WHEN I first called Joy Alukkas in Dubai he was kind enough to visit me at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. He did not insist on my going to his shop in the city to meet him. His shop in Dubai mirrored his phenomenal success in jewelry business. I had known something about him as a remarkable jeweler but was not aware of the fact that he was by then the leading dealer in 22 carat gold. Today he is rated as the first or second largest dealer in 22 carat gold, which is most popular among Indians.
During our meeting I told him I was planning a quiz contest for readers of my Malayalam News newspaper, the first daily in that language and the lingua franca of all Keralites in the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia. I asked him if he would be interested in sponsoring the contest and he said he would. But I was not quite ready for the surprise since he said he would offer many gold coins for the winners during a period of six months. That was obviously the largest contest of its kind in the Gulf press. The readers lapped it up and thousands joined in from day one.
I was delighted and within two weeks launched the contest, made a lot of readers happy and helped make the new daily the most talked about newspaper in the region in that language.
Like most leading Indians I met for interviews or otherwise, for this paper or for Malayalam News, Joy was modest, soft-spoken and even a little shy. We met several times in Dubai and in the Kingdom, which helped me gain more knowledge about the man who controls much of the gold trade in the world. During our last meeting in Dammam he was the same nice and modest person.
Today the group has grown with millions of people choosing his designs and products and he claims he has about ten million of them served by 5,000 employees in nine countries including Saudi Arabia. He has received the super brand status three years in a row, the latest this year and has been hailed as the world’s favorite jeweler, which he likes to display in his television advertising. His global retail chain has 85 showrooms in nine countries as his business interests include jewelry, fashion and silks, jolly silks, luxury flight service provider Joy Jets, money exchange and malls, one of which is called Mall of Joy. He currently operates the world’s biggest jewelry showroom located in the Indian city of Chennai, formerly called Madras, which includes a diamond alcove with contents worth several million dollars. His achievements are many and varied making him one of the richest men in Gulf, India and the world. So what is his business philosophy and vision? He wrote me his answer in a few words. He said: "My vision is to ornament the world and to fulfill this plan to take Joyalukkas to every nook and corner of the world. Today we are concentrating on India and Saudi Arabia where we plan to spread it to as many cities as possible. We are planning 100 showrooms in the next three years. The Joyalukkas experience is the best mix of choice, value, convenience, service and designs which we are striving to achieve in everything we do. We are striving to double our turnover and manpower in due course.”
A few words about the magic of 22 carat gold
In India it is the most popular kind of gold. By virtue of being a country that is home to scores of millions who hoard the metal and wear it, India is the largest importer of gold. Since it is essential for ornaments it is kept by parents for their daughters since childhood. In addition to being like cash, gold is almost given to every bride in India in a fairly good amount or as much as the parents can afford to give to their daughters. Since the parents have to pay the dowry to the suitor or the groom, their daughters are expected to carry and bring home good deal of it depending on the circumstances. Although the government has banned the system of dowry because of its injustice to the girls’ parents, only a few suitors have heeded the ban especially in the event of a love marriage by mutual consent. But the so-called arranged marriages are still tied to dowry payment by the girls’ families. Here steps in gold, 22 carat gold, and naturally Joyalukkas, now admittedly the leader in the field or at least the second biggest trader in gold worldwide.
— Farouk Luqman is an eminent journalist based in Jeddah.