This post was originally published on 11 September 2016.
To say you own one apartment in the world’s tallest building would be impressive. But to say you own 22, now that would just be hard to believe right? Well, believe it.
Indian businessman George V. Nereaparambil is the very man who owns more than his fair share of the 900 apartments in the Burj Khalifa.
According to Khaleej Times, he is one of the largest private owners within the building, but he says he’s not stopping at 22.
“Now I own 22 flats in the tower and I will purchase more if I think the deal is good. My friend teased me once saying I cannot enter this prestigious building but I took it as a challenge. For me nothing is impossible,” George told Emirates24|7.
From mechanic to business tycoon
Hailing from a business family in Kerala’s Trichur, George came to Sharjah four decades ago and started working as an automobile mechanic.
“A man’s mind is where his wealth is. My mind is in my family and the property and business that belongs to me,” he muses.
George’s love with Burj Khalifa
“I began living in the Burj Khalifa as a tenant. Then I purchased my first flat investing some money I made from doing a project for Dubai Metro. Then I bought the second, third, fourth, fifth …and now 22nd apartment.
“Because I have businesses in Dubai generating profit, I have found Burj Khalifa an ideal investment option,” he said, adding that he does not rent out his apartments because the first tenant left some scratches on the wall.
“Every year I spend about Dh3 million to maintain my properties in Burj Khalifa. I have full faith in the visionary leadership of UAE and the long-term vision behind the creation of this world class icon in Dubai,” George asserts, adding that the real estate prices here may go up further, and as a businessman, he is never scared of slowdown or recession.
“Every day I take at least 10 new visitors to Burj Khalifa because many people want to see the apartments. When I brought 10 Indian labourers to stay in the world’s tallest tower for a day, they felt like they reached heaven.
“The labourers were living in a camp one day and then staying in the such a tower was a great experience,” George explains.
Other Indians at Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower and perhaps the poshest address in the Gulf, is fast acquiring a distinct Indian identity.
Indians now own more than a hundred of 900 apartments in Dubai’s 828-metre skyscraper, a sign of the growing financial power of the community in the West Asia.
“Indians have bought between 100 and 150 apartments since its completion in 2010,” an executive of project developer Emaar Properties revealed to Economic Times in 2012.
Prominent Indians who have acquired an address in Burj Khalifa include businessmen like BR Shetty, Ravi Pillai, actor Mohanlal and lawyer Rohit Kochhar.
Investment in Cochin Airport
George is quite familiar to Keralites, as he is the single largest shareholder in CIAL, the company that owns the Cochin International Airport.
“I could not attend my father’s funeral because there was no direct flight from Dubai to Kochi to reach my home- town Thrissur,” he says.
“For millions of overseas Keralites an airport was needed. When the Kochi International Airport Project was launched initially, there was no keen interest from investors. The company faced a severe financial strain and the staff were facing lack of funds.”
“I went to the company office and offered to invest in the project. Now CIAL is a very successful company running the international airport in Kerala,” he added.
Geo Electricals Trading and Contracting Co LLC started in 1984 and today, there are 16 companies under the Geo Group in the UAE employing nearly 1,000 people.
George today has also properties in Meydan and Ras Al Khaimah, and factories in Sharjah and Ajman.
Giving back to the motherland
His next big plan is to build a canal from Trivandrum to Kasarakod, and he’s inviting others to step forward and help make his dream a reality.
“This canal will give back to nature. Whatever water will come from the forest nearby, we will produce electricity from it. We will also use the water to cultivate vegetables, and I plan to section off a small part of it so that fisherman can cultivate fish. We will also use the slurry as fertiliser.
“My hobby is to buy land and I want to make use of every single part of that canal.”