Padma Shri recipient lauded for boosting India-UAE ties

June 12th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

Dubai, June 12 (IANS) Recipient of this year’s Padma Shri award and managing director of the United Arab Emirates-based Emke Group Yusuffali M.A. has been lauded for his efforts to boost India-UAE ties.
“Yusuffali’s efforts have gone a long way in boosting ties between the UAE and India,” UAE’s Minister for Education Hanif Hassan said at a reception organised Wednesday night by the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Dubai, to felicitate the Kerala born Yusuffali on his being conferred the award by President Pratibha Patil this year.

Describing Yusuffali’s success as an example for everybody, India’s Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahmad said it was a proud moment for Indians in the UAE.

“Today, the international community looks to India for guidance and to emulate our successes. These values are personified in Yusuffali,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Yusuffali recounted his time in the UAE since he arrived here in 1973.

“I first reached Dubai at 11 a.m. on Dec 31, 1973 after travelling by ship for nine days from Mumbai,” he said.

“It took us five more days to reach Abu Dhabi. My uncle ran a shop called Emke Store and I started working there.”

He spoke of the days fresh after UAE’s creation as an independent nation and the hard work he underwent.

“My father discouraged me from returning to India and instead told me to work hard with determination. It was hard those days, when there were few airconditioners and the heat was compounded by immense humidity,” Yusuffali said.

He took on his uncle’s business and turned it into a business empire that straddles across the Gulf and beyond today.

The Lulu chain of supermarkets is omnipresent across the Gulf.

“Yusuffali is a formidable force to reckon with in the retail industry,” IBPC president Abbas Ali Mirza said.

Yusuffali’s group today employs over 18,000 people and has more than 30 percent share in the retail market across the region.

Lauding Yusuffali’s achievements, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre Omar Bin Sulaiman said: “The many communities here (in the UAE) claim many things - from being the fastest growing, the biggest community and more. But I always say, ‘If the community is a body, then the Indian community is the soul’.”

There are 1.5 million Indians in the UAE and 5.5 million across the Gulf.

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