Maghanmal Pancholia. Image Credit:

Dubai: Maghanmal Jethanand Pancholia, 95, the oldest Indian business leader in Dubai passed away on Monday afternoon, family sources told Gulf News.

His eldest son Dr. Lalchand M Pancholia said his father after developing chest pain after attending office on his last day.

“I am still in a shock. All of a sudden in the afternoon he developed chest pain and discomfort. We arranged an ambulance from the office itself and reached City Hospital. But we lost him. We lost not only my father, but I think the father of our entire community. I feel that not only I am orphaned but my community has also been orphaned.”

Indian community members gather to pay tributes to Maghanmal Jethanand Pancholia, the oldest Indian business leader in Dubai who passed away on Monday night Video by Sajila Saseendran and Clint Egbert

Here's the Gulf News video interview with Maganmal Pancholia published on March 31, 2019.

Fondly known as Maghaba, Pancholia, chairman of Arabian Trading Agency, was the first person along with a few other Indian expats to start a company that provided electricity to Dubai.

Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, said: “It is a big loss for the community. He was the father figure for the entire community and someone who also devoted a great deal of time for social activities. He has done great service to India and Indians and the UAE.”

Maghanmal’s family was one of the earliest Indian families to settle in Sharajh and Dubai. “He is considered the oldest business leader in the community,” said Vipul, offering condolences to his family.

"We lost not only my father, but I think the father of our entire community. I feel that not only I am orphaned but my community has also been orphaned.”

- Dr. Lalchand M Pancholia, eldest son of Maghanmal Jethanand Pancholia

Dr. Ram Buxani, chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, who has been associated with Pancholia for about 60 years, said he had known Maghaba ever since he arrived here.

“He was a parent-like leader to the Indian community. He worked for the community and this country throughout his lifetime. He was well respected by the Emiratis and had a great image. I always found him ever ready for any social cause. His presence was a great solace to me personally. It is a big loss.”

Dr. Buxani said Pancholia, who was known for never missing his work, died with his boots on.

“He led a very healthy and disciplined life till his last day. I was told he was fully alert and well even this morning. He went for a walk and went to pick up the flowers, which was his routine activity, and went to the temple. Then he went to office as usual. After office, he was preparing to go for lunch. That is when he felt uneasy. Then he was taken to City Hospital and there he collapsed. The doctors tried to revive him but they could not.”

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He recollected the unique and most important roles that Pancholia had held.

“He was the founder of The Indian High School. He was the only Indian, first and last, to be on the board of Dubai Chamber of Commerce. He was on the board of the Dubai Electricity Company also.

"Prior to that, he was one of the main promoters of Indo-Arab Electricity Company. He was one of them, then our company ITL, Bhagvan Whabi, Shorafa Store and Mohammad Kamalpoor.”

Pancholia was the founding shareholder and director for DEC 20 long years. His father and uncles had established the Krishna temple in Dubai 120 years back, Dr. Buxani recollected.

The great-grandfather leaves behind his four children — Dr Lalchand, Rajkumar, Jaswanti (Jyothi) and Kusum — 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. In May 2018, his wife Kalabai Maghanmal, died in Dubai aged 91.

Funeral details

Pancholia’s funeral is scheduled to be held at 12.30pm at the Jebel Ali crematorium on Tuesday.