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\nChairman, Stallion Group
\nSunil Vaswani dared to kick off his entrepreneurial career in Africa but station his growing Stallion Group overseas in Dubai — moves that have paid off to the tune of billions. Today the conglomerate continues to evolve and grow, creating a legacy that generates jobs and produces positive impacts within communities.
\nIn its last full year, Stallion Group raked in $3.72bn in revenues, but that’s small fry compared to what’s next. Vaswani says he is hoping to create investment opportunities to the tune of $9bn by partnering with big international firms to help develop the continent.
\n“The next two decades may see Africa emerge as a very strong world economy,” Vaswani told Arabian Business recently. “The change will be driven by a growing captive demand, a surging middle class, increasing the willpower of governments to make the region self-sufficient, an improved investment climate that will aid foreign investment and take advantage of natural resources. Africa could potentially see massive capital inflows as the perception of risk gradually diminishes in the coming years.”
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12.Shaji Ul Mulk
\nFounder and Chairman, Mulk Holdings
\nShaji Ul Mulk is the founder and chairman of Mulk Holdings, a multinational group with diversified business interests in manufacturing of metal composites, healthcare, real estate, trading and commodities, aluminium coil coatings, solar energy and energy generation.
\nWith its headquarters in Hamriya Freezone in Sharjah, the company is spread across Europe, USA, Russia, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Mulk Holdings’ flagship brand, Alubond Metal Composites, has grown into the world’s largest metal composite brand with operations in 11 countries and market reach of 90 countries. However, the brand’s reputation took a hit at the start of the year when a fire tore through The Address Downtown Dubai hotel, which had been built using Alubond aluminium panels.
\nIn his spare time, Ul Mulk is also an ardent cricket promoter and provides employment to professional cricketers at his champion Alubond Tigers Cricket team. He is also involved in strategic administrative levels of Emirates Cricket Board.
\nPhilanthropy plays an important role in Ul Mulk’s life and his company’s CSR division has set up many charity schools, clinics, libraries and orphan marriage programmes.
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\nChairman, Dodsal Group
\nOtherwise known as the ‘Pipeline King’, Rajen Kilachand made his fortune through the Dodsal Group, which has a long history of winning key infrastructure contracts in the UAE and beyond. The group was founded in Mumbai in 1948 by the Nandlal Kilachand family as a trading company in partnership with a British trading company.
\nToday, it has transformed from a family trading enterprise into a multi-billion-dollar organisation based in Dubai. The firm’s services span a wide range of sectors including energy, industry and infrastructure. It has successfully completed projects in over 22 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, India and South East Asia. At the company’s helm is its chairman and president, Rajen Kilachand. Under Kilachand’s leadership the firm continues to grow with plans to take “Dodsal from a $200m multi-retail interest company to a world-class multi-billion dollar organisation,” as he says on his website. Kilachand also sits on the board of directors of Pathfinder International.
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\nCEO, KEF Holdings
\nIndian US-educated engineer Faizal Kottikollon arrived in the UAE in 1995 when he established his first business venture, Al Ahamadi General Trading, a scrap metal trading and recycling business based in Ajman. Emirates Techno Casting (ETC) foundry, his next venture, cast its first mould at the foundry in Ajman in 1997 and now has manufacturing locations in the UAE, Middle East and India.
\nKEF Holdings, the parent company for Kottikollon’s various businesses, set up a new state-of-the-art facility at Sharjah Hamriyah Free Zone, the first integrated manufacturer of industrial valves in the Middle East. The 50,000sq m facility produces a specialised range of industrial valves for the oil and gas industry, expanding rapidly before being sold for $400m in 2012.
\nKottikollon now focuses his attention on an off-site construction business that aims to halve building costs for schools and hospitals in India. KEF Holdings will strengthen its offsite manufacturing operations in the GCC region with a new $100m manufacturing facility opening in Jebel Ali later this year. Through this facility, KEF Holdings would provide world-class expertise in design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly, and project management for the GCC region, Kottikollon said last month.
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24.The Khimji family
\nFounders, Khimji Ramdas Group
\nThe Khimji family’s presence in Oman spans three centuries, starting as traders importing grain, tea and spices from India and exporting dates, dry limes and frankincense from Oman during the 19th century. But it was the arrival in 1870 of Ramdas Thackersey and his son Khimji Ramdas that really kick-started the family’s prosperity in the sultanate. Together they founded a business that would grow to become one of the country’s largest business groups, covering the consumer, infrastructure and industrial sectors.
\nSuch is the family’s prominence in Oman, when Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said took over as ruler in 1970 he granted the Khimjis citizenship — a rare offering in the Gulf — and bestowed the title Sheikh upon Kanaksi Khimji, Thackersey’s great-grandson and the present head of the family and the Khimji Ramdas Group, making him what is believed to be the only Hindu Sheikh in the world.
\nToday, the group reportedly turns over more than $1bn annually and has partnerships with more than 400 global brands.
\nKanaksi Khimji has also helped established 19 Indian schools in Oman, educating 35,000 Indian students. The company is a corporate member of the World Economic Forum.
