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03. Dr Ravi Pillai
\nRising by one place this year, \nour estimate of Dr Ravi Pillai’s wealth has swelled as a result of rapid business expansion over the course of the last 12 months.
\nWith 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 last year.\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.
\nDr Pillai has an MBA from Cochin University and an honorary doctorate from Excelsior State University in the United States. In 2007, Dr 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 Dr Pillai’s hit list is Dubai, where his RP Global subsidiary has huge plans in the property, education and hospitality segments.
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08. PNC Menon
\nAnother real estate \ngiant, PNC Menon is currently working on perhaps his biggest project yet — the Mohammed Bin Rashid City development in Dubai.
\nAlmost 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.
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16. Kabir Mulchandani
\nKabir Mulchandani’s massive $1bn hotel and furnished residences project on The Palm Jumeirah is already taking shape. The Viceroy Palm Jumeirah — which is fully sold out — is all set to open its doors in 2016.
\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.
\nMulchandani’s career in Dubai has been something of a rollercoaster ride. After running property giant Dynasty Zarooni, he was briefly jailed over fraud charges before being completely cleared. He then founded SKAI Holdings, and has ridden Dubai’s second property boom to its current peak.
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17. Rizwan Sajan
\nAs the founder and \nchairman of Danube Group, one of the emirate’s most successful business conglomerates, Rizwan Sajan 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. He should know; in the last 12 months, his company has launched two new property projects in the emirate.
\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 $1bn by the end of this year.
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48. Deepak Arora
\nCity Diamond Contracting
\nAs the managing director of the DRA Group of companies, Arora’s industry experience has helped his firms land a series of lucrative contracts during a period of resurgence for the regional construction industry. Arora’s companies include City Diamond Contracting, MEPTech, Giant Star Trading, DRA Product Design, DRA Group, DRA Logistics and DRA International. The firm is now focusing on steel and concrete structures.
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50. Ashok Uttamchandani
\nRocky Real Estate
\nRocky Real Estate is a family business founded and run by the Uttamchandani family. It started out as a team of just three but now has close to 300 staff. Ashok Uttamchandani originally worked in the banking and textile sectors, followed by a tailoring shop, a restaurant and a recruitment firm. But it was the move to real estate that sowed the seeds of his considerable fortune. Uttamchandani is also active in Mauritius, where he owns Blue Ocean Park, which has signed up with Westin to launch the latter’s first hotel in the country.