Lifting the veil on where people with money go for vacation
What are the most popular holiday playgrounds for the well-heeled from the Middle East?
Every issue Curiosity Middle East will talk to one super rich from the region and find out about his / her favourite destinations, airlines, hotels, restaurants and all else that makes them put work behind…
Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, a leader in construction, building and shop fitting industries, was recently rated among 25 richest Indians in the Gulf, with a net worth of AED 2 billion. He is also counted among the 100 most powerful Indians. It isn’t hard to notice that. Hoardings across Dubai carry his company adverts.
In just two decades he has got 42 outlets operational across the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, China, Kenya and Libya. And now with an aggressive expansion strategy Rizwan is looking to grow his business by 20% in the next two years. So when and how does he unwind?
Are you able to switch off?
Everybody has their way of switching off. Business is in my veins so I can’t disconnect. When I go on vacation, I leave the message: ‘Out on holiday but available 24/7’.
How often do you go on holiday?
We vacation twice a year – once with our close circle of friends and the second with my wife only. We are a group of five to six families and we generally go on a cruise every year. It is one of the best ways to enjoy with the family as there is non-stop fun. Dropping anchor, you wake up to a new destination every morning, go around the city, come back to enjoy a host of activities on board and then party at night. And the beauty is you don’t have to carry your luggage around. It is nicely parked all through the journey. We have done some of the most amazing cruises such as the Mediterranean, Far Eastern, Caribbean and I look forward to doing it again.
When it comes to private holidays with my wife we have been pretty much all over the world but one place that we absolutely love is Switzerland. I have already been there four or five times and wouldn’t mind to go again.
What is it that you like so much about Switzerland?
It is one of the most friendly and relaxing places. We Indians love the snow, the scenery. There is greenery everywhere. Moreover, the people are so warm and welcoming. Where else would you find ‘Wada Pao’ in Europe but in the Swiss Alps? Switzerland is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations that has got a wide range of attractions. It is easy to explore with an efficient transport network – from trains to ferries to cable cars that can easily take you to the mountain resorts, lakes, forests, castles, museums and other architectural sites. There are hundreds of natural pools just waiting to be dipped in Zurich, Bern and Geneva. And the best part about Switzerland is it is very, very safe.
What’s your favourite airline and why?
I always travel Emirates because it has got an excellent network. It is also one of the safest airlines with the most advanced fleet. I generally travel business or first class but I am not totally satisfied with the service. It needs improvement. What kind of hotels do you like to stay in? We mostly stay in upscale luxury hotels and one of my favourite brands is Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. They are absolutely superb when it comes to service and facilities. I also like Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts.
How adventurous are you when it comes to food while travelling?
I am reasonably adventurous with food. When we go to a new country we definitely want to try the local cuisine and specialties. We are particularly fond of Chinese, Thai, Italian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Arabian and African cuisines. Basically, we enjoy anything that is spicy. But of course, being Indian third day we start to miss our food.
You are an extremely well-travelled man. So how do you compare Dubai to some of the world’s top destinations? I would give Dubai 10 out of 10. Everything in Dubai is the best of the best. It is a great destination, a truly international city. Whether you are looking for a beach vacation or shopping or family holiday, Dubai is awesome. It has got the finest infrastructure, superb airline connections, great weather for practically nine months, the very best hotels and restaurants, fabulous entertainment attractions such as the various theme parks, pristine beaches, beautiful desert escapes, phenomenal nightlife and excellent shopping malls. The people are very friendly too and with a mix of nationalities, it is very cosmopolitan.
Everyone speaks English which makes it very easy to communicate. It is also very convenient to get around the city with the Metro. Taxis are easily available and pretty cheap. It is in the same league as Singapore, London or New York. In the next four or five years it will be at par with the world’s top cities. And the best part is it offers value for money. My advice to tourists is take at least a week or 10 days holiday in the UAE because it has so much to offer in terms of nature, culture, cuisine. Discover the neighbouring emirates too such as Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah that are absolutely beautiful.