Saudi Arabia honours Lulu chairman Yusuffali with premium residency

Lawrence Pinto

UAE-based retail conglomerate Lulu Group International chairman M.A. Yusuffali recently received Saudi Arabia’s Premium Residency Permit for Foreigners.

Yusuffali became the first Indian to receive the premium residency, termed as the ‘Saudi Green Card’. In November 2019, Saudi Arabia granted 73 foreigners ‘premium’ residency under a new programme to attract overseas investment by enabling selected people to buy the property and do business without a Saudi sponsor.

The introduction of the Premium Residency comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to boost the Saudi economy.

Yusuffali described it as a “very proud and humbling moment in my life. It is a great honour not only for me but for the entire Indian expatriate community, and I sincerely thank the HM King Salman, HRH Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and the government of Saudi Arabia.”

“I am sure this new permanent residency initiative will further boost Saudi Arabia’s image as one of the key investment and business hubs in the region as well as attract and retain new investors here,” he added. “This initiative is aiming at key investors and eminent personalities from different fields such as sports, arts and culture, and those who have played a defining role in the nation-building process.”

Lulu Group owns and operates more than 35 hypermarkets and supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, including ARAMCO Commissaries and National Guards superstores.

In June 2019, Yusuffali received the UAE’s Gold Card long-term residency visa. Here too, he is the first expatriate to receive the Gold Card in Abu Dhabi from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Abu Dhabi headquartered Lulu Group, with 50,000 employees from 40 different nationalities, is best known in the Gulf through its flagship retail chain of Lulu hypermarkets and supermarkets. Currently, it is rated as one of the major players in the Middle East retail sector. The group’s international operations spread over three continents with 188 hypermarkets, supermarkets and 23 shopping malls across the GCC, Egypt, India and the Far East

Now, for some accolades. Yusuffali was the first Non-resident Indian from the Gulf to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award by the Government of India in 2008. In 2005, the UAE business community elected him as the Director Board Member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ADCCI). Subsequently, the board members also unanimously elected him as the vice-chairman of the Trade Committee of the ADCCI. In 2009, the UAE business community re-elected him to the Director Board of ADCCI. In 2014, he was re-elected for a third time, and he is the only non-Arab to be elected to the Director Board of ADCCI consecutively for a record third time.