Founder & Chairman | Al Dobowi Group
Surender Singh Kandhari is renowned for many things, from the business acumen that built Al Dobowi Group from the ground up, to building the only Gurudwara in the UAE, and for penning a book that encourages growth and healing on a soul level. However, to those that have had the privilege of interacting with him, he is most known for leading by example.
In a capitalist world, Kandhari lives his life by the principles of Sikhism and its pillars. A spiritual man, he truly embodies the pinnacle of humanity’s best. He practices giving without discrimination and fosters goodwill in those whose lives he touches, creating a beautiful chain reaction that works like a helping hand for many more in need.
Upon reaching Dubai in December of 1975, Kandhari found himself in a city where people from all over the world interacted harmoniously, and He immediately felt at home. Inspired, he chose to lay the foundation for his business enterprise – Al Dobowi Group – in this fast-growing city.
Over the next 46 years, the Group’s growth kept pace with the development of the thriving, tech-savvy metropolis it was birthed in. Kandhari felt the generosity of God as Al Dobowi Group prospered and grew into an international player in the tyre management, power storage, industrial rubber, material handling and fluid management industries.
The Group provides tailored automotive and industrial solutions to Fortune 500 goliaths such as Coca-Cola, Walmart and OHL. However, no amount of time or success would have altered his spirit. Shaped by his experiences with his grandfather and his devotion to Guru Nanak, it seems almost inevitable that he would act on his compassionate worldview and work to uplift people.
A passionate believer in learning from the experience of others, Kandhari holds a deep respect for his elders in his heart. It was his beloved grandfather’s request to build a Gurudwara that drove him to build the first ever one in the UAE.
Manifesting a Spirit/ Building a Soul / Nurturing a Acommunity
The first gurudwara shared space with the temple premises in Bur Dubai. Until January 2012, when His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai bestowed 25,000 square feet of land upon Kandhari in Jebel Ali Garden to build a new one. The Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple has gone on to become the most famous and photographed gurudwara in the world, after the Golden Temple.
The principles of Guru Nanak, the founding father of Sikhism are upheld strongly in the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple. In this community centre, everyone, regardless of caste, creed, gender or nationality, is welcome and served free meals known as langars. This benevolent equality was sustained even during the pandemic when serving food was not permitted. The gurdwara adapted by getting requisite permissions to serve pre-packaged food to as many as 1,000 people on weekdays and up to 6,000 people during the weekends. As an act of humanitarianism, it hits the rare spot between true equality and religious adherence that rings true.
A Pen Wielded Against Swords of the World
Apart from his business and the building of the gurudwara, Kandhari is also known fondly as an accidental author. A talented wordsmith, he has penned three books, the latest of which is ONE: The Spiritual Search. An attempt to share the legacy of generational wisdom with the youth of today, he relates his perspective on true spiritual belief and how it is often confused with the performance of rituals.
This ability to see to the crux of the issue and deal with it directly while detaching from the myths that surround it is part of what makes his philanthropic engagements so effective. A close look at his charitable works reveals his ideology; improves the world enough today to sow the seeds for a better tomorrow – sometimes quite literally.
A part from supporting Guinness-World- Records’ breaking green initiatives that encourage children to interact with nature by nurturing saplings at home, he also runs a charity that provides 30 orphans with education, food and shelter. However, ingeniously, it stipulates that these 30 children must, in turn, support another child in need once they gain independence and begin to work.
Thus, the cycle o f giving continues multi fold. A system set in place 38 years past, it continues to spread goodwill to this day, with notable beneficiaries supporting up to two children today. Kandhari’s assistance to the world doesn’t stop there. An educational institution for young girls that doubles as an orphanage with 85 children also enjoys his support. Moving to global causes, he found himself deeply moved by the Ukraine crisis and facilitates access to food and water in the camps by building food centres along the country’s border.
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