Dubai: A banker who turned into one of the most influential of UAE’s first-generation businessmen – that’s the legacy Easa Saleh Al Gurg leaves behind with a body of work that stretches over six decades. And some of that work was carried out in the public realm as the UAE’s Ambassador to the UK and Ireland from 1991 to 2009.
Easa Al Gurg was thrust into public service much earlier than that. Apart from carrying on the helmsman’s role at the business group he launched, he was a member of the Deliberative Committee of the Trucial States Development Office. In 1971, the year of the UAE’s creation, he took on a position as Executive Director of the Trucial States Development Board.
He has been honoured by the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with the Order of Zayed II in 1997, the country’s highest civilian honor. In 1990, he was awarded CBE (Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
Easa Saleh Al Gurg’s contribution to the city, the country and the Gulf was nothing short of phenomenal. He was among the best of Dubai’s pioneering entrepreneurs.”
There were those who remember him for the constant encouragement he had to offer. “Mr. Al Gurg was a mentor to all, Emiratis and all those who made the UAE their home,” said Raju Shroff of Regal Group and whose father, Vasu Shroff, had a close association with Easa Saleh Al Gurg.
Everyone learnt from him, and we always remember him as being the consummate gentleman, and always with a crisply delivered word.
According to Suliman Al Zaben, Director - Hyundai UAE, "The UAE's first banker, a generous philanthropist, an able diplomat, and a prominent UAE businessman, Easa Saleh Al Gurg will be remembered for the significant contributions he has made to the growth and development of the UAE."
His legacy will act as a guiding light for the business ecosystem in the country and the region.
“Having been involved with charitable work for several decades, he believed that setting up the Al Gurg Charity Foundation was the best decision he had ever taken,” said a statement issued by his group.
The Foundation was established in October 2010 under the decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Today, we mourn the loss of a treasure in our community. Easa Saleh Al Gurg’s presence, wisdom and grace will be deeply missed. One of the loyal patrons and pioneers who under the guidance of our Rulers helped shape the future of our magnificent city and country.
The Group that he founded built alliances – and relationships that lasted, whether it was with Unilever or Siemens and the many other global multinational houses that became part of his extended ‘family’. The alliance with Unilever ran deep, in many ways setting the template how local partners should operate with an enterprise that straddled global markets.
Easa Saleh Al Gurg left behind a legacy that was great in every respect in business, banking, finance and diplomacy. His contributions will be remembered for generations to come.
The corporate relationships endured, and not just because of the years of growth the Group delivered its global partners. And through all these, the personal touch Easa Saleh Al Gurg brought to bear on business associations mattered. The Group is built around 27 companies, more than 350 brands and employs close to 3,000.
"At board meetings, you felt you had a ringside view of history – and all delivered with humility," said Ajai Kumar Dayal, who had worked closely with the Group. "I recall occasions when companies reported repeated losses and the recommendation would be to close shop."
He would ask how many people were employed there and then say, so many families depend on us. We will not close – let’s see next year.
“When the Group moved in new directions, he was always there supporting us. As he walked into a room, the attention would quickly shift to him. He enthralled everyone with his charm, wit and humour.”
The Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group features 27 companies representing 370 global brands. Founded in 1960, the Group launched operations as a partner for the Grundig brand. A true family-owned business, three generations have been leading it through six decades and more. It emerged as “one of the most prominent family-owned business groups in the region”, with a presence in retail and lifestyle, consumer products, building and construction, real estate, industrial and joint ventures.
The daughter, Dr. Raja Al Gurg, is Vice-President and Managing Director of the group.