO. He is now overseeing the development of Doha as a financial hub to match those elsewhere in the Gulf. Srivastava joined the QFC Authority in April 2006 and has been instrumental in developing its three-hub strategy, focusing on asset management, reinsurance and captive insurance. Srivastava has 16 years of global experience in the strategy consulting and investment industries. He previously held key positions with Dresdner RCM Global Investors and Andersen Consulting. Prior to joining the QFC Authority, Srivastava worked at the Dubai International Financial Centre and was assistant vice president at Abraaj Capital.
28. K Kumar
\nIndian Community Welfare Group
\nCulture and society
\nK Kumar moved to Dubai from Chennai 40 years ago, but it was an incident in 1998 that changed his — and many people’s — lives. Kumar and his friends between them raised AED75,000 in blood money to help release from jail a young Indian caught up in a case of accidental death. Since then, he has been involved in countless cases to help mainly construction workers facing legal issues. Kumar set up the Indian Community Welfare Group in 2000 under the direct patronage of the Consulate General of India in Dubai and has worked tirelessly ever since to help destitute maids and stranded labourers, as well as Indian expatriates in prison.
30. Dr Shamsheer Vayalil
\nLifeline Hospital Group
\nShamsheer Vayalil Parambath could have been just a doctor, though a good one at that.\nHaving pursued his medical degree at the prestigious Sri Ramachandra Medical College in his native India and completed training in radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he started his career as a radiologist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.
\nAged 30, he set out to establish a truly integrated healthcare organisation. From just one hospital in Abu Dhabi in 2007 to eight operational hospitals in 2013 across UAE and Oman to industrial medicine for over 250,000 workers; from pharmaceutical manufacturing to a pharmacy retail chain; he has founded and heads more than ten organisations.
31. Khurshid Vakil
\nMarina Home Interiors
\nA founder of the Marina Home Interiors brand, Khurshid Vakil admits to being “a perfectionist by nature”.
\nConceptualised in the UAE in 1998 following extensive research, Marina Home Interiors fills a niche within the market. Sourced from over 20 countries in four continents, Vakil said the success of the brand is due to his understanding of the trends, likes and dislikes of his customers.
\n“We have gone from being a furniture retailer to a leader in home and lifestyle fashion,” he told Retail and Leisure International magazine.\n“The company has not changed in recent years, but has remained in sync with the changing environment,” \nVakil added.
32. Asgar Shakoor Patel
\nHouse of Patels
\nHalf a century ago, a Mumbai-based salesman borrowed enough money to buy a lorry and enter the trucking business. That man was Asgar Shakoor Patel, and the company swiftly turned into Patel Roadways, one of India’s biggest transport and logistics names. Patel has used his business acumen to grab massive slices out of other global markets, including cargo, finance and remittances, through Wall Street Exchange Centre. He is now in the process of setting up a venture capital fund in Dubai.
33. Thumbay Moideen
\nBy 1997, Thumbay Moideen had been travelling to the UAE on business for five years. A third-generation businessman, he was well aware of the Gulf state’s growing acumen for money-making opportunities.
\nBut it was not until a chance meeting with the ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, that the middle-aged father of two decided it was time to move.\n“It was an accidental meeting \nwith His Highness,” Moideen told us last year.
\nThat meeting resulted in Moideen setting up the Gulf Medical University. Nowadays, the group employs more than 1,500 staff, and is hoping to hire more than 7,000 in the next five years.
34. Vasu Shroff
\nFounded by Vasu Shroff in 1952, Regal Traders was set up on the banks of the Dubai Creek, to deal in wholesaling and indenting of fine fabrics from Japan and India. Now best known as one of the UAE’s largest fabric chains, Regal Group is the preferred source of quality fabrics to leading local couturiers. Shroff has largely handed control of his business over to sons Raju and Vikram.
35. Tidu Maini
\nQatar Science and Technology Park
\nIt’s been another good year for the diamond expert Harshad Mehta, who has more than 40 years experience in the jewellery industry. Born in 1947, his understanding of the diamond industry has allowed him to build a huge network of companies in 15 countries employing more than 15,000 people.
