An Indian mechanic-turned-businessman today owns an incredible 22 apartments in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. George V Nereaparambil says he is not stopping at 22 and will continue to buy more if he gets a ‘good deal’. He says: “If I get a good deal, I’ll buy more. I am a dreamer and I never stop dreaming …” Kerala-born George is believed to be one of the largest private owners within the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure. His stake in the property came about when a relative teased him about the 828-metre building. “A relative of mine once jokingly told me – see this Burj Khalifa, you cannot enter it, he said.” After seeing an advertisement in a newspaper about an apartment for rent in the building in 2010, Nereaparambil rented it the same day and started living there from the next day. Now, six years down the line, with 22 of the 900 apartments at perhaps the Gulf’s poshest address under his belt, he has rented out five, and as for the rest, he’s ‘waiting for the right tenant.’ In an incredible sounding rags-to-riches story, Nereaparambil realised there was huge scope for an air conditioning business in the hot climate of the desert after he first touched down in Sharjah back in 1976. Nereaparambil, who helped his father trade cash crops and made money from waste since the age of 11, then went about setting up the beginnings of his now mini-empire, the GEO Group of Companies. “People in my hometown used to trade cotton, but they’d throw away the cotton seeds. Not many people knew at that time that you could make gum from those seeds,” he said. Sifting through the dirt and sand to gather up the disregarded seeds, he said he would often make a ‘90 percent profit’ selling them. “I’d do the same with tamarind seeds too. I’d sell the empty shells as cattle feed,” he reflects.

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