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The Dhanji Motiram family opened their first gold shop in Deira Gold Souq in the 1950s. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE National Day is an occasion where both Emiratis and expats celebrate their achievements..

One expat family from India in Dubai say the UAE National Day is a reminder of the past and their success in the Emirates.

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Dhanji Motiram migrated to the UAE from Gujarat, India in the early 1950s in search of better economic prospects. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Owners of Dhanji Motiram Jewellers, the family’s Kirti Kishore Dhanji, 65, said: “My father Dhanji Motiram migrated to the UAE from Gujarat, India in the early 1950s in search of better economic prospects. The rest is history as they say. We are so grateful to this country for it changed our lives for the better. Besides, my father was also able to help a hundred Indian families by bringing them to the UAE for job prospects. Most are settled here and made the UAE their second home. This would not have been possible if it were not for the relentless support we received from the UAE leadership.”

Bimal Jagdish Dhanji, grandson of Motiram, said about his grandfather: “He was a skilled craftsman, a goldsmith. My grandfather started working as a goldsmith, designing and creating jewellery in Dubai.”

The family opened its first retail store in 1958 at the Gold Souk, Deira. Through the years, Motiram’s sons Jagdish and Kirti joined him and made it a family-owned business.

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Handwritten tenancy contract of the family's shop from the year 1958. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
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Kirti Kishore Dhanji with Bimal Jagdish Chander. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Today, the business is managed by the third generation – Bimal, the oldest child of Jagdish, his younger brother Jeegnesh and Amit, the youngest son of Kirti.

With over six decades of experience selling jewellery in the UAE, the business has three generations of customers purchasing from them. “People who bought from my grandfather, their children started buying from my father and uncle. Their third generation now connect with me and my sibling and cousin for purchasing jewellery from us. It truly is special and a testament to the lives we have lived in the UAE.”

Kirti said that making a single gold bangle back in the days used to take a week at least. “There were challenges with electricity. Most of the time, my father would work through the night to make gold jewellery. Lanterns were kept by the side. Everything was hand-made and it was a lot of hard work,” he added.

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Both the process of making jewellery and the Deira Gold Souq have undergone several changes over the years. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Jewellery used to be made entirely by hand, with metals being moulded into shape and gemstones being painstakingly placed into their clasps. Today, however, with advances in technology, jewellers are equipped with a range of machinery to help craft pieces in quicker time.

Kirti explained how his father used to spend days making a single bangle.

“I remember watching him as a child, the painstaking effort he took to skillfully design a bangle. It all starts with carefully heating the metal until it forms a block that can be slowly moulded. It is then placed on a wheel where it is rolled to create sheets or wires that will make the jewellery piece. Once all the pieces are created, they will be soldered together. Finally, the piece is polished and cleaned. The gems are then set into a clasp with utmost precision.”

‘Treasure box’

Kirti, who was a small boy when his father moved to Dubai, is witness to several milestones of the UAE. And so he is equally proud to celebrate the UAE National Day.

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Treasure from the past: Many of the tools that gold merchants used back in the day are barely employed today. Image Credit: Supplied

He said: “I still have something that my father brought with him six decades ago. It resembles an ancient treasure box. Inside this he kept his tools and gems. I have kept them all and they are displayed in my house. Today, these tools are barely in use thanks to the technological advancement and the machinery available.”

100 rupee rent

Kirti recalled one of the three branches of the jewellery store in Deira’s Gold Souq cost only 100 Indian rupees. “I have a piece of paper where two parties concluded the contract in writing. My father wrote in Gujarati that he was leasing the place for 100 Indian rupees. It was accepted by the landlord who gave a written approval in Arabic. It was duly stamped by the parties via a thumb print. Then, when the Dubai Municipality was formed, we had the first official tenancy contract made out in English and Arabic.”

‘This is our home’

Bimal said: “We cannot imagine living anywhere else. We are now four generations of Dhanji clan living here. This is our home. As for what my grandfather started, the aim now is to take it to another level and expand our business. Going forward we want to push our presence more. The challenge today is different from what my grandfather faced.”