If you’re looking for wealth, Dubai is a pretty great place to start your search. It’s become notorious as a playground and hangout spot for the rich, especially in the cloistered world of Middle East wealth.
Many of these men aren’t famous, though. Some are just wealthy, but that doesn’t make their stories any less fascinating. Their bank accounts are impressive, and so are their achievements, so let’s learn a little more about who they are and how they got rich.
1. M.A. Yusuff Ali – $5.7 billion
Yusuff Ali is the Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group International, which started as a family business and grew to become an international powerhouse. He’s known as the retail king, but the core of his business was importing and distributing frozen food.
The Lulu Group also owns supermarkets throughout the Middle East, along with several malls, so he’s definitely got his fingers in a lot of money pies.
Yusuff Ali is married with three children, and one of his daughters, Sabeena, has proven that the billionaire world is a small, colloquial place by marrying fellow billionaire Shamsheer Vayalil.
2. Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair – $2.9 billion
In the world of wealth, there are businessmen, and then there are businessmen. Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair definitely falls into the latter category. He’s a member of the Emirati family, and together with fellow billionaire Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair, he was the head of the Al Ghurair group.
His other business interests include a food company that sells pasta, a construction company that helped build the Dubai Metro, and the exterior of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
Al Ghurair also holds the distinction of being the richest person in the United Arab Emirates, and as of early 2021, he was ranked as the 809th richest person in the world.
3. Micky Jagtiani – $2.8 billion
Unlike many of Dubai’s wealthiest citizens, Micky Jagtiani has an intriguing rags to riches story. He started his path to riches by driving a cab in London, after which he moved to Bahrain and started a baby products shop in the early 70s.
Jagtiani built that shop into a business empire known as the Landmark Group. His wife runs the business as chairman and CEO, and the Landmark Group holds a number of popular international footwear brands, including Ecco, Aerosoles, Steve Madden and the popular US brand, Stride Rite.
His company is highly rated by his employees at AmbitionBox, which is one of his many companies. Jagtiani also owns Home Box, and a number of lifestyle brands, including Max fashion and Centrepoint Dubai, which is a retail and hospitality conglomerate.
4. Hussain Sajwani – $2.7 billion
Real estate and property development is a popular vehicle for Dubai billionaires, and Hussain Sajwani is among the most prosperous. Hussain is an Emirati billionaire and the founder of DAMAC properties, which has an investment arm known as the DAMAC Group.
Few real estate markets are as lucrative as Dubai, and Sajwani develops luxury properties, although he started out in the food service business, catering to the needs of the US military and the giant construction company, Bechtel.
While many of Dubai’s billionaires prefer to keep their notoriety on the low-key side, Sajwani has also seen his name splashed around for his efforts to build two Donald Trump-branded golf courses. He offered Trump a $2 billion real estate deal in Dubai after the 2016 election, but Trump turned it down.
His marketing is on the ostentatious side as well. He occasionally offers free Lamborghinis to apartment buyers, which is definitely a true sign of his wealth. He also has co-branding deals with Versace and Bugatti.
5. Abdulla Futtaim – $2.4 billion
It’s probably safe to call Futtaim an industrialist, and a rather wealthy one at that. Futtaim is the founder and owner of the Al-Futtaim Group, a conglomerate with holdings in electronics, the automotive industry, real estate, insurance and financial services.
Westerners would recognize him as the rights holder to the IKEA store in Qatar, Oman, Egypt and the United Emirates, and he also distributes major car brands like Lexus and Toyota in the Middle East.
He’s well known as an advocate for free trade, and he’s also the largest retailer in Africa. His yacht is named the Radiant, and it’s ranked as the seventh most expensive luxury asset of all time.
6. Saeed Bin Butti Al Qebaisi – $2.2 billion
Al Qebaisi is best identified as a healthcare magnate, but his holdings include retail companies as well as firms that provide money exchange services.
His family is related by marriage to the royal family in Abu Dhabi, and the lineage of the royal family in turn stretches back to the mid-1800s.
His medical companies operate through Centurion Investments, which he owns, and his medical holdings also include numerous hospitals scattered around the Middle East and beyond.
7. Mohammed Khalaf Al Habtoor – $2 billion
Many investors get their names plastered on the front of buildings and properties, but not nearly as many have a town named after them. Al Habtoor does, and he was born into one of the largest business families in Dubai.
He also founded the Dubai Polo Gold Cup in 2009, and the tournament is now known as the largest handicapped international polo tournament in the Middle East.
8. Ravi Pillai – $1.9 billion
Born into a family of farmers in India, Pillai was definitely not destined for the modest life of a farmer. He got a degree in commerce, then started an engineering contracting firm.
Pillai worked for several major Indian industrial houses, and his trading business, the RP Group, employs over 70,000 people across its businesses, and the company’s holdings include a mall in his hometown of Kollam City and another mall in nearby South Kerala.
9. Sunny Varkey – $1.8 billion
Varkey has the second lowest net worth of any billionaire in this list, but you could argue that his calling is far more noble – he’s actually an education magnate.
While the term might sound like a contradiction, his company, GEMS Education, is the largest international operator of private kindergartens, with more than 80 schools in at least seven countries.
He’s received numerous awards for his achievement as an educator, including one from UNESCO as a Goodwill Ambassador, and he’s also garnered several Businessman of the Year awards. Both of his sons have leadership roles in GEMS Education.
10. Divyank Turakhia – $1.76 billion
We’re finishing off the list with another Indian-born entrepreneur. Turakhia is a programmer, serial entrepreneur, and investor worth $1.76 billion. He achieved billionaire status by selling an advertising tech firm, Media.net to Miteno Communications Technology for $900 million in 2016.
Turakhia sold the business with his brother and according to Forbes India, this was the third-ever biggest ad tech deal. He stepped down as CEO of Media.net at the end of 2018. Divyank splits his time between homes in Dubai, London, LA and San Francisco. Currently, he’s on a career and looking for another new big business idea.