Dubai: A Saudi-based entrepreneur of Indian origin has assumed a top position in the defence department of Kyrgyzstan, the media reported.
Sheikh Rafik Mohammed, a Keralite, was appointed Major General by Kyrgyzstan Defence Minister Ali Mirza at an official ceremony in the Central Asian country, said a report in the Khaleej Times on Saturday.
This could be the first time a Keralite has been included in top military leadership of a foreign country. "It is a rare military position occupied by an overseas Keralite," said Rafik's media adviser Omar Abu Baker.
Rafik, who also holds Kyrgyzstan nationality, worked as an adviser to the former President Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev (2005-2010) whom he met in Iran where the young Indian entrepreneur was developing a major steel plant.
As an economic diplomat, Rafiq played a key role in attracting foreign investment from many countries to the nation by suggesting easy tax regimes that kept away foreign investors till then.
From there, he was invited by Saudi Arabia to develop some projects on the free zone model of Dubai.
"Rafik had left Kerala at a young age and he could complete only his primary school education. He went to Mumbai where the young man learnt all the tricks of business and from there to the Middle East. He has worked in the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan," his media adviser added.