By Ashraf KHAN
The father and son aboard the missing Titanic tourist submersible hail from one of Pakistan’s most prominent and wealthiest families, who are known for their philanthropic contributions to the country.
Dual British-Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman, 19 — who together spent half a million dollars on an exclusive excursion — are part of the Dawood empire, which has become one of the most profitable in Pakistan.
The patriarch at the top of the chain, Shahzada’s father Hussain Dawood, is one of Pakistan’s richest men, according to local media.
After Pakistan was founded in 1947, the Dawoods provided funding to the government and were behind the first wave of industrialisation, said Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, a business tycoon and stock trader in Karachi.
“They set up major industrial projects and thus provided employment to thousands of people in the newborn country,” Dhedhi told AFP.
He described the family as being “one of the top philanthropic groups in Pakistan”, adding: “They don’t boast about any of it.”
The Dawood conglomerate includes Engro, of which Shahzada is the vice chairman. It boasts investments in energy, agriculture, petrochemical and telecommunications ventures and clocked a revenue of 350 billion rupees ($1.2 billion) in 2022.
Educated in the UK and the United States, Shahzada lives in Britain with his wife Christine, his son Suleman and his daughter Alina.
A family statement described Shahzada as a “loving father” with a keen interest in “photography, especially wildlife photography, and exploring different natural habitats”.
Suleman enjoys Rubik’s Cube puzzles, volleyball and “is a big fan of science fiction literature and learning new things,” it added.
Shahzada’s interest in exploration extends to space and he is a trustee of the California-based Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI), which looks for evidence of alien life, according to its website.
Shahzada and his family are perhaps most revered for their philanthropic work — particularly providing business and education opportunities for young people from low-income backgrounds.
Since the 1960s, the Dawood Foundation has focused on establishing education institutions across Pakistan — particularly catering to the demand for engineers and technology experts.
Shahzada is also on the board of the Prince’s Trust in Britain — a charity that helps young people get jobs, education and training.
In February 2020, he was a keynote speaker on a panel at the United Nations on equality in agriculture.
“Women are under-represented in such an important fact, which is our food and our livelihood. We need to look at the perspective of women first,” he said.
Both Shahzada and his father Hussain were named in the 2016 publication of the so-called Panama Papers — a leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing secretive offshore accounts of the world’s rich and powerful.
Both were listed as having accounts in the British Virgin Islands between 2005 and 2009. — Agence France-Presse