Mangaf Building Fire: Spotlight on NBTC and Its Managing Director

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NBTC Camp 4

KUWAIT CITY, Jun 14: Investigations have uncovered that the NBTC Camp 4, storage area on the ground floor of the Manqaf building, originally assumed to be for general use, was a kitchen used to prepare meals for workers heading to their workplaces in Abdaly. It was observed that workers collected their meals from this kitchen, where 21 gas cylinders were found nearby, reportedly intended for transport to Abdaly.

The ground floor of the building was transformed into a kitchen where gas cylinders were discovered.
Kerala businessman in Kuwait KG Abraham, is a partner and managing director of the firm in Mangaf where 49 expats including 23 from Kerala perished in a massive blaze in Mangaf. NBTC, established in 1977, now operates across Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, providing services in engineering and construction, logistics, hospitality, and retail. NBTC rents various buildings in Kuwait for its workers including the ill-fated apartment in Mangaf.

Who is KG Abraham?
Kattunilath Geevarghese Abraham, hailing from Niranam in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, is among a group of businessmen from the state who thrived in the oil-rich Middle East. The third of seven children from a farmer’s family, Abraham moved to Kuwait in 1976 at the age of 22, armed with a diploma in civil engineering and a strong ambition.

He initially joined a construction company with a monthly salary of 60 dinars. Seven years later, with a capital of 4,000 dinars, Abraham became a partner in NBTC (Naser Mohamed Al-Baddah & Partner Trading and Contracting Company) and began taking on minor civil construction projects in Kuwait.

The 1990 Kuwait War marked a pivotal moment in his life. On vacation in Kerala when the war began in August, Abraham returned to Kuwait in May 1991, a month after the war ended, and invested in the country’s post-war reconstruction.

NBTC expanded beyond Kuwait into sectors such as oil and gas, growing from 90 workers to a major employer in the Middle East with a workforce of 15,000.

In Kerala, Abraham is also known as a film producer and stakeholder in the hospitality industry, owning the Crowne Plaza, a five-star property in Kochi.

In 2007, he was involved in a controversy that led to the resignation of then public works minister T U Kuruvila from the Left cabinet. Kuruvila had allegedly attempted to sell 50 acres of revenue wasteland in Idukki to Abraham. After paying an advance of Rs 7 crore, Abraham backed out of the deal due to suspicions of fraud. When Kuruvila allegedly refused to return the money, Abraham escalated the matter to the government, resulting in an investigation that led to Kuruvila’s resignation.

Known for his philanthropy, Abraham also clashed with the current LDF regime, claiming that the 2018 flood relief contributions from expatriates did not reach the intended beneficiaries. In 2023, he criticized the government’s proposed tax on vacant houses, threatening to halt contributions to politicians.

In March this year, “Aadujeevitham,” a film depicting the struggles of a Malayali immigrant laborer in Saudi Arabia, was released worldwide. The film, co-produced by Abraham, grossed over KD 550414.

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