Dubai: It has been a week since the demise of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, former Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. P.K. Abdul Kader, who had been attending to the personal needs of the late Sheikh Hamdan in his palace since 1968, is still heartbroken.
Speaking to Gulf News, the Indian expatriate from the state of Kerala shared fond memories of his special bond with Sheikh Hamdan that lasted for more than five decades.
It was his elder brother P.K. Kunju Mohammed, who was working at Sheikh Hamdan’s palace, who brought Abdul Kader over to Dubai. “I came here to work in the palace along with my brother. I have never worked or lived anywhere else all these years,” the grandfather of 13 said over the phone.
Soon after his arrival in 1968, Abdul Kader received the important responsibility to attending to the personal needs of Sheikh Hamdan.
Serving him at home and abroad
His job included serving food and medicines to Sheikh Hamdan and accompanying him on some of his trips abroad, Abdul Kader recollected. “Late Sheikh Hamdan was an embodiment of kindness. His charity works are countless. He treated me very kindly. There was no dearth of any facility for any of his employees in the palace. All of us have been taken care of very well.”
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Abdul Kader said he had accompanied Sheikh Hamdan to London and Morocco. “I would have never gone to those places had I not been working with him,” said Abdul Kader.
Currently, holding the job title of housekeeping-in-charge, Abdul Kader and his family have been living in a three-bedroom villa in the premises of Sheikh Hamdan’s palace in Zabeel.
“There are a large number of employees of different nationalities working under various sections of the palace. Sheikh Hamdan was very particular about the wellbeing of all of us. When any employee fell sick and needed to go out of the palace for treatment, Sheikh Hamdan would keep them here and offer them treatment. Some were even sent abroad for treatment. We all have benefitted greatly from his generosity. Our families have prospered because of our jobs with his palace. Our children got educated and married with Sheikh Hamdan’s support.”
Special bond with Kerala
“There are many from Kerala still working in the palace. Sheikh Hamdan has always shared a special bond with Kerala and its people who form one of the largest expatriate communities here. His charity initiatives have helped people from across the world, including our homeland in Kerala,” said Abdul Kader who hails from Thrissur district in Kerala.
One of the four children of Abdul Kader also works in a stable of Sheikh Hamdan. “He still stays with me in the palace premises. My other children have gone back to Kerala. Everyone has been extremely sad after hearing about his passing away. This is an irreplaceable loss for all of us. We will always cherish the great memories with him. There has not been a single day when we have been able to hold back our tears,” said Abdul Kader who continues to oversee the daily operations at late Sheikh Hamdan’s majlis.