Life always presents us with exceptional personalities who leave no stone unturned; real visionaries through whom we often experience a greater sense of purpose and an appreciation of values.
Late Dr P A Ibrahim was the quintessential humanitarian businessman for many – individuals and organisations that flourished under his vision and guidance. Fondly remembered by those closest to him as “Haji Sahib” or “Hajikka”, was a man who always had a smile on his face no matter what challenges life threw at him and made charity a way of life. His saga of hard work, ambition, accomplishments and humbleness throughout his life served as an inspiration and underlying principle for many associated with him.
Born on September 6 1943 to a family of ten in Pallikere, Kasargod, Kerala as the fourth child, P A Ibrahim’s early life was marked by various challenges. Unlike many in that era, he was fortunate enough to complete his schooling, albeit with great difficulty. He would walk for miles and take a ferry across the Bekkal river daily to complete his primary education at the government Mappila LP School and would later go on to finish his secondary education at Kottikulam Government Fisheries High School. He remained enthusiastic to educate himself at an age and time when it was not considered necessary by those in his family or region and went on to complete diploma in Automobile Engineering
P A Ibrahim’s parents, Pallikere Abdullah and Aiysha instilled in him core values such as discipline, honesty, kindness, patience and hard work that he carried with him throughout his life. His inquisitive mind would always find ways to learn and understand the aspects of life and trade – be it learning the language or dealing with customers from his father’s shop in the small village of Pallikere.
In the initial years of his career, he worked small jobs in old Madras and Bombay before heading out to Dubai in 1966, a promising land for expatriates from India, which was then gleaming with their recent oil discovery. His personality and unwavering will for success landed him jobs with the British Motor Corporation, Galadari Automobiles and later Al Hashar Automobiles in Muscat. Being an outstanding salesman and a Manager in his assignments was not enough for his inner calling to be a businessman who can serve society. By 1976, P A Ibrahim decided to commit to his passion and started his first venture in the textile industry along with Mohammed Hussain Ali Al Shamali as his partner. His work ethics and credibility over the years paved the way for him to become one of the leaders in the textile industry and
led him to be unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Textiles Merchants Association (TEXMAS)
In 1984, Dr P A Ibrahim along with his friend and mentor T.M. Nair established Indus Motor Company and served as its vice-chairman which today is the largest dealer of Maruti Suzuki vehicles which changed the game of the mid-market consumer vehicles sector in India. In 2003, his business acumen found the opportunity to be the co-chairman and a key investor of Malabar Gold & Diamonds. The company has grown through his instrumental contribution, and leadership to become one of the world’s largest gold and jewellery retail business operating in 10 countries with more than 250 outlets. He was also co-chairman of the Malabar charitable trust which has provided over ten thousand homes for the poor and free medical aid for those in need.
By 1999, Dr PA Ibrahim realised his new mission to empower society, which gave wings to the world of education. He firmly believed that education is not meant for acquiring knowledge and information alone but translating them into action and activities for the convenience of man and the human race as a whole. This conviction kindled the fire in him to establish an educational trust and a group, named PACE Group that is dedicated to offering an effective learning environment to students from all walks of life encouraging excellence and diversity.
Currently, PACE Group manages 18 Educational institutions catering to over 23,000 students from 67 nationalities, with over 2300 teaching staff and non-teaching staff. The group operates schools for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in British Curriculum as well as CBSE Indian Curriculum. The Group is focused on providing world-class educational facilities to students at an affordable fee structure and also manages several higher education
institutions in India, offering a wide subject range in Engineering, Management, Polytechnic, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Arts & Science. The Group also manages the University of West London, UK- branch campus at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.
When success became a mainstay in his life, Dr P.A Ibrahim considered it as an opportunity to shoulder more responsibility towards others and society at large. Despite the position he was in, he maintained a modest outlook towards life and was actively involved in religious matters. Throughout his life, he was an avid learner of the Holy Qur’an, and amidst his busy schedules, he would regularly attend sessions and gatherings to help him reflect on the words of the Creator. He always considered his life as a blessing from the Almighty and found ways to be grateful in all facets.
When he found the ultimate happiness in serving the society to earn the pleasure of the Almighty; honours, awards and accolades chased him, yet he kept himself busy with the ongoing efforts and contributions till the last minute of his life. On December 21st, 2021 his good soul left for its eternal abode and the remains were laid to rest in the gardens of Najmul Huda Madrasa, Manjeri, Kerala. This institution had a special place in his heart as he knew deep down that he would listen to the prayers and holy verses of the Qur’an during his eternal rest. To many, he was more than a successful entrepreneur, educationalist and philanthropist as a friend, brother, mentor, guide, student, father and so on. He was a man who played out all these roles to a fine balance with a sense of responsibility and respect for anyone who approached him.
Dr P A Ibrahim’s commitment to social welfare lives on through the enduring institutions he built during his time. The charitable endeavours and educational organisations he initiated remain steadfast in their commitment to his vision throughout the UAE and India. The family of Dr PA Ibrahim with 10 members who were already involved in his activities, now strive to uphold the values and ethics taught by their beloved father in all spheres to carry on his vision to greater heights. As an individual his legacy lives on in the hearts of all he reached out to and empowered throughout his life. Those who were closest to him remember him for his boundless wisdom and enchanting smile.