Naim Dangoor, businessman and philantropist, Died at 101

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Sir Naim Eliahou Dangoor was born on April 1914, and died on November 19, 2015.

He was a British-naturalised Iraqi-born Jewish entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Eliahou was born in Baghdad in April 1914, the second of six siblings.

His father Eliahou Dangoor was the world’s largest printers of Arabic books, and his grandfather Hakham Ezra Reuben Dangoor was the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad.

In the 1930s Eliahou made the five day journey from Baghdad to London, at the age of 17, in order to enrol in an engineering degree at the University of London.

After graduating, Eliahou returned to Iraq, where he was conscripted into the army and became an officer.

It was during his army training that he met his future business partner Ahmed Safwat.

Initially on leaving the army, Eliahou had hoped to become an engineer on the railways, but due to restrictions imposed upon Jews this was not possible, so he and Ahmed, a Muslim, decided to go into business together, setting up Eastern Industries in 1949.

Their first contract was to supply new windows to all Iraqi government buildings, and soon their portfolio grew to include property development and letting.

In 1950, Eastern industries secured the first contract to bottle Coca Cola in Iraq.

Alongside Eastern Industries, Sir Naim also ran factories producing matches and furniture.

In November 1947, Eliahou married Chinese-born Renée Dangoor (who had been crowned Miss Baghdad earlier that year). They went on to have four sons.

With the rise of the Ba’ath party in Iraq, the situation for Jews in the country worsened and in 1959 Eliahou took the difficult decision to take his family out.

Eliahou continued travelling back and forth for business until 1963, when he decided that the worsening political situation made it too risky for him to return.

As a result of laws specific to Jews, Eliahou lost his Iraqi citizenship, and his property and business interests were taken by the government.

Eliahou was eventually permitted to settle in the UK where he set about rebuilding his life, setting up a property business that his four sons went on to join.

Sir Naim Eliahou passed away at age 101 in November 2015.

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