The 100-year journey of an Indian business family to Dubai

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Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Vijay Bhatia and Deepak Bhatia at Zabeel Palace.

Jamil Khan, senior reporter

The UAE is a land of opportunity under wise leadership and if one has an innovative mindset and a passion, no one can stop it from succeeding, said Deepak Bhatia, an Indian expat and member of the United Arab Emirates. ‘a big business family.

Deepak Bhatia, managing director of one of Dubai’s oldest establishments, Uncle’s Shop, will celebrate its 50th anniversary next month on August 10. He is the son of Vijay Bhatia, the first Indian film distributor in the United Arab Emirates who started several successful businesses in addition to maintaining his family establishment, Uncle’s Shop, a trading business he started with his father, Uttamchand Bhatia, in the 1930s.


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Building on their 100-year heritage in Dubai, the Bhatia family first arrived on the shores of Dubai when Deepak’s grandfather Uttamchand Bhatia came with his uncle in 1920 when he was only 11 years old. “Our roots are in Rajasthan, India, but my ancestors moved to Thatta, Sindh (now a small town with fishing companies in Pakistan’s Sindh province),” he said during a conversation with Gulf Today.

“During the deadly plague that struck Karachi and the surrounding towns, including Thatta in 1920, many family members who were relatives of my grandfather died. Only an uncle and an aunt survived. Then they moved to Dubai, a new land of thriving businesses, to start a new life and escape the calamities of the pandemic, ”he said speaking to Gulf Today.

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Deepak bhatia

According to him, Uttamchand Bhatia learned the ropes in two years and opened his first clothing store in 1922 at the age of 13 with the support of his new friend, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

In no time, Uttamchand Bhatia’s business flourished, thanks to his diligence and incredible ability to respond to local demands, in addition to keeping an eye out for opportunities to come. Soon he was known as “Vattra” (which means important in Arabic) among the locals and “Uttrabha” among the Indian expat community, as his business had already spread across the Gulf and India. .

“At such a tender age, in a new country with a foreign language, my grandfather managed to survive and had a thriving business, importing different types and qualities of textiles from India and selling them to the local people, including including the royal family, ”he said. noted.

“My grandfather was closely related to the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum and in one case when he gave his name to his shop he accepted the title ‘Uncle’s Shop’ because the late Sheikh Rashid was like an uncle to my father and his brothers, ”he said, while revealing the story behind the unusual nickname of their family store.

Despite the challenges, the business flourished over time as the family business was run by Deepak and his son, Yash, the fourth generation of Indian expatriates, calling the UAE their adopted country.

His grandfather, in addition to running his textile business, also served the community by establishing India’s first high school across from the Dubai Museum, near the ruler’s office, Bur Dubai. Later, the community established the Indian Club and High School. The land of Bur Dubai’s first temple, the Krishna Temple, was also acquired by Uttamchand Bhatia.

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Deepak Bhatia with his son Yash

pose for a photo.

“He (Uttamchand Bhatia) passed away in 1986 and for over 35 years not only members of the Dubai Royal Family but also the Indian community in the United Arab Emirates still remember and admire him as a great personality who lived an extraordinary life. We are also grateful to the leaders who have given our family the opportunity to build successful businesses, ”said Deepak.

Deepak’s father, Vijay Bhatia, lent a hand to the family business, but in 1970 he established the first licensed film distribution company and later moved to the construction business in 1976.

Deepak had his own plans and in 1990 ventured into real estate. “With my father’s full support, I quickly added a number of products like steel, cement and other materials to grow my business. “

His son, Yash, is also a remarkable achievement with his innovative business ideas. He showcased green energy solutions in construction fields with modified solar panels and on e-bikes that will be unveiled at Dubai’s mega event, Expo 2020.


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