Several prominent individuals in the UAE have condoled the death of Indian entrepreneur M.M. Ramachandran – popularly known as Atlas Ramachandran – who passed away in Dubai on Sunday.
“He was someone we all looked up to,” said Shamlal Ahmed MP, Managing Director, International Operations, Malabar Gold & Diamonds.
“His contributions to the gold and jewellery industry in the UAE are invaluable. At the peak of his career, he was arguably one of the most recognisable entrepreneurs in the Indian community.
He was instrumental in opening up people’s minds to buying gold jewellery in the UAE in the 90s. His hard work created a base that all other jewellery in the country, including Malabar Gold, was able to build on. He was truly a great marketer.”
Ramachandran was the managing director of Atlas group of companies. At its zenith, the group owned 48 jewellery outlets in the GCC and India, and operated two hospitals in Oman – while also running real estate businesses in India.
He was the first to start the practice of the daily announcement of gold rates, separately for 22 and 24 karat, through a telephone hot line. This was an instant hit among customers, and he was even appreciated by the government of Dubai. When the Gold and Jewellery Group was formed in 1996, Ramachandran was appointed secretary – a post he held for six years.
A long-time resident of the UAE, Ramachandran was a prolific figure in the community. A keen artist, he enjoyed near celebrity status as a film producer, actor and a brand ambassador, acting in 13 films and directing one.
“In the 1990s and early 2000s, no matter what cultural program happened in the UAE, Mr Ramachandran would be there, both as a sponsor and a guest,” recalled Shamlal. “He was a keen supporter of arts and he made sure to fund as many as he could.”
The Atlas group ran into legal trouble and Ramachandran was arrested in 2015. He was later released in 2018.
“He was in the process of rebuilding his empire,” said Shamsudheen, Managing Director of Nellara Group of Companies. “Last month, he had met with some Saudi-based investors who I had put him in touch with, and they were in talks to re-launch the Atlas brand in the UAE. His death truly comes as a shock to many of us.”
Since his release in 2018, Shamsudheen has been a constant companion of the entrepreneur. “He was truly a gem of a person,” he said. “Despite all the hardships he faced, he never once pointed fingers at anyone or said who cheated him off his hard-earned business. He took the blame upon himself and tried to learn from his mistakes.”
Shamsudheen said he will sorely miss the companionship of Ramachandran, with whom earlier this year he attended an event.
“I used to invite him to attend events with me and no matter how busy he was, he would always oblige,” he said. “He was always well-dressed, wearing either a sherwani or a suit, and was always smiling.”
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