Kerimov graduated from high school in 1983, and following this enrolled in the Civil Engineering Department at Dagestan Polytechnic Institute in 1984, though his obligatory military Service for the Soviet Army brought his studies to a halt just one year later. After completing his Service in 1986, Kerimov continued his studies at Dagestan State University, where he graduated with a degree in financial accounting and economics in 1989. During his studies he was Deputy Chairman of DSU's Trade Union Committee. It was also at university that Kerimov met his wife, Firuza, the daughter of a former Trade Union leader.
Soon after his university graduation in 1989, Kerimov took a job as an Economist at the Eltav electrical plant in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. The state-controlled plant supplied transistors and semi-conductors to television-makers, while also producing diodes, microchips and halogen lamps. Kerimov was paid 150 roubles (approximately $250 dollars) a month and he and his wife lived in a worker’s hostel attached to the plant, where they shared one room of a two-room flat.
Kerimov has stated to have dreamed of making money from an early age, an ambition that prompted him to later move from his native Dagestan in the early 1990s.
In 1993, Kerimov was put in charge of handling relations between Eltav and Fedprombank, a Moscow bank established by the electrical company. Fedprombank financed lagging industries and Kerimov and his associates soon becames creditors to large utility companies, allowing them to continue to provide key services. Once the Russian economy stabilized, the debts were repaid with hefty returns for Fedprombank and, consequently, Kerimov.
In 1995, Kerimov was appointed to head the banking and trading company Soyuz-Finans, and by 1997, Kerimov had built a 50% stake in Vnukovo Airlines and used his leverage to take over Fedprombank, buying out his partners’ shares.
From 1999-2003, Kerimov was a member of the State Duma of the 3rd Convocation — the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia — as well as a member of the State Duma Committee for Security. From 2003-2007, while continuing his role on the Committee for Security, he was also a member of the 4th Convocation and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Education, Sports and Youth. He first gained a seat in parliament with the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
In 2003, Kerimov managed to secure a $43 million loan from the state-owned Vnesheconombank, which he invested in the oil and gas company Gazprom. Within the next year, share prices for the Russian gas company doubled and Kerimov was able to pay off the entirety of the loan within four months. In 2004 Sberbank, now the largest bank in Russia and Eastern Europe, provided Kerimov with a loan of $3.2 billion., which was later repaid, and these funds were also invested in equities. By 2008, Kerimov had amassed a 5% stake in Gazprom, a 6% stake in Sberbank, along with an estimated fortune of $17.5 billion, making him the 36th richest man in the world. However, in mid-2008, Kerimov sold all his Gazprom and Sberbank shares.
Nafta Moskva, controlled by Kerimov, acquired a 25% stake in the Hotel Moskva project, a multibillion-dollar project to construct a replica of the enormous Stalin-era luxury hotel demolished in 2004. in February 2009, closing the deal by January 2010. In September 2010, Member of Russian Parliament Ashot Egiazaryan accused Kerimov of conspiring with the city government of Moscow to forcibly acquire his 25% stake in the project. After claiming he received death threats, Egiazaryan fled to the United States to seek asylum and filed lawsuits in a civil court in Cyprus, the London Court of International Arbitration and on Capitol Hill claiming that a campaign of threats of Criminal prosecution and armed police raids forced him to give up his shares. According to Kerimov's Lawyer Mr Egiazaryan transferred his interest in the Moskva Hotel as part of a legitimate Business deal but was overextended and was deep in debt. Mr Egiazaryan was facing financial ruin.
Kerimov also owns one of the world's largest private yachts, which is known as Ice. Previously known as Air, she was built by German company Lürssen in 2005. Ice measures 295 feet (90 metres) in length, and can reach a speed of 18.6 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). She has won the Superyacht of the Year award at the World Superyacht Awards in 2006, and is currently the 54th largest yacht in the world.
On November 26, 2006, in Nice, France, Kerimov was seriously injured after losing control of his Ferrari Enzo on the Promenade des Anglais. He and his purported companion, television presenter Tina Kandelaki, suffered severe burns as a result of the accident, which influenced him to donate €1 million to Pinocchio — a charity who work with children suffering from burns. Kerimov wears skin-colored gloves to hide his burns
In 2007 Kerimov became a sponsor of the Kennedy Kennedy Center Honors in Washington: annual awards for a lifetime achievement in the arts.
Since 2008, Kerimov has served as a member of the Federation Council of the Federation Assembly of the Russian Federation — the upper house of the Federation Assembly— and represents the Republic of Dagestan.
In the spring of 2009, shareholders of Russia's construction giant PIK Group sold 25% of their company's shares to Kerimov. PIK required extra funding after their debt level reached $1.98 billion, and the value of their capital fell by more than 40 times to $279.9 million. Nafta Moskva later increased its stake in PIK Group to 38.3%.
On December 17, 2010, the press reported that Kerimov will spend $100 million on the reconstruction of the Zarechenskaya secondary school, an advanced comprehensive school west of Moscow "for educating children from different social groups." The school will include a modern Sports complex with a swimming pool, a skating-rink, a giant dance floor, as well as a residential area for gifted children from the provinces. Reconstruction was completed in 2015.
In October 2011, Kerimov used his connections to fly Western financial figures such as Jamie Dimon of J P Morgan, Richard Parsons of Citigroup and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone to Moscow in support of Medvedev’s initiative to turn Moscow into an "international financial centre".
In March 2012, it was reported that Kerimov had given the club a summer transfer budget of over €230 million, in an attempt to qualify for the UEFA Champions League within the next three seasons.
The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) honored Kerimov the "Gold Medal" in 2013.
The hotel reopened in 2014 under the Four Seasons brand. In October 2015, Suleiman Kerimov sold his interest in the property to businessmen Yury and Alexey Khotiny for an undisclosed amount.
On March 10, 2016, Kerimov was recognized with an award for outstanding social contribution to the Republic of Dagestan, by the Head of the Republic, Ramazan Abdulatipov.
On March 20, 2017 Suleyman Kerimov was awarded the Order for Merit to the Fatherland of II degree by President Vladimir Putin for his outstanding contribution to the development of parliamentarianism and legislation.
In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on him and 23 other Russian nationals.
In response to the Russian parliament’s passage of a bill prohibiting government officials from holding foreign-issued securities and bank accounts abroad, Kerimov transferred his assets to the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation, a charity registered in Switzerland, in May 2013. This way, he retained both his position in the Federation Council and beneficiary rights to his Business assets. Suleiman Kerimov was re-elected to the Federation Council in September 2016.