Open main menu

H.E. Mohammad Abdallah Al Gaz (c. 1930-2016) [1] (Arabic: معالي محمد عبدالله القاز الفلاسي‎), was an influential financier, developer, diplomat, central banker and philanthropist in the early years of the United Arab Emirates. A scion of the House of Al-Falasi, Al Gaz rose to prominence in the 1950s as a member of Dubai's first generation of market-making investors and developers through his partnership with H.E. Juma Al Majid, himself recently ranked among the 100 Richest Arabs.[2]

Mohammed Al Gaz
محمد عبدالله القاز
Al Gaz between the Father of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, and his heir, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid.
Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank
In office
January 1, 1980 – Jebruary 1, 1993
PresidentSheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byH.E. Juma Al Majid

In 2012, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan presented Al Gaz with the Spirit of the Union Award for his contributions toward the early development of the UAE.

HH Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Rashid of Dubai, and HE Mohammad Al Gaz shortly after Unification.

Partnership in the Gold TradeEdit

Emerging as an enterprising trader in textiles and commodities between markets in the Middle East, Al Gaz entered the historic Switzerland-Dubai-India gold trade in the 1950s after recruiting and partnering with his then-grocer and friend, Juma Al Majid. Partnerships such as those between the brothers Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair, between cousins Majid Al Futtaim and Abdulla Al Futtaim, and that between Al Gaz and Al Majid served as the economic foundation for the aggressive vision of H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, who assumed formal rule in 1958.

The close-knit support between government, in the singular form of Sheikh Rashid, and business, represented by the lucrative and highly industrious work of these partnerships, led to a period of growth and stability unseen in Dubai's history. This particularly contrasted to the difficulties Sheikh Rashid's predecessor, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum, experienced in the 1930s with the disloyal pearl merchants who dominated Dubai's then pearl-based, fishing trade, and caused the Rebellion of 1938.[3]

Diplomacy and Dubai Infrastructure DevelopmentEdit

Mohammad Al Gaz, with the young Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid on his right and Mahdi Al Tajir followed by Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid on his left.

Among the new gold tycoons, Mohammad Al Gaz became a particularly trusted diplomatic adviser to Sheikh Rashid. In addition to offering steady economic insights into the booming hustle of Dubai's markets, because of his close relationship to rulers in the region, particularly with the aspiring leader of Abu Dhabi, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Al Gaz was used as an initial diplomatic channel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. During a time when protracted zero-sum land negotiations were the highlights of the diplomatic relationship, Al Gaz helped to unite the two leaders' vision for solidarity and union.[4][5]

H.E. Mohammed Al Gaz (Left), and H.H. Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (Middle) visiting Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959.

The Indian gold trade fell out of vogue with the partnerships in the early 1970s. With the dawn of a new nation, Al Gaz and his partner Al Majid led the way in a push to direct their investments into projects that brought know-how or infrastructure to Dubai's optimistic future. Betting on long-term growth in Dubai, as the regional trading hub to overtake its then-far more developed rivals in Kuwait and Bahrain, Al Gaz and Al Majid invested heavily in securing franchise rights and developing real estate projects. Al Gaz and Al Majid secured distribution or exclusive franchise rights to international brands in Dubai, including General Electric, Samsung, Phillips, Opel, Pepsi, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia.

After 11 years of partnership, Al Gaz and himself split their assets on a basis that they easily agreed was equal, despite having both maintained little accounting record or valuations for their empire. Reflecting in later years, Al Majid was proud to note theirs was the only Dubai trading empire of the age to split amicably,[6] with the Al Futtaim partnership being a prime example of the bitter empire battles that had become the rule in the ending of the major partnerships.

Unlike Al Majid, Al Gaz divested from the majority of his franchise holdings (e.g. selling franchise rights to Nissan in the 1980s) to concentrate on real estate development. Having already distinguished himself in building the first three-story building in Dubai's history, Al Gaz went on to develop much of the properly around Port Said, the clock-tower plaza, and Hamriya in Bur Deira, helping to create the infrastructure for what has become the vibrant Deira market place.[7]

Federal Roles and PhilanthropyEdit

Post-federation, Al Gaz helped found the National Council[8] and served as the first Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of the UAE, from the Bank's founding in 1980 into the mid-1990s. Serving under the Chairman Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, Al Gaz was a key stakeholder in the UAE’s economic development in its first two decades.[9]

The President, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa presenting Abdallah Mohammad Al Gaz with the Spirit of the Union Award on the behalf of his father, 2012.

As a leader of the first generation of Dubai business magnates to form after the crises of the 1930s, Al Gaz made efforts to break tradition with earlier pearling merchants who used financial pressure to destabilize government in Dubai. Where formerly rich pearl traders Rashid bin Dalmook and Sheikh Mani bin Rashid used tight public funding in education as an excuse for the Rebellion of 1938, Al Gaz aggressively fueled private investment in public education with a number of early-built schools, including the Amna bint Wahb Girls School, the Gamal Abdulnasser Boys School, and the Community Schools. Targeting areas in need philanthropically, Al Gaz continued to endow public and private institutions anonymously, in Islamic tradition, until he developed with Juma Al Majid the United Arab Emirates' first charitable society in 1989, Beit Al Khair.

On April 12, 2016, Mohammed Al Gaz died of cardiovascular failure.[10] Succeeded by eight sons, Al Gaz relinquished the control and management of his holding firm to his eldest son, Abdallah Al Gaz, during his lifetime.[11]



Related PeopleEdit


  1. ^ The name is alternatively spelt "Al Kaz," "Al Qaz," and "Al-Gaz."
  2. ^ "The World's Richest Arabs". Archived from the original on 24 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Christopher M. Davidson, "Arab Nationalism and British Opposition in Dubai, 1920-66," Middle Eastern Studies 2007 43(6): 879-892
  4. ^ A. Burdett, ed. (2000). Records of Dubai 1761-1960.
  5. ^ "The Making of Dubai". Fodor's. Archived from the original on 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-05-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "A Life in Service". Gulf News. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  7. ^ "محمد عبد الله القاز.. العصامي الذي بنى لنفسه مجداً". Al Khaleej. 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  8. ^ "محمد عبدالله القاز أحد أوائل رجال الأعمال والسياسة في الإمارات. الإمارات اليوم". Emarat Alyoum. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  9. ^ "محمد عبد الله القاز.. العصامي الذي بنى لنفسه مجداً". Al Khaleej. 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  10. ^ الوشاحي, دبي - رامي عايش وسعيد (15 April 2016). "محمد القاز.. سجل وطني وسيرة حافلة بالعطاء". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  11. ^ "United Arab Agencies Inc - Zawya". Retrieved 28 July 2016.

External linksEdit