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Dr. Zainal Mohebi, Chairman Zainal Mohebi Group. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The chairman of the holding company of Dubai’s popular Baqer Mohebi Supermarkets’ chain has died. The outlets remained closed on Saturday.

Dr Zainal Mohebi passed away in Dubai on Friday “after a long illness”, according to a condolence message on www.habanos.com, the website of Habanos, a Cuban cigar brand marketed in the UAE by Baqer Mohebi Enterprises (BME).

BME, which operates the Baqer Mohebi Supermarkets’ chain, is a company of the family-based Zainal Mohebi Holdings (ZMH), whose chairman and founder was Dr Zainal Mohebi.

Management notice

A notice from the management at the entrance to Baqer Mohebi Supermarket in Abu Hail, Dubai, said: “Dear valued customers, due to the sad demise of our beloved chairman, all our outlets will remain closed for one day (from 6am Saturday until 6am Sunday).”

When Gulf News tried to call the offices of BME and ZMH on Saturday, there was no answer.

‘Dh1 deals’

Abu Omar, a regular customer of Baqer Mohebi Supermarket in Abu Hail, said he was sad to hear the news of the passing away of Dr Mohebi. “I’ve been shopping with my family at Baqer Mohebi outlets for many years. They started the Dh1 deals on select items before the rise of ‘Dh1 to Dh10’ shops in Dubai. For example, you can get a range of food items for just Dh1 that are approaching their expiry dates, which are still weeks away,” Abu Omar, a 37-year-old Indian expatriate, said.

Traditional roots

According to www.mohebi.com, the website of ZMH, the firm “traces its roots back to our founder’s [Dr Mohebi’s] father, Baqer Mohebi, who established his food outlet in the original Dubai Souk in 1931. It was one of only 15 shops”.

As business grew, by the 1970s, Baqer Mohebi “established a niche in speciality foods. He established BME, which has become one of the UAE’s leading distribution and marketing networks for food and non-food products and tobacco products”.

Another milestone was achieved in the late 1990s “when ZMH set up a joint venture with Keystone Foods (Martin Brower) for the exclusive distribution of food and beverage products to the McDonalds chain in the region”.

ZMH also established Mohebi Aviation in 1995. Four years later, in 1999, Mohebi Aviation set up its dedicated leisure travel division, Escapades, to offer holiday packages to worldwide destinations.

ZMH entered the retail market with Baqer Mohebi Supermarkets. “An extensive retail expansion plan was introduced by the owners to open up over 50 stores across the country by 2019.”