REVEALED: 50 Richest Indians in the GCC 2016 - Construction and Property
Our exclusive ranking of the Gulf’s wealthiest Indian expatriates.
3.Dr Ravi Pillai
\nChairman, RP Group
\nThe last 12 months have seen a major strategic shift from Ravi Pillai’s colossal RP Group, which is now making headlines around the Gulf and back home in India.
\nIn May last year, the company said its RP Global real estate arm is building two new projects in Downtown Dubai for a combined cost of a cool $1.5bn. During 2015, the mother company — RP Group — won large industrial construction contracts in the Gulf in the oil and gas sector worth over $2bn.
\nOn the hospitality side, Pillai owns six hotels — four in India and two in Dubai, with the seventh hotel — a new Crowne Plaza in Dubai Marina — set to open soon. This includes the Leela Raviz Kovalam, the most awarded five-star beachfront luxury hotel in Kerala.
\nHis wealth has been built on the back of the Saudi Arabia-based RP Group, which has interests in industrial construction, real estate, travel and tourism, healthcare, retail and education. The most prominent part of the firm is its oil and gas construction business making it the largest industrial contractor in the Middle East. Not content with the firm’s role in Saudi Arabia, Pillai is also taking RP Group’s industrial expertise further afield, winning work in Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi as well as in locations as far flung as Australia.
\nWith nearly 100,000 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 recently.
\nPillai has an MBA from Cochin University and an honorary doctorate from Excelsior State University in the United States. Pillai was bestowed with the coveted Padma Shri Award as well as the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the Government of India for his commendable services to Non-Resident Indians and exemplary track record in entrepreneurship.
\nChairman, Sobha Group
\nPNC Menon is currently working on perhaps his biggest project yet — the Mohammed Bin Rashid City development in Dubai — and he’s also looking at one of the city’s most important needs: affordable housing. Three decades after his entrepreneurial journey began, the founder of the Sobha Group of companies said it is “the most exciting thing to have happened in my life”. “It’s a dream project for me,” he said recently in the surroundings of his Dubai home in Emirates Hills. Menon 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.
\nCEO, SKAI Holdings
\nIt’s a big year for Kabir Mulchandani. The SKAI Holdings boss is on track to open his largest ever project, the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah. Valued at well over $1bn, the hotel is set to usher in a new level of luxury in a city that is already festooned with high-end properties.
\nMulchandani told us last year that although the hotel was scheduled to open by the end of 2016, he was hoping to get it all signed off slightly quicker.
\n“We are very confident that we will definitely finish early. Completion is when the authorities certify that it is ready for occupation, then we go through the opening process of the hotel.”
\nIn March last year, SKAI said it would upgrade its Jumeirah Village Circle project to a five-star luxury property and rebrand it Viceroy Dubai Jumeirah Village following the signing of Viceroy Hotel Group as its hotel operator. And there are other concepts in the pipeline.
\nGiven his success at financing these projects — many of which have involved some of China’s largest banks — don’t bet against Mulchandani making some more big-name announcements in the coming months.
\nChairman, Danube Group
\nAs the millionaire founder and chairman of Danube, Rizwan Sajan has supplied building materials to just about every development since the Dubai property boom began.
\nThe company is now the undisputed market leader in building materials in the emirate, with 38 offices across the Gulf, India and China and 1,800 employees. Sajan told Arabian Business in December the company was on track to record about $760 million in revenue for 2015.
\nSajan has also jumped to the other side of the fence, launching his own real estate company, Danube Properties. The developer’s first project, Dreamz by Danube, sold out in hours in 2014, and it now has five projects on the go, worth more than $400 m in total.
\nThe most recent is an $82m affordable homes project in Al Furjan, while three ‘Glitz’ towers are being built in Studio City.
\nSajan’s success began in the 1990s, when he was forced to flee Kuwait, where he had been working for his uncle, amid the Saddam Hussein invasion. The pair moved to Dubai and resumed their work, but Sajan later branched out to establish his own brokerage business buying and selling building materials.
\nSajan told Arabian Business in December that he remained “bullish” about the Dubai property market despite concerns it had reached saturation point.
\nManaging Director, DRA Group of companies
\nAs managing director of the DRA Group of companies, Deepak Arora has managed to keep his business buoyant even during turbulent times for the regional construction industry. The group’s companies include City Diamond Contracting, MEPTech, Giant Star Trading, DRA Product Design, DRA Group, DRA Logistics and DRA International.
\nIts first project in Dubai was a design-and-build concept in Jebel Ali in 1985 when the free zone had just been launched. He has since designed and built projects for multinational clients including Swarovski, Nissan, Black & Decker, Volvo, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Compaq, Makita, BASF and Kanoo.
\nHis projects range from villas and office complexes to manufacturing facilities, warehouses and power stations. More recently, the group has secured lucrative contracts for Emirates Airline’s huge call centre, the Emirates Aviation College for Aerospace and Academic Studies and the overflow centre for dnata’s cargo business at Dubai Airport Free Zone. The group now focuses mainly on steel and concrete structures.