A collaborative research project between New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum

Spotlight

Dadabhai Group

Information last updated on 31 October 2022

Snapshot

Founding

Family Name:

Dadabhai

Founder’s Name:

Ahmed Ali Dadabhai

Earliest Documented Business Name:

AM Dadabhai & Sons

Founding Year:

1950

Founding Location:

Bahrain

Today

Current Operating Status:

Operating

Family Business Name:

Dadabhai Group

Headquarters Location:

Manama, Bahrain

Key Industries:

Construction, real estate, hospitality, travel and tourism, manufacturing, communication and advertising.

Number of Employees:

3500[1]

About the Founder

 

Ahmed Ali Dadabhai was born in Rajasthan, India. He worked as a farmer, while he dreamed of a different life abroad for himself and his family. Despite struggling to afford the travel expenses, he moved to Bahrain in 1935.[2] His first job there was as a household cook,[3] which he used as a stepping stone to establish a small business selling samosas.[4]

 

Founding Story

 

He eventually started a small trading outlet at the center of the souq in Manama under the name AM Dadabhai and Sons.[5] In 1950, he expanded into selling children’s toys, stationery, electronics, and household items. His store, located on Shaikh Abdulla Road in the heart of Manama, laid the foundation for what would become one of the biggest expatriate family enterprises in Bahrain.[6] Ahmed Ali Dadabhai’s three sons stepped in to support the family business at a young age. Mohammed Dadabhai, the eldest, left school at the age of 16 to join his father in running the operation.[7]

 

 

Growth Phase 

 

With limited crude oil resources, Bahrain began to pursue diversification strategies in the 1960s. In the decades that followed, the Dadabhai family’s ventures would align with the large-scale interests of the Bahraini economy as it shifted into non-oil-based sectors, including finance, tourism, logistics, and hospitality.[8]

During the 1970s, Mohammed Dadabhai steered the company through a period of significant growth and expansion that took place simultaneously with the rapid economic changes taking place in Bahrain.[9] He shifted the core business away from retail to construction and real estate, maintaining multiple business lines that would later be consolidated under the umbrella of the Dadabhai Group a few years later.[10]

In 1977 Dadabhai Construction was founded by Mohammed Dadabhai and his brother Abbas Dadabhai, who started the business after finding inspiration in building a new residence for their own family.[11] [12] [13] This construction firm, now one of Bahrain’s longest-operating and largest,[14] has taken on many key development projects such as the Abraj Al Lulu buildings, Palm Hotel at Palm Deira, and Al Aali Shopping Complex.[15]

The Dadabhais expanded into the travel and tourism sector in 1981 with the establishment of a travel agency. Today, Dadabhai Travel is Bahrain’s leading travel agency for Air Arabia, Yemenia, Virgin Atlantic, Jet Airways, SOTC, and many other airlines.[16] The formation of the travel agency was a pivotal moment for the development of the family business, as later noted by the founder’s grandson, Qutub Dadabhai, especially as it coincided with the construction of the Baisan International Hotel.[17]

The group continued to expand into a number of other industrial sectors, setting up additional companies under the aegis of the Dadabhai Group. Arabian Neon was launched in 1989 as Bahrain’s first major outdoor signage brand, offering innovative and comprehensive signage marketing solutions.[18] The following year saw the establishment of the Optima home appliances brand, whose products would soon be distributed globally. The Elite Hospitality Group was started in 1993, marking the company’s initial foray into the hospitality industry. Just before the turn of the millennium, the Dadabhai Group unveiled the Baisan Institute of Hospitality Management (BIHM).[19]

In 2006, the Dadabhai Group added Pegasus Real Estate to the family’s portfolio. Four years later, Alusol W.L.L. was formed to undertake specialized work in HVAC, fire prevention, mechanical, and BMS systems, extending the group’s already formidable capacities in the building construction sector. In 2016, the Dadabhai Group ventured into car leasing, starting their own car rental business — Regent Rent-a-Car. Most recently, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Dadabhai Interiors and Dadabhai Infrastructure were launched to further support the group’s construction business.[20]

The Dadabhai Group’s model of focused expansion and diversification has enabled it to capitalize on Bahrain’s large expat population and vibrant economy for five decades.[21] [22] Ahmed Dadabhai’s grandsons Shabbir and Qutub Dadabhai were the first members of the third generation to join the family concern. Shabbir is largely involved in the technical side of the business, while Qutub takes the reins for finance and administration.[23]

Today

Today, the Dadabhai Group has around 15 subsidiaries[24] in the sectors of construction, real estate, hospitality, travel and tourism, manufacturing, communication, and advertising. Still headquartered in Manama, the group is widely considered one of the leading success stories among the various expatriate-founded family businesses in Bahrain.

