Dubai: There are few places in the world where the past, present and future are so well-defined and the arc of one’s progress so clean and smooth. Pakistani businessperson Raja Mohammad Khan’s heart and soul overflow with gratitude for the rapid progress he has made in the last 48 years of his stay in the UAE.
A fulfilling journey through four decades
Manufacturing aluminium products for construction and building claddings, Khan feels blessed to have chosen the UAE as his home. Recalling his journey to this country in 1973 from Pakistan, Khan, 72, said: “I was only 23 when I landed in the UAE. I belong to a business family from Kashmir and decided I would stay in the UAE for five years and then move to the United Kingdom, where I had many relatives.
“Prior to coming here, I had only completed high school and two years of college. Since my family had a business, I never held a job. I was delighted to land a job in an aluminium and glass factory in Sharjah as a helper,” recalled Khan who grew so comfortable in the UAE that he gave up all his plans to move to the West.
“It was so easy to visit Pakistan and meet my mother who was too old to travel. I realised that if I shifted to the West, I would not be able to meet her so often. Besides, this generous country had given me so many opportunities and its culture and warmth were so appealing. That is why it was important for me to stay here and give back in a big way,” explained Khan.
Khan later registered for a trade licence in Ajman in 1975 and began trading in aluminium and glass.
When air conditioners were unheard of
He recalled living a very simple life with no electricity or running water. “I lived near what today is Al Qusais in Dubai, bordering Sharjah. We had homes with lanterns, there was no question of any air-conditioning and drinking water was supplied to us on donkey backs, in large leather bags carried on either side of the animal. However, life was charming in its simplicity. There was so much energy, enthusiasm and optimism in me to achieve the best in my career,” elaborated Khan.
By 1979, Khan started a manufacturing unit in Sharjah with a partner. “There was a great demand for aluminium door frames, glass windows, handles, fittings as there was a construction boom in the country and our profit margins were good,” explained Khan.
Marriage and family
In 1986, he visited Pakistan, got married, brought his wife Rukkaiyah back and set up a proper home here in the UAE. In course of time, his daughter Misbah and sons, Mubasher and Hamza, were born in the UAE. As the family grew, the roots went deeper. The children were enrolled in schools here. They grew up to receive professional qualifications here and in the US and returned to the UAE to help their father. “My children love the UAE and never want to live anywhere else,” Khan added.
UAE’s progress is magical
Today, Khan has four manufacturing units in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai and a contracting company as well. Khan is overwhelmed by the support and encouragement he has received from Emiratis and the government as well.
Khan feels indebted to the UAE for being such a generous and tolerant nation. “I feel the leaders of this country are very sensitive to the needs of Emiratis as well as expatriates. They have a vision. There is so much to learn from them. Looking at the complete arc of development in the UAE, it is nothing short of magic — very much like the tale of Aladdin and his magic lamp. From no electricity, from thatched houses and dirt roads, to a bright dazzling skyline, tall towers, amazing network of highways, all achieved in such a short span of time. The achievements of this country in 50 years in every field are beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.”
Sincerity and discipline
On the occasion of the UAE Golden Jubilee, Khan had a clear message for all expatriates: “The UAE is one country where hard work, sincerity and discipline are recognised and honoured. There couldn’t have been a better place for me and my children, who never want to move abroad or back home.”