\nCompany director Nailesh Khimji (above), also plays a vital role in the growth of the Khimji Ramdas Group.
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26.Surender Singh Kandhari
\nChairman, Al Dobowi Group
\nWhen Surender Singh Kandhari launched his first tyre shop in Deira, Dubai, in 1976, he was about the only supplier in the country and quickly managed to corner the market.
\nThe Al Dobowi Group has since morphed into one of the largest tyre distribution companies in the world, with operations in 65 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. The 20-subsidiary conglomerate still focuses on its core business of tyres and re-treading but also sells batteries, lubricants, conveyor belt systems, and technical rubber products.
\nThe group today boasts 23 world leading brand partners such as CEAT, GoodYear, Pirelli, Caltex, Hankook, Exide and Bandag, and has even launched its own tyre brand, Infinity.
\nBased in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Al Dobowi Group remains privately owned, with Kandhari as its chairman.
\nA philanthropist, Kandhari also contributed nearly $20m to build the first ‘legal’ gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs, in the UAE. The 100,000 sq ft temple was built on land donated by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and opened in 2012. It has seen as many as 40,000 visitors in a day.
\nKandhari is also a founding member of the Emirates Golf Club.
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\nFounder, Palmon Group
\nManohar Lahori described his relationship with Dubai as an “experiment”, during an interview with Arabian Business in October. His company Palmon Group was the first to set up in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1985, he was the first expat to buy property in Dubai Marina’s Al Murjan Tower in 1999 and he bought two villas on the Palm Jumeirah the day it opened to buyers.
\nRisks they may be, but each of his ‘experiments’ has paid off.
\nPalmon Group was established in Mumbai in 1974 as a clothing manufacturer but a chance meeting with Dubai Ports (DP) World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem in the 1980s saw him and the business relocate to Jebel Ali.
\nHe has expanded the company to now encompass 20 businesses in fashion, interior design, real estate, logistics, facilities management and food but says he remains dedicated to Dubai, where he has 90 percent of his business.
\nLahori’s main focus today is on expanding Palmon’s industrial real estate division, which plans to build 1 million sq ft of warehousing and logistics space by 2020. Real estate, fashion and F&B are expected to contribute the biggest growth in the company over the next few years.
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\nChairman, GRP Industries
\nA successful busin-essman with great vision, Sudesh Aggarwal’s sense for the UAE’s growth prospects led him to establish Giant Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Industries in 1989.
\nBorn into a middle class family, Aggarwal completed his MBA at HP University, Shimla, India in 1973 and arrived in the UAE in November 1975 to work for the Dubai office of Talal Abu Ghazaleh & Co, an associate of Price Waterhouse (now PwC). In 1979 he decided to go it alone.
\nWhile his first effort was not a success, he persisted and set up GRP Industries Ltd, a manufacturer specialising in the production of glass reinforced polyester enclosures and kiosks for application in the electrical industry.
\nThe company manufactures polyester products for application in the local water and electricity infrastructure, and says it has seen growth of 20 percent each year since 2003, with DEWA (Dubai Electricity & Water Authority) and Emaar among its many esteemed clients.
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43.Dr Birbal Singh Dana
\nChairman and Managing Director, Dana Group
\nDr Birbal Singh dana is a qualified general surgeon who served in the University of Libya for 15 years before moving to Dubai in 1991 to set up the Dana Group of Companies.
\nThe group’s operations span steel processing, cable management systems, hospitals, supermarkets, heaters and water coolers. Its corporate office and showrooms are based in Dubai, but it also has trading companies in India and associate offices in Libya, Iraq, West Africa and South Africa, as well as manufacturing units in the UAE and Libya.
\nDr Singh has previously said he was “very naïve” when he first left the medical profession and moved to Dubai: “I am a general surgeon by qualification and my patients never lied to me as they wanted me to understand their illness. However, in business it’s completely different — everybody you come across is incredibly smart and has a hidden agenda”.
\nNonetheless, he has successfully built the Dana brand across core industries such as steel, retail and healthcare. The company says it prides itself on practicing the ‘Japanese style of management’ (hourensou), based on frequent discussion and collaboration with all levels of staff.
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\nFounder, Pacific Controls
\nA mechanical engineer by background, Dilip Rahulan founded Pacific Controls in Australia in 1984 and worked on several infrastructure projects in Africa before expanding the company to Dubai in the late 1990s.
\nRahulan has become known for his expertise in smart, energy-efficient building techniques. His company claims to have pioneered and deployed ‘smart city’ solutions that have reduced fire incidents in Dubai by 42 percent. Its ‘Galaxy’ software system aims to connect buildings and city infrastructure to ICT networks enabling real-time data collection to better manage energy consumption and services.
\nThe company also has pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of its own buildings by 20 percent; its UAE headquarters was awarded the accolade of the Middle East’s first platinum-rated green building by the US Green Building Council and Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). In July 2012, the firm signed an agreement with Saudi telco Mobily to jointly offer energy management solutions for companies in Saudi Arabia.