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01. Sunil Vaswani
\nIt takes a while. Quite a long while. But eventually, Sunil Vaswani tells Arabian Business the rather simple reason he has become the Gulf’s richest Indian, with a personal fortune estimated at $7.2bn.
\n“You know something? I just never give up. If I set my mind on something, I just go for it and keep trying until I get it. Be single-minded. Rejection doesn’t bother me. It took me four years to get the first automobile franchise in Africa.
\nThey kept saying ‘no, we will deal with a Japanese company’. Four years of saying no, four years of rejection. But I got it. Nothing is impossible.”
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07. Shaji Ul Mulk
\nFounder and Chairman
\nShaji Ul Mulk is the founder and chairman Mulk Holdings.
\nMulk Holdings is a multinational group with diversified business interests in Manufacturing of Metal Composites, Healthcare, Real Estate, Trading & Commodities, Aluminium Coil Coatings, Solar Energy & Energy Generation. The company with its headquarters based in Hamriya Freezone Sharjah, U.A.E is spread across Europe, U.S.A, Russia, India, Pakistan and Middle East. Mulk holding’s flagship brand Alubond u.s.a Metal Composites has grown into The World’s largest Metal composite brand with operations in 11 countries and market reach of 90 countries.
\nShaji's is an ardent cricket promoter and provides employment to professional cricketers for his champion ALUBOND TIGERS Cricket team. He is also actively involved in various Strategic Administrative levels of Emirates Cricket Board.
\nPhilanthropy plays an important role in shaji's life and the company has dedicated CSR activity setting us many charity schools, clinics, libraries and orphan marriage programs.
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19. The Khimji Family
\nKhimji Ramdas Group
\nThe Khimji family is the driving force behind the Omani business conglomerate Khimji Ramdas, which operates across a wide range of sectors including consumer, infrastructure and industrial sectors. The connection between Oman and the family began over 140 years ago, when Ramdas Thackersay relocated from Mandvi to Muscat, following in the footsteps of dhow merchants who had plied their trade between India and Sur in the early 19th century. Since then, the Khimjis have become mainstays of the Omani community, with 77-year-old Kanaksi Khimji taking on Omani citizenship and the coveted title of sheikh from the sultan of Oman. Currently there are six main partner-directors who run the company. These are: Kanaksi Gokaldas Khimji, the most senior director; Anil Mathradas Khimji, responsible for global brands; Ajay Mathradas Khimji, who handles the Nutro biscuit brand, for a sister firm of KR, based in the UAE; Pankaj Kanaksi Khimji (pictured); Nailesh Kanaksi Khimji, responsible for Roto Packaging and SFIC, both sister firms in the UAE; and Hritik Ajay Khimji.
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23. 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. Since setting up shop in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1985, the Palmon Group has gone from strength to strength. From its original core business of clothes manufacturing, it has branched out into a series of other sectors, including logistics, warehousing, fashion, facilities management, food and beverages and interior design. The group also has extensive investments in property both in the UAE and overseas.
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24. Surender Singh Kandhari
\nAl Dobowi Group
\nSurender Singh Kandhari’s significant cash pile is thanks to his ownership of the huge Al Dobowi Group, one of the largest tyre distribution companies in the world. The company was formed in 1976 and has since branched out into batteries, lubricants, conveyor belt systems and technical rubber products. Also renowned for his philanthropy, he contributed nearly $20m to build the first ‘legal’ gurdwara in the United Arab Emirates. It is built on land donated by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The structure is over 100,000 sq ft and has served over 40,000 worshippers in a single day. The gurdwara had its opening ceremony in 2012.
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25. Yogesh Mehta
\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 has just finished constructing its new tank terminal at a cost of $13m.
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28. Faizal Kottikollon
\nNot only has Faizal Kottikollon built a world-class business in Dubai from scratch but he is now on course to channel his successful business ambition into the charitable sphere, and change the lives of tens of millions of people in his native India, the Gulf and beyond.
\nKottikollon arrived in Dubai in 1995, and quickly spotted a gap in the oil and gas industry to manufacture valves. From an initial investment of $5,000, Kottikollon went on to create a $500m highly diversified business, in which Dubai International Capital bought a 45 percent stake, and which was eventually sold in 2012. Nowadays, he is focused on philanthropic ventures, including the manufacturing of precast schools and hospitals in India. Kottikollon has partnered with Stanford University in the US to develop healthcare technology that is effective but cheaper to produce and replicate.
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34. Rajen Kilachand
\nChairman and president
\nThe Dodsal 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 multibillion-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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38. Sudesh Aggarwal
\nAsuccessful businessman, Sudesh K Aggarwal’s hard work means he holds the record of being the first Indian in Sharjah to own a Rolls-Royce. Born in a middle class family in 1952, Aggarwal completed his MBA in 1973 from HP University, Shimla.
\nHe moved to the UAE in November 1975 to work for the Dubai office of Talal Abu Ghazaleh & Co, an associate of Price Waterhouse International. In 1979 he decided to go it alone.
\nWhile his first effort was not a success, he persisted and by 1989 had set up Giant Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Industries Ltd.
\nThe business has gone from strength to strength and in 2000 he took charge of the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) in Sharjah, where he has served as president.
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42. Ramesh Hiranandani
\nAfter spotting a gap in the market back in 1980, a young engineer called Ramesh Hiranandani founded Hira Traders in Dubai to service the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) sector. It has grown significantly since then to include construction, MEP, infrastructure, aluminium, glass and marine projects. Over the last 35 years, the firm has expanded to Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Kenya and India. It has also worked on some of the region’s most prestigious projects, including the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Metro.
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44. GB Jethwani
\nGB Choithram Jethwani has created an empire in the sphere of garments, textiles, plastic, building materials and heavy machinery. Jethwani took over the family firm’s Dubai office in 1954, and has grown the company to include offices in Mumbai and Singapore. He started up other companies and diversified into plastics — Eterna Plastic Manufacturing Company. He also started Kaycee Trading Company and Geebee Stores outlets for wholesale of textiles.
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45. Maghanmal Pancholia
\nMaghanmal Pancholia is one of Dubai’s most respected businessmen. Residing in Dubai for more than six decades, he has achieved an admirable number of accolades and senior appointments.
\nIt began for Pancholia in 1957, when he recognised the need for electricity in the emirate and decided to set up a firm to buy a generator and supply electricity to the markets around Dubai Creek. This made him the first man to bring electricity to the emirate, and he was later appointed the director of Dubai Electricity by the late Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. He has also had roles with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Al Maktoum Hospital.
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46. Dr Birbal Singh Dana
\nAgeneral 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 (pictured), 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.