DUBAI -- An Indian mechanic-turned-businessman owns an incredible 22 apartments in the popular Burj Khalifa, a media report said yesterday.
George V Nereaparambil says he is not stopping at 22 and will continue to buy more if he gets a "good deal".
"If I get a good deal, I'll buy more. I am a dreamer and I never stop dreaming," he told Khaleej Times.
The Kerala-born 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 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 the apartment the same day and started living in it from the next day.
Now, six years on with 22 of the 900 apartments at perhaps the Gulf's poshest address under his belt, he said five are rented, and as for the rest, he's "waiting for the right tenant", the report quoted him as saying.
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 first touched down in Sharjah back in 1976.
Nereaparambil, who helped his father trade cash crops and made money from waste at the age of 11, then went about setting up the beginnings of his now mini empire, 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 per cent profit selling them on".
"I'd do the same with tamarind seeds too. I'd sell the empty shells on as cattle feed," he added.
Also on HuffPost India.