\nMehta is also the vice chairman of Dubai Diamond Exchange, chairman of the Governing Council of LIFE, an organisation comprising Saurashtra Medical and Charitable Trust and the Indian Medical Scientific Research Foundation.
37. Yuvraj Narayan
\nChief financial officer
\nOne of our big hitters from the corporate world, Yuvraj Narayan has served as chief financial officer at DP World since 2005. The Dubai-based firm is the third-largest ports company in the world, and continues to expand aggressively into emerging markets. Among his many achievements at DP World include delivering both the Middle East’s first long-dated, rated conventional 30-year $1.75bn bond issue and the firm’s $21bn IPO, the largest in the Middle East. More recently, he also handled DP World’s listing in London.
38. K Rajaram
\nAl Naboodah Automobiles
\nK Rajaram has made a career out of selling Porsches, Volkswagens and Audis to keen Gulf buyers. The company, established in 1976, is the dealer in Dubai and the Northern Emirates for all three luxury car brands — and is now the world’s biggest Porsche dealership. Rajaram has been a major player in the UAE’s automotive trade, having resided here for the past 15 years. He oversees five showrooms in Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah.
39. Manohar Lahori
\nA fortuitous meeting in 1984 changed the life of Manohar Lahori, the founder of Mumbai-based garment manufacturer, the Palmon Group. On a business trip to London, Lahori stopped off in Dubai and visited Jebel Ali, where the UAE’s first free zone was in the process of being set up. During the visit, he met with Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who had been charged by the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, with launching a cluster of businesses around the man-made harbour that would, in the future, go on to supercharge the emirate’s economy. Lahori moved his operations to Dubai the year after, and what a good move that turned out to be. Now based in Jebel Ali, the group oversees a vast number of companies in luxury kitchens, office solutions, interiors and facilities management. It has moved from a single operation to over 20 companies.
40. Mohan Nambiar
\nMohan Nambiar began his advertising career in the UAE at Matco, one of the oldest advertising agencies in the country. Today, he heads up MEC MENA, a subsidiary of Menacom, the holding company in which global giant WPP holds a 60 percent share, whose operations stretch from Morocco to Afghanistan. In his role as CEO, Nambiar has been responsible for launching MEC and its specialist divisions in the MENA region.
41. Dawood Bin Ozair
\nElectronics, Engineering and \nTechnologies, Al Futtaim Group
\nSenior managing director
\nAfter having worked for the TATA Group, Dawood came to Dubai in 1980 to join Al Futtaim Group. He spent his career at Al Futtaim working in various businesses demonstrating his ability to develop the businesses he was tasked with over his 34-year career with the company. Starting as a sales manager in the scaffolding business in 1980 he helped turn around the engineering business and electronics business and developed a brand portfolio containing some of the world’s leading players in the electronics and engineering world. Known as a team developer and a leader of people, Dawood has led the Al Futtaim Engineering, Electronics and Technologies business with the vision that success comes when people are motivated to go beyond their regular call of duty.
42. Manoj Mathew
\nChief creative officer
\nManoj Mathew is the chief content and creative officer at Zee Network (Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey). In his current role he leads content, marketing and distribution of over a dozen pay channels and four free-to-air channels in the region. He has over 20 years experience in the media, marketing and advertising business of which 13 are in international markets. Mathew has spent his last ten years with Zee Network handling various portfolios including their foray into the Arabic TV business \nwith Zee Aflam and Zee Alwan.
43. Faizal Kottikollon
\nThe founder and chairman of UAE-based KEF Holdings, Faizal Kottikollon, set up Emirates Techno Casting (ETC), a fully integrated valve casting foundry, in 1997, turning it into one of the top three most technologically advanced foundries in the world in just a decade. In 2008, Dubai International Capital (DIC), the investment arm of Dubai Holding, acquired a 45 percent stake in KEF Holdings. In 2012, Tyco International acquired KEF Holdings for $400m. Pentair, the industrial giant that later acquired Tyco, renamed the ETC Community Centre which was built by Kottikollon and his wife Shabana for the welfare of the ETC employees, as the Shabana & Faizal Community Centre in the Hamriyah Free Zone in recognition of the founders’ success and dedication to the community.
