Indian businessman M.A. Yusuf Ali was among the 12 Abu Dhabi residents honoured for their contributions to the UAE community in various fields by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He was honoured at the 10th Abu Dhabi Awards on April 9 in Qasr Al Hosn.
The awards celebrate those who selflessly dedicate themselves to helping others, thus aiding the development of Abu Dhabi.
“Today, we celebrate 12 extraordinary individuals who chose to practise these values every day through their noble and charitable work, making our country and communities stronger,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
“His support of many initiatives and campaigns, both nationally and internationally, have positively impacted many local communities,” said the judges. “Driven by his belief in the importance of education and its role in developing sustainable and prosperous communities, Yusuf Ali has funded the education of countless students.”
Thanking the government, Yusuf Ali said: “This is indeed a very proud and emotional moment for me. I am very happy to receive Abu Dhabi’s highest civilian award from the blessed hands of H.H. Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“It was on 31 December 1973, I first arrived in Abu Dhabi with dreams and hopes. I faced a lot of challenges and ups and downs in my life, but today, I have reached this stage by the grace of Almighty God and the wholehearted support from the Royal Family of UAE, particularly from H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Allah Rehma) – Founding Father of UAE, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai and especially from my beloved H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“We started our journey from Abu Dhabi and I am humbled and thankful to receive this great honor.”
Congratulating him, Consulate General of India Dr Aman Puri said: “Through hardwork, honesty and dedication, Mr. Yusuffali MA has helped fly the Indian flag higher & played a vital role in promoting strong India UAE relations.”
Yusuf Ali, a native of Kerala’s Thrissur district, came to the UAE in the early 1970s and joined his uncle’s small distribution company. By the 1990s, he launched hypermarkets of his Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group, which is now one of the biggest names in UAE retail. Today it has over 200 stores worldwide. In February 2021, it launched its first all-women store in Jeddah with 103 female employees.
In 2019, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship issued its first gold card to Yousuf Ali, the first of 6,800 residents to receive UAE permanent residency. The permanent residency visa programme is just one of many long-term visa schemes that have been announced this year.