Sheikh Mohammed condoles passing of first Emirati banker Easa Saleh Al Gurg

Easa Saleh Al Gurg. — Supplied photo
Easa Saleh Al Gurg. — Supplied photo

The Dubai Ruler called Al Gurg “one of the faces of the Emirati diplomacy”.



by

Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Thu 31 Mar 2022, 3:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 2 Apr 2022, 6:05 PM

Easa Saleh Al Gurg, a visionary leader, patriarch of one of the top five Emirati family businesses and the first Emirati banker, passed away on Thursday.

A diver thinking of sharks will never get pearls. That was the motto of Easa Saleh Gurg, and he lived by it.

The legendary business stalwart, who leaves behind an enduring legacy, ventured into hitherto uncharted territories without ever worrying about risks. And it was this daring, bold streak, coupled with a sharp acumen and intellect, that enabled him to turn businesses on their head.

“Our condolences to the family of Easa Saleh Gurg, and to the community of Dubai and the UAE on his death. He was the first Emirati banker, one of the faces of Emirati diplomacy, one of the most important men of our national economy, and one of the owners of key charitable and humanitarian organisations in the country. May God have mercy on him and put him in peace,” tweeted His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Loved and admired in equal measure, the businessman founded Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group in 1960, after gaining extensive experience in banking and finance.

He started off with the acquisition of Grundig’s sole distributorship in the UAE, followed by agency rights for British American Tobacco. In the more than six decades that have rolled by since then, several blue-chip brands, real estate, retail, trading and manufacturing units were added to the group’s extensive portfolio, thanks to the man’s visionary leadership and foresight.

Among his most notable contribution to the UAE is the key role he played in the shaping of the history of the nation as a member of Trucial States Development Board.

In 1971, he was appointed Executive Director of the Trucial States Development Board. He was ambassador to the UK and the Republic of Ireland from 1991 to 2009. He was awarded CBE (Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1990.

On retirement from the ambassadorship, he was awarded KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) by Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain.

He had also been honoured by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the nation, with the Order of Zayed II in 1997, the highest civilian order in the UAE. At the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, he led the conglomerate to dizzying heights with businesses in retail, building and construction, industrial and real estate. His commitment to operational excellence is also evident in the group’s joint venture partnerships like Al Gurg Unilever, Siemens, Al Gurg Fosroc, Al Gurg Smollan, Akzo Nobel Decorative Paints, Siemens Healthcare and Siemens Mobility. Besides his immense contribution to the nation and its growth, Al Gurg created a lasting legacy of philanthropy. Having been involved with charitable work for several decades, he believed that setting up Al Gurg Charity Foudation was the best decision in life.

The foundation was established in October 2010 under the decree of Sheikh Mohammed with capital fully financed from the founder’s private funds and real estate. Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group said the stalwart live on in the memories of the many whose lives his philanthropy had impacted and the numerous scholarships that had assisted young students in the various educational institutions supported by Al Gurg family.

Industry pays tribute

Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai National Insurance: Easa Saleh Al Gurg was a diplomat par excellence, a pioneer banking professional, an outstanding business leader and a compassionate philanthropist. His passing away is a great loss to our country. He has made significant difference to the lives of many and will live on in our hearts. May his soul rest in peace.

Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal: Easa Saleh Al Gurg was a true visionary and an inspiration for the entire business community. A strong pillar of Emirati society, he made noteworthy contributions in building the foundation of the UAE more than 50 years ago. Future generations will forever remember his enduring legacy as a pioneering businessman and an honourable leader who devoted himself to the service of his nation and the community. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. His demise is a huge loss to the nation and the business world in the region.

Dr Adil Alzarooni, Alzarooni Emirates Investments: Easa Al Gurg was a visionary entrepreneur and leaves behind a strong legacy, both in terms of his contributions to the UAE’s economy as well as his philanthropic work for the wider community. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends, and pray for his soul.

Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Duaij bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, The Private Office of H.E. Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Duaij bin Khalifa al Khalifa: My sincere condolences to an extraordinary Thought Leader who has paved the way in solidifying Dubai and the UAE into the incredible global business epicentre it is today. Family businesses are a country's building blocks. I honour Easa Saleh's wisdom, generously shared internationally both as a Diplomat and as an exemplar Business tycoon here in the UAE.

Sultan Ali Rashed Lootah, chairman, MD, and co-founder of Vault Investments: Easa Al Gurg was a notable personality and the UAE will miss him for the contribution he did to the vibrant economy”

Dr Tomasz Zaleski, Chairman, The Royal office of Sheikh Ahmed bin Faisal Al Qassimi: Easa Saleh Al gurg, the first Emirati banker was one of the most important men of the UAE economy. Al gurg has not only left and eduring legacy in the business world but also in the field of charity and humanitarian which he was known for.

Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare: We are deeply saddened by the demise of Easa Saleh Al Gurg - a visionary leader and business stalwart of UAE. Easa Saleh was one of the key contributors to the economy of Dubai. He will remain an inspiration to many especially for his various philanthropic activities. Our deepest condolence to the family of Easa Saleh Al Gurg. He leaves an enduring legacy which shall always be remembered. May God bless his soul.

Bharat Bhatia, CEO, Conares: Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Easa Saleh Al Gurg. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and friends. He was a legend and true pioneer of the banking industry in the UAE. His absence will definitely be felt for a long time. He was the instrumental is shaping the course of the Emirati economy. He will be missed.

Deepak Bhatia, Managing Director, Uncle’s Shop: It is very sad to hear about the passing away of not only an old family friend but a person who was one of the closet friend to my late grandfather Uttamchand Bhatia & a guardian to me. Essa Saleh Al Gurg will always be remembered for his great contributions to UAE leaving an enduring legacy in the business world along with his significant contributions towards building the foundation of the UAE as a member of the Trucial States Development Board. He will always remain in our memories for ever.

KV Thomas, Chairman, Thomsun Group: The departure of such a pramgatic and visionary business leader and seasoned diplomat leaves behind a huge void. However, his contributions and varied services to the business world and the UAE will continue to inspire generations. He has left for the business community a legacy of prudent entrepreneurship.

Shabbir Merchant, managing director, Champion Neon: Easa Saleh Al Gurg’s great legacy leaves behind lessons for future generations, he will be deeply missed”

Taher Shams - Managing Director, Zulekha Healthcare Group: From the times of the trucial states to now when UAE stands out as a predominant country on the world map, the legacy of hundreds of businesses began on the strong foundation laid by Easa Saleh Al Gurg. He will be missed and remembered for his forward thinking mindset and farsightedness. May Almighty bless him with the highest ranks in paradise.

— mazhar@khaleejtimes.com

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