InPicture: The GCC’s 100 Most Powerful Indians 2014 - Construction
We present the most influential men and women of Indian origin who are making a difference in the GCC’s business and industry today.
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.
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.
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.