Ibrahim Shaker … business pioneer, visionary, philanthropist
Ibrahim Shaker was a business pioneer in Saudi Arabia and a member of the Administrative Committee of the first Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jeddah, founded in 1946.
At that time, the Committee comprised 13 members of Jeddah’s elite traders.
His company (the Arab Trading Company), located on King Abdul Aziz Street in the heart of Jeddah’s commercial district, was one of the first to introduce air-conditioning to the Saudi Arabian market.
Successful in securing exclusive importation and distribution rights of several major international brands, Shaker’s business interests included household appliances and air-conditioning (General Electric), cars (Chrysler Group), pharmaceuticals (Merck), tyres (Michelin) and power generators (Reston and Hornsby).
Arab Trading Company installed air-conditioning in many prominent landmarks, including King Saud bin Abdul Aziz Palace in Jeddah.
Ibrahim Shaker is credited with having intricate knowledge of global trade conditions, a keen understanding of the strategies of the World Trade Centre, and held business partnerships with leading brands in diverse and different areas.
Trading at the time was not necessarily easy for Ibrahim Shaker, the task made more challenging by the difficulty of movement and primitive means of transport. In spite of his well-known hatred of travelling in planes, this did not prevent Ibrahim Shaker from travelling and moving within KSA and beyond that, as required by his business. He travelled from one area to another in a multi-vehicle convoy – this, in fact, was advantageous in many respects, providing him with a unique insight into the country, building trade relations, enriching his knowledge of micro-markets and developing an understanding of the differing needs in all regions of Saudi Arabia.
Ibrahim Shaker had a distinctive presence and was highly regarded, particularly in the western regions of Saudi Arabia, especially in the cities of Medina, Mecca and Jeddah. He was known as the “white hand” (“generous hand”) for his charitable support at the level of individuals and institutions alike.
Ibrahim Shaker’s grandson, Hassan Ghazi Shaker, now oversees the highly successful Shaker Group company and its many subsidiaries, inheriting the traditions, initiative, courage and ambition which built a successful company for many generations to come.
(The photographs at left show Ibrahim Shaker in the late 1940s – his location in King Abdul Aziz Street, and in front of the Chrysler division of his company in Jeddah, with foreign business associates.)