Leading UAE businessman PA Ibrahim Haji dies at 78

He founded the Pace Education Group, which runs schools in India and the Middle East

PA Ibrahim Haji started his career in the UAE as salesman in the spare parts division of Austin (British Motors Corporation) in 1967. Wikimedia

A prominent UAE entrepreneur and champion of education, PA Ibrahim Haji, has died in India.

Mr Haji, who was 78, hailed from the town of Pallikere in Kerala and had lived in the Emirates for more than 50 years, heading businesses and schools in India and the Middle East.

In 1967, Mr Haji started his remarkable career in the UAE with a job as salesman in the spare parts division of Austin (British Motors Corporation).

He joined Galadari Automobiles (Mazda Distributors) as spare parts manager in 1972.

He was later appointed as manager of Al Hashar Automobiles' spare parts division and by 1974 had saved enough to start a small business of garments and cosmetics in Dubai.

In 1976, he launched a joint venture, Century Trading, which is a part of Al Shamali Group of Companies.

He was one of the key investors of Malabar Gold and Diamonds and the managing director of the Al Shamali Group in Dubai.

In 1999, Mr Haji founded the Pace Education Group, under which he established many engineering colleges in India and schools in the Middle East. The group runs the Gulf Asian English School in Sharjah.

Tributes pour in

Syed Khalil, former group executive director of Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group and former vice chairman of the Jashanmal Group of Companies, paid tribute to his "soft-spoken" friend.

He said the UAE community would miss his presence.

Mr Khalil said he knew Mr Haji for the past 30 years and together they carried out social welfare projects.

“He was one of the finest men and did so much work to promote education in India and the Gulf.

"He was very soft-spoken and I never saw him losing his temper.

"When schools opened, I saw the way he greeted teachers. They would say he is a very good owner.

"I met him at a social function and we jointly founded an India-Arab association."

Mr Khalil said he and Mr Haji worked day and night to form the association in 1981, a time when Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had made a two-day visit to the UAE.

He said Mr Haji contributed greatly to the Indian community in the UAE.

Updated: December 21st 2021, 12:23 PM