The United Arab Emirates is best known for its exploits in tourism which has in turn given the country’s finance a huge boost, making it one of the richest countries in the world GDP per capita. Despite being a well known Arab country, the United Arab Emirates continues to impress as the rest of the world looks on. Naturally, the Gulf region is blessed with oil reserves, improving the economic states of countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and many Arab countries. However, the United Arab Emirates has given a different meaning to how the Gulf region is viewed by investing heavily in tourism, bringing investors from far and wide to have huge interests in the country.
The UAE is statistically one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East and it is no surprise that it has a couple of wealthy individuals in it. The United Arab Emirates’ most populous city, Dubai, is currently home to several billionaires which further proves the country’s pool of billionaires throughout the seven emirates. This has made a lot of people seek greener pastures in the country with so many opportunities.
Several foreign investors have made the country their abode for so many reasons. Dubai is one of the places in the world that everyone wishes to go to at least once in their lifetime and this explains why the city is home to so many foreign billionaires. Several expats in the UAE have been among the richest people in the world. Having your name featured on the popular Forbes Billionaires List is always a huge honour and something every person would like at some point.
In case you’re wondering if there are billionaire expats in the UAE, we’ve rounded up a list of the top 10 richest expats in the UAE in 2021.
1. Pavel Durov ($17.2 Billion USD)
Known to some people as the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia, Pavel Durov is one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of $17.2 billion, ranking him as the 112th richest man on the planet. Pavel Durov has provided stiff competition with Mark Zuckerberg after he created a free messaging app, Telegram, which currently has over 500 million users worldwide. When Durov was 22, he created Vkontakte, Russia’s biggest social network and sold a 12% stake for an estimated $300 million in 2015. Like many of the leading tech geeks, Durov has taken a special interest in cryptocurrency and 2018, together with his brother Nikolai, he was able to raise about $1.7 billion to create a blockchain system based on Telegram called TON. Durov is a resident of Dubai which also serves as the headquarter of Telegram.
2. M.A. Yussuf Ali ($4.8 Billion USD)
With a net worth of $4.8 billion, M.A. Yussuf Ali ranks 589 on Forbes Billionaire ranking and the second-richest expatriate in the United Arab Emirates, only behind Pavel Durov, albeit, by a country mile. Yussuf Ali is popular for founding Lulu Group International which is the best fashion retail brand in the Middle East with over 193 stores worldwide. Yussuf Ali moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE, in 1973 to support his uncle’s distribution business. He has since become a business tycoon himself and in 2020, one member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family purchased about 20% stake in his company for a reported fee of $1 billion.
3. Micky Jagtiani ($2.8 Billion USD)
Micky Jagtiani is an Indian and one of the richest expatriates in the United Arab Emirates. He’s best known for building the popular Dubai-based retail company, the Landmark Group which is run and chaired by his wife, Renuka Jagtiani. Before moving to the Middle East, Micky Jagtiani was a taxi driver in London. He started a baby products shop in 1973 and that business has grown into a giant retail brand with over 2,300 stores across 22 countries.
4. Ravi Pillai ($2.5 Billion USD)
Ravi Pillai is another Dubai-based Indian billionaire and founder of RP Group, the biggest employers of Indians in the entire Middle East. He has been able to maintain his spot on the Forbes Billionaire ranking with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, the same as his last year’s net worth. Ravi Pillai moved to Saudi Arabia and with the help of a resourceful local partner, he built his RP Group into a construction heavyweight in the middle list. Today, his company is worth an estimated $7.8 billion in revenue.
5. Thaksin Shinawatra ($2 Billion USD)
Thaksin Shinawatra is the former prime minister of Thailand but has been living in Dubai, UAE for over 10 years. Thaksin Shinawatra is in control of the largest stake in SC Asset, a property firm. He also has investments in two U.K-based health tech startups, Owlstone Medical and DNANudge. With a net worth of $2 billion, Thaksin Shinawatra is one of the richest people in the world and also in the United Arab Emirates.
6. Saket Burman ($1.8 Billion USD)
The Burman clan is a very popular clan in India and the family company, Dabur, is the fourth-largest consumer goods company in India. Saket Burman inherited a stake in Dabur as well as a board seat in the company after his father, Siddharth Burman, passed away in 2015. He also has ventured into property and financial investments which rank him as one of the richest men in the world. The Dubai-based billionaire founded and sold an IT company but today, he’s in charge of a trading company.
7. Christopher Chandler ($1.7 Billion USD)
Christopher Chandler is a New Zealand-born billionaire and founder of Dubai-based investment company Legatum, and he is one of the Chandler billionaire brothers (the other one is Richard Chandler). Legatum is a private, multibillion-dollar investment firm headquartered in the Dubai International Finance Centre. Christopher Chandler ventured into investments with his brother after selling their parents’ department store back in New Zealand.
8. Philip Day ($1.5 Billion USD)
Philip Day is a British fashion mogul and owner of Edinburgh Woolen Mill and other fashion brands. After initially dropping out of college to work for Edinburgh Woolen Mill in 2001, Philip Day bought the company outrightly after it struggled financially. Philip Day has been credited with changing the fortunes of Edinburgh Woolen Mill by acquiring other struggling retailers to push the company further into the mainstream fashion market.
9. Sunny Varkey ($1.4 Billion USD)
Sunny Varkey is another Indian billionaire who is based in the United Arab Emirates. Sunny Varkey is worth an estimated $1.4 billion with his GEMs Education company which is the largest operator of K-12 schools in the world. He took over the management from his parents at the age of 23 and got the popular CVC Capital Partners to invest in the private education firm in 2019.
10. P.N.C. Menon ($1.1 Billion USD)
P.N.C Menon is a Dubai-based Indian-born Omani billionaire businessman. He migrated to Oman from India in 1976 where he started his interior decorating business. He founded his company, Sobha Developers, in 1995 with operations now spanning across several Middle Eastern countries like Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE to mention but a few. Menon was worth $1.1 as of 2019 but has since dropped off the Forbes Billionaire ranking in recent years. However, he remains one of the richest expatriates in the United Arab Emirates.