Long-term UAE residents recall Haj Saeed Lootah's humility, generosity

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on June 30, 2020 | Last updated on June 30, 2020 at 07.34 am
Long-term, UAE residents, recall,? Haj Saeed Lootah, humility

(Picture retrieved from @HHShkMohd/Twitter)

Haj Saeed was a self-made businessman who progressed from being a seafarer and trader to a businessman and visionary community leader.

Long-term UAE residents have paid rich tributes to Emirati business pioneer Haj Saeed bin Ahmed Al Lootah, who passed away on Sunday. Many residents and businessmen hailed his generosity and humility as they recalled how he had touched their lives.

Haj Saeed was a self-made businessman who progressed from being a seafarer and trader to a businessman and visionary community leader. Born in 1923, he helped shape Dubai's economy and helped the needy with his charitable endeavours.

He was instrumental in setting up the Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) in 1975 to provide the community with a Sharia-compliant alternative to conventional banking. He established several companies, organisations and societies, including the Dubai Consumer Cooperative. He also established the Islamic Education School in 1983 and the Dubai Medical College for Girls in 1986.

Sharjah-based businessman Om Prakash Malik, who has been a UAE resident for over 40 years, recalled Haj Saeed's "soft and humble nature".

"He and his family had taken over a Sharjah shipyard in 1986 and since I was into this business, they sought my assistance to consolidate it. It was later known as Lootah Shipyard."

Malik said he was in close contact with Haj Saeed from 1986-90. "I was totally in awe of this eagerness he had to help people. He wouldn't mind going out of his way to help and was extremely down to earth."

Proficient in 'Hindustani'

Malik said the Emirati spoke the Hindustani language (a mix of Hindi and Urdu) "beautifully". "When around Indians and Pakistanis, he would always speak in Hindustani and make us feel at home ."

Dr Faisel Ikram, president of the Pakistan Association Dubai, hailed Haj Saeed's entrepreneurial vision and philanthropic achievements. "He was one of the icons and pillars of the UAE community. He will be eulogised for contributing towards the economy, education and philanthropy."

Businessman Kirat M Desai, who said he worked closely with Haj Saeed for the last 35 years, said: "We set up the S.S. Lootah Foundation division together in 1986. Apart from being a self-made man, he was very enterprising and a highly intellectual and motivated individual who liked to do everything himself. He never took anything for granted. I remember he told me how he himself worked as a mason to build a building around 50 years back."

Desai said Haj Saeed wanted Muslim women to get into medicine. True to his word, he established the Dubai Medical College for Girls in 1986. 

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