Dubai: Thousands of super-rich expatriates call the UAE home, but there are only a few of them who have made themselves billions of dirhams through a lot of hard work and determination.
According to a wealth research firm, there are at least 22 self-made billionaires in UAE as of March this year, the highest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. And the majority of them seem to come from just one country: India.
Data released by Hurun Research Institute showed that among the ten richest self-made billionaires in UAE, those who got rich not out of pure luck or through family inheritance, at least six of them are from the South Asian nation.
Even across the region, many of the ultra-rich residents with humble beginnings are foreigners, and their numbers are accelerating quickly.
“Self-made entrepreneurs in the Gulf are growing fast. Almost half of the self-made billionaires residing in the gulf are immigrants, especially from India, who have settled here,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.
Among the self-made billionaires in UAE, retail tycoon Micky Jagtiani took the crown as the richest, with a net worth of $5.5 billion, or roughly Dh20 billon.
The entrepreneur owns Landmark Group, the company behind the ubiquitous names like Splash, Home Centre, New Look, Iconic, Shoemart, Emax, Centrepoint and Babyshop.
Landmark Group has 2,200 outlets across 21 countries. The Indian expatriate started his business with baby products and then expanded into fashion, electronics, furniture and budget hotels in Middle East and Southeast Asia.
MA Yusuff Ali came second on the list and this self-made billionaire built a fortune by selling groceries. The businessman is behind the hypermarket chain LuLu, which has now 124 outlets across the Gulf, India and Egypt. But he’s not just into the retail business.
“He made the headlines for buying Scotland Yard inLondon for $171 million and is developing it into a 92,000-square-foot hotel,” Hurun noted. He has also poured more than $1 billion into his home country to build hotels, malls and convention centres.
The third-richest self-made billionaire who calls the UAE home is BR Shetty, the man behind UAE Exchange and NMC Healthcare.
According to Forbes, Shetty is a former pharma salesman who moved from Kerala to Abu Dhabi in 1972.
Initially interested in hospitals, he started building his empire in 1975 and later diversified into pharmaceuticals, financial services, retail, advertising and information technology.
The fourth-richest billionaire expat in the UAE is Ravi Pillai, with a net worth of $3.5 billion. This Indian national was born into a household of farmers.
He had earlier set up a sub-contracting business in Kerala that went bust before he moved to the Gulf. In 1978, he set up RP Group and later expanded it into a multi-billion-dollar construction firm.
Two other Indian nationals made it to the top ten richest self-made billionaires in the UAE and they are Adani Vinodbhai Shantilal and Sunny Varkey.
Adani is a new entrant to Hurun’s self-made billionaires list and is reported to have a net worth of $2.9 billion. He is the man behind Adani Enterprises, a multinational conglomerate based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.
Following closely behind is Sunny Varkey with a net worth of $2.8 billion. Varkey is the owner of Gems Education
Scroll down to know the rest of the ten richest self-made billionaires in UAE and how much they’re worth:
1.Majid Al Futtaim: $11 billion
2. Micky Jagtiani: $5.5 billion
3. MA Yusuff Ali: $5 billion
4. Hussain Sajwani: $4.3 billion
5. BR Shetty: $3.6 billion
6. Ravi Pillai: $3.5 billion
7. Khalf Al Habtoor & Family: $3.4 billion
8. Abdulla Al Futtaim: $3.1 billion
9. Adani Vinodbhai Shantilal: $2.9 billion
10. Sunny Varkey: $2.8 billion