Longtime expats and entrepeneurs in Dubai on Wednesday mourned a ‘great, humble man’ who helped steer the emirate to success with his financial acumen and hands-on approach in business.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai — and the UAE’s Minister of Finance since 1971 — had passed away. Along with sympathies and tributes, fond memories came pouring in as residents remembered the man who played an indispensable role in developing financial policies that were key to the emirate’s growth. He left a city and a nation in grief, with the countless lives he had touched as he served the UAE through the years.
Expat BK Senani, who set foot on UAE soil in 1979, couldn’t help but remember the “good old days” when Sheikh Hamdan would visit their office as chairman of Dubai Aluminum.
“I used to work in Dubai Aluminum from 1979-2006. He was our chairman during a significant time in this period. I remember him as a very humble and casual person who would come in often to see the progress of the company. Sheikh Hamdan’s advice and ideas to our CEO for the development of the company was invaluable,” said Senani, who is now an investor of Book World and owner of Archies BookShop in Karama.
“Personally, it is a very sad day for me. That’s because when I think of the good old days, I often feel those were the ‘golden days’ that can never be forgotten. My colleagues and I have been talking about him and exchanging messages since this morning.”
Deepak Bhatia, managing director of Uncle’s Shop in Dubai, looked back on the days when he and his father would see and meet Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid at a majlis.
“He was a man who was always ready to help anyone at any time. He has been one of the most important and crucial personalities since the Cabinet was formed in 1971. Our fond memories of him will always be with us. The nation has lost a true leader. He will always be loved and remembered by us and people of UAE,” said Bhatia.
Anis Sajan, vice-chairman of Danube Group, said: “My sincere heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He played a pivotal role in the development of the UAE. May the Almighty Allah bless the departed soul.”
Another entrepreneur Kamal Vachani, group director of Al Maya Group, was “shocked and deeply saddened”. “My thoughts and prayers are with his whole family — the esteemed Al Maktoum family — and the people of the UAE at this time of great sadness. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid will be truly missed and forever live in our hearts and minds. His service to the nation had been invaluable.”