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Dubai-based businessman P.A. Rahman, chairman of the Parco Group, passed away in his native place in Kerala on Sunday night.

He had been ailing for some time and was 72.

Paying rich tributes to Rahman, Ashraf Pallikandam, acting president of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) said, “More than being a successful businessman, Rahma Saheb was a champion of the poor. The KMCC, which he was part of, has lost an elderly family member who readily and unconditionally supported the needy. He has done a lot of social work and built mosques for the benefit of his community back in Calicut. He will be sorely missed.”

Nissar Ahmad, KMCC vice-president, said, “Rahman was a true humanitarian and touched the lives of many , both in the UAE and Kerala.”

He said Rahman came to the UAE early on and built a formidable business empire, but never lost sight of the ground realities. “He was known for his kindness and generosity towards his employees whom he treated with utmost respect.”

From a humble beginning of a small food business in 1971, Parco had grown into a diversified group with a presence in hospitality, retail, healthcare, schooling, logistics, jewellery and trading, among other sectors, across the UAE and India.

“I attribute the growth of our group to the experience and expertise of my team, who have unabashedly contributed to the vision and dream that we saw from the very beginning of starting our business,” the chairman’s message on the Parco website says.

Several Indian political leaders also paid their tributes to Rahman who served as a member of the Kerala State Council of the Indian Union Muslim League.

Punnakkan Muhammed Ali, general secretary of the Indian Overseas Congress UAE, said, “He was a very successful businessman but was close to hearts of the poor and needy as he generously contributed to a variety of causes. He was widely respected by workers from across parties and religious faiths.”