Dilip Bhatia: Chapter of Dubai's History

Bindu Rai

Reem Malkawi

‘We called Dubai our home for nearly 100 years. That’s 4 generations of our family playing a part in the city’s growth.’

The emotion behind these words is evident as Dilip Bhatia stands proudly by the door of one of the first few brands set up its business in Dubai over a century ago in the form of Tulsidas Lalchand General Trading.

Tracing its origins back to year 1870, Bhatia belongs to one of the first few Indian merchant families that migrated to the UAE aboard a ship liner, making the harrowing journey from Karachi to the Trucial States that existed before the federation was formed.

‘My father, Govindram Tulsidas, was one of the first few people from our Thatia Bhatia community that saw opportunity here and set up a food commodities shop near the banks of Bur Dubai creek,’ he reveals.

According to Bhatia, a small creekside market called ‘Chapra Bazaar’ was the only settlement amidst miles of desert sand, before development in the area earned it a new name in the form of Dubai’s Souk Al Kabeer.

He continues: ‘At the time, even drinking water was in shortage, and donkeys would ferry gallons from a neighbouring well to all the settlements.’

By the 1960s, Bhatia had moved to Dubai himself and joined the family store, not ever imagining that 50 years later he would be grooming his son to take over the business someday.

‘Our 4 generations, including my grandchildren, have become a fabric of Dubai’s growth,’ he states. ‘When I look around at the city’s glittering skyline, I can’t help but be humbled by what I see around me.

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