Dubai: Two Keralites committed suicide by jumping from multi-storeyed buildings in the UAE recently.
The first incident was reported at a labour camp in Jebel Ali. A 37-year-old Kollam native, Ashok Kumar, took the extreme step reportedly over COVID-19 fears.
The second victim was UAE-based business tycoon Joy Arakkal, 54, a native of Mananthavady in Wayanad district. He jumped to his death from the 14th floor of a building in the Business Bay on April 23. A business crisis is said to have forced the extreme step.
Both these deaths had sent shock waves among the Malayali diaspora in the Gulf.
Joy Arakkal was the managing director of the Dubai-based Innova Group of Companies. The exact cause of Joy’s apparent suicide remains shrouded in mystery. The owner of a multi-crore business empire and well-known in both the Gulf and Kerala for his humanitarian works, Joy’s profile was seemingly on the rise. Why would a man at the pinnacle of success end his own life? Even those close to him are struggling to find an answer.
Meanwhile, his son Arun Joy has filed a complaint with the Bur Dubai Police, seeking a probe into his father's death. A sneak-peak into the career of the Keralite, who built a business empire in the Gulf:
An eye for business
Joy Arakkal was born to Ulahanan and the late Thresia at Mananthavady in Wayanad in 1966. He inherited a penchant for business from his father. His brother Johnny is also a businessman in Kerala. After his school education in Wayanad, Joy completed M.Com and passed CA inter. Determined to make a career in business early on, he first tried out tea and pepper business. Success was immediate, as he was well exposed to these from young age. His father had also started business in spices before branching out to other areas.
Making a mark in the UAE
Joy Arakkal landed in the UAE in 1997, to fulfil his dreams of establishing a business empire. Hard work and single-minded dedication helped Joy climb the ladder of success rapidly. His first forays in the Gulf were into crude oil trade, manufacturing of petro-chemical products, large oil tank cleaning service, and agro-farming. Apart from these, his company handled the major contract works of the UAE mobile service provider Etisalat. Joy Arakkal’s tragic end comes at a time when his refinery was to be completed in the Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah soon.
Joy Arakkal also owned the biggest oil tank cleaning station in the Gulf region. The company in Dubai Internet City (DIC) can clean up to 2,500 tanks. He earned the moniker 'Kappal Joy' after he bought a ship couple of years ago. However, the 500-metric tonne ship was sold two years ago. The company boasts of offices in various nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Africa and India. He was a prominent presence in the lubricant oil sector in Africa. The company, with a turnover of Rs 2 lakh crore, was all set to go public.
Best Entrepreneur Award in UAE
Joy Arakkal had won the UAE government's award for the Best Entrepreneur in 2018. He was picked for the award for starting the company in Hamriyah Free zone. The company was set to start first phase of production within a month. He was also awarded the lifetime achievement award for the best businessman by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Joy Arakkal also possessed the Gold card visa given by the UAE government to big investors for 10 years.
Prince of Arakkal Palace
Joy’s house Arakkal Palace at Manthavady bears testimony to his success in the business world. The 45,000-sq-ft mansion on four acres of land is one of the biggest houses in Kerala. His father and brother’s family moved into the house on December 29, 2018.
Support for the needy
Joy Arakkal was renowned for helping the needy, and had liberally supported several social causes. He set up a free dialysis unit at the hospital in Mananthavady in the memory of his mother. He also donated two acres of land for building houses for those who had lost their homes in the floods. Apart from these, he was involved in giving aid for the needy in coordination with several outfits in the Gulf and Kerala. Known for his gentle demeanour, Joy was an affable presence among his workers. He was living with his wife Celine, and children Arun and Ashly at Jumeirah.
Joy’s refinery at Hamriyah Free Zone
The refinery, coming up at the Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah, was one of Joy Arakkal's dream projects. It is said to be the first such project in the UAE to employ cutting-edge technology. Known as the blue revolution method, the technology envisages producing water as the final by-product of petroleum processing. The advanced system is based on the novel concept of returning the source of energy back to nature itself. Joy had even envisioned a project for breeding fish with the water produced by the plant.
The work on the refinery, estimated at a cost of 220 million Dirhams, was started six years ago. Joy himself had hand-picked the project director. The opening of this refinery would have catapulted Joy and his Innova group with a turnover of over 100 crore Dirham into a different league altogether.
Although several other big companies are also involved in similar projects, what set the Innova Group apart is that it is building the pioneering refinery in just one-third of the space and at a lesser cost. This project brought the Best Entrepreneur award for Joy in 2018.
The project was very close to Joy’s heart. He was said to be distraught over delay in project completion. The first-phase inauguration could not be held in March as planned, even though the machinery had been brought in from China and Italy. The company’s director board had also decided to allot more money for the project.
Unravel the mystery
Joy's son has now approached the police in Dubai to unearth the real reasons behind his father's death. He has specifically sought to probe the project director's role in the tragic incident. The complaint reportedly said that Joy had committed suicide as he was distressed by the allegations raised against him by the project director. A probe based on the complaint will be held in the coming days against the project director, who is a Lebanon native with Canadian citizenship. The company too will hear his version, after which further action will be taken.
Keralites both in India and in the Gulf await to know the real reason behind Joy Arakkal’s demise.