 

Notes

Ahmed Ali Dadabhai, founder of Dadabhai Group (left), and Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of Housing, Municipalities and Environment (right) in Hawar Islands, Bahrain. Source: Dadabhai Group LinkedIn

 

[1] Refinitiv

[2] “ثروة دادا باي بدأت ببيع السمبوسة.” https://www.albayan.ae/culture/2000-09-14-1.1039211. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[3] Tripathi, Aparna. “Qutub Dadabai, Managing Director, Dadabai Holding.” TBCY – Knowledge, Experience,  Wisdom (blog), February 5, 2021. https://tbcy.in/qutub-dadabai-managing-director-dadabai-holding/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[4] “Rediff.Com: Indian Family Builds Top Business Group in Bahrain.” https://www.rediff.com/money/2000/sep/13indian.htm. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[5] T, Husain. “Mohammed Dadabhai, Chairman of the Dadabhai Group.” The Dawoodi Bohras Middle East (blog), December 31, 2020. https://me.thedawoodibohras.com/2020/12/31/mohammed-dadabhai-chairman-of-the-dadabhai-group/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[6] “Our History – Dadabhai Group.” https://dadabhaigroup.com/about-us-2/our-history/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[7] “Mohammed Dadabhai in Profile – Bahrain This Month.” https://www.bahrainthismonth.com/magazine/interviews/mohammed-dadabhai-in-profile. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[8] CIDOB. “CIDOB – Bahrain’s Economy: Oil Prices, Economic Diversification, Saudi Support, and Political Uncertainties.” http://www.cidob.org/publicaciones/serie_de_publicacion/notes_internacionals_cidob/n1_189/bahrain_s_economy_oil_prices_economic_diversification_saudi_support_and_political_uncertainties. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[9]Dadabhai Group. “Prequalification,” n.d. https://dadabhaigroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Dadabhai-Construction-Prequalification-Web.pdf. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[10] “Mohammed Dadabhai in Profile – Bahrain This Month.” https://www.bahrainthismonth.com/magazine/interviews/mohammed-dadabhai-in-profile. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[11] Tripathi, Aparna. “Qutub Dadabai, Managing Director, Dadabai Holding.” TBCY – Knowledge, Experience,  Wisdom (blog), February 5, 2021. https://tbcy.in/qutub-dadabai-managing-director-dadabai-holding/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[12] “Rediff.Com: Indian Family Builds Top Business Group in Bahrain.” https://www.rediff.com/money/2000/sep/13indian.htm. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[13] “Our History – Dadabhai Group.” https://dadabhaigroup.com/about-us-2/our-history/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[14]Dadabhai Group. “Prequalification,” n.d. https://dadabhaigroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Dadabhai-Construction-Prequalification-Web.pdf. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[15] Dadabhaiconstruction. “Home.” https://www.dadabhaiconstruction.com. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[16] “Our History – Dadabhai Group.” https://dadabhaigroup.com/about-us-2/our-history/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[17] “Rediff.Com: Indian Family Builds Top Business Group in Bahrain.” https://www.rediff.com/money/2000/sep/13indian.htm. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[18] “Our History – Dadabhai Group.” https://dadabhaigroup.com/about-us-2/our-history/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[19] “Dadabhai Group.” http://ttnonline.com/Article/5841. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[20] “Our History – Dadabhai Group.” https://dadabhaigroup.com/about-us-2/our-history/.08 Oct. 2022

 

[21] “Rediff.Com: Indian Family Builds Top Business Group in Bahrain.” https://www.rediff.com/money/2000/sep/13indian.htm. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[22]  T, Husain. “Mohammed Dadabhai, Chairman of the Dadabhai Group.” The Dawoodi Bohras Middle East (blog), December 31, 2020. https://me.thedawoodibohras.com/2020/12/31/mohammed-dadabhai-chairman-of-the-dadabhai-group/.

08 Oct. 2022

[23] “Mohammed Dadabhai in Profile – Bahrain This Month.” https://www.bahrainthismonth.com/magazine/interviews/mohammed-dadabhai-in-profile. 08 Oct. 2022

 

[24] Refinitiv

To cite this article please use:

“Dadabhai Group” Family Business Histories Research Project, New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum, 20 Mar. 2023, familybusinesshistories.org/spotlights/dadabhai-group