Lachmandas Pagarani celebrating his 80th birthday at the Madinat Jumeirah with his family. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Hundreds of UAE residents on Sunday bid final farewell to Lachmandas K Pagarani, a veteran business leader and a prominent member of the Indian expat community in Dubai who died on Saturday.

Founder of the Al Maya Group, Pagarani was 88.

He collapsed during a weekend family get-together on Friday and passed away within hours at a hospital, his daughter Kamala Vachani told Gulf News on Monday.

The funeral of Pagarani, who is survived by his wife, five children and their families, was held in the New Sonapur Hindu Cremation Ground in Jebel Ali on Sunday.

Community members remembered him as a generous business leader who has helped several people and mentored many entrepreneurs.

Ram Tolani, founder of Goodwill Group of Companies, who was among the hundreds who attend the cremation, said Pagarani was a guru for many people whom he taught valuable formula for successful living.

“I have not seen this kind of a huge crowd for any cremation. It shows he will live forever in so many people’s hearts.”

Officials from the Indian Consulate in Dubai also paid respects to Pagarani, said Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul.

“He was a very prominent community member. Though he was not seen much these days, I did meet him last year at Gulfood [Exhibition]. He was very well respected across the Indian community, especially for building such a successful business empire,” he added.

The Pagaranis, Hiranandanis, Vachanis and Bahirwanis are holding a condolence meeting at the Taj Hotel on Tuesday evening.

Kamala said another separate condolence meeting is being arranged for the 4000-strong employees of the family’s business group which Pagarani founded in 1982.

Much prior to that, a young Pagarani, who was born on September 12, 1930, had started his career in the retail business with family members in the Choitram Group in Sierra Leone. Then he moved away from Africa to London in 1964, before setting up a permanent base in the UAE in mid 70s.

He joined his brother-in-law, Lal Ganwani, who had a supermarket in Ajman since 1979 and later founded the Al Maya group in 1982. In December 2003, the brothers-in-law split following which Pagarani headed his family’s business empire till he turned 80.

Even after handing over the daily operations to his next generation, Pagarani continued to work as the chairman every day till his death.

He was known for maintaining his regular hours in office and for attending all key meetings.

“He was my biggest inspiration. Nobody could match his skills and memory. He was an expert in finance and he had perfect people skills. He was always involved in all the major decisions that had to be taken,” said Pagarani’s son-in-law Kamal Vachani, group director of Al Maya Group.

Several accolades had been bestowed on the octogenarian. He was repeatedly listed among the most powerful and the richest Indian business leaders in the Arab World by Forbes and others.

Entrepreneur Middle East’s Indian Innovator Award for Responsible Leadership and Community Service Award by the New York-based Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio) were among other recognitions that were conferred on Pagarani.