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Dubai: when a tea seller becomes a guest of honour

Indian expat invited to open new branch of shop he has been serving for 20 years

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
The Key Fashion Electronics Trading’s new branch on Al Musalla Road in Deira being opened by Neelesh Bhatia and Mohammad Shafi on Wednesday.
01 Gulf News

Dubai: The most famous tea seller, at least for Indians, is their prime minister, Narendra Modi.

But for traders and shopkeepers on Al Musalla Road in Deira, there is another famous tea seller from India.

Mohammed Shafi from Kerala, who has been selling tea for them for over 20 years, was accorded the status of a celebrity guest for the opening of an electronics shop on Wednesday evening.

Neelesh Bhatia, chairman of Key Fashion Electronics Trading, decided to invite Shafi as the guest of honour for the inauguration of his third showroom in the area.

Visibly shy, the 50-year-old cut the ribbon with a smile on his face amid the applause of dozens of people, including employees and guests. Bhatia also draped a shawl around Shafi as a gesture of honouring him.

But before that, just after he entered the shop, Shafi took no time in picking up a mobile headphone set and handing out a Dh200 note to the manager at the shop. He did not wish to get the balance for the first purchase from the newly opened shop.

Even as the guests clapped for him and cheerily passed comments linking his newfound fame to that of Modi, the service-minded man was quick to join the shopkeepers at the store in serving sweets and savouries for the guests.

Speaking to Gulf News after the ceremony, Shafi, who works with Dream Way cafeteria in the neighbourhood, said he was pleasantly surprised when Bhatia invited him as the chief guest.

“I never expected anything like this. It is so sweet of him to do this. I have not heard about people doing such nice gestures. I just want him to get more business and prosper in life.”

Watch: Dubai tea seller becomes guest of honour at this shop opening

He also praised Bhatia for his benevolent nature. “He was the one who encouraged me to let my son continue his education after he passed his 12th grade with good marks. When I was thinking of bringing him over to Dubai as a salesman, he [Bhatia] gave me some Dh15,000 and told me to use it for my son’s higher education. I am very much indebted to him as my son is now an IT engineer in Al Ain.”

Bhatia from Rajasthan was also all praise for Shafi. “I felt it was appropriate to invite someone, who has served us every day for 20 years with love and dedication, as the chief guest. He is a true well-wisher also. When I am in the shop, he will bring a green tea without sugar without even asking me. On occasions like Diwali, he brings special juices for all of us.”

Sometimes, it is Shafi who keeps a watch on the shop and keeps the keys with him if the employees are late.

Akram Chaudhary, a Pakistani employee who has been with the shop for 18 years, said Shafi behaved well with everyone. “He knows everybody’s taste, what type of tea or coffee people want.”

Another employee, Mohammad Mahfoos, also from Pakistan, said he had never seen Shafi in a serious mood in his experience with the shop for almost three years.

When he returned after the event, Shafi’s mind was full of happiness and hands were full of gifts as well.


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