Emirati billionaire Saif Al Ghurair.
PHOTO BY DCCI
DUBAI – Prominent Dubai businessman Saif Al Ghurair has died. He was 95.
Funeral prayers will be held at 4pm on Tuesday (August 27) at Al Qusais graveyard.
Tributes poured in for the Emirati billionaire, with the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs leading messages on social media.
“Bu Abdulrahman [father of Abdulrahman Al Ghurair] is from the generation of pioneers, stories of struggle, construction and lessons of life,” Dr. Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
“We missed him during his illness and we miss him today.” No details about Al Ghurair’s illness were immediately available.
The Emirati tycoon founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960, which includes Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai’s first major shopping mall that was opened in 1981.
The group also owns water bottling plant Masafi, and Burjuman Shopping Centre and is a major shareholder in Mashreq Bank.
Al Ghurair was born in Deira in 1924 and was the eldest son of Ahmed Al Ghurair. He has four brothers: Abdullah, Majid, Marwan, Juma.
The Al Ghurairs lived on the shores of the Dubai Creek, naturally gravitating the family business to pearl diving.
Al Ghurair’s first job was diving for pearls, and he spent months at sea to search for the precious gemstone.
In the 1930s, as the business of pearl diving slowed down, Al Ghurair he headed the family’s trading business; traveling by boat to bring dates and dried fish to Africa and India and coming back to the UAE with hardwood and gold.
In one of his trips to India, Al Ghurair lost an eye that got irritated by seawater during a storm while he was onboard his ship.
“When I got to India it was hurting so much I went to the doctor to stop the pain. He said he could stop the pain, but that I would lose my eye. I told him to stop the pain. Thank God it was only one eye!” he said.
Nevertheless, Al Ghurair never stopped having an eye for business opportunities. In the 1960s, Al Ghurair began building his business empire to cover retail, manufacturing and real estate. ICA/Expat Media
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