Earning the Spice of His Life for So Long

SHARJAH — For 65-year-old Ghulam Abbas, known by his nickname Al Hydary, life has been full of spice (no pun intended!). Since the age of nine, when he arrived in the UAE with his uncle 56 years ago, he has been dealing with spices.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Sun 26 Oct 2008, 1:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:37 PM

From being a helper in a spice shop over five decades ago, Ghulam is now the proud owner of the popular Al Alamain spices and foodstuff shop in the Iranian souq in the Al Majarah area on Sharjah Corniche Road.

Ghulam had never been to school, but learned to read, write and calculate figures with the passage of time. He speaks Persian, Urdu, Arabic and Hindi fluently with his costumers, who like his perpetual smile and cordiality.

Ghulam said that he arrived in the UAE in 1953 with his uncle who bartered spices for consumers products as the use of currency was very rare those days. He then worked with a relative as a helper in a spice shop in Dubai. In those days the currency in the UAE was Indian rupee, which was later switched to Qatari riyal and then to UAE dirham, he recalls.

There were not many buildings and most of the population lived in tents in the desert. The few buildings that existed in the whole of the Northern Emirates were in Deira, Jumeirah and Shindagha areas, Ghulam adds.

“I picked up the profession as it was very profitable at that time and managed to become a partner in a spice shop in Sharjah and later the owner of the shop. I worked hard for it. I bring spices from Dubai and sell them in Sharjah, and export some to Iran. Everyday, I work at the shop from 7.30am to 1.30pm and from 4pm to 10pm,” says Ghulam.

“The secret of my success is the way I handle my costumers with respect and warmth,” he says.

“I really love this job, not because I make money, but because it has become my life. I spend eight months in a year in the UAE among spices, and the remaining four with my family back home in Iran,” he points out.

“Because I didn’t go to school in my life, I decided to give my children the best possible education. None of them sells spices,” says Ghulam.

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