Maghanmal Jethanand Pancholia

Maghanmal Jethanand Pancholia, the oldest Indian businessman in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who was instrumental in bringing electricity to Dubai, passed away on Monday afternoon at the age of 95.

The demise of veteran multimillionaire businessman Pancholia is considered as a huge loss for the Indian community in the Gulf state. The nonagenarian, who held several high-level positions, was looked upon as a role model by non-resident Indians (NRIs), local newspapers reported.

"The demise of my father is not only a personal loss but also a loss for the Indian community. We pray the values he instilled in us will continue to keep the rich legacy in our family and our community," said Dr Lalchand Maghanmal Pancholia, son of Maghanmal Pancholia.

Fondly known as Maghaba, Pancholia was the chairman of Arabian Trading Agency (ATA). He was the first person along with a few other Indian expatriates to start a company that provided electricity to Dubai.

Between 1957 and 1960, Pancholia supplied electricity to the emirate of Dubai and was elected as the director of Dubai Electricity in 1961, which was founded by the late Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Pancholia held this post until the organisation was nationalised around 1980.

Big Loss For Indian Community

"It is a big loss for the community. He was the father figure for the entire community and someone who also devoted a great deal of time for social activities. He has done great service to India and Indians and the UAE," said Vipul, Consul General of India in Dubai.

Pancholia's family was one of the earliest Indian families to settle in Sharjah and Dubai. "He is considered the oldest business leader in the community," added Vipul.

Pancholia established his business venture way back in 1942, which dealt in steel products, among other items. The family business established its roots in Dubai as a trader of pearls and foodstuff, and today is a major retailer in the emirate.

He also founded Dubai's Indian High School in the 1960s and served as its trustee and chairman until 1979, following which he was chairman emeritus of the school.

He is survived by two sons and two daughters.