With a population of less than 4 million, Dubai is not the biggest city in the world, but it is certainly a significant city, and the wealth within this city makes it a beacon for business-minded people. It has huge weight in a range of industries, including oil and gas, real estate, travel, healthcare, tech, finance, and tourism.
In the United Arab Emirates, the top 1% holds more than half of the wealth in the whole country, and although the wealthiest emirate is Abu Dhabi, Dubai also has a lot of wealth and is a thriving tourism and business center in the UAE. Accordingly, the wealthy in Dubai have tons of wealth and there are multiple billionaires and even multi-billionaires who reflect the wealth of Dubai and the industries that make its economy so robust. It’s no wonder that New World Wealth has projected Dubai to become one of the world’s top 20 wealthiest cities by 2030.
With all that wealth in one place, it’s natural to wonder who the richest person in Dubai is. Read on to discover who the richest man in Dubai is and how he made his billions of dollars.
How We Compiled the List
Creating a list that accurately reflects the richest people in Dubai required consistent and careful methodology to ensure that the most current and reliable information was used in all steps of the process. Determining a net worth is not an exact science because not all financial information is publicly available. However, by using a few key methods and resources, a net worth estimate can be created that creates a research-based estimate.
Some of the resources and techniques we used to determine the wealthiest people in Dubai include:
- Government websites and public records give crucial data and trustworthy and up-to-date information. When current information was not available, we used the most current information available to give the closest impression of the current situation. These sources often give the most exact information.
- We cannot know the exact value of all assets that the wealthy have, but we can use comparative value assessments to come up with a reasonable figure for assets.
- News reports and current events were also important because political, economic, and social events can all have huge impacts on people’s wealth. Business and regional publications give perspective on scandals, investments, and other info that is relevant for net worth.
- Research and statistics also have a role in the process, and we can use such data to provide a more detailed, complete analysis.
- Self-disclosure and insider information also have a role in net worth estimation. Such info must be taken with a grain of salt, but it can help us direct our research and provide a general estimation that we can then adjust based on the other factors listed.
Not only do we make sure we are using the best information, but we also strive to update our content based on new findings and changing circumstances. This diligence means that all parts of this list have been carefully thought through and designed to give the most accurate information on the richest men in Dubai.
9. Abdulla Al Futtaim
- Net worth: $2.4 Billion
- Source of wealth: Investment, auto dealing
- Business: Al Futtaim Group
- Interesting fact: Al Futtaim got the UAE operation license for major retailers like Toys “R” Us, Ikea, and Hertz.
Emirati billionaire Abdulla Al Futtaim earned his billions as the owner of Al-Futtaim Group, a large conglomerate that operates across the automotive, electronics, insurance, services, real estate, and retail sectors.
Al Futtaim’s company is now run by his son, Omar, but Al Futtaim still has a huge role in the company. According to Forbes, the company generated $8.8 billion in revenues and $600 million in profits in 2017, making it easy to see how Al Futtaim and his family acquired his billionaire status. In addition to holding the franchise right to IKEA stores in UAE, Qatar, Egypt, and Oman, the company is also the exclusive distributor of several major car brands, including Toyota, Lexus, and Hino in the UAE.
Billionaires are common in this family, and Al Futtaim’s deceased cousin, Majir Al Futtaim was also a billionaire before his death in 2021. The family has more than established itself as huge influencer in UAE, so it’s no wonder Al Futtaim is ranked by Forbes as #1272 on their billionaires list
8. Mohammed Khalaf Al Habtoor
- Net worth: $2.0 Billion
- Source of wealth: Engineering, construction, real estate
- Business: Al Habtoor Group
- Interesting fact: Al Habtoor has shared more about himself and his wealthy life on his YouTube channel!
Mohammad Khalaf Al Habtoor has long been one of the wealthiest residents of Dubai. Although his net worth was estimated at 2.3 billion by Forbes in 2006, current estimates of his net worth are slightly lower. He has developed his wealth through his business ventures, starting as a simple employee of a construction firm. He made most of his wealth through the Al Habtoor Group, which started as an engineering firm in 1970.
Al Habtoor is still making plenty of business moves to promote even more wealth and has notably become interested in a $3 billion Central European real estate investment. This European interest dovetails with Al Habtoor’s interest in international affairs.
While some billionaires live very secretive lives, Al Habtoor has shared a lot about himself. He wrote an autobiography that shows how he started as a man of modest means and became a business powerhouse.
7. Sunny Varkey
- Net worth: $2.7 Billion
- Source of wealth: Education
- Business: GEMS Education, Varkey Group,
- Interesting fact: Varkey is known for philanthropic endeavors, including pledging to give at least half of his net worth to worthy causes over his lifetime.
Sunny Varkey is not only a savvy businessman, but he has also worked to promote better education around the world. As the head of GEMS Education (which, with 250 schools worldwide, is the biggest operator of K-12 schools in the world), Indian born billionaire Sunny Varkey is ranked by Forbes as the 1123rd richest person in the world.
Varkey has been recognized for his hard work. Thanks to his achievements in the educational sector, Varkey has been honored with numerous awards over the years, including Outstanding Asian Businessman of the Year (2007), Middle East Excellence CEO of the Year (2012), and Education Business Leader of the Year (2012).
6. Ravi Pillai
- Net worth: $3.1 Billion
- Source of wealth: Engineering, construction, hospitality
- Business: RP Group
- Interesting fact: Pillai got his education from the University of Cochin, where he got a degree in commerce.
