Dubai: Rich tributes were paid to renowned UAE-based Indian businessman and philanthropist Dr PA Ibrahim Haji, who died on Tuesday.
A resident of the United Arab Emirates for 55 years, the chairman of the PACE Education Group, co-chairman of Malabar Gold and Diamonds and founder and vice-chairman of Indus Motor Company in India died in Kerala where he was airlifted on Monday evening afterwards. more than a week of hospitalization in Dubai following a stroke.
Paying tribute and offering condolences, business and community leaders and others recalled Haji’s contributions in various fields and remembered his humble beginnings.
MA Yusuff Ali, chairman of the Lulu group, said Haji was a brotherly figure to him. âHe left us so unexpectedly. I had a long relationship of friendship and love with him. He has built several companies in many countries with hard work, honesty and a great vision. His actions are a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs, âAli added.
âDr PA Ibrahim Haji will always be remembered for his commendable contributions in the field of education,â said MP Ahammed, Chairman of the Malabar Group. “As co-chairman of the Malabar group, his activities have always been a source of inspiration to us and he has greatly contributed to the development of our company,” he said in a press release.
âA true believer in the power of education to empower communities, his contributions in the field of education are remarkable. His social commitment lives on through the various educational institutions and the various charitable actions that he has initiated in India and abroad. He made charity a way of life. We are deeply saddened by his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family, âAhammed added.
End of an era
Punnakkan Muhammed Ali, an expat community leader and chairman of the Chiranthana Cultural Forum, said Haji’s passing marks the end of an era and has left a great void in the expat community. âHe was a champion of education and charity. Although he built a great business empire, he was a humble human being who was always seen with a smile, âAli said.
âIn my 32 years as an expatriate, I haven’t seen anyone who has touched lives and made changes in so many areas. He was instrumental in launching a successful campaign, requiring the operation of international flights from Calicut International Airport. He was a writer, opinion leader and even held a post as a director in the Malayalam Chandrika newspaper. Although he was a prominent figure in the Muslim League of Indian Union, he was friendly with people from all political parties. Even in the midst of his busy schedule, he found time for farming and gardening.
Adil Sadique, who has had the opportunity to organize various events that Haji has attended, the last of which was on December 9, said the audience was always in awe when Haji shared his experiences. âHe witnessed the independence of India and the formation of the United Arab Emirates. He also took part in the celebrations for the 75th Independence Day and the 50th National Day of both countries this year. He spoke proudly of the phenomenal growth of the UAE, especially Dubai. He used to say that earlier people would ask him where Dubai was when he went on an international trip. Later it changed to “Oh, you are from Dubai”! He was proud to be a part of the growth of this country.
Members of the community remembered his charities in India and the Middle East. âThe doors to his villa in Garhoud were always open to people in need. He has done a lot of charity to support orphans and poor children through various educational institutions, âSadique said.
In his message of condolences, Dr Azad Moopen, Founding President and CEO of Aster DM Healthcare, said: A good heart has stopped beating, a noble soul has ascended to heaven. He was more than a successful entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist. Silent donor to many initiatives, he has always spread positivity around him. My sincere condolences to his family. May God bless her soul and give her a place in paradise.
A UAE Golden Visa recipient, Haji has won several awards and accolades. His humble journey began in a small town named Pallikere in Kasaragod, Kerala. From there he reached the peak of success, according to the PACE Group.
After completing his university and college studies in Kerala, Haji obtained a degree in automotive engineering from Mangalore in Karnataka and another degree in business management from what was then Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu.
His career began in Dubai in 1967 as a salesperson in the Austin spare parts division (British Motors Corporation). He later joined Galadari Automobiles as parts manager in 1972.
His next stint was in Muscat, Oman, with Al Hashar Automobiles as director of the aftermarket division.
In 1974 he started his own clothing and cosmetics business in Dubai. In 1976, he established a joint venture, Century Trading Co. LLC, which is part of the Al Shamali group of companies in the United Arab Emirates, where he continued as Managing Director.
In 1993, he was part of a team of enterprising entrepreneurs, led by MP Ahammed, who founded Malabar Gold and Diamonds, India’s first jeweler.
Haji founded the PACE Education group in 1999 by creating a trust called PA Educational Trust. The group currently operates more than a dozen schools and colleges in India and at the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Haji’s funeral prayers were held at the PA complex in Kozhikode. The funeral was held at Najmul Huda Madrasa (Arab College) in Manjeri, Malappuram, the PACE Group said, adding that it wished to be buried on the premises of the college where it supported the education of orphaned and poor students in Kerala.
As a sign of respect for the deceased, the PACE Group said prayers were held in various locations in India and the United Arab Emirates between Maghrib and Isha. The group also announced that all of its educational institutions will be closed tomorrow.
Under Haji’s leadership, the United Arab Emirates school group PACE had entered the Guinness World Records six times.
Last Guinness Record
Haji was present when the last Guinness Record was set at the India International School in Sharjah on November 29 as part of the UAE’s 50th National Day celebrations, which he called a “personal milestone.”
No less than 16,367 students, teachers, staff and parents of the PACE Education Group from 64 countries created a flag nine meters wide and 18 meters long in the colors of the flag of the United Arab Emirates (red, green, black and white) to set the record for “Most contributions to a mural of handprints”.