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02. Feroz Allana
\nLast year’s leader of the rich list has been relegated to second place, but there’s no need to feel sorry for Feroz Allana. The FMCG magnate is still worth a cool $4.5bn. His son Irfan Allana is the chairman of the Allana Group, but Feroz is credited with its staggering success. His vision and business acumen not only drives his business, but also ensures that his expertise is liberally employed by the federal government and various state governments of India, in the development of long-term plans for exports from India in general and agro-based products in particular.
\nEstablished in 1975, IFFCO is a UAE-based business house, which manufactures and markets a well-integrated range of consumer products. IFFCO operates under the following business segments: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), commodities, oils, frozen foods and institutional services. IFFCO also manufactures related derivatives and intermediates associated with these business segments. IFFCO brands include London Dairy, Tiffany, Noor, Rahma, Igloo and Al Baker.
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05. Yusuffali MA
\nLuLu Group International
\nFresh from meeting Barack Obama during the US president’s recent trip to India, Yusuffali MA has seen plenty of highlights over the past year or so. The LuLu International Group founder has announced bumper investments in India, Saudi Arabia and the Far East — altogether worth well over $1bn. The company also took a hefty stake in the UK-based East India Company, opened seven hypermarkets in the GCC and India, and also launched the biggest hotel in Kerala — the Marriott Kochi — in December.
\nAll in all, LuLu International now has 112 stores in the Gulf, Yemen, Egypt and India, while Yusuffali himself has substantial investments in three of India’s biggest banks. According to Deloitte, the firm is the biggest retailer in the Middle East and one of the fastest-growing in the world, ranking in the top 200 companies. Not bad for a virtually penniless man who made his way to the UAE in 1973 on a small boat to work in his uncle’s tiny distribution company.
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09. L T Pagarani
\nhe Choithrams super–market brand was originally set up in West Africa in 1944 by Thakurdas Choithram \nPagarani, although it is the company’s current chairman who is credited with much of its success.
\nThe elder Pagarani opened the first grocery in Sierra Leone and over the last seven decades Choithram & Sons has developed into an international company spanning Europe, North America, Africa as well as the Gulf.
\nThree decades ago Choithrams established its first UAE store and now has a total of 25 across the emirates as well as the GCC.
\nToday, the firm is led by LT Pagarani, who continues to expand the brand across the region. In 2010, Pagarani confirmed that Choithrams planned to almost double the number of shops across the UAE and open smaller convenience stores.
\nAside from retail, the company also has interests in food services, hospitality, garments and household appliances, and logistics and distribution.
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\nThe third retailer in this year’s top ten, Tony Jashanmal’s Jashanmal Group has benefitted hugely from the economic recovery in the Gulf, and especially in the UAE. The firm started from humble beginnings with just one store in Iraq in 1919 and has grown into one of the most successful retail conglomerates in the region. Jashanmal overseas the retail and wholesale trading of high-end luxury and consumer goods and services. The company represents various global retail franchises in the region and operates a newspaper and magazines division which oversees the marketing and distribution of books and magazines in the Gulf region.
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13. The Chhabria Family
\nFounded in 1974, the flagship of Jumbo Group, Jumbo Electronics, is a partner for some of the world’s top brands. It is also one of the largest distributors of Sony products anywhere on the planet. Vidya Chhabria took over the reins of the Jumbo Group after her husband’s death in 2002, and the UAE-based family has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The late Manohar Chhabria’s aggressive acquisitions of brands including Shaw Wallace and Mather & Platt earned him the nickname ‘takeover tycoon’.
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14. Harshad Mehta
\nRosy Blue Group
\nDropping two places in this year’s list is Harshad Mehta, the chairman of Rosy Blue Group, one of the world’s biggest diamond merchants. Born in 1947, his understanding of the diamond industry has allowed him to build a huge network of companies in 15 countries employing more than 15,000 people. Mehta is also the vice chairman of Dubai Diamond Exchange, chairman of the Governing Council of LIFE, an organisation comprising Saurashtra Medical and Charitable Trust and the \nIndian Medical Scientific Research Foundation.
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15. JP Kalwani
\nAl Safeer Group
\nJP Kalwani founded his diversified group more than two decades ago, and since then it has grown into a massive operation spanning five business sectors and 3,500 employees across the region. In the retail sector it has top brands such as Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Grab and Lily, and five huge malls including Century Mall in Dubai and Safeer Mall in Sharjah. It is also active in real estate, with developments including the Safeer Tower, Safeer Mall and Sleep Ezee factory. But Kalwani’s first ventures were in manufacturing where he is still a huge player, overseeing International Poly Industries and Show Racks Factory.
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18. Amit Dhamani
\nThere are no shortage of jewellery tycoons in this list, and one of the biggest is Amit Dhamani. The family business has long been one of the most successful in the industry, and famed for its “Loose Stones” range. The company also controls the sourcing and polishing of all its jewels, and has successfully expanded into a men’s collection. This includes a range of watches featuring white diamonds, and a huge range of bold rings and accessories for men. Dhamani’s passion is clear; his innovative work has earned him a BAREEQ Award for following good jewellery and tradeppractices by the government of Dubai. In addition, Dhamani is also the youngest person to sit on the board of governors for the GIA, is the president of The Harvard OPM 39 Alumni, on the board of directors of the GIA Alumni chapter in the Gulf and a member of the board of directors of the NCDIA; he also served on the board of directors of Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group from 2006 till 2010.
