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Who is Yusuff Ali, the Business Tycoon at the Centre of UAE Aid Row in Kerala

As the nation continues to debate whether UAE’s Rs 700 crore aid offer should be accepted or not, all eyes have now turned to businessman Yusuff Ali, who is said to have informed the Kerala CM about the offer.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:August 25, 2018, 8:59 PM IST
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Who is Yusuff Ali, the Business Tycoon at the Centre of UAE Aid Row in Kerala
(Photo: Facebook Page of Yusuff Ali MA)
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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayai Vijayan had on August 21, tweeted about UAE’s Rs 700 crore aid offer and thus sparked a massive debate over accepting the generous aid.

As the nation continues to debate whether the aid should be accepted or not given the unprecedented devastation Kerala has witnessed, the oil-rich nation said on Friday that no such offer has been made.

Vijayan, on his part, has clarified that the only source of information of the billion-dollar aid was UAE-based Malayali businessman and philanthropist MA Yusuff Ali.

All eyes have now turned to Ali, who is yet to either confirm or deny Vijayan’s claim. There is very little doubt about Ali’s clout, who is currently ranked 388th on the Forbes billionaire’s list with has a net worth of $3.8 billion. In fact, one look at his Facebook page would show his pictures with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, late President Abdul Kalam, former US President Barack Obama and the likes.

Born in Thrissur in 1955, he went on to complete a diploma in business and management from Gujarat. In 1973, he shifted base to join his uncle in Abu Dhabi. MK Abdullah was the founder of the LuLu Group of companies and his nephew soon expanded the group by venturing into the supermarket business.

He opened a chain of supermarkets, LuLu Hypermarket, which is considered to be a game changer in retail business in Abu Dhabi.

The LuLu supermarket is still considered the leading player in Middle East’s retail sector and has over 100 stores across the region. Ali didn’t stop there. The managing director of the $3.8 billion LuLu Group went on to open LuLu International Mall in Kochi, the largest shopping mall in India in 2013.

In 2015, he expanded his focus to hospitality. The 63-year-old created history in 2015 as he entered into a $170 million agreement with leading London-based property developer Galliard Homes to build a 5-star hotel at the original Scottish Yard Police Station in London. Earlier this year, he acquired the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh through his hospitality arm, Twenty14 Holdings.

He is a Padma Shree recipient and has stakes in food processing units in northern parts of India. In 2013, he picked up stakes in Federal Bank, becoming the biggest individual stakeholder in the Kerala-based bank.

The man, however, is also known for his philanthropic work and is closely associated with many charitable and social organizations. While the mystery around the Rs 700 crore UAE aid to Kerala lingers, Ali, in his personal capacity has contributed around Rs 9.5 crore. He is also said to have routed around $5 million through Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan Foundation.

He has been one of the major contributors during the Gujarat earthquake, too, and is said to have made contributions to the Tsunami Relief Fund. He is also said to have played a leading role in ensuring land for Christians in Abu Dhabi in 2006.
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