By Reena Kumar
Distinguished figures in the business world celebrated their rich contribution to the UK economy at the glittering Asian Business Awards last night (17) which is now in its 20th year.
Hosted by the Asian Media and Marketing Group (AMG), publishers of Eastern Eye and Garavi Gujarat news weekly, the evening also saw the unveiling of the 2017 Asian Rich List – a compilation of the 101 wealthiest Asians in Britain.
London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, was the chief guest at the event and he paid tribute to hardworking Asian entrepreneurs.
Hotelier Surinder Arora scooped the highest accolade of the night with the Asian Business of the Year award.
He set up the Arora Group in 1999, and turned it into one of Britain’s leading hospitality businesses with a portfolio of 15 hotels and three more planned.
Arora’s Intercontinental at the 02 has the largest ballroom of any in Europe, while another hotel is the only one with direct access to Terminal 5 at Heathrow – the Sofitel.
He is also refurbishing a hotel in Windsor and has the queen’s permission to brand it as the Royal Windsor Park Hotel.
In total, nine awards were presented on the evening, with winners drawn from a range of industries, including healthcare and food and drink.
The annual Asian Business Awards recognise the best of the business world – from the early pioneers who took those first tentative steps into business in the 1960s and 1970s to today’s innovators, disruptors and challengers who are forging a path to success.
Guests at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster included powerful politicians, business tycoons and community leaders.
This year’s Asian Rich List showed that the total wealth of entrepreneurs on the 2017 edition reached a staggering £69.9 billion, a rise of £14.4bn from 2016.
The Hinduja family topped the list for the fourth year in a row and this year their valuation stands at £19 billion, an increase of £2.5 billion over 2016.
The evening also saw members of the audience generously donating to the two charity appeals – Path to Success and the Anthony Nolan Trust which promotes organ donation among minority communities and helps to save the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.
Path to Success adopts new campaigns on a yearly basis as an umbrella body providing funding and grants to other organisations for the relief of sickness and poverty and the advancement of education. It also supports disabled and homeless people through its initiatives.
Speaking about the Rich List, Shailesh Solanki, executive editor of AMG, said: “This year’s list is once again a fascinating commentary on the financial impact British Asians have in the UK and the level of success growth that certain entrepreneurs and business leaders have achieved.”
Businesses based in and around London make up more than half of the list.
Speaking at the event, London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “London is home to one of largest, and most diverse South Asian communities in the world, which contributes a huge amount to our city’s success – socially, culturally and economically. Nowhere is that clearer than in the business community.”
“From retail and pharmacy to tech and innovation, the UK’s Asian business leaders are at the forefront of their respective industries. The Asian Business Awards recognises the incredible success of these leaders and I was delighted to join them and the Asian Media and Marketing Group for another fantastic evening.”