He was so poor he couldn’t afford a bicycle and dream of nothing more than a square meal, but today Dhananjay Datar is Managing Director of the Al Masala King Group and drives a bespoke Rolls-Royce. He tells Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary his inspiring tale of struggle, survival and success.
In the almost 30 years since opening its first store in the UAE, the Al Adil Group of grocery shops has acquired a cult like status among Indian expatriates. That’s because with 8000 varieties of authentic Indian foods, including spices, pickles and poppadoms, it’s a store that literally bottles the taste of home. It was created in 1984 by Mahadeo Datar, and his son Dhananjay has made the tastes, smell and sights of Indian delicacies so irresistible that there are now 32 branches across the country, with 17 in Dubai.
Today Dhananjay, 48 is ranked 19th in the top 50 list of richest Indians in the Gulf with a total net worth of $650 million (Dhs. 2.4 billion). But he hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings in a small village in Maharastra, India.