– Mohammed Saifuddin, Yahind.com
Generally it is thought that the earnings of expatriates in the Gulf countries have changed the lives of Indian Muslims in a big way. It is undoubtedly true that the economic and financial condition of Muslims in several parts of India has improved after the Gulf’s petrol boom. But it is not correct to say that Gulf countries became pasturing land for the Muslims only. These countries opened the floodgate of opportunities for everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The trend of migrating to Gulf equally benefited all the communities in India. Majority of well off Indians in Gulf countries are non Muslims.
The non Muslim Indians in the six GCC countries may be lesser in number compared to their Muslim counterparts but, it is irrefutable fact that even in Gulf countries the non-Muslims are much better-off than Muslims when compared to their living conditions and standard of living. The majority of Indian Muslims in Gulf countries are semi skilled workers and blue collar employees. Where as, the majority of non Muslims are holding key positions in different sectors and also dominate the retail business.
It may be unbelievable for few, but the reality is that non-Muslims on key positions outnumber Indian Muslims in various sectors like banking, finance, hospitality, transportation; healthcare etc.
The above facts are not just assumptions, they are real facts derived from the figures emerged after analyzing the list of one hundred powerful Indians in six GCC countries. The list is compiled and published by Dubai based English magazine Arabian Business. Famous for its listings of Richest Arabs, Arabian Business Rich list, Efficient CEOs, Smart Banks; the magazine brought out its first ever list of Gulf’s hundred most influential Indians.
Can you imagine what could be the number of Muslims in the list of 100 influential Indians in GCC? You may think they dominate the list or you may assume that they make at least half of the list. Hold on! You may be surprised but the reality is that they can’t even make 20 % of it! The number of Muslims among 100 powerful Indians in GCC is just 18.
The power list of influential Indians is based on how much impact the actions of one person can have on others, hence the more impact, the more influence. The publishers considered Indians from across the six Gulf nations Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman from all walks of life. List includes the big names from more than 20 sectors including business, media, entertainment, law, academia, arts, fashion, music etc.
Among the 18 powerful Muslim Indians included in the list, 13 belongs to UAE, three from Saudi Arabia and one each from Qatar and Oman.
When Maghanmal Pancholia arrived in the UAE seven decades ago aboard a Chinese cargo ship he was looking for a new life and a business opportunity. Renowned as the oldest expatriate in the emirate, he eventually rose up through the business ranks and became one of the most influential players in the Indian community. As the Chairman of Arabian Trading Agency, he is placed fifth in the list.
Pancholia is believed to be a trend setter for Indian expatriates to make their fortune in the retail business. This trend spread among Indians in UAE so stead fasted that the list is dominated by those associated with the retail sector. Thirty retailers make their entry to the list.
The Managing Director of retail giant Emke Group Yousuf Ali MA took the top spot and emerged as the most influential Indian in Gulf. The retail mogul sits atop a business empire that owns Lulu Hyper Markets and employs 22,000 people from over 29 countries. The group has a turnover of more than $3.5 Bn globally. It is one of the largest Indian-owned conglomerates in the Gulf.
Most of the Indian Muslims in Gulf are employed in private sector. Only few of them tend to do business. Among thirty Indians representing retails business, only five are Muslims, including the top listed Yousuf Ali.
Even though Gulf region is regarded as the pioneer of Islamic Banking and Sharia compliant Financial Services, the majority of Indians playing vital role in the boardrooms of international and local banks in the region belongs to other communities. While 17 top executives from Banking and Finance sector got listed as powerful Indians, surprisingly the list does not include any Muslim! Just one Mustafa Vayazil appears in the list but represents Insurance sector and not banking. He is the Managing Director of Gargash Insurance, UAE.
Only two Muslims appear among the fifteen big shots listed from the construction and real estate sector. While P Mohammed Ali, Vice Chairman, Gulfar Company, Oman stands as the sixth powerful Indian in GCC, Syed Salahuddin, Managing Director, ETA Ascon & Star Group holds twentieth position in the list.
The list includes four names for Saudi Arabia. President of Indian Overseas Congress, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Asaar Khan find place on 23rd slot in the list. Founding Member of International Indian School Jeddah Dr. Rafiuddin Fazulbhoy is placed on 53rd position. The Kingdom’s Royal Physician Dr. Majiduddin Kazi is on 83rd position. Managing Director of Nasser Al Hajri Corporation in Eastern Province, Dr. Ravi Pillai is placed on number 90.
It may tend some readers to surprisingly raise eyebrows but Indian women proved their prowess even in the deserts of Arabia. Five women became the part of the powerful Indians list. They represent Healthcare, Media and Marketing sectors. The top among these women is the founder of Zulekha Hospital and Healthcare Group, UAE Dr. Zulekha Daud. She left India 40 years ago and came to UAE with a dream to offer affordable quality medical facilities to all. She set up the Zulekha Healthcare Group in 1961 which now employs around more than a thousand staff and treats over 550,000 patients every year. The Group has expanded and includes a new 88-bed hospital in Dubai, four medical centers and three pharmacies. This year, Daud signed a $24m financing deal with the World Bank to provide affordable hospital care in India and the UAE.
Shobha Menon, Second among women in the power list, is from Advertising industry. Currently CEO of Equity Advertising, she carved a niche for herself in the industry during the last two decades. When she joined multinational advertising agency, Fortune PromoSeven in 1990, its Regional MD Donal Kilelea warned that if she does not perform well in two weeks, she will be sacked. She progressed in her career with many leaps and bounds to grow and went on to become the legend of Dubai’s advertising scenario.
Another medico Dr. Sarita Kapoor is on the 82nd position. A Dubai based obstetrician and gynecologist has been serving the vital needs of women in the UAE for the last fifteen years. She was trained at various institutions in Chennai, Singapore and Germany. She used her experience to help local couples with infertility with the latest international high-tech procedures. In her spare time, she also carried out substantial charitable work.
Social worker in the Healthcare sector, Gulshan Kavarana, Director, Special Families Support (SFS) Group makes the position at 92. The Dubai-based mother of two has made it her mission to help children with special needs, particularly after her daughter was diagnosed with autism. She now heads the SFS Group, which was founded in 1999. Kavarana helped hundreds of parents to cope with their children having special needs.
Model and Fashion Graduate, founder of Queen Bee Production, Uma Ghosh Deshpande, got a slot on 93rd position. She also has a fashion label, clothes from which sell in some of the UAE’s most high-end stores. She seeks to diversify to different media activities.
Among the list, 83 are from UAE alone. The names from Qatar and KSA are six and four respectively. Kuwait and Oman has three each while Bahrain has only one name. It will be interesting to see in the coming years whether representation from countries other than UAE will increase.