Dubai is one of the most progressive cities in the world. Even though it is situated in a conservative Middle Eastern country like the United Arab Emirates, it has an open culture that attracts businesses from around the world. The city welcomes entrepreneurs to come to the city and be a part of the world of business over there. That is why the richest people living in Dubai are not only from the Emirates, but from other countries as well. The warmth of the city has a fascinating work culture.
Dubai happens to be among those well-established cities, which have managed to get the right kind of investment with its wide-ranging business development strategies. That is what makes the city the most developed one in the entire Middle East. Even though Dubai boasts of a great cosmopolitan culture, there is no denying the fact that it, being in an Islamic country, follows Islamic rules.
Foreign investors have to be aware of local customs and cultures, especially when they deal with local business partners. Still, Dubai happens to be a wide-open market for anybody who is willing to do business in the city. Dubai has constantly produced millionaires and billionaires over the years, thanks to its perfect location for the shipping sector. Dubai also has highly developed logistics and extremely convenient product distribution. The city allows duty free exports to a number of countries in the Middle East, which motivates foreign investors to go for offshore companies here. Here are the 15 richest people living in Dubai.
15 Mohamed Alabbar
Mohamed Alabbar’s company, Emaar Properties, made a world record after building “Burj al Khalifa,” the tallest building in the world. It was in 2010, when the UAE was having a difficult time in real estate. “Burj al Khalifa” has more than 1,000 works of art, from photography to painting to sculpture, which are created by various international artists. The works of art are specifically chosen to represent the diversity Dubai boasts of.
Mohamed Alabbar is one of the major people who are responsible for designing Dubai as one of the world’s most popular shopping destinations. In 2011, he built The Dubai Mall that attracted about 54 million visitors. Mohamed Alabbar also launched Dubai Shopping Festival, an iconic retail trade event of the city. Mohamed Alabbar’s net worth is $76 million, which makes him one of the richest people in Dubai. In 2006, Foreign Direct Investment magazine named him as the Middle East Personality of the Year.
14 Dhahi Khalfan Tamim
Dhahi Khalfan Tamim is the Head of General Security for the Emirate of Dubai. He also led the Dubai Police Force until Khamis Al-Mazeina took over in 2013. His grabbed international attention during the investigation of the group allegedly responsible for the assassination of senior Hamas military commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. More recently, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim took a controversial stand in favor of Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.” He took to Twitter to declare his “complete support” for Trump’s policy, which banned entry of people from seven Muslim countries to the United States as it might cause a breach in the country’s security.
Dhahi Khalfan Tamim is responsible for introducing DNA tests in investigations. He also created rehab centers and rescue teams. He launched over 22 establishments, like the Dubai Forensic Laboratory and the Dubai Police Academy. Tamim’s net worth is $81 million, which makes him one of the richest people in Dubai.
13 Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
The only woman in the list, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi was appointed as the Minister of State for Tolerance, and she immediately visited Pope Francis. Back in 2004, she became the first Emirati woman to hold a cabinet position. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi earlier served as the Minister of International Cooperation and Development. During her tenure, she was responsible for pushing the UAE to unprecedented philanthropy. While the country contributed $1.6 billion to foreign nations in 2012, it was $5.4 billion in 2013.
Ranked as one of world’s more powerful women, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s net worth is $90 million. A member of the Sharjah’s ruling family, she is credited for developing a system at Dubai airport, which slashed cargo turnaround times. She established the first B2B online marketplace in the Gulf, Tejari. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is a member the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry.
12 Azad Moopen
The next in the list of the richest people living in Dubai is physician Azad Moopen. Azad Moopen was a teacher in Kerala, India. However, he gave up his teaching profession and started with just one clinic in Dubai in 1987. Now, the Indian physician has a hospital chain in Dubai, called Aster DM Healthcare. The chain has 200 pharmacies, 90 clinics and 18 hospitals in India and the Middle East. Aster DM Healthcare has more than 2000 doctors as its employee base, who treat 10 million patients in a year.
Azad Moopen’s Aster DM Healthcare acquired 25% stake in Ramesh Hospitals in Hyderabad, India last year. His net worth at present is $1.03b, as of April 27, 2017. He received a number of prestigious awards like the Arab Health Award for "Outstanding Contribution of an Individual to the Middle East Healthcare Industry" in 2010 and Dubai Service Excellence Award in 2004. The Indian government awarded him with Padma Shri in 2011.
11 Joy Alukkas
Promoted as “World's favorite jeweler,” this Indian businessman is one of the richest people in Dubai. With his net worth $1.72 billion (as of April 27, 2017), Joy Alukkas has a jewelry chain around the world. The mother company is based in Kerala, India, while it has 130 showrooms around the world. Joy Alukkas set up his first jewelry showroom in the UAE in 1987 and has only flourished over the years.
