Top 10 Indians Who Shaped The UAE


The UAE’s success in such a short time is often credited to its citizens. Many of the country’s high-flying achievers and future-makers have hailed from India. From computers, to telephones, to schools and hospitals, prominent Indians have shaped and enriched the everyday lives of all who live in the UAE. Here we reveals 10 of the country’s most influential Indians, arranged according to the number of years they have spent in the UAE.

Tony Jashanmal



Years in the UAE: 57
Sector: Retail
Designation: Executive director, Jashanmal Group

Having started from humble beginnings in Iraq in 1919, the Jashanmal Group expanded quickly across the Middle East during the mid 1900s. Opening stores in Bahrain in 1935, Dubai in 1956, and Abu Dhabi in 1964, served as a solid bedrock for what is today one of the most popular and recognised business names in the region.

Sunny Varkey


Years in the UAE: 55
Sector: Education
Designation: Founder and chairman, GEMS Education
Place of origin: Kerala
Age: 56

Sunny Varkey is the mastermind behind the world’s largest private schools company. Having founded GEMS Education from a single school in Dubai in 1969, the business now operates across 19 countries with a branch of 100 schools teaching 130,000 students.

Ram Buxani



Years in UAE: 54
Sector: Diversified
Designation: President, ITL Group
Place of origin: Born in Hyderabad
Age: 72

The 72-year old self-made businessman, who has twice published his ‘rags to riches’ autobiography Taking The High Road, is famously known to have entered Dubai as a penniless young man, before the city had an airport, roads, electricity and oil.

K Kumar


Years in the UAE: 41
Sector: Community
Designation: Chairman, Indian Community Welfare Committee
Place of origin: Chennai

The incident that sealed K Kumar’s role as ambassador and do-gooder for all Indians in the UAE is a famous one. In 1998, Kumar and some associates raised Dhs75,000 in blood money to help free a young Indian from jail who had found himself caught up in an accidental death. The selfless deed inspired Kumar to start a group that would look after the welfare of poor Indian workers in the UAE.

Dr. Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty


Years in UAE: 40
Sector: Diversified
Designation: Founder, NMC Group
Place of origin: Udupi, Karnataka
Age: 71

Dr. B R Shetty is a man of many hats – he is the MD and CEO of Abu Dhabi-based healthcare provider NMC Group, and the boss of money transfer firm UAE Exchange, which he co-founded in 1980.

Yusuffali MA



Years in UAE: 40
Sector: Retail
Designation: Founder, LuLu Group International
Place of origin: Kerala
Age: 57

The recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Padma Shri, bestowed by the Indian President in 2008, the ambitious and philanthropic Yusuffali has established himself as one of the foremost NRI businessmen in the UAE.

Vidya Chhabria



Years in UAE: Around 40
Sector: Electronics
Designation: Chairperson, Jumbo Group
Place of origin: Mumbai

Vidya Chhabria has been spearheading Dubai-based Jumbo Group’s global operations since 2002, after the sudden death of her husband, Manu Chhabria.

LT Pagarani



Years in the UAE: 39
Sector: Retail
Designation: chairman, Choithrams

Founded in Africa by Thakurdas Choithram Pagarani, the supermarket empire was spread across the region by his three sons, one of which, LT Pagarani, leads the business today. Having first established a store in the UAE in 1974, the popular and distinctive supermarket chain now has 27 locations across the emirates, with further expansion expected in the near future.

Micky Jagtiani



Years in UAE: Around 25
Sector: Retail
Designation: Founder and chairman, Landmark Group
Place of origin: Mumbai, India
Age: 61

Another classic example of a self-made billionaire who went from driving taxis in London to currently having a personal wealth of around $4 billion, according to Forbes, Micky Jagtiani is the man behind the retail behemoth, Dubai-based Landmark Group.

Yogesh Mehta



Years in the UAE: 23
Sector: Energy
Designation: Owner and managing director, Petrochem Middle East
Age: 51

Yogesh Mehta’s story may not quite be a rags to riches tale, but it is every bit as inspiring. Arriving in Dubai aged 29 with no job and no money – his first business attempt collapsed – Mehta was determined to be an entrepreneur and lead a company, rather than work for someone else.

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