Richest Man & Most Powerful Indians in the Middle East
According to Forbes Middle East, the most powerful Indians in the Middle East have a net worth of more than $26 billion. Their areas of focus vary from supermarkets to pharmaceuticals and healthcare to jewellery and, in the case of Kabir Mulchandani, real estate and hospitality.
These men come from a variety of backgrounds but have all prospered in the Gulf where abundant business opportunities await those savvy enough to take advantage of them.
The Lure of the UAE
To the outsider, it may seem curious that so many Indian entrepreneurs have looked to the UAE to realise their ambitions. But if you look a little closer you will find myriad reasons why Indian businessmen would thrive here. Take FIVE Holdings CEO Kabir Mulchandani, for instance.
After selling his India-based consumer electronics business Baron International he found himself in Dubai contemplating his next move. As he glanced out the window of the Ritz Carlton he saw before him a hive of activity and recognized that it represented nearly unlimited business opportunities.
He extended his stay, dipped his toes into the real estate market and discovered almost unheard-of potential. 20 years later he is one of Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most powerful Indians in the Gulf.
The Old Guard
Like many Indian entrepreneurs FIVE Holding CEO Kabir Mulchandani came to Dubai in the early 2000s and found success. He also found that a previous generation had already set down roots and laid the groundwork for those who would come later. These included Kerala native M. A. Yusuff Ali who arrived in Abu Dhabi 50 years ago to join his uncle’s fledgling distribution business. Today, that business is called the Lulu Group and is one of the world’s fastest-growing supermarket chains. With an estimated net worth of nearly $6 billion Yusuff Ali routinely headlines any list of the richest man & most powerful Indians in the Middle East.
Among the Old Guard in the UAE are unlikely success stories such as that of Firoz Merchant. Merchant was born in Mumbai into a family of modest means. His father struggled to care for his 9 children, to the point that Firoz was forced to leave school after Grade 2 since the family could no longer afford his tuition fees. But this did not deter Merchant who adopted his father’s approach to life: accept the hand you’ve been dealt and find the strength to overcome.
And that he did. While visiting Dubai on his honeymoon in the mid-1980s he was mesmerized by the gold traders in the Dubai Gold Souk (market) and realised he had found what he wanted to do. Shortly thereafter he relocated to Dubai and today he is Chairman of the Pure Gold Group and has a personal net worth estimated at $1 billion.
Ravi Pillai is another native of Kerala who found his pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow in Dubai. After trying unsuccessfully to get a construction business off the ground in Kerala he relocated to Dubai and began a small distribution company. He quickly recognised that Dubai was an ideal place to reignite his construction ambitions and so he established HSN construction, which in time would morph into the RP Group, a massive construction and development business with more than 70,000 employees as of this writing.
Into the Future
The accomplishments of the above-mentioned pioneers will never be diminished and stand as a testament to the value of hard work and persistence, as well as the vision of many Indian entrepreneurs. In their footsteps there now comes a new generation of rich and powerful Indian businessmen making their mark on the Middle East. This new breed is led by Kabir Mulchandani, founder and CEO of FIVE Holdings, one of the most prestigious real estate development companies in Dubai.
With landmark properties such as the FIVE Palm Jumeirah Hotel and the 59-storey FIVE Jumeirah Village in his portfolio Mulchandani is in the conversation for the most powerful entrepreneur in the UAE of Indian origins. He is widely recognized as one of the most powerful Indians in the Middle East and, as FIVE Holdings expands into the international hospitality space, his influence and wealth will only continue to grow.