UAE: Advertising industry pioneer Tanvir Kanji passes away

He was instrumental in revolutionising mass media communications in the country


Waheed Abbas

Published: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 11:55 AM

Last updated: Tue 4 Jan 2022, 12:51 PM

Tanvir Kanji, one of the UAE's advertising industry pioneers, passed away late on Sunday.

Kanji was the chairman of the Inca Group of Companies. He was buried in Sonapur Graveyard on Monday.

By setting up one of the first full-service advertising agencies in the region in 1976 at the age of 32, Kanji became instrumental in revolutionising mass media communications in the UAE. A risk-laden entrepreneurial option in the then media-naïve UAE, Kanji set up his agency in Sharjah from scratch.


The late Kanji was a founding member of the UAE chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) and remained president of the local chapter till 2006. The UAE chapter won the prestigious Golden Tulip Award for Excellence twice.

Kanji was awarded the "Medal of Merit" in 2006 by the IAA World Services Centre, New York, for meritorious service to the advertising industry. He was also awarded the IAA – "Publicity Man of the Year" as well as Dubai Lynx's "Advertising Person of the Year" in 2009.

A native of Mumbai, he worked in India and New York before relocating to the UAE.

In an interview with Khaleej Times in 2015, Kanji recalled the time he'd almost gotten deported, as his original visa which was deposited with the airline had not been forwarded to the immigration counter. The visa was later found in the airline clerk's drawer, however, and Kanji was allowed to enter the UAE by the authorities.

He brought an extensive 12-year experience in printing, publishing and advertising from India.

"The UAE is an ultra-modern country. I think it is more developed than the so-called 'developed countries'", he told Khaleej Times in an interview once.

Condolences pour in

Fondly known as TK in the UAE advertising industry, Kanji's industry associates said his death brings to an end an era that is marked with great success and achievements.

"Tanvir Kanji was a trailblazer and a veteran of the advertising industry. He always had larger-than-life ideas and was a brilliant marketeer. On a personal front, he was my mentor, my guru, my supportive friend and will always be remembered with eternal gratitude," said Sunil Anand, CEO of Inca Tanvir.

"Tanvir was a very old friend of mine. We were doing business together for the past 40 years, working closely in Sharjah and Dubai. He was a very nice and thorough gentleman. We had a great experience working with him. He was a good family friend and a brilliant business associate too. He was the master of the advertising industry. But he was not keeping well for the past couple of years. May Allah bless him," said Shabbir Merchant, chairman of Champion Group.

Ramzi Raad, group chairman of TBWAA/RAAD Middle East, was also saddened to hear the passing away of Tanvir Kanji. "We worked together with Tanvir on the first chapter of IAA in the UAE. Tanvir was a great man. Dubai is going to miss a very honest, dear and professional person. May God bless his soul."

Ram Buxani, chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, said it was very sad news for the whole industry.

"Tanvir was par excellence. He was a man of creation as we could see his creativity behind each of his works. I also had the pleasure to have him on the committee when I was chairman of the India Club. I knew him for the past 30 years and always found him very friendly," added Buxani.

Tony Jashanmal, president of Jashanmal Group, knew Tanvir Kanji since he came to the UAE. “He has always been a good advisor and a very close friend. We regret that with his passing, we have lost not just a close friend but a very good man, who was an integral part of the development of the Indian community. We will very much miss him. May God bless his soul and we share this loss along with his family.”

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