By Irfan Mohammed
Jeddah: The sad demise of veteran NRI in Jeddah Rafiuddin S. Fazulbhoy is termed as a huge loss for the Indian community. The nonagenarian, who was one of the key founders of Indian School in Jeddah and was looked upon as a role model by many NRIs.
Fazulbhoy was one of Saudi Arabia’s earliest NRIs, who came to the port city of Jeddah in the 1950s. He was instrumental in the establishment of present day Indian International School (IISJ) in Jeddah in 1969. The school has a current strength of over 10,000 students after a larger number of students moved owing to the volatile job situation of their parents.
Fazulbhoy who had seen the transformation of Jeddah and the rest of the country over half a century. He was a patriotic and true lover of India as he remained an Indian citizen till his last breath.
As an employee of a shipping company that ply vessels between Jeddah to Bombay, he was the first contact person for Indian Haj pilgrims prior to the Indian Embassy.
“I used to write letters on behalf of Hajis and also collect written letters from them to dispatch to ships destined to Bombay”, he had told this correspondent in the past.
Haj pilgrims then used to be accommodated in Mina Road in Balad.
Originally hailing from Gujarat but Fazulbhoy’s parents settled in Mumbai, he came to Jeddah in 1958 to work with a shipping company.
His family entered a relationship by marrying off their daughter into the house of prominent Hyderabadi physician Dr. Iqbal Sinai .
Fazulbhoy was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by Government of India in 2008 for his outstanding contributions towards the Indian community.
He was buried in Jeddah on Saturday in the presence of a large number of Indian community members.