Dubai: Prominent Indian businessman and veteran community leader in Dubai Bharat Bhai Shah passed away in India on Saturday.
Shah, 87, died in his hometown Rajkot in the western state of Gujarat.
The Consul General of India in Dubai tweeted about Shah’s death.
“Very sad to hear that our beloved social worker and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee Shri. Bharat Bhai Shah passed away today in Rajkot. He wasn’t well for some time. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. He will be remembered for his dedication to India and community,” Vipul said in his tweet.
Speaking to Gulf News later, he said Shah had been on dialysis for a few years. “He was really unwell for the past month and a half or so. First he was in Mumbai and then he was shifted to Rajkot. We got to know that he passed away around 12noon in India.”
Vipul remembered Shah as a much loved person by the large Indian expat community. “He was one of those who make it a point to attend all national day functions in the consulate and he was very close to the people in the consulate.”
Shah had received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, the highest recognition for Non Resident Indians for his invaluable services in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the past six decades.
He received the award on January 9, 2015 from Hamid Ansari, the then Vice President of India, in the presence of India’s Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, and then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel.
Speaking from Rajkot, Shah’s younger son Ketan Shah who lives in Dubai, said the family brought his father home on Thursday on his request. “He was in a lot of pain and he was telling us to take him home. He was waiting to go from home. At 12.11pm today, he left us peacefully.”
Shah’s elder son Amar Shah, who lives in the US, joined Ketan for conducting the last rites. “We have just finished the last rites. Mummy (Shah’s wife Induben) is also here with us,” said Ketan Shah.
Bharat Chachara, general manager, India Club, Dubai, said Shah was a trailblazer for the Indian community in Dubai, a staunch patriot who maintained the privilege to be the first to welcome every Consul General who has ever been posted here.
“He commanded attention whenever he walked into a room, dressed in his trademark white kurta and pants. And he would never tire of narrating stories of his time in Yemen, when he and the late Dhirubhai Ambani worked side by side.
“For many, he became a father figure and his death is a blow to the community.”
Dr Ram Buxani, Chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, said: “Bharat bhai Shah, a true fighter in life, faced all the challenges bravely and gracefully. He was an institution. My association with him has been for over 35 years. Helper in true sense, he kept his door open for needy even during his difficult days. He would complete his dialysis and will make himself available for all who needed him. It is not difficult but almost impossible to find parallel to dear Bharat bhai Shah during these materialistic times. I have lost my elder brother.”
It is not difficult but almost impossible to find parallel to dear Bharat bhai Shah during these materialistic times. I have lost my elder brother.
“Bharat bhai played pivotal role in keeping Gujarati culture and stage alive. Success of First NRI Seminar held at Hyatt Regency was totally due to his role. He was really a no-nonsense human,” he added.
A prominent voice of NRIs in the region, Shah had been in the forefront of raising funds for people affected by calamities and other community initiatives.
He was the chairman of Al Mustaneer Trading LLC, a company dealing in building and sanitary materials in Dubai.
He started his career as a houseboy in Aden, Yemen. Though he never went to an English medium school, he was known for delivering extempore speeches in English. In a previous statement Shah said he had worked along with Dhirubhai Ambani for a French company in Aden for seven years where he drew Rs225 as salary while Dhirubhai got Rs200 as he was his junior by two years. Dhirubhai Ambani later founded the hugely-diversified Reliance Group.
Shah had previously been honoured with several awards and had been featured by the Forbes Middle East magazine in the list of top Indians in the Arab world.