This is the rags-to-riches success story of a little Indian boy who made it big in life. Even while working as a laborer for the paltry sum of SR600 per month in one of the Gulf states, Dr. K. T. Rabiullah, managing director of Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group, told Ghazanfar Ali Khan of Arab News that he was not one to accept misery as his destiny. He was to write his own fate; so he has done that, and that, too, in golden letters.
The Saudi-based Indian billionaire, just last week, received the highest award given to non-resident Indians by the New Delhi government for their exceptional and meritorious contributions in their chosen fields or profession. It is called “Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.” He also received another commendation known as ‘Shashtri Award of India’ last year. Rabiullah, after receiving the award, spoke to Arab News in an exclusive interview, via telephone from India yesterday. He said: “Nothing is impossible … If you really believe in Allah and in yourself, then your hard work will fetch success for sure.”
In the interview, Rabiullah, at the very outset, disclosed an ambitious plan to build a huge multi-million riyal hospital in Jeddah on the pattern of the US-based Mayo Clinic, which is globally known for innovative and effective treatment for difficult cases and chronic ailments. “I also have plans to recruit some 300 Saudi youngsters, mainly medical professionals and technicians, in a staggered schedule during the next five years,” said Rabiullah, who has been conferred several doctorates including a doctorate from a reputed American institution.
Rabiullah, who owns and operates about 50 hospitals and clinics across the Gulf states, including 12 medical centers in Saudi Arabia, said that “plans are afoot to open several new hospitals, pharmacies and clinics in different parts of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).” He shared his highly optimistic vision on the growth prospects of the health sector and the need for building quality health institutions in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states as well as in India.
Currently, more than 700 doctors and about 10,000 staff including paramedical staffers are working under the Shifa Group. This is in addition to 35 world-class pharmacies and 17 optical centers currently operational under the Shifa Group in different GCC countries. “By the end of 2013, three full-fledged hospitals with modern equipment and world-class facilities besides the one in Jeddah with experienced doctors and paramedical staff will come up in the Gulf countries,” said the Shifa Group chief.
“I have personally selected some locations and…also the designs of the hospitals are being carried out under my supervision, as I want everything to be world-class,” he said, referring to his future plans. Rabibullah talked about his commitment to bring down healthcare costs in the Gulf countries in a big way, and said that Shifa Al Jazeera Group was a pioneer professional private sector group in the healthcare sector of the Middle East.
Asked about his success story and how he amassed so much wealth, Rabiullah admits that “the little sum which I used to earn during the days of my struggle did make me very happy, but not to the extent of quenching my total thirst. In fact, it motivated me to pursue my career more intensely and make a mark of my own. Financial constraints failed to deter me from pursuing education, acquiring know-how and entrepreneurial skills.”
He had entrepreneurial yearnings since the day he landed in Saudi Arabia. Hence, he eventually went ahead with scripting a brilliant success story, establishing his own business only a few years back. Founded by visionary Rabiullah, the Shifa Al Jazeerah Group is today a big conglomerate with hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and optical shops in different parts of the GCC and in India. The latest feather in Rabiullahi’s cap was the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman conferred by the Indian government last week.
Describing it as just another height attained in his career, but not the pinnacle, Rabiullah says, “There’s a long way to go.” Asked about future plans, the Shifa chief said that he is very happy the way things are turning out and now looks forward to pursuing the idea of making this world a better place to live in. In this regard, it is important to note that he has already adopted his native village, where he wants to “make a difference.” He lends all kinds of support to that village.
He has launched a scheme under which he grants monetary assistance to the needy people of that village on a monthly basis. He said that through his enterprise known as Shifa Al Jazeera Group he wants “to be closer to the common people by providing affordable and the best medical facilities”. He also wants to institute an annual award for outstanding personalities in the field of social, education, medical, art and culture. “I want to remain close to the working class and poor people and address their needs…this gives me the kind of satisfaction I look for,” he said.
Asked about the projects undertaken by him under the Shifa Group’s corporate social responsibility program, he said that he believed in helping the needy and the weaker sections, which is the most important service one can do in his lifetime. “Islam teaches us to help and share whatever you have with the needy,” he said. Apart from his busy business involvement, Rabiullah believes that corporate social responsibility is a commitment to improve community well being through discretionary business practices and contribution of corporate resources.
On several past occasions, Rabiullah has made substantial donations or contributed generously to relief and rehabilitation efforts globally. He donated generously to the victims following the tsunami in Asia. He extended aid to the victims of Latur earthquake and Gujarat earthquake (India). He was also the first to help the rehabilitation of the victims of Calicut fire in India. Only last week, he donated about SR150,000 to secure the release of a poor Indian worker, who was languishing in a Saudi jail for the last few years.