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Tue 25 Feb 2014 02:19 PM

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UK banker who helped transform Dubai to be buried in emirate

William Duff, who served as an advisor to the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum, died last week, aged 92

UK banker who helped transform Dubai to be buried in emirate
William Duff was financial advisor to Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, pictured here in 1979.

William Duff, the British banker who helped transform Dubai into a financial powerhouse, serving as an advisor to its ruling sheikh, will be laid to rest at the Christian cemetery in Jebel Ali on Wednesday.

Duff, a Scot, who died of natural causes aged 92 last week, came to Dubai after a stint as a banker in Kuwait and became financial advisor to the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum in 1960.

He is survived by his wife, Irenka, two daughters, Diana and Sheila, and four grandchildren.

When Duff arrived in Dubai, the emirate's population was about 50,000; it survived largely on fishing, herding and small-scale trade across the Gulf in wooden dhows.

Duff set up the Dubai Customs Department and Department of Finance, helped to establish the emirate's electric utility, and was later instrumental in creating the Jebel Ali Free Zone, which includes the biggest port in the Middle East.

The emirate is now the region's top financial centre, with a population above 2 million.

An Oxford-educated Arabist and classical Arabic speaker, Duff navigated the inner circle of the ruling family in the days when his employer and other senior royals spoke little English.

Kifah Elmousa 5 years ago

great people die and live in the memories of every one who ever met them or never have, but affected by reading their history.

My deepest condolences to the family and the people of Dubai.

Syed 5 years ago

Honourable men do their work in silence and go away, but their work will shine forever

Spencer Soyemi 5 years ago

Rest in perfect peace! You have become a mentor to me, even in your death.

bharat bhatia 5 years ago

i think i personally met mr. duff in dubai in 1965 -66. he spoke fluent arabic and translate our problems to h.h. sheikh rashid bin saeed al maktoum. very cool person and travelled to scotland with royal family. Bharat Bhatia.