The man who's been calling UAE home for 58 years

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The man whos been calling UAE home for 58 years

Doing business was hassle-free in Dubai. There were no procedures and formalities to start a business.


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 21 Jan 2017, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Jan 2017, 2:05 PM

Ram Buxani
Chairman of ITL Cosmos Group
I came to Dubai to make a living and support my widowed mother. It was on November 18, 1959, that I landed in Dubai by sea. I was just 18 years old. I travelled onboard a ship operated by the British India Steam Navigation.
My landing on Dubai shores was not a smooth task. The sea was very rough. I had to disembark from the ship some two kilometres away from the coast onto a small boat to reach the shore. I was scared as I did not know how to swim. I remember the winter breeze and drizzling weather as I first set foot on the seashore, and instantly fell in love with an indescribable charm that was Dubai in the fifties.
I started my Dubai life as an office assistant on a monthly salary of Rs125. The Indian rupee was the legal currency that was used for all transactions in Dubai and other Trucial states those days. I got the job at ITL-Cosmos by applying in response to an advertisement in a Bombay newspaper.
ITL Group came to Dubai when there was no post office. When the postal system was introduced, the then Ruler of Dubai, the late Shaikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, allotted Post Box No. 6 to ITL Group, and even today the group is the only foreign company to hold a single-digit post box number in Dubai.
Even after 56 years, I remain with the same company although my roles have changed several times: Starting as an office assistant, I now serve the company as its chairman with a substantial financial stake.
What prompted me to start my eventful rags-to-riches expatriate journey in Dubai was simply a quest for a decent monthly salary to support an impoverished refugee family of two - myself and my mother.
Those days, life in Dubai was rustic and simple but hard without any of the amenities like roads, cars, buses, electricity, air-conditioners and tap water. The town itself was within a one-kilometre radius. Donkeys were used to transport water in tins at a price of four annas or a quarter of rupee for salty water and eight annas for sweet water.
There were hardly any other expenses. The free extras I enjoyed along with my salary included lodging, boarding, toiletries at cost, two cinema tickets per month, hair cut twice a month and laundry. What other expenses one could have on a regular basis? The only expense I had to incur was postage for a few letters sent home. That would be around Rs2 per month. So, conveniently, I could remit Rs100 every month to my mother.
Doing business was hassle-free in Dubai. There were no procedures and formalities to start a business. What you required was the will and some finance to start the business. Hire the premises, put up a name board, if you really needed one, and get going.
If I am asked which one is better - today's business environment or yesteryears - my answer would be "it was good then and it is good now".

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