x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bold ambitions among young Indian entrepreneurs in Dubai

Book review: Gen Next Indians offers a rare insight into the lives of some of the UAE's biggest Indian leaders.

Gen Next Indians by Xponent Media.
Gen Next Indians by Xponent Media.

Flicking through the newest edition of the Dubai SME 100 rankings, it is noticeable how many Indian businessmen and women are included in the list.

The rankings also brought to mind a recent interview with Caroline Hargreaves, the managing director in Dubai at Quintessentially Lifestyle, the members-only concierge club.

Speaking about membership, she said: “The demographic has changed slightly. There are certain cultures that are coming through more: [people who are] not Emirati, but born here. We are finding the Indian communities are now very strong, and growing, and they are looking for a lot more out of their lifestyles.”

“Interesting,” I thought. “I should look into this trend and write about the Indian movers and shakers in Dubai.”

I have not only been beaten to the punch but also trumped by Meraj Rizvi, writer and publisher of the new release Gen Next Indians, which tells the “inspiring stories” of 25 Indians who are part of the new generation of business leaders in the UAE.

Among those featured include Aditya Rajaram, assistant manager at Ernst & Young and the son of the chief executive of Al Nabooda, the UAE car dealership; John Paul Alukkas, the executive director of Joyalukkas jewellery group; and Kiran Chhabria, the director of Jumbo Electronics.

This is a glossy, coffee table book and the stories of these young and photogenic business executives and entrepreneurs are illustrated with plenty of photos — they are often snapped posing with their parents or against the glamorous backdrop of Dubai’s skyscrapers. It is very easy on the eye.

But their personal accounts make for entertaining reading. We learn, for example, that 24-year-old Adel Rizwan Sajan, head of the retail division of building materials Dunube Group, was put to work during his summer holidays at 13 in one of his father’s warehouses where he was “sweating it out with all the other blue collar workers”.

More striking, though, are the plans of all these executives. The majority want to take the businesses their parents started and expand them by adding new lines or venturing into new international markets. They are an ambitious bunch.

q&a Meraj Rizvi, Xponent Media

Where did the idea come from?

This is my fifth coffee table book here in the UAE but the third book for the Indian community. My first book is called Pacesetters and is about the senior members of the Indian community who have been here for about 50 years and who have contributed in a big way to the economy of this country. The sequel is Pacesetters II. Trendsetters was about Pakistani achievers in the UAE. The other book is called Young Asian Achievers. When I was doing [the Pacesetters] books, I realised the next generation is more enterprising … and is contributing to the economy. I thought: “we should also bring to light the second generation or the next generation of Indians in the UAE”. This is the first time the second generation of Indians is being highlighted in any particular form. A lot of people don’t know who the second generation is [and how its members are] actively involved in business.

How did you select those profiled in the book?

Most of them are the children of the prominent families but we also had a committee comprised of senior members of the Indian community.

Where can I buy the book and how much will it cost?

Jashanmal and Borders stock my books. The price is Dh350.

Who do you think will buy the book?

The kind of people profiled in the book and those from the Indian community who want to know about the second generation of Indians. And the Indian missions here.


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