Khaleej Times issue of May 23, 1980 with George Chapman on the cover of the magazine.
As George Chapman’s funeral date approaches on November 14, anticipation is growing among those who knew and admired him. Fondly remembered for dedicating seven decades of his life to the Gulf region, the beloved long-time UAE resident left a lasting legacy in Dubai and beyond.
Chapman, who died in Dubai on October 29 at the age of 98, was a distinguished figure in the United Arab Emirates.
He served as former president of Port Rashid and held the position of general manager at Gray Mackenzie, now known as Maritime and Mercantile International. His career achievements were nothing short of outstanding, earning him the prestigious MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) award twice, first in Oman in 1959 and then in Dubai in 1978.
However, Chapman was not only known for his professional accomplishments but also for his vibrant personality, sense of humor, and dedication to his passions. In a statement to khaleej times, Vanessa, his eldest daughter, reflected on the wider impact of her father’s life, saying: “Our father was an extraordinary man who was a great communicator with people, all of which was aided by his tremendous sense of humour. He remained young at heart. And even at the age of 70, he completed a bungee jump! We shared a common bond in our love of Land Rovers, searching for stray animals, exploring and documenting history, and I will miss the sparkle in his eyes and his easy charm.”
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Katherine, his other daughter, said: “My father’s death marks the end of an era for Dubai and almost a century of life for him. Dad was a very kind and generous man and a renowned networker who did everything he could to “helping connect people socially and in business. In addition to his busy work life, he helped establish the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) and the Dubai International Seafarers Center (DISC).”
Left to right: DISC founders Jack Briggs, George Chapman, Bill Duff, Arthur Jarman
‘A true Dubai legend’
In memory of Chapman, a service will be held at Christ Church, Jebel Ali, on 14 November at 2.30 pm. A further gathering to celebrate his life will take place from 6pm at the Dubai International Seafarers Centre, an institution which he once presided over.
The news of Chapman’s passing saddened his friends and former colleagues, and many remember him fondly as an incredible gentleman and a true Dubai legend. Dozens of people flocked to the popular Facebook group ‘Dubai-The Good Old Days’, which has almost 24,000 members, to offer their condolences to him and remember the time they spent with him.”
Meri Lloyd Miller expressed her deepest condolences, saying: “Sad to hear of the death of another Dubai legend! Our deepest condolences to George’s family.” She recalled the first time she met Chapman in 1987, when she opened the George and Dragon pub in the Ambassador Hotel. “He became one of our regular lunchtime customers. An incredible gentleman with so many interesting stories to tell about his life and times in Dubai. We felt very privileged that George invited us to join him in his little oasis at home some Fridays.
Kamal Khiara, who cherished his friendship with Chapman, last met him in March 2022 and hoped to see him again during his next trip later this month.
Chapman’s former colleague Tim Cassey shared his thoughts, saying: “I had the privilege of working for George for many years. He was an extraordinary character and his wit, charm and enthusiasm really stood out. A truly astute businessman, his Stories of his early days in the Emirates and Oman were fascinating.”
Cassey added: “As well as being a director of Inchcape, Gray Mackenzie and MMI, he was a pioneer in the Emirates.”
Paul Davies, another colleague, fondly recalled his time working with George on the Gray Mack building in Creek when it was new in the mid-1970s.
He wrote: “Although I was very humble in the hierarchy, whenever I met George, he always had a kind word and an astute comment to make about my beard and my way of dressing. They were happy days and they will stay with me forever.”
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