The Joyalukkas Group has a present employment of around 8000 people 11 countries such as India, UK, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and Singapore. The jewelry chain has the Retailer of the Year in the Middle East honor in its kitty. The company has also got the Dubai Quality Awards Certification. It happens to be the only jeweler to get the prestigious Superbrand status in the UAE for six consecutive years. The Joyalukkas Group operations also deals in Luxury Air Charter, Money Exchange and Fashion.
10 Sunny Varkey
Sunny Varkey controls GEMS Education. The largest operator of K-12 schools in the world has a network of 89 schools around the globe. Varkey’s parents were expat teachers from Kerala. In 1959, when the Emirates was still quite underdeveloped, the family migrated to Dubai. They started teaching English to locals. They even started teaching members of the royal family. They had “Our Own English School.”
Sunny, who was sent back to India for his education, never went beyond high school. He reportedly sold fruits on the road for extra money. He went back to Dubai in 1970. In 1980, he took the charge of his parents’ school. He laid bricks for school buildings and even drove the school bus. Now, GEMS is the most successful educational group in the region. Until 2015, Varkey Foundation had former U.S. president Bill Clinton as its honorary chairman. Sunny Varkey’s net worth is $2 billion (as of April 27, 2017), which makes him one of the richest people living in Dubai.
9 Saif Al Ghurair
Saif Al Ghurair is one of the members of the board of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Economic Board, as well as the Dubai Executive Council. He happens to be the former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Al-Ghurair Group, which deals in manufacturing sectors and real estate in the UAE. The manufacturing businesses of the group includes steel, aluminum and petrochemicals. Its petrochemical subsidiaries include Adeka Al Ghurair Additives and Taghleef Industries.
With a net worth of $2.1 billion (as of April 27, 2017), Saif is one of the richest people in Dubai. At present, Saif Al Ghurair hold significant shares in leading Emirati bank Mashreq, run by his nephew, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. He had stakes in Nippon Steel, which he sold out in 2011. Saif Al Ghurair belongs to an old merchant family in Dubai, which initially harvested pearls from the Arabian Gulf. During a boat trip to India in the 1930s, Saif met with a storm that left him blind in one eye.
8 B.R. Shetty
B.R. Shetty, another entrepreneur from Kerala, immigrated from India to the UAE in 1972. He was once a pharma salesman, but now he has emerged to be one of the richest people living in Dubai, thanks to his healthcare empire. It is believed that Shetty had only $8 in his pocket when he reached Abu Dhabi to start his business. He also had a lot of debt in bank loans that he took to pay for his sister’s wedding. His bedroom was his first office, where he worked on his Samsonite bag using it as a table. He apparently still has the bag in his collection.
He is the owner of one of the largest hospital chains in the UAE, London-listed NMC Health. Last December, he spent $560 million to acquire Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah. His BRS Ventures invested $1.8 billion in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The amount is supposed to be spent for various projects in eduction, hospitality and healthcare. His generics firm Neopharma has collaborated with Merck Serono and Pfizer for contract manufacturing. Shetty’s net worth is $3.2 billion, as of April 27, 2017.
7 Hussain Sajwani
Hussain Sajwani founded Damac Properties, a residential real estate developing company, in 2002. At that time, the Dubai government issued a decree to allow foreigners to own properties in the city. Sajwani targeted non-Emiratis as his main buyers. He bought a piece of land in a part of the city, which was still underdeveloped. It took him less than six months to sell off all the units in his 38-story residential building. And, that happened even before he started the construction of the building.
Now, Sajwani is one of the most significant people who make Dubai an exquisitely designed city. He partnered with Donald Trump in 2013 to develop two golf courses. After Trump became the U.S. president, The Trump International Golf Course Dubai opened in February 2017 at Damac's Akoya residential development. The Trump World Golf Course is scheduled to open a separate Damac development at the end of 2018. This golf course is designed by none other than Tiger Woods. Sajwani’s net worth is $3.4 billion, as of April, 2017.
6 Ravi Pillai
Ravi Pillai, another Keralite who migrated to the Emirates, had a small construction company in his native place. The business failed due to a workers’ strike and Ravi, whose parents were farmers, set off to Dubai. He started his business in the Emirates in 1979, with the help of a local partner who invested in his venture. He eventually built RP Group of Companies. The construction heavyweight in the Middle East earns $5.3 billion in revenue.
