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Asia’s richest man’s star-studded celebration

NEW DELHI (AP) — What happens when the son of Asia’s richest man is about to get married?

His father throws a three-day prenuptial bash four months before the actual ceremony.

Tycoons from around the world, heads of state, as well as Hollywood and Bollywood stars descended on the small western Indian city of Jamnagar on Friday where billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani is kickstarting a big fat wedding celebration for his youngest son.

The nearly 1,200-person guest list includes pop superstar Rihanna, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sunder Picha, Ivanka Trump and Bollywood celebrity Shah Rukh Khan.

All eyes are on Anant Ambani, 28, and his long-time girlfriend Radhika Merchant, 29, who will tie the knot in July. Radhika is the daughter of Viren Merchant, CEO of Encore Healthcare Pvt Ltd, and entrepreneur Shaila Merchant.

Such festivities keep up with the Ambani family’s tradition of lavish and over-the-top parties while displaying the Indian billionaire’s economic and political clout.

Here is everything you need to know about the family and the prenuptial bash that captivated the country.

This photograph released by the Reliance group shows from L to R, billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, son Anant and wife Nita, posing for a photograph as guests gather to celebrate Anant’s wedding in Jamnagar, India, Saturday, March 2, 2024. PHOTO: RELIANCE GROUP VIA AP

WHO IS MUKESH AMBANI?

Mukesh Ambani, 66, is currently the world’s 10th richest man with a net worth of USD115bn, according to Forbes. He is also the richest person in Asia.

His Reliance Industries is a massive conglomerate, reporting over USD100 billion in annual revenue, with interests ranging from petrochemicals, and oil and gas to telecoms and retail.

Under Ambani’s leadership, Reliance — founded by his father in 1966 — sparked a telecom price war with the launch of the 4G phone and broadband service Jio in 2016. Today, it has more than 420 million subscribers and offers 5G services. Earlier this week, Disney struck an USD8.5bn deal to merge its India business with Ambani’s Reliance Industries, forming a new media giant.

The Ambani family owns, among other assets, a 27-story private apartment building, named Antila, worth USD1 billion in Mumbai. It has three helipads, a 160-car garage, a private movie theatre, a swimming pool, and a fitness centre.

Ambani’s critics say his company has flourished mainly because of political connections during the Congress governments in the 1970s and 80s and subsequently under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule after 2014. They say “crony capitalism” in India has helped certain corporations, such as Ambani’s, thrive.

Mukesh Ambani, 66, has started passing the torch to his two sons and daughter. The oldest son, Akash Ambani, is now chairperson of Reliance Jio; his daughter, Isha, oversees retail; and the youngest, Anant — who will wed in July— has been inducted into the new energy business.

DO YOU WANT A PARTY LIKE NO OTHER? THE AMBANIS HAVE YOUR BACK

Extravagant parties are the Ambanis’ specialty.

In 2018, when his daughter married, Ambani made the headlines because of the grand celebrations, with pop sensation Beyoncé performing at the pre-wedding festivities. At the time, Former US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were among those who rubbed shoulders with Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars in the western Indian city of Udaipur.

Later that year, the happy couple, Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal, officially celebrated their engagement overlooking the picturesque Lake Como in Italy. In December 2018, they got married at the Ambani residence in Mumbai.

WHAT IS SO FASCINATING ABOUT THE PRE-WEDDING SHINDIG?

The three-day pre-wedding bash offers a glimpse of the opulence expected at the July wedding.

The Ambanis are celebrating it at the family’s hometown of Jamnagar — a city of around 600,000 in a near-desert part of Gujarat state — where they also have the business’ main oil refinery.

Guests will don jungle-themed outfits to visit an animal rescue centre run by the groom-to-be, Anant. Known as “Vantara,” or “Star Of The Forest,” the 3,000-acre (about 1,200-hectare) centre houses abused, injured and endangered animals, particularly elephants.

The invitation also says guests will start each day with a new dress code, with mood boards and an army of hair stylists, makeup artists and Indian wear designers at their hotel to help them prepare.

There will also be traditional Hindu ceremonies in a temple complex.

The guests, many arriving by chartered planes, will be served 500 dishes created by around 100 chefs.

The guest list also includes Mohammed Bin Jassim al Thani, the prime minister of Qatar; Stephen Harper, former Canadian prime minister; and Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

On Wednesday, the Ambani family organised a community food service for 51,000 people living in nearby villages.




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