From Humble Beginnings to Riches: The Journey of One of the Richest Indians in UAE, Rizwan Sajan

From Humble Beginnings to Riches: The Journey of One of the Richest Indians in UAE, Rizwan Sajan
Rizwan Sajan Success Story

The Lady luck stands with those who never give up and who work harder, stronger, and smarter during tough and challenging times. Here is a story of another ‘slumdog millionaire’ that stands as an example and inspiration to many.

This is the story of Rizwan Sajan, who paved his way from the streets of Mumbai to the glamorous world of Dubai. There were numerous setbacks and failures, but what made him as successful as he is today are his confidence, determination, and strong will to never give up. The hardships that a person undergoes compel him to push to his limits and that leads to huge success.

Let’s explore the story of Rizwan Sajan who tasted such great success through his hard work.

Rizwan Sajan - Biography

Name Rizwan Sajan
Birthplace Mumbai, India
Born December 27, 1963
Nationality Non-Resident Indian
Education University of Mumbai
Position Founder and Chairman, Danube Group
Net worth $2.5 billion

Rizwan Sajan – Early Life & Education
Rizwan Sajan – Danube Group
Rizwan Sajan – The 1% Man
Rizwan Sajan – Personal Life
Rizwan Sajan – Philanthropy
Rizwan Sajan – Awards and Recognitions
Rizwan Sajan – Quotes

Rizwan Sajan – Early Life & Education

Rizwan Sajan's story is one of resilience ever since he was a child. Despite growing up in such challenging circumstances in Mumbai's Ghatkopar area, he didn't let these obstacles define his future.

Though his father's stroke of luck with the lottery provided a turning point for the family, allowing them to move into better living conditions, life was still full of challenges.

Rizwan understood the support his family needed and wanted to contribute. Thus began his entrepreneurial spirit. Starting with small trading ventures, he utilized the potential of his schoolmates and the local community by selling a variety of products, ranging from books to milk, rakhis, and firecrackers. 

This early experience likely instilled in him valuable lessons about business, perseverance, and the importance of seizing opportunities.

Everything looked progressive until one day when he had to face the harsh reality of life. His father passed away when he was 16. So, Rizwan had to bear the burden of taking care of the financial needs of his family. He dropped out of school and started a small business manufacturing box files. 

But the financial burden was still heavy to carry. He decided to take some major steps in his career to address this financial crisis. 

In 1981, he approached his uncle for help and was employed by him in Kuwait as a trainee salesman. Through his hard work, he quickly rose in his career.

Once again, everything looked progressive until the next turning point. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 forced him to leave for India. Once again, he was back in Mumbai. But, what stood as the reason behind his success was his unshakable perseverance. He decided to venture into the job market again from scratch. Eventually, he landed a job at a brokerage firm dealing in building materials in Dubai. 

Rizwan Sajan – Danube Group

After all the ups and downs, through the experience gathered, he finally decided to launch his own business in 1993 and founded the Danube Group. Dubai was the obvious choice for starting the business. Everything worked out in his favour and his business expanded rapidly along with Dubai's growth. He also diversified in many other sectors like the sanitary solutions brand Milano (2006), Danube Home for Home Furnishing (2008), and Alucopanel dealing in aluminum composite panels (2012).

He never missed an opportunity and was not afraid to take chances to achieve success. He entered the real estate sector in 2014 and this proved to be a great success in his business career.

The company has grown to be one of the greatest business conglomerates in the world with a tie-up with brands like Aston Martin, Fashion TV, and Tonino Lamborghini Casa​​.

Danube Group
Danube Group

Rizwan Sajan – The 1% Man

Rizwan realized that Dubai’s real estate market was already dominated by many real estate giants. For him to flourish in such a competitive market, he had to come up with something innovative. While analyzing the sector, he realized that the expats living in UAE had a practice of only renting apartments and not buying them because they were salaried employees. He wanted to leverage the potential of this crowd and decided to convert these tenants into house owners. 

For this, he introduced the 1% plan, where the buyers had to pay a small downpayment and only one percent of the cost per month while the remaining payment could be done after the completion of the project.

This brilliant innovative idea worked out and made owning a house affordable for many people. This plan shifted the mindset of the expats and made them believe that they could own a house. Many came forward to buy houses and this is considered as the major step in the success of the company.

This was such a huge success that in 2019, Rizwan was among the first foreigners who received the U.A.E.’s new 10-year residence visa in recognition of his group of companies’ contributions to the country’s economy. 

This kind of innovative thinking and smart moves always made Riwan successful in all his endeavors despite the challenges he faced.

Rizwan Sajan – Personal Life

Rizwan is married to Sameera and the couple has one son named Adel Sajan.

Rizwan Sajan – Philanthropy

Rizwan’s tough childhood and his struggles have made him realize the importance of giving back to society and thus he is involved in great philanthropic activities like: 

  • Rizwan donated AED 5 million towards the UAE government’s ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment Initiative’ in 2023.
  • In 2012, the Danube group started its welfare center called the Danube Welfare Centre (DWC) to address the difficulties faced by the blue-collared individuals in the UAE. This initiative provides the laborers training in English language and computer skills.
  • The company serves Iftaar to many thousands of laborers every year during the month of Ramadan.

Rizwan Sajan – Awards and Recognitions

Rizwan Sajan is awarded with the following accolades:

  • Forbes Middle East ranked him 12th among the ‘Top 100 Indian leaders in the UAE’ List.
  • He was also awarded the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Excellence Award.
  • He was named The Economic Times Global Indian Leader in 2022.

Rizwan Sajan – Quotes

Life can throw you off gear but it's your will and determination that keeps your head above water.


Who is Rizwan Sajan?

Rizwan Sajan, born on December 27, 1963, in Mumbai, India, is a prominent Non-Resident Indian entrepreneur based in the UAE. He is the founder and chairman of Danube Group, a leading conglomerate in the region.

Why Rizwan Sajan is called a 1% Man?

Rizwan Sajan is called a 1% Man because he introduces the 1% payment plan that presents an opportunity to acquire property in Dubai through monthly payments of just 1% of the total price. This innovative scheme offers a pathway to property ownership with minimal initial investment, a customizable payment schedule, and without incurring interest charges.

When was the Danube Group founded?

Danube Group was founded in the year 1993.

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