Trust and honesty have been the hallmark of his long personal and business journey in Qatar. He believes with mutual trust and fair dealings, everyone can benefit from business and personal growth opportunities in Qatar.
Moideen Abdulkhader Mohamed Shafi, better known as M P Shafi, is a longtime resident, a successful businessman, and a well-known social and welfare worker among the Indian community in Qatar. The expatriate from Kerala, who landed in Qatar as early as 1962, has hailed the hospitality and business opportunities he was offered in the country during his interview with Gulf Times.
A young M P Shafi
“I was about 19 years old when I first came to Qatar. Unlike many other expatriates coming to the country those days, I did not come here to support my family financially back home. My family was well off and my father was heading a promising business in Kerala. I came to Qatar for a change as a young man,” said 77-year-old Shafi, with a nostalgic smile on his face.
His links with the foreign business partners of his father made its easy to leave India. “Our business was of preparing different kinds of caps and many traders from the Gulf countries used to deal with my father. It was in 1961, if I remember correctly, that I met a trader from the UAE in in Mangalore and asked him to take me abroad. He was well-acquainted with my father. He agreed to take me to the Gulf country. I had not had much cash with me except a few coins. The trader charged me 200 Indian rupees to board his small ship.”
Shafi stayed only for two days in the UAE, as he wanted to come to Qatar where a cousin of his father had already been present. “The same ship came to Qatar and an Indian expatriate paid the money I owed to the trader. First of all, I went to Bismillah Hotel, where you could get information about a specific expatriate. At that time, there was not much population. Mostly people were from Iran, India and Pakistan. When I met my uncle, he was very happy to see me after a long time. He was working in a government department. My uncle got me a job in a restaurant and I was not happy with it because there was not much to do.”
The young Shafi did different types of work and business before he started his current business under the name of M P Traders. “I got a shop close to Bismillah Hotel and started my own business but I faced losses after the shop submerged under floodwater one day. Then, I obtained a restaurant as its owner went on vacation to Kerala for one year. I then purchased a shop at Al Thakhira Beach in Al Khor.”
Later, Shafi went back to India in 1967 and got married. “I brought my wife to Qatar and we started living happily in Al Khor where I did my business for a long time. I have five daughters and a son. The son is with me taking care of the business. The daughters are happily married. All my children obtained their education in Qatar.”
The businessman set up his current business in 1975 and has been dealing mainly in electronic appliances. “My shop was the first one to offer latest electronic appliances in Qatar. I used to bring the latest appliances from Dubai. My shop got very famous among the expatriates as they would visit it to buy different items before they go to their home countries. I faced losses also in my businesses many times but I came through and became a successful person.”
Sharing his memories about the early days Qatar, Shafi said: “There were no ACs and televisions at the time. There was not much to do for entertainment and sports. The roads were not paved. We used to sleep on rooftops and refrigerators were run by kerosene oil. The country however has made progress in leaps and bounds over the years. It is an amazing feeling to see how the country developed itself and offered opportunity to me to flourish also.”
The longtime resident specially admires the hospitable nature of the native people. “The people are very hospitable. They welcome all. I always got along well with Qataris. I build trust as a
businessperson very quickly and that helped me flourish. The peaceful atmosphere of the country further helped me grow my business. I have never regretted coming to Qatar and making it my home.”
The successful businessman urges the youth to be trustworthy and believes that honesty is the best policy. “Times have changed. Though written agreements have come in vogue for business deals but still people cheat nowadays. When I started business here, there was not much cheating even though there used to be no written contracts. I have seen many people suffering losses only because they did not behave well in their business deals. I would say that if one does not get involved in bad practices, Qatar is the best place to do business and grow.”