Abu Dhabi-based Indian retail tycoon MA Yusuffali has become the first Indian to receive Saudi Arabia's premium residency, his office said in a statement on Monday.
Yusuffali, 64, is the chairman of the LuLu Group, who was ranked the richest expat in the UAE by the Forbes magazine last year. Hailing from Thrissur in Kerala, Yusuffali had moved to the UAE as a young man in the 1970s, to join his uncle MK Abdullah, the founder of the LuLu Group. Yusuffali ventured into the supermarket business and launched the LuLu Hypermarket. He diversified the business and the group of companies expanded to three continents. Yusuffali is also known for his philanthropic activities.
The permit he received now, informally known as Saudi Green Card, grants expatriates the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom without the need for a sponsor, the LULU group said in a statement.
The introduction of the Premium Residency comes as a part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform plan, which was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to boost the Saudi economy, the statement said.
Yusuffali said it is ‚Äėobviously a very proud and humbling moment in my life‚Äô.
‚ÄúThis is a great honour not only for me but for the entire Indian expat community and I sincerely thank the HM the King Salman, HRH Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and the government of Saudi Arabia,‚ÄĚ he said.
Premium Residency tweeted on Monday, ‚ÄúYusuffali MA, an investor from India, after obtaining Premium Residency in Saudi Arabia: 'The Kingdom became an attractive investment destination due to the remarkable growth in economy‚Äô.‚ÄĚ
Yusuffali said that he was sure that this new permanent residency initiative will further boost Saudi Arabia's image as one of the key investments and business hubs of the region as well as attract and retain new investors here.
This initiative is targeting key investors and prominent personalities from various fields, including sports, arts and culture, who have played a defining role in the nation building process.
The Lulu Group owns and operates more than 35 hypermarkets and supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, which includes ARAMCO Commissaries and National Guards super stores.