On April 11, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Indian businessman and Lulu Group Chairman MA Yusuff Ali and his wife, along with three others, had a miraculous escape from a helicopter crash. The 65-year-old businessman and others were travelling in a personal chopper to see a relative admitted to his family-owned Lakeshore hospital in Kochi from his home at Kadavanthra in the same city.
The copter developed a technical snag but crashed safely and exactly into a small walled swampy field at Panangad, close to the national highway and in one of the most crowded regions of the Kochi city. Many people who adore Yousaffali not only for being the richest Malayali businessman but also for his extensive philanthropic activities, felt the miraculous escape was the act of God's grace and love for him.
Yusuff Ali's LuLu Group International is one of the fastest-growing retail chains in the world with over 193 supermarkets in the Middle East, Africa and India, with revenues in excess of $7.4 billion. Forbes estimates his real-time net worth at $4.9 billion.
Within two months of the crash, MA Yusuff Ali is again hogging the limelight for his benevolence -- this time for saving the life of a Keralite youth sentenced to death in the UAE for a freak accident eight years ago.
On September 7, 2012, Becks Krishnan (45), then working with a private company in Abudhabi, was driving to Musafa for a business assignment. His car rammed into a group of kids playing on the pavement and killed a young boy of Sudan nationality. With the help of CCTV footage and eyewitnesses, the police established that Becks Krishnan recklessly drove the car and rammed into the group of kids. The UAE Supreme Court found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
His family and friends were relentlessly trying for Krishnan's release and sought all available help but could not succeed. Efforts got complicated as the Sudani boy's family returned to their native land. One of the relatives of Krishnan approached Yusuff Ali and the businessman came forward to help. The only option left to save Becks Krishnan from death was to convince the Sudan boy's family to pardon him, pay blood money and inform the Court and the UAE authorities.
Yusuff Ali's team started talking to the boy's family in Sudan. After months and years of negotiations, the family was brought back to Abudhabi for elaborate discussions and convinced to arrive at compensation. Finally, the family agreed to pardon Becks Krishnan and informed the Supreme Court. In January, the Court ordered to deposit AED 500,000 (Rs 1 crore approximately) as compensation in the court and Yusuff Ali paid the money immediately.
Becks Krishnan is likely to be released this week from Alwathba jail in UAE and will fly to rejoin with his family in Kerala. He says the freak accident changed his life forever and release from jail is a rebirth. His one ambition is to meet his saviour, MA Yusuff Ali, whom he had never met in his life. Yusuff Ali says the almighty and the benevolence of UAE rulers has to be thanked for the release of Krishnan, wishing the youth a prosperous and peaceful life ahead.
Hailing from Nattika, a small village at Thrissur in Kerala, Yusuff Ali went to assist his uncle's provision store in Ahmedabad at a young age. He left for Abu Dhabi in 1973 to open a shop selling essential goods for South Indian expatriates. Now he also owns the Waldorf Astoria in Scotland and the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, the former headquarters of the UK Metropolitan Police, besides buying a stake in the East India Company (EIC), founded in 1600 and was instrumental in British Raj in India. His son-in-law Dr Shamsheer Vayalil runs VPS Healthcare, a big hospital chain with 23 hospitals and 125 health centres across four countries with over $1 billion turnover.
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