The 50 Richest Indians in the GCC 2015
Arabian Business counts down the wealthiest Indians living in the Middle East
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.”
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.
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.
04. BR Shetty
\nThe man from Mangalore made global headlines last year with his eye-catching takeover of exchange giant Travelex.
\nCompleted just two weeks ago, the deal will see Travelex merged with Shetty’s home-grown giant UAE Exchange — with the new merged company all set to list in Abu Dhabi by 2017. If anything, the deal proves Shetty’s determination to keep on building what is already an impressive portfolio of businesses. Shetty is pretty much an institution in his own right having created one of the UAE’s best-known medical outfits. He is considering opening hospitals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with further expansion across the MENA region once political stability returns.
\nShetty arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1973, establishing New Medical Centre (NMC) two years later.
\nHe also quickly set up UAE Exchange, which accounts for 12 percent of all remittances to India. Shetty was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2007, and the Padma Shri in 2009 for his services to trade and industry.
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.
06. Raghuvinder Kataria
\nBanking and finance
\nWith investments in the UK, the US, Denmark, Germany, the UAE, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong, Kataria Holdings has a genuinely global reach. Raghuvinder Kataria is one of the best-known wheeler dealers in the region with a spectacular track record of success. Raised in Uganda, Kataria moved to the UK as a young man. Early in his professional career, he led the formation of JT Telecom — a joint venture between Telia of Sweden and Thailand-based Jasmine Telecom — that pioneered mobile telephony in India. That JV company later merged with Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises to provide coverage across the world’s second-most populous nation.
\nToday, Bharti Airtel is the number one provider in India and the third-largest in-country mobile operator in the world.\nKataria remains a founding shareholder in that company — which now serves nearly 250 million subscribers.
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.
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.
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.
10.Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil
\nDr. Shamsheer Vayalil is one the leading lights of the healthcare industry and serves as Managing Director at VPS Healthcare.
\nIn a short span of only eight years, Dr. Shamsheer has established a truly integrated, end-to-end, healthcare organization, delivering quality healthcare that fulfills the needs of the community. A humble, yet ambitious beginning with one hospital in 2007 is now a fully integrated healthcare business with thousands of employees, more than 600 doctors; 11 multispecialty hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturing unit and healthcare support services spread across the Middle East, Europe and India.
\nMoreover, with the perfect vision and strategy, Dr. Shamsheer expanded the hospital to include on-site clinics, one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing in the GCC and international retail chain, out-of-hospital services and IT services to provide comprehensive healthcare services.\nDr Shamsheer Vayalil’s net worth at market valuation currently stands at US$ 1.37 billion.
\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.
12. Dr Azad Moopen
\nThe second health–care mogul in this year’s list, Azad Moopen has overseen DM Healthcare’s expansion from a few small clinics to an empire of hospitals, medical centres and pharmacies across not only most of the GCC countries, but India too. Across its network, DM Healthcare treats a whopping 8 million patients every year.
\nThe Dubai-based firm, founded in 1987, is now one of the region’s largest private healthcare providers.
\nUnder the corporate brand Aster, the group now employs more than 5,000 people and anticipated revenues of $500m for the 2012 financial year, about 30 percent to 40 percent growth compared to 2011. Moopen, who recently turned 60 years old, says that DM Healthcare is looking to expand aggressively not only in the immediate region, but possibly worldwide in the coming years.
\nLast year, Arabian Business was granted access to detailed statements from Dr Moopen’s company. His 57 percent stake in his company, which has an enterprise value of around $1.8bn, forms by far the biggest portion of his wealth.\nHe also has a 90 percent stake in an educational institute in India, as well as personal immovable assets of $50m.
\nAltogether, DM Healthcare has a chain of six hospitals in India, and is planning to add six more hospitals to the five it already runs in the Gulf over the next two years.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
20. Asgar Shakoor Patel
\nHouse of Patels
\nBanking and finance
\nHaving made his money setting up one of India’s biggest transport and logistics conglomerates, Asgar Shakoor Patel travelled to Dubai with the cash needed to kick-start his own ventures, ironically benefitting from the earnings of his fellow Asian expats who typically worked as low-paid labourers. Wall St Exchange Centre became the UAE’s largest and oldest foreign exchange and money transfer company and was a lifeline for many who came to rely on Dubai to support their families back home.
\nPatel says he could sniff the money-making opportunities in the Middle East from 2,000km away. “I established the exchange centre to help the increasing number of Indians remitting money from Dubai to India,” he told us last year. “Dubai was just building up so labourers had to send the money back to India. Being in the roadways business I didn’t see any difference to transporting money. One thing went by wire and one thing went by truck.”
\nPatel spread the firm to the UK and Hong Kong, as well as other UAE emirates and used the profits to branch into real estate, creating property advisory group House of Patels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
27. Thumbay Moideen
\nBy 1997, Thumbay Moideen had been travelling to the UAE on business for five years. A third-generation businessman, he was well aware of the Gulf state’s growing acumen for money-making opportunities.
\nBut it was not until a chance meeting with the Ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, that the middle-aged father of two decided it was time to move.
\n“It was an accidental meeting with His Highness,” Moideen told us last year. That meeting resulted in Moideen setting up the Gulf Medical University. Nowadays, the group employs more than 1,500 staff, and is hoping to hire more than 7,000 in the next five years.
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.