Ravi Pillai may have been born in India, but he has made Dubai his home base and has used careful investments to bolster his wealth. His ambitious, business-oriented mindset has allowed him to build a global business.
Pillai’s wealth can be traced to his decision to abandon his native India for the United Arab Emirates after his Kerala-based construction business was forced to close down after labor strikes. With the help of a local partner, he began a small trading business; within two years, he’d expanded into construction under his new enterprise, Nasser S. Al Hajri Corporation (NSH), a company that would eventually form the foundation of the billion-dollar conglomerate, RP Group.
Pillai continues to expand his business and has plans to invest up to a billion dollars in group verticals by partnering with foreign businesses to help expand his influence and build his net worth even more.
5. Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair
- Net worth: $3.4 Billion
- Source of wealth: Banking, food, construction
- Business: Al Ghurair Group
- Interesting fact: Al Ghurair is over ninety years old and is a self-made man.
Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair is one of the oldest billionaires on this list, so he has worked for decades to build his business and make an impact on many industries. His wealth comes from diversified sources, so he has an impact on many industries. Although he doesn’t take as active of a role, he remains a board member the businesses he founded.
In 1967, Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair founded Mashreqbank, which has since grown into one of the leading banks in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to drawing a healthy salary in his position as the chairman of the bank (his son, Abdul Aziz, currently holds the position of CEO), Abdulla Al Ghurair’s billions also come from his eponymous holding company, a mammoth organization with interests in everything from real estate and construction to food.
The money is sure to stay in the family, and Al Ghurair’s brother, Saif Al Ghurair, was also a billionaire before he died in 2019. The business is likely to remain in the family as Al Ghurair has already started to let his children take the reins.
4. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
- Net worth: $4 Billion
- Source of wealth: Family wealth, real estate
- Business: Dubai World and Dubai Holding
- Interesting fact: Al Maktoum holds a hereditary royal position, which has led to him serving in other political positions.
Most of the figures on this list are businessmen, but Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is known best for his political career and royal status. He is the Emir of Dubai, which is a hereditary position, and because of this hereditary position, he has been able to serve as the prime minister, vice president, and Minister of Defense of the United Arab Emirates.
Though he might be best known for his political and monarchical identities, he made most of his money as a real-estate developer as well as his family’s robust holdings. It’s hard to establish a firm line between government assets and the Al Maktoum family’s wealth, but there’s no doubt that Al Maktoum helped make Dubai into the city it is now.
3. Hussain Sajwani
- Net worth: $4.5 Billion
- Source of wealth: Real estate
- Business: Damac Properties
- Interesting fact: Before he started in the real estate industry, Sajwani worked in food services and worked with Bechtel and the U.S. military.
Hussain Sajwani is a self-made man who built his company in the real estate industry. In 2002, Hussain Sajwani founded his company Damac Properties. It’s since grown into one of the leading companies in the sector, having orchestrated the development of multiple large-scale, luxury properties and projects across both Europe and the UAE.
In 2018, Sujwani, who currently serves as chair of his group, was honored with the title of Real Estate Legend at the Arabian Business Real Estate Awards, as well as the Real Estate Business Leader of the Year at the Gulf Business Awards. He currently places #607 overall on the list of the world’s richest people.
Although focused in the UAE, Sajwani has worked with global partners, and in 2013, he worked with Donald Trump on two golf-course development projects in Dubai. Thus, Sajwani knows how to reach out to others in the industry and form relationships with people all around the world.
2. M.A Yusuff Ali
- Net worth: $6.7 Billion
- Source of wealth: Retail
- Business: Lulu Group International
- Interesting fact: Ali started his life in a small Indian town, but building his ambition allowed him to make his brand a household name in the Middle East.
The UAE-based Indian billionaire M.A Yusuff Ali achieved his wealth as the head of LuLu Group International, an Indian multinational that operates a chain of retail companies across the UAE.
Under Ali’s leadership, his company has increased its operations extensively over the past few years, and now has interests in retail, food processing, and logistics. In addition to his business activities, Ali is a noted philanthropist, having invested heavily in India and contributed $2.6 million to recovery efforts when his home state of Kerala was hit by floods in 2018.
Currently, Ali is in the top 500 of all billionaires and continues to invest time and energy into the retail industry. He prides himself on being a self-made man who put in a lot of effort to build his company and gain wealth.
1. Pavel Durov
- Net worth: $11.5 Billion
- Source of wealth: Social media
- Business: Telegram, VK (formerly)
- Interesting fact: For many of his projects, Durov has worked with his older brother, Nikolai, who is also quite wealthy,
Although Pavel Durov was not born in Dubai, he has become a resident of Dubai and a citizen of the UAE. He was born in Russia, but he spent much of his childhood in Italy before attending St. Petersburg State University, where he studied in the Philology Department. Durov is known for being the founder of the Russian social networking service, VK, which is used around the world but primarily in Russia. He worked with his VK co-founder and brother, Nikolai Durov, to create a messaging service, Telegram, and established an operational center in Dubai.
Durov is not only a billionaire, but he was able to make a name for himself at a young age and founded VK when he was only 22. After refusing to cooperate with the Russian government, Durov fled Russia and became a French citizen. He moved many of his Telegram operations to Dubai and became a UAE citizen in 2021, and still lives in Dubai. His choice to move to Dubai has made him one of the most powerful figures in the UAE. While Durov is a billionaire, he claims to live a simple life and chooses not to have too many possessions. He also follows a vegetarian diet and has a libertarian worldview.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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