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30 November 2023

Who is Forbes richest businessman in UAE?

By Waheed Abbas

Forbes magazine today released its annual global billionaires’ data which showed that the number of billionaires in UAE rose from 7 in 2013 to 8 in 2014 while their wealth jumped 84 per cent or $11 billion (Dh40.37 billion) last year.

The seven billionaires in UAE owned $13.15 billion (Dh48.26 billion) worth of assets in 2013 while in 2014 eight billionaires have $24.2 billion (Dh 88.8 billion) worth of assets, Forbes data showed.

Among the Emirati billionaires, Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair & Family was ranked first and 305th globally with a wealth of $4.8 billion (Dh17.61 billion). Abdulla has business interests in many companies from different sectors. The family owns Mashreqbank whose shares shot up by 80 per cent last year, valuing Abdulla’s stake at nearly $1.5 billion, Forbes said in its note.

Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair

Majid Al Futtaim, owner of MAF Group, is the second richest Emirati on Forbes list [No. 1 the previous year] and 328th globally with $4.5 billion wealth as of March 2014. His wealth increased by $900 million last year, Forbes data showed. Last year, MAF Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were up 12 per cent on revenues of $6 billion.

Majid Al Futtaim

Saif Al Ghurair & Family is third richest Emirati and 609th globally.  Data showed their wealth doubled to $2.8 billion as of March 2014.

Saif Al Ghurair

Ranked 4th richest Emirati and 786th globally, Abdulla Al Futtaim wealth increased from $1.65 billion as of March 2013 to $2.5 billion as of March 2014.

Abdulla Al Futtaim

Abdulla Al Futtaim owns conglomerate Al Futtaim Group which is the distributor of Toyota and Honda and other vehicles in the UAE, and sells Toyotas in Egypt. In addition to its automotive business, Al Futtaim owns the franchises for Ikea, Toys 'R' Us, and Marks & Spencer, which anchor its real estate projects, such as the urban community of Dubai Festival City.

The four Emirati billionaires have combined wealth of $14.6 billion as of March 2014.

Expat billionaires - all Indian

Four UAE-based expatriates – Micky Jagtiani, Sunny Varkey, MA Yusuff Ali, BR Shetty – have also made into Forbes’ billionaires list with combined wealth of $9.6 billion (Dh35.23 billion) as of March 2014.

Micky Jagtiani and MA Yusuff Ali made into the last year’s billionaires list also.

Landmark Group owner Micky Jagtiani, 62, is the richest expat in the UAE with $5 billion assets as of March 2014 – an increase of $300 million. Forbes ranked him 281st richest worldwide.

Micky Jagtiani  (SATHISH KUMAR)

The wealth of 56-year-old Sunny Varkey of Gems Education, second richest expat in the UAE, increased $300 million last year, totalling $1.8 billion as of March 2014.

Varkey’s Gems Education is the largest operator of private kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools in the world with a network of 132 schools and 142,000 students, 13,400 staff, mostly teachers, all over the Middle East, Africa, Europe, China, and India.

Sunny Varkey (Supplied)

LuLu Group owner MA Yusuff Ali is estimated to have $1.8 billion assets, mainly in the retail sector.

58-year-old Ali’s flagship $5 billion (revenues) LuLu Group has 109 retail outlets in the Middle East, Africa and India.

MA Yusuff Ali (SUPPLIED)

It recently opened first mall in the southern Indian city of Cochin where he also has a stake in its airport, 2 Marriott hotels, a Grand Hyatt hotel and a convention center. Of late, he's been buying up minority stakes in Indian banks, including the South Indian Bank. The new 60,000 square foot waterfront home he's built in Cochin is said to be the biggest private residence in the state of Kerala, Forbes said in his profile.

NMC Healthcare owner BR Shetty is the 4th expat billionaire in the UAE and 1,565th globally.


“Indian born BR Shetty got his start as a pharma salesman and migrated to Abu Dhabi in 1973 with $8 in his pocket and a load of debt back home. He went on to build a health care and financial services empire that includes London-listed NMC Healthcare, the region's largest integrated private health care provider. His money transfer firm, UAE Exchange, which helps South Asian and Filipino expatriate workers send money back home, has applied for a license to start a bank in his native country. Shetty owns an apartment on the 100th floor of Dubai's Burj Khalifa tower and a fleet of limousines,” Forbes said.


Forbes said ranks of the world’s billionaires continue to scale new heights - and stretch to new corners of the world. It said 1,645 billionaires have an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago. "We unearthed a record 268 new ten-figure fortunes, including 42 new women billionaires, another record. In total, there are 172 women on the list, more than ever before and up from 138 last year," Forbes said in opening note.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who led the list for 15 of the past 20 years, won the spot back from Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who had topped the list for the past four years.

Bill Gates' net worth is estimated at $76 billion; Slim Helu follows at $72 billion.

Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega, known for the Zara retail chain, maintained his third-ranked spot and came out ahead of famed US investor Warren Buffett, who ranked fourth. Larry Ellison of Oracle came in fifth.