Ravi Pillai happens to be one of the largest employers of Indian talents in the Middle East. In 2016, when thousands of Indians lost their job in Saudi Arabia due to recession, he pledged to employ 3,000 of those. He also invests big time in India, as he regularly picks up shares in real estate, hotels and banks. With a net worth of $3.6 billion (as of April, 2017), Ravi Pillai has made it big from scratches and emerged to be one of the richest people in Dubai.
5 Abdulla Al Futtaim
Abdulla Al Futtaim is the owner of the Al Futtaim Group, which happens to be the sole distributor of Honda and Toyota vehicles in the UAE. He also owns Orient Insurance Co., one of the biggest insurance companies in the country. After opening Cairo Festival City and Dubai Festival City, Abdulla Al Futtaim has set up Doha Festival City, which promises to be home to more than 500 stores, ranging from day-to-day shopping to the most luxurious of high-end fashion. There are more than 100 restaurants to satisfy every culinary taste.
With a net worth of $4.1 billion (as of April, 2017), the Emirati billionaire is one of the richest people living in Dubai. His son, Omar Abdullah Al-Futtaim, is the CEO of Al-Futtaim Private Company LLC. In addition to the automotive field, Abdulla Al Futtaim also deals in real estate and retail business. He split business ties with his brother Majid Al Futtaim, in the early 1990s.
4 Micky Jagtiani
Micky Jagtiani, who is now called a retail magnate in the Middle East, used to be a taxi driver in London. He eventually migrated to Bahrain to start a baby products shop in 1973. Eventually, he established Landmark Group, which has its headquarter in Dubai. The company earns an estimated annual revenue worth $6 billion. Landmark has over 2,200 stores in India, Africa and the Middle East. When Donald Trump made anti-Muslim comments during his presidential campaign, Landmark banned the sale of all Trump-branded products.
A college dropout, Micky Jagtiani expanded his business into budget hotels, furniture and fashion over the years. He runs his business in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. With a net worth of $4.5 billion (as of April, 2017), Jagtiani is one of the richest Indians in the world. He is also one of the richest people living in Dubai. His initiative called Landmark International Foundation of Empowerment (LIFE) supports underprivileged children through healthcare and schools.
3 M.A. Yusuff Ali
Called the retail king of the Middle East, M.A. Yusuff Ali earns more than $7.4 billion in revenue for his LuLu Group. He has 133 stores in Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, India and the Gulf. His new projects include one in Kerala. The $300 million investment will consist of a convention center, a hotel and a mall. M.A. Yusuff Ali has a 50 percent stake in Sheraton hotel in Muscat. He also owns Dubai’s first Steigenberger hotel, and the Scotland Yard Hotel in London is going to reopen later in 2017.
Yusuff Ali moved to the Emirates in 1973. His uncle MK Abdullah, the Chairman of the EMKE Group of companies, was already doing business in Abu Dhabi. Yusuff Ali developed the wholesale distribution of the company and started a supermarket business with Lulu Hypermarket. He is also involved in a number of philanthropic activities in both India and the Middle East. His company has teamed up with Dubai Cares to adopt schools in Nepal and Gaza. His net worth is $5 billion, as of April, 2017.
2 Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair
Abdulla Al Ghurair established Mashreqbank in 1967, which later became one of the leading banks in the UAE. Abdulla, the cousin of Saif Al Ghurair, is the Chairman of the bank. His holding company, which is run by an outsider, deals in construction, real estate and food businesses. In 2015, he declared that one third of his company’s assets would be used for the investment of educational programs in the Emirates and other Arab nations. His son, Abdul Aziz, is the CEO of the Al Ghurair Group.
With a net worth of $7 billion (as of April, 2017), Abdulla Al Ghurair is one of the richest people in Dubai. He is also one of the richest people in the world. He ran Hewlett-Packard’s business division in the Middle East. Abdulla Al Ghurair, an MBA from Stanford University, faced a troubled time during the recession due to unsuccessful loans in real estate. The bank bettered its revenue by restricting its lending.
1 Majid Al Futtaim
Majid Al Futtaim, with an estimated net worth of $10.9 billion (as of April, 2017), is the richest entrepreneur in Dubai. He established Majid Al Futtaim Group in 1992, after he split with his brother and left the Al Futtaim empire. His holding company is run by outsiders. The company deals in malls and presently spans 15 international markets, with more than 33,000 employees.
It has Carrefour hypermarkets across Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The company also operates Mall of the Emirates. His latest ventures include the Mall of Egypt, which happens to be the first shopping destination of its kind in the country. Majid Al Futtaim’s son Tariq Al Futtaim, works for the Majid Al Futtaim Group. The richest entrepreneur in the UAE owns the yacht Quattroelle, which has a crew of 29. The yacht was built by Lurssen for Jamaican business magnate Michael Lee-Chin in 2013. Majid Al Futtaim bought it in 2014.