44. Nilesh Ved
\nNilesh Ved heads up the UAE’s Apparel Group, which has over 900 stores and more than 50 international brands under its umbrella and is aiming to achieve its goal to open its 1,000th store by the end of this year. Ved was instrumental in 1999 in bringing the US clothing brand Ninewest from America, and launched the first stores in Lamcy Plaza in Dubai. He has also masterminded the launch of the Tim Hortons chain in the Gulf. The company now employs over 8,000 staff and operates on four continents.
45. Ashok Aram
\nMany banking experts predict a huge future for Aram, but the present already looks pretty incredible. In September 2010, Deutsche Bank appointed Aram as its new CEO for the MENA region.
\nAram originally moved to Dubai to head up private equity firm Abraaj Capital, where he was appointed managing director. He became the bank’s youngest managing director in history at the age of 29 and three years ago was among the ‘Young Global Leaders’ honoured by the World Economic Forum.
46. Deepak Babani
\nWhen Dubai-based Eros Group and electronics giant Samsung first tied-up nearly two decades ago, neither firm was particularly important in the UAE. The distributor and retailer was yet to make much of a dent in the Gulf market, while the Korean conglomerate was perpetually behind its competitors in releasing the latest technology.
\n“In 1995 Samsung was being transferred from one distributor [to the next] every six months, because it was not a lucrative business,” Eros Group CEO Deepak Babani told us earlier this year.
\nThe firm is targeting a turnover of $1.3bn, or 20 percent growth, this year, and much of that is expected to come from its distribution of Samsung products, which are now the company’s most lucrative contract.
47. Gaurav Sinha
\nGaurav Sinha’s company, Insignia, was one of the first to set up in Dubai Media City as a fully independent organisation in 2003. It has since branched out to India, Sydney and London, with plans to also open an office in Los Angeles by the end of the year.
\nWith 60 five-star hotels across 20 countries, 120 restaurants and 30 lifestyle and leisure outlets on its books, the company has turned over $55m worth of business in the past decade. Clients include Viceroy Hotels, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Westin Hotels in Australia, the Burj Al Arab and the Dhow & Anchor restaurant.
49. Ram Buxani
\nWhen Buxani came to Dubai at 18 after taking a five day boat trip, there was no water, no airport, no electricity, no roads, no telephone, and no oil.
\nMore than 45 years later, the city is booming, and he is the head of one of the biggest and oldest businesses in the country. His firm, which deals in textiles, electronics and home appliances, information technology and hospitality, is known for representing global brands, and for having over 500 dealers in the UAE and Oman.
\nSpearheading its growth, Buxani is well-respected in the industry. In addition, he is also a director/ board member for several other firms around the globe.
50. LT Pagarani
\nIndians love food and they certainly love shopping at this man’s retail chain. The Choithrams supermarket brand was originally set up in West Africa in 1944 by Thakurdas Choithram Pagarani. The elder Pagarani opened the first grocery in Sierra Leone and over the last seven decades Choithrams has developed into an international company spanning Europe, North America, Africa as well as the Gulf. Today, the firm is led by LT Pagarani, who continues to expand the brand across the Middle East.
51. Kamal Puri
\nSkyline University College
\nKamal Puri, the president of Skyline University College in the UAE’s cultural capital, Sharjah, actually began his journey to contribute to the region’s education sector with the launch of the Skyline Institute in Kuwait.
\nWith Puri’s leadership and more than 20 years of operation, the Skyline University College in Sharjah is now one of the finest colleges in the Northern Emirates.
\nEstablished in 1990, SUC was established under the patronage of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, the member of the UAE Supreme Council and the ruler of Sharjah.
52. Mahendra Singh
\nFew men have come as far in such a short space of time as Mahendra Singh. In 2005, he set up SPF Realty. In the nine years since, and with the help of his partners Kalpesh Sampath and Ranjeet Chavan, the property brokerage has become one of the biggest in Dubai, with a client database of more than half a million investors. The three partners have a combined 52 years of experience in the industry in Canada, the UK and Dubai, and lead a team of 45. As the Dubai property market keeps on growing, Singh and his team are certainly men to watch.