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.”
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.
31. Zulekha Daud
\nZulekha Healthcare Group
\nDr Zulekha Daud left India over 40 years ago and came to the UAE with a dream to offer affordable quality medical facilities to all. In the process, she became the first female Indian doctor in what was then the Trucial States. She set up the Zulekha Healthcare Group in 1961 and quickly went from being a young medical graduate to a practising physician serving patients from all walks of life. Her company now employs around 1,050 staff and treats over 550,000 patients per year. As well as running hospitals in Dubai and Sharjah, the firm also oversees two medical centres and three pharmacies.
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.
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.
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.
35. Suresh Subberwal
\nAl Kabeer Group
\nFounded over 40 years, ago, the Al Kabeer Group has become a bona fide leader in the Middle East’s frozen foods industry.
\nThe Al Kabeer Group logo is likely to feature prominently in your freezer. The range includes meat and poultry products, seafood products, vegetarian products and ready-to-eat meals. Al Kabeer Group now distributes over 300 different types of products to 10,000 stores in the region. Subberwal has headed up the group for the last 30 years, overseeing its transformation into a multi-dimensional, multi-product business, with offices, processing units and cold storage facilities in over 15 countries.
36. Murij Manghnani
\nAl Razouki International Exchange
\nBanking and finance
\nMurij Manghnani came to Dubai way back in 1954 and joined International Traders (ME) Ltd, (ITL) which is a part of worldwide INTRA Group. He is also the vice chairman of Al Razouki International Exchange Co LLC, Dubai, operating under the management of Canara Bank, India. Well known for his philanthropy, he has set up a hospital at Gandhidham and also helped schools, colleges and other cultural, social and sports activities. Presently he is the vice chairman of Gandhidham Maitri Mandal, Gandhidham.
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.
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.
39. Sunny Kurian
\nDr Sunny Healthcare Group
\nSet up by dr Sunny Kurian in 1990, the Sharjah-based Dr Sunny Healthcare Group has gone from strength to strength. After earning a medical degree from Mysore University, Kurian teamed up with his wife to offer specialist paediatric and GP services in Sharjah. The group has since expanded to include six clinics in the emirate, while also expanding into pharmaceuticals. In addition, Kurian has also set up education facilities in Sharjah and Ajman, as well as expanding into healthcare projects back in India. He is a founding trustee of the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC).
40. Vardaraj Shetty
\nVardaraj — better known as Raj — Shetty runs one of the region’s largest home-grown hotel chains. The Ramee Group of Hotels and Resorts has 40 properties in its portfolio in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and India and also runs a shopping mall in Chennai. That’s still not enough for Shetty, who’s planning to add two more five-star hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the next three years at a cost of roughly $200m. It’s been an incredible story for Shetty, who first came to the UAE in 1978 and won his first opportunity to run his own hotel aged just 25.
41. Chetan Karani
\nMikura was founded in 1992 in Dubai by Chetan F Karani. A third-generation pearl merchant, he learnt the trade from the age of 15 from his father Fakirchand Karani. At that time the primary focus of the business was on importing cultured pearls from Japan and wholesaling them within the Middle East and India. The pearls would be imported from the family’s base in the Japanese city of Kobe, set up by Karani’s grandfather during the 1950s. Karani set up the Dubai office in 1982 and continued to grow the family’s pearl import business. Over the next three decades he has been able to create a market for high-quality pearl jewellery in the region.
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.
43. Ramesh Ramakrishnan
\nHaving posted not far off a AED1bn in revenues in its last financial year, Ramesh Ramakrishnan’s logistics giant is going from strength to strength. As the chairman of the Transworld Group of Companies (TGC), Ramakrishnan has become a well-respected businessman in the industry thanks to his success in creating one of the region’s biggest shipping empires.
\nAs a commerce graduate from the University of Mumbai, he relocated to Dubai to take the helm of the company. Established in 1976 by R Sivaswamy, TGC started off as a shipping agency in Bombay. The group has now diversified into a multi-faceted shipping and logistics company. Headquartered in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Transworld has offices in the US, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
47. K Muraleedharan
\nAs chairman of the Abu Dhabi-based Southern Franchise Company (SFC) Group, K Muraleedharan has developed an intricate understanding of the food, leisure and entertainment business. The fast food company opened its first restaurant — Southern Fried Chicken — in association with the UK’s Fast Food Systems in 1989 and has not looked back since. Southern Fried Chicken is now the UAE’s second-largest fried chicken franchise, while the group’s India Palace chain (above) has also become a staple for hungry expats and nationals alike.
\nToday the company has five operating divisions with restaurant chains throughout the UAE, and a four-star hotel in Dubai. It also has another five operating divisions based in India, spanning the hospitality, dairy, property and healthcare segments. Muraleedharan is also actively involved in a number of charitable endeavours as well as educational initiatives.
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.
49. Ajay Bhatia
\nBhatia Brothers has operations across the Gulf, India, the UK and France. It has been active in the Gulf and India for several generations. In fact, the roots of the company date back 100 years.
\nOverseeing the company’s numerous divisions in engineering and industry, hotels and tourism, consumer electronics, and cold stores, is Ajay Bhatia.
\nThe group’s hotels include the Ajman Beach Hotel, Kempinski Hotel and Resort Ajman (pictured), and the Pearl Hotel in Umm Al Quwain.
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.