UAE local sports photographer Saleem Sanghati
UAE local sports photographer Saleem Sanghati Image Credit: Facebook

Dubai: The sporting fraternity in the UAE woke up on Friday to the sad news that photographer Saleem Sanghati had passed away.

Sanghati, who had been the official photographer with the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) since way back in 1991, died of a cardiac arrest early on Friday.

Earlier this week, he had informed a mutual friend that he would be taking leave as he had not been feeling too well. That was the last bit of communication from Sanghati.

The always happy man — he moved around as though he had no worries or concern — was an avid freelancer for many a sporting event in the UAE. Besides official tournaments of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sanghati was active for the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), the UAE-based T10 Cricket League and the Pakistan Cricket League (PCL).

In addition, he was also the official photographer for the Desert Cubs Cricket Academy along with some of the top corporates in the UAE, including Danube, Mulk Holdings, Royal Hospital Sharjah, Bukhatir Group and the Sharjah Co-operative Society, among others.

Saleem with cricket superstar Chris Gayle
Saleem with cricket superstar Chris Gayle Image Credit: Facebook

Among the last interactions this writer had with him was during the Afghan Premier League (APL) and then at last year’s Grand Prix of Sharjah — the final round on the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Powerboat Championship that is normally held in the second half of December.

‘With so much happening around the event, he was busy. But Sanghati was a man who always had time for everything and everyone. He was a truly a people person. On the ground or at any assignment, he always had enough time to say at least a courteous hello, if not crack a joke while passing by. He was a happy soul, who believed in the natural goodness of everyone.

Perhaps Soumaya — one of his three daughters — was inspired by her cricket-crazy dad as she went on to open the bowling for the UAE’s women’s team for a few years.

One of his Emirati colleagues once told me how Sanghati used to be among the first to report to his job at SEWA. And once he had been briefed on his assignments for the day, Sanghati would take off chasing down top SEWA officials to cover and document their activity.

Hailing from Sion in Mumbai, one of his lasting memories was his fondness to wear a cap all the time — even while he was in the shade. “I need to cover my bald head,” he would often joke when asked about this habit.

During my various interactions with him — many a times to get hold of photographs that could be used with my stories — Sanghati always came across as someone who was there to reach out and assist. “Madat karne mein, apna kya jata hai?” (What do I lose if I help?) was his constant statement.

Truly, well said Saleem Sanghati. Rest in peace.