53. Ashok Khanna
\nAl Tayer Motors
\nThere has been a huge rise in car buying across the UAE, and few people have been more involved than this man. Ashok Khanna heads up one of Dubai’s biggest automotive retail groups. Established in 1982, Al Tayer Motors represents major European and US brands Ford, Lincoln, Ferrari, Maserati, Land Rover, Jaguar and DAF Trucks across the UAE. Al Tayer has a growing network of sales, service and parts centres all over the emirates.
54. Paras Shahdadpuri
\nA former diplomat who quit his job with India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and started his own business in 1988, Shahdadpuri is no stranger to taking risks. Currently chairing the 12 companies of the Nikai Group, he has built up a formidable brand that competes with major Japanese and Korean rivals. Nikai now has a range of around 400 products with over 15 million consumers in about 60 countries. It has become a household name and it has earned Shahdadpuri the nickname ‘Mr Reliable’. Shahdadpuri is also president of the Indian Business & Professional Council, a role he relishes by promoting Indian companies and investment abroad.
57. Mushtaq Shaikh
\nIt’s quite likely that just about everyone else on this list has bought a suit from Mushtaq – he certainly makes the best in town (in our view). Lobo Tailors was established in 1978 as a small shop in Dubai by Mushtaq Shaikh, a dynamic and astute business entrepreneur. Designed fora and catering to both ladies and gentlemen, the business offers bespoke tailoring and customised uniforms from its store in Bur Dubai. Shaikh’s high-profile clients include former cricket stars Ian Botham, Vivian Richards, Imran Khan and Andrew Flintoff, as well as Emirates Airline and Al Tayer Motors.
58. Jayshree Gupta
\nBaker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla
\nJayshree Gupta switched jobs earlier this month, becoming a partner for local legal giant Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. Gupta is a dual qualified solicitor (in England and India) and joined from DLA Piper in Dubai, where she was instrumental in establishing DLA’s Dubai office and led their India practice. She has been practising in the UAE for nearly 20 years. Gupta has formidable experience advising on corporate and commercial matters in the Gulf, particularly in the hospitality, retail, financial services and technology, media and telecommunications sectors. In September 2008 she was appointed to the Regulatory Appeals Committee (RAC) of the DFSA and has been reappointed in 2011 to serve on it for another three-year term.
60. Poonam Bhojani
\nPoonam Bhojani is fast becoming known as the top education boss in the Dubai, with Raffles International School, Dubai International Academy and Collegiate American School all performing hugely well under her guidance.
\nShe also currently serves as the president of the Middle East IB Association of Schools and the Secretary of the Dubai Private Schools Group.
\nPoonam Bhojani is an Economics Honours graduate with an MBA from India’s premier business school, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.
61. Mohan Valrani
\nAl Shirawi Group
\nBorn in Sind in 1940, Mohan Valrani came from a family of entrepreneurs and from an early age those close to him observed that he has a unique ability for making money.
\nIn 1966, Valrani set up a partnership with influential Emirati businessman Abdulla Al Shirawi and the two have remained partners ever since.
\nUnder his leadership, the Al Shirawi Group was set up in 1971 and from a modest beginning of trading in steel and cement has grown into a multi – dimensional company with interest spanning 29 firms and with around 6,000 employees.
\nThe businessman has also been an active philanthropist, and announced earlier this year that he would be investing AED500m to build four new British schools in Dubai between 2016 and 2019.\nValrani served as chairman of the Indian High School between 2008 and 2012.
\nIt’s been an incredible career for the man behind the electronics giant, who has been running the show for a staggering 44 years. From its humble beginnings in Hong Kong in 1970, Jacky’s Group has come a long way to become one of the leading international traders in electronics and general merchandise in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and the Far East. With distribution outlets in the UAE, Hong Kong and Africa, annual sales are thought to top a billion dirhams each year. The company started its life as a mail order service for everything from televisions to typewriters, before moving into wholesale electronics in 1980.
