Zarakh Iliev (Зарах Илиев) is one of Russia’s richest oligarchs and has an estimated net wealth of $5 billion. He has been consistently climbing up the rich lists, and looks set to increase his holdings and assets in years to come. Together with his partner and close friend, God Nisanov, Iliev is the undisputed leader in real estate, hotel and shopping complexes in Russia. His current plans include expansion into wholesale goods and further retail and hotel developments.
Zarakh Iliev was born in 1966 in Krasnaya Sloboda, Azerbaijan. His family are part of a close knit community of Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan, and though he left home at the age of 17 to find work in Moscow, he remains a committed family man, with much of his philanthropic work focused on increasing the well-being and raising the profile of the Jewish people from this region of Russia. From humble beginnings, as the son of a shoemaker, to a real estate mogul: how did Iliev manage to turn his dreams of wealth into cold hard cash?
Moscow Trader Dominates Cherkizovsky Market
Zarakh Iliev may have started out working for his uncles in their store on Lubyanka Street, but quickly established himself as a trader at the Cherkizovsky Market. He purchased several containers and expanded his retail operations to become one of the principal investors in the market, which, in its heyday was the largest in Russia and one of the largest in Europe. His partnership with God Nisanov began during the early 1990s, and the pair started developing retail markets close to major Moscow metro stations.
From Markets Stalls to Hotels – The Rise of Russia’s Property Kings
The 1990s were an excellent time for doing business in Russia, and Zarakh Iliev and God Nisanov were positioned at exactly the right place to capture the market and turn it into a billion dollar fortune. The purchase and development of several shopping centers in key locations was the key to their success, and today they are the owners of the Radisson Royal Ukraine Hotel, the Radisson SAS Slavyanskaya Hotel and the European Shopping Center. The ‘Evropeyskiy’ Shopping Center has been showcased in dozens of magazines and on television shows, and is a popular Moscow tourist attraction in its own right. With over 180,000 square meters of retail developments, the site was designed by Yury Platonov, a well-known Russian architect.
Their domination of retail space in Moscow has not diminished in the 2000s. The partners have recently diversified their holdings with the purchase of further retail and wholesale space to increase their holdings and wealth. Their wholesale developments draw millions of traders from across Russia each year. Iliev and Nisanov are currently involved in the development of the Eastern European Oceanarium in Moscow.
In 2014, the pair received the Leadership Award at the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference.
Zarakh Iliev is married with two children and lives in Moscow.