When the ‘big ships’ started to dock with regularity in the mid 1970’s , disgorging their human cargo on to the quaysides of Dubai, there was only one thought in the minds of that early generation of expatriates who arrived from the sub-continent and beyond: To make money and send it home to their families. The first was easier than the second.
Work was aplenty at the beginning of the Dubai boom – but financial infrastructure was in its infancy. Sending money across continents was not the simple affair it is today. And for unsophisticated and often poorly-educated laborers, this was a major worry. Who could they trust with their hard-earned wages? Who could they depend on to get the cash to their dependants - safely and without delay?
The answer to both was a Corporation whose name was synonymous with trust – Al Ghurair. The Dubai-based conglomerate had pioneered many business initiatives and was among the first to anticipate the mass migration of workers to the UAE. So in 1973 it set up a financial facility to cater to their needs. Today it is known as Al Ghurair International Exchange.
One of the very first money exchange houses in the Gulf, Al Ghurair International Exchange has grown with Dubai over four decades and now offers numerous financial services at premium locations throughout the UAE. But the remittance sector retains a special place in the corporate heart and history of the company.
That’s because it not only fuelled the growth of parent group Al Ghurair Investment but of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE. For how many foreign workers would have come to these shores without the assurance of a reliable remittance sector – without the certainty that their toil and sweat would guarantee a better life for their families back home?
For this reason, Al Ghurair International Exchange has always been keenly aware of the social importance of its remittance services; knowing that each and every money transfer is about more than cash alone.
It’s about exchanging a father’s toil and sweat for the schooling of his children; a mother’s tedious days of domestic service for the care of elderly parents – or a son or daughter’s long hours in the workplace for the little plot of land that will make the family’s dream come true.
Today, more than 80% of the UAE’s population is made up of expatriates. That’s 6.4 million foreign workers who remitted a total of 41 billion dirhams to their homelands in 2013. Some are high earners of course – but the vast majority are manual workers in the low-paid construction and service industries.
Whether a laborer, housemaid or shop assistant, every dirham they earn is important – both to them and to Al Ghurair International Exchange. When one of the UAE’s multi-cultural family of workers entrusts us with their remittance and collects their Pukka (original receipt), they enjoy the special satisfaction known only to breadwinners who have fulfilled their obligations for yet another month.
Then we begin to fulfill our obligations – getting that bread to the family table in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and too many other places to mention. No matter how remote or inaccessible. It is more than a commitment; it is a hallowed duty and we are honored to perform it.
Our customers know that Al Ghurair International Exchange is not only a byword for trust. It is a family business in a culture where family is the very foundation stone of society. We may not know the names, the faces – but they are none the less precious for that. Their family is our family…and we treat them as our own.