66. Surinder Singh Kandhari
\nAl Dobowi Group
\nThe Al Dobowi Group was formed in 1976 to address the needs of a growing tyre management and service industry in the Middle East.
\nIt has grown to become a leading global player in the industry providing clients with superior services and unique solutions to their problems across three continents.
\nIt has grown beyond tyre management into providing our clients with all the solutions they need with regards to motion. This includes batteries for motive power, lubricants, conveyor belt systems and technical rubber products.
67. Ayesha Depala
\nCulture and society
\nWith a formal degree in interior design, followed by various fashion courses taken at Central St. Martins, Ayesha Depala began her design career in 2002, when she launched her eponymous signature line under which she presents both ready-to-wear, couture and bridal.
\nAn ambassador for Mont Blanc Jewelry, Ayesha has not only been voted multiple times amongst the most beautiful and most influential women in India and the Arab Gulf region, but also amongst the best dressed as well as the most stylish, by publications like Femina and Harper’s Bazaar.
68. Raju Menon
\nBanking and finance
\nRaju Menon’s UAE-based Morison Menon Chartered Accountants (MMCA) recently went to battle with the European Union (EU) when he discovered the entity was trying to blacken the firm’s name over dealings with Iran. The firm won its case against the EU, a significant battle for the 20-year veteran. Morison Menon has its headquarters in Dubai and offices in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Jebel Ali Free Zone and Ras Al Khaimah, within the UAE, and overseas operations in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and India. Menon’s client list just keeps on growing, and he has also set up a charity foundation.
69. Prashant Gulati
\nThe Smart Start Fund
\nBanking and finance
\nPrashant Gulati is a senior telecommunications, media and IT professional and early-stage investor in businesses based in the UAE. He has extensive technical and business knowledge in the areas of IT, media, networking, telecommunications, security and audio visual technology. He has leveraged this knowledge to become an angel investor and help grow the next generation of talent. Gulati has been associated with startups like Customer First Services (now Aegis BPO), Communicate 2 (now a part of Aegis-Dentsu), PairGain Technologies (later ADC, now TYCO), CloudAppers, GapJumpers, Umundo Corp., among others. Gulati has a postgraduate degree in computer science and management.
78. Ramesh Ramakrishnan
\nAs the chairman of the Transworld Group of Companies (TGC), Ramesh Ramakrishnan has become a well-respected businessman in the logistics industry thanks to his success in creating one of the region’s biggest shipping empires.
\nAs a commerce graduate from the University of Mumbai, he relocated to Dubai to take the helm of the company.
Established in 1976 by R Sivaswamy, TGC started off as a shipping agency in Bombay.\nThe group has now diversified into a multi-faceted shipping and logistics company. Headquartered in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Transworld has offices in the US, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, alongside offices in 28 Indian cities.
81. Lachmandas Pagarani
\nAl Maya Group
\nLachmandas Pagarani took ownership of a standalone grocery store in Ajman in 1982. That store marked the beginning of the Al Maya Group’s operations.
\nToday, the firm has over 30 outlets in the UAE and another four in Muscat, Oman, all of which are reported to account for up to 70 percent of the group’s overall business. The rest is covered by wholesale operations and franchises like the UK retailer Bhs and Borders bookstore.
85. Dr Birbal Singh Dana
\nA general surgeon by profession, Dr Birbal Singh Dana served in the University Hospital of Libya for 15 years before coming to Dubai in 1991 to set up the Dana Group of Companies. The group is active in steel processing, cable management systems, hospitals, heaters and water coolers. It has its corporate office and showrooms in Dubai, trading companies in India and Dubai, associate offices in Libya, Iraq, West Africa and South Africa, as well as manufacturing units in the UAE.
89. Adeeb Ahamed
\nBanking and finance
\nAdeeb Ahamed is the CEO of LuLu Exchange LLC, an emerging remittance and money Exchange Company based out of Abu Dhabi in the UAE, which is also operating in countries such as UAE, Oman, Kuwait and India with liaison offices in Bangladesh and Philippines.
\nAhamed has degrees from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management and the University of London. Aside from his role at LuLu Exchange, Ahamed also serves on the boards of several other companies.