A journey from loading the cartons to business tycoon

DUBAI — A ship named 'Dumra' sailed for Dubai from Mumbai in 1973 with a group of fortune-seekers, dreams in their eyes and determination in their steps. Among them was M.A.Yousufali, who would grow over the years into one of the most prominent Indian businessmen in the whole of the Arabian Gulf. He is now the Chairman of Emke Group of Companies and is on the Board of Directors, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.

By Riyasbabu

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Published: Sat 24 Dec 2005, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:25 PM

He grew along with the UAE. But when he came here for the first time, he did not know what kind of a fate awaited him. His passion to register success after success is the driving force behind the Lulu Hypermarkets, one sees all around the region.

Having adopted the UAE as his second home, he has been a towering presence in the business world here for quite some time now.

He is the source of livelihood for 13,100 families from around 27 different countries. His chain of retail selling outlets literally dot the region. Sitting in his office, the proud man said, "during the last 31 years, I never felt I was out of my country. I feel absolutely at home here."

Down the memory lane, he still remembers the day he arrived. "We arrived at 12 in the afternoon and waited in the ship up to 11 in the night to come out. All this time I thought to myself if this journey would make any difference to my life," he said.

"When I came out, M.K. Abdullah, founder of Emke group was waiting for me. He drove me to Abu Dhabi in his pick up van and it took four and a half hours to reach there on the single-lane road." he described.

"I started my life in Abu Dhabi as a loader, loading cartons on to the van every morning. During the day, I worked for a small grocery shop," he said.

"I lived in a small room which had no electricity and other basic facilities in Abu Dhabi. There was no potable drinking water available in Abu Dhabi at that time. Water was brought from Al Ain in water tankers. Besides, electric supply was available only for three hours a day. I shared a room without any basic facilities with eight people," he disclosed, reminiscing his early days which were a struggle. Sleeping in a room shared by eight people and no light and air conditioning.

But, after the boom brought in by the oil, the growth of the emirate and the country, as a whole has been mind-boggling. The credit for all this goes to its visionary leader the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," he said.

He remembered the days when oil was discovered. "Most of the people here relied on pearling and fishing in those days. But when oil was discovered, life changed beyond recognition. At that time, Kuwait and Qatar were developing rapidly, but when news spread around about the oil discovery in the UAE, people were happy and started to talk about the prosperity that it will achieve one day," he went down memory lane.

He said, " My most memorable experience in the UAE is my meeting Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His simplicity and humility amazed me. He asked me about my business and even personal matters."

According to Yousufali, the people of the UAE are wonderful. The secret of their all round success is their humility.

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