TRIBUTES have been pouring in for pioneering Bahraini businessman Mubarak Jassim Kanoo who died yesterday at the age of 88.
Mr Kanoo, who was chairman of Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo (YBA Kanoo) Group, was a visionary and a pillar of the community in Bahrain.
Born in 1930, he achieved his undergraduate degree from American University of Beirut and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1970.
In 1951, he took over the family’s travel business, Kanoo Travel, which was made up of three employees at the time and in the same year achieved IATA (International Air Transport Association) status.
Kanoo Travel is one division in the YBA Kanoo Group, a conglomerate which also includes industrial and energy, shipping and logistics, real estate and Kanoo Capital.
“Bahrain has lost one of its founding pillars in every aspect including business, philanthropy, knowledge and diplomacy,” said parliament first vice-chairman and senior Bahraini arbitrator Ali Al Aradi.
“We aren’t just speaking of a pioneering family business leader, we are speaking of an iconic figure for every Bahraini who wants to be something in life.
“I lost a mentor. I learned a lot from him and I wouldn’t have been the person I am today without his guidance, directly and indirectly. This is a black day for Bahrain, it can’t be described in any other way, the person we are speaking about has contributed towards building hospitals, schools and even supporting those in need.”
YBA Kanoo is one of the largest, independent family-owned multinational businesses in the Middle East with an extensive portfolio of complementary business units and strategic partnerships across a range of industry sectors.
Established in 1890 as a family trading and shipping business in Bahrain, the company has evolved into a diversified conglomerate with a physical presence across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia.
Mr Kanoo also established trading licences in Dubai in 1961 and Abu Dhabi in 1963.
In 1984, Mr Kanoo’s role in strengthening commercial relations with Britain was recognised by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and received the Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire.
In addition to his responsibilities in YBA Kanoo Group, Mr Kanoo was also chairman of AXA Insurance (Gulf), Aeradio Technical Services, Bahrain Ship Repairing and Engineering Company and Bahrain Philanthropic Society, as well as the president of Bahrain Japan Business and Friendship Society.
Capital Trustees Board vice-chairman and businessman Mazen Alumran described Mr Kanoo as one of the businessmen who shaped the country during its modernisation era.
“Mr Kanoo was a close friend of my late father, Bahrain’s first education minister Ahmed Alumran, and my late father-in-law and pioneering businessman Yousif Almoayyed, who all contributed towards the development of this country,” he said.
“Mr Kanoo was also close to the late Amir Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and accompanied him everywhere in foreign trips alongside the late top businessman Mohammed Jalal, due to their knowledge in several fields and the feedback they would give to persuade investors to come here.
“We (have lost) a pioneer who didn’t just make profit from business, but contributed towards building several mosques, community projects, and even infrastructure.”
Mr Kanoo is survived by his wife and his daughter, Mona, and his siblings Dr Adbullatif Kanoo and Lulwa Kanoo.