Ambani’s pre-wedding party draws world’s who’s who

Published March 2, 2024
META chief Mark Zuckerberg along with his wife Priscilla Chan (left) and ArcelorMittal chief Lakshmi Mittal and his wife Usha arrive at Jamnagar Airport, on Friday.—AFP
META chief Mark Zuckerberg along with his wife Priscilla Chan (left) and ArcelorMittal chief Lakshmi Mittal and his wife Usha arrive at Jamnagar Airport, on Friday.—AFP

JAMNAGAR: Rihanna and Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg were in India on Friday for an extravagant pre-wedding party hosted by Asia’s richest man, with celebrations expected to include other globally influential figures.

Global tech bosses, industry titans, Bollywood stars, pop stars and politicians are also due for the three-day gala celebrations hosted by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani.

This weekend’s party is an elaborate pre-wedding ceremony for younger son Anant and fiancee Radhika Merchant, the daughter of wealthy pharmaceutical moguls.

Photos published by Indian media confirmed the arrival of Rihanna, Zuckerberg and the Facebook founder’s wife Priscilla Chan in Ambani’s hometown of Jamnagar, along with former US president Donald Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka.

Zuckerberg, Rihanna in India; Disney and Microsoft giants among those expected to join celebrations

“Umbrella” singer Rihanna, who gave birth to her second child in August, is slated to lead Friday’s entertainment in her first public performance since last year’s Superbowl.

 This handout photograph taken and released by Reliance on March 1, 2024, shows Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan (C) with his wife and actress Kareena Kapoor Khan (2L) upon their arrival at Jamnagar Airport in Jamnagar, to attend a three-day pre-wedding celebration hosted by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, for his son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant. — AFP
This handout photograph taken and released by Reliance on March 1, 2024, shows Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan (C) with his wife and actress Kareena Kapoor Khan (2L) upon their arrival at Jamnagar Airport in Jamnagar, to attend a three-day pre-wedding celebration hosted by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, for his son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant. — AFP

Broadcaster India Today reported that the Barbadian-born musician and women’s beauty entrepreneur had been offered up to $9 million to appear at the event.

Ambani, 66, is chairman of Reliance Industries — India’s biggest company by market capitalisation — and the world’s 10th-richest person, according to the Forbes billionaires list, worth more than $116 billion.

He inherited a thriving industrial enterprise spanning oil, gas and petrochemicals from his father and grew it into a commercial behemoth with lucrative interests in retail, telecommunications and an Indian Premier League cricket team.

Reliance’s partnerships with storied fashion brands such as Burberry, Armani and Jimmy Choo have helped the conglomerate cater to the growing appetite for luxury goods among India’s middle class.

Ambani’s family home Antilia — a 27-floor skyscraper that reportedly cost more than $1 billion to build and has a permanent staff of 600 servants — is one of the most prominent landmarks of Mumbai.

It was criticised after its 2010 completion by author Arundhati Roy and others for starkly illustrating the wide gulf between India’s business elite and its poor multitudes.

Ambani held the most expensive wedding in India to date for his daughter in 2018, which reportedly cost $100 million and saw US pop megastar Beyonce perform.

Younger son Anant, 28, who also serves as a director on the boards of several Reliance-owned firms, is expected to marry Merchant, 29, later this year.

The Ambanis kick-started celebrations on Wednesday by launching a three-day feast for villagers at the Reliance Township in Jamnagar, in India’s western state of Gujarat.

Star-studded guest list

US illusionist David Blaine is also expected to be part of the entertainment for guests, who include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and several current and former political leaders.

Also among the invitees is Disney chief Bob Iger, following a deal agreed between Reliance Industries and Walt Disney on Wednesday to merge their Indian media businesses. The merger will create an $8.5 billion entertainment giant in the world’s most populous nation and fifth-largest economy.

Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, cricket greats Sachin Tendulkar and M.S. Dhoni, and industry titan Gautam Adani are also invited.

The main celebrations, running until Sunday, will have different themes, events and dress codes — including a “jungle fever” day with a visit to an animal rescue centre run by Ambani, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

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