The man who owns 22 apartments in the Burj Khalifa

And they cost George Nereaparambil AED 3 million in maintenance.

Meryl D'Souza October 11, 2016

Meet Kerala-born entrepreneur George Nereaparambil. He owns 22 of the 900 apartments within the Burj Khalifa. Nope, that's not a typo.

A relative once teased Nereaparambil, saying he wasn't able to enter the world's tallest building. George evidently couldn't take a joke.

Now one of the most dominant private owners within the Burj Khalifa, Nereaparambil simply bided his time and the minute he saw a newspaper advertisement about an apartment for rent within the building, he made a call.

All that happened in 2010. In the short span of six years, Nereaparambil now owns 22 apartments in the 163-floor building, five of which are leased out. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Nereaparambil says he would like to lease out the others but is waiting for the right tenants.   

The story behind his rise

Nereaparambil showed an aptitude for business from the early age of 11 when he started helping his father trade cash crops. "People in my village used to trade cotton, but they’d throw away the seeds," he said. "Not many people knew at the time that you could make gum from those seeds. I’d do the same with tamarind seeds too. I’d sell the empty shells as cattle feed.” Doing so gave him a 90 per cent profit margin.

The Dubai dream

That business acumen only got sharper with time. When Nereaparambil reached the Middle East in 1976, he saw the demand for air conditioners in a desert land on the cusp of rapid economic growth and decided to cash in on the demand by setting up his Geo Group of Companies.

All about the environment

George is also a firm believer in giving back to nature. Like Bill Gates and his Janicki Omniprocesor (see below), the air-conditioning mogul is currently working on a pet project and it’s got nothing to do with high-profile real estate.

Instead, his project involves building a canal for his native Kerala, which is aimed at not just providing farmers with a livelihood, but also bringing electricity and sustainable water consumption to the forests, to protect the greenery of God’s own country.

How to keep it going

We’re certain Nereaparambil deserves a spot in our list of the richest people in the GCC. Speaking to Emirates 24/7, he claimed to be spending about AED 3 million alone on the maintenance of his Burj Khalifa properties. To top it off, he also owns properties in Meydan and Ras Al Khaimah with a couple of factories in Sharjah and Ajman.

And here’s the clincher: Nereaparambil says he’s far from done. Should a good deal come up, the man is more than happy to take his Burj Khalifa tally to 23.