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21. Joy Alukkas
\nYet another retail boss, Joy Alukkas is one of the most respected businessmen in the region. Alukkas, who set up the $1bn global conglomerate a quarter of a century ago, has become a key player in the Middle East jewellery market, with as many as 80 stores and 5,000 staff. Founded in 1987, the company has over 10 million customers and Joyalukkas has the distinction of being awarded the Dubai Quality Awards Certification by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai. In December, Alukkas said he would invest $243m in setting up 30 new stores — 20 in India and ten overseas. The Thrissur-based company already has 95 outlets, and is considering expanding its footprint in the US, Sri Lanka and Europe.
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22. Nilesh Ved
\nNilesh Ved heads up the UAE’s Apparel Group, which has over 900 stores and more than 50 international brands under its umbrella. It is aiming to have over 1,200 stores by the end of this year, Ved was instrumental in 1999 in bringing the US clothing brand Ninewest from America, and launched the first stores in Lamcy Plaza in Dubai. He has also masterminded the launch of the Tim Hortons chain in the Gulf. Ved also runs the India-based Major Brands, which franchises over a dozen brands including Mango on the subcontinent. The company now employs over 8,000 staff and operates on four continents — and is planning to enter new markets, including Egypt and the broader African continent.
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26. Vasu Shroff
\nFounded by Vasu Shroff in 1952, Regal Traders was set up on the banks of the Dubai Creek, to deal in wholesaling and indenting of fine fabrics from Japan and India. Now best known as one of the UAE’s largest fabric chains, Regal Group is the preferred source of quality fabrics to leading local couturiers. Shroff has largely handed control of his business over to sons Raju and Vikram.
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29. Khurshid Vakil
\nMarina Home Interiors
\nNot content with taking the Gulf by storm, Khurshid Vakil has set his sights on his native India. The founder of the Marina Home Interiors brand said recently that he would be investing just shy of $100m on opening 50 stores in some of the biggest cities on the subcontinent.
\nConceptualised in the UAE in 1998 following extensive research, Marina Home Interiors fills a niche within the market. Sourced from over 20 countries in four continents, Vakil says the success of the brand is his understanding of the trends, likes and dislikes of his customers.
\n“We have gone from being a furniture retailer to a leader in home and lifestyle fashion,” Vakil said recently. “The company has not changed in recent years, but has remained in sync with the changing environment.”
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30. Firoz Merchant
\nThere’s no slowing down for Firoz Merchant, who last week announced that it would spend $150m over three years to expand its offerings in India. Merchant has certainly come a long way from sharing a bedroom with eight siblings in Mumbai. Merchant moved to Dubai in 1989 to set up his own gold trading business, Pure Gold Jewellers. Today the chain has 85 stores across India and the Middle East as well as two jewellery manufacturing factories in India and in China, employing over 1,500 workers.
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32. Dr Dhananjay Datar
\nAl Adil Trading
\nIn September, Al Adil Trading opened up its 27th GCC outlet in Fujairah. Dhananjay Datar, managing director of the import-export firm the Al Adil Group, is the protagonist in a major business success story.
\nDatar is responsible for turning Al Adil Trading, a small grocery store established by his father in 1984, into a major spice company that enjoys a presence across the GCC and beyond. Products are largely sourced from his Mumbai-based firm, Masala King Exports. He received the Best Enterprise Award from the Europe Business Assembly at the Oxford Summit of Leaders this year and has prestigious customers such as Dubai Duty Free and five-star hotels.
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33. Jacky Panjabi
\nFrom its humble beginnings in Hong Kong in 1970, Jacky’s Group has come a long way to become one of the leading international traders in electronics and general merchandise in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and the Far East. Led by the redoubtable Jacky Panjabi, and with distribution outlets in the UAE, Hong Kong and Africa, annual sales are thought to top AED1bn each year. The company started its life as a mail order service for everything from televisions to typewriters, before moving into wholesale electronics in 1980.
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37. Jayant Ganwani
\nOne of the most diversified business conglomerates in the UAE, the Lal’s Group of Companies has multiple interests in retail, trading and hospitality. It also owns and operates Lamcy Plaza, one of the UAE’s most popular shopping destinations. Ganwani also oversees the Sharjah Shopping Mall and the Arabian Centre Mall. Altogether, Ganwani owns and runs more than 50 retail franchises, including Homes R Us, Mr Price, Bossini, G2000 and Daiso. Its most recent addition has been FFC New York, which opened its third Dubai store in Deira City Centre last year. Ganwani recently said that he was planning to diversify into manufacturing and education.
\nLal’s Group has nine stores in the UAE and is growing fast, with Ganwani saying that he will be adding 50 Daiso stores to the Gulf over the next three years.