At least two expatriates in the UAE who are from India are among the richest self-made billionaires in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, according to a new report. Yusuff Ali M.A., the owner of one of the ubiquitous retail brands in the UAE, Lulu Hypermarket, and Micky Jagtiani, the success behind Landmark that runs a number of retail stores, have been included in the list of top ten richest people in the Gulf by China-based Hurun Research Institute.
Both entrepreneurs from India, with a combined net worth of $10.8 billion (Dh39 billion) are based in the UAE. The institute’s first ever study of self-made billionaires from the Gulf also showed that Dubai is home to the highest number of people who have become billionaires through their own efforts, making it the most preferred destination for the Gulf’s ultra-rich.
There are now 12 individuals with at least $1 billion in fortunes living in Dubai, the highest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. The billionaires’ club in the emirate is dominated by UAE nationals, although it also includes Jagtiani from India.
Dubai is followed by Jeddah with four billionaires, and Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Muscat with three each. Across the Gulf, the self-made billionaire population has reached 27 individuals, with combined fortunes hitting $84 billlion, and per capita wealth reaching $2.2 billion, up 10 percent year on year. While only 27 billionaires from the Gulf have been documented so far, it is likely that the actual number is now close to 100.
“If we managed to find 27 self-made billionaires, you can be sure there must be close to 100 self-made billionaires in the Gulf, since for every one that we have found, we have missed at least two if not more," said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.
By country, the UAE topped the list with 16 billionaires, followed by Saudi Arabia with seven billionaires and Oman with three billionaires. So far, only one billionaire has moved out of the region, Mahdi Al-Tajir, 75, who has a net worth of $1.8 billion and now lives in the United Kingdom.
Here’s a quick look at some of the self-made billionaires in the Gulf:
Majid Al Futtaim
Founder of Majid Al Futtaim Group who brought to Dubai the Mall of the Emirates, Carrefour hypermarkets and Egypt, the first indoor ski inside a mega shopping complex
Net worth: $13 billion
Mohammed Al Amoudi, 70
A billionaire from Ethiopia. He first made a lot of money from construction and real estate. He later ventured into the petrol industry through the acquisition of oil refineries in Sweden and Morocco. His most valuable asset? His oil refiner called Preem, said to be the largest fuel company in Sweden.
Net worth: $8.1 billion
MA Yusuff Ali, 61
He is the man behind one of the ubiquitous grocery brands in the UAE, the LuLu Hypermarket operated by his company Emke Group. The “retail king” has also invested $300 million to build a mall, hotel and convention centre in India.
Net worth: $6.2 billion
Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, 57
The owner of MBI Group has a number of premium and budget hotels in his portfolio. A Unesco special envoy, through his foundation, Al Jaber has organised support for restoring Mali's cultural heritage including mosques and old Muslim manuscripts
Net worth: $6.2 billion
Sulaiman Al Rajhi & family, 96
Sulaiman owns Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic Bank in the world. Al Rajhi has moved a portion of his stake in the bank to an endowment that bears his name and donated the bulk of his fortune to charity, funding anti-hunger efforts and education in Saudi Arabia. Another co-founder of the bank, Abdulla Al Rajhi makes the list.
Net worth: $4.9 billion
Micky Jagtiani, 64
The Dubai-based billionaire is the founder of Landmark Group. In 2015, after Donald Trump made anti-Muslim remarks, Dubai’s Landmark Group suspended sales of all Trump-branded products.
Net worth: $4.6 billion
Hussain Sajwani, 63
The owner of Damac has been promoting properties to foreigners, who are allowed to own apartments in the emirate. Sajwani had earlier collaborated with US president Donald Trump to set up two golf courses in the UAE. In mid-February, the Trump International Golf Course Dubai opened at Damac's Akoya development, while the Trump World Golf Course, which is in another development, is expected to open next year.
Net worth: $3.5 billion
Abdullah Al Futtaim
The businessman is the cousin of Majid, and runs Al Futtaim Group, a leading car distributor and owner of an insurance company.