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Kabir Sukhwani, in his office on Malaga's Alameda Principal. Migue Fernández
Kabir Sukhwani, a Malaga businessman at the helm of the Indian Chamber of Commerce
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Kabir Sukhwani, a Malaga businessman at the helm of the Indian Chamber of Commerce

The founder of Sankar real estate group speaks of Malaga with pride and what more the city could do to attract investments from his country of origin

Juan Soto

Malaga

Friday, 5 January 2024, 18:14

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The walls of his office, in the heart of Malaga's Alameda Principal, are dominated by a painting of an Indian weaver, an image of the spiritual leader of Radha Soami and the shirt won by Rafa Nadal at one of his first tennis wins in the Masters. "For my friend Kabir," reads Nadal's words. The Kabir in question is Kabir C. Sukhwani, a Malaga businessman of Indian origin who has just been appointed president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce for all Spain.

A deliberately private man (there are hardly any references to him on the internet), Kabir is president of Sankar group, one of the real estate companies seeing most growth on the Costa del Sol. It currently has seven developments under way, not just in Spain but also in Central America. A fan of reading, walking and Cuban cigars, he considers this new appointment a great honour and his key objective will be to escort Spanish companies to India and attract new investments from that country.

Although of Indian blood, Kabir was born in Malaga city. His maternal family left Bombay in 1949 and settled permanently in Malaga in 1972. Kabir's grandfather, Gangaram Sukhwani, had devoted his working life to electronics and watches. After emigrating (they were some years in Tetouan, Tangier and Ceuta), his grandson set up the real estate development company that the family now runs. In addition to Sankar, the family owns Parque Málaga developers and also real estate investment company AGP Málaga, which had its stock exchange debut in 2020 on Euronext Paris.

Sankar Group currently has seven residential developments under way in Malaga province and the Dominican Republic

Kabir was born in Malaga city in 1981, he attended local schools (Cristo de Mena and Cerrado de Calderón) and then trained in Business Administration and Management at the private EADE business school. He began working at DTZ, a real estate consultancy, and then moved to Prasa group, where he led development projects in the Middle East and Latin America. In 2005, back in Spain, he founded his own company, Sankar, which today employs around twenty people and is set to achieve a turnover of 200 million euros with seven projects in progress.

This Malaga businessman will lead the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Spain for the next three years and has set the goal of attracting investments from India, currently the second largest investor in the world after the Middle East with 1.6 trillion euros of investment capacity. "It is very nice as a Malaga native to be able to hold such a high position on the business world stage at a time when Malaga is in the tech spotlight," he said.

Kabir explained that India is a technological powerhouse and that fact represents a great opportunity for Malaga city and surroundings, both to attract talent and also to attract companies interested in expanding and investing. He pointed out that Malaga and the Costa del Sol have always been a popular choice for Indian people to move to, for example: "30 per cent of Google employees in Malaga are of Indian origin". Now it is companies from India that are viewing Malaga as a favourable destination thanks to the city's predominant commitment to the technology sector.

Kabir said that everyone is now talking about Malaga. "They have gone from believing that the airport was in Marbella to knowing the city's name throughout the world as a noteworthy destination."

He praised the leadership shown by the city's mayor, Francisco de la Torre, and his commitment to trying for numerous projects even if they turn out to be unsuccessful, as was the case with the failed bid to host Expo 2027. "Everything we do gives us international visibility; the expo bid, for example, has put us on the map for the whole Middle East."

Widely travelled, this Malaga business owner gets to mix and make friends with some of Spain's high society. He has even met the royal family on several occasions. Just this year he has been seen with King Felipe VI and the emeritus king, Juan Carlos de Borbón, at the Formula One races in the Middle East. Back home, Kabir has appeared with celebrities such as Vicky Martín Berrocal, Tita Cervera, Fonsi Nieto and Mario Vaquerizo. As he put it: "They are people you come across and then they end up becoming friends."

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