Water technology company's anniversary also a celebration of how far the capital has come
Bin Moosa & Daly a part of the Abu Dhabi business story
The recent celebrations held for Bin Moosa & Daly’s 50th anniversary were as much a celebration of Michael Daly's father’s life and Abu Dhabi’s recent history as it was about the company.
Mr Daly often argues that his father, also called Michael, was “the first Irishman in Abu Dhabi”, having arrived in 1958 while working for BP to teach engineering skills to young Emirati students.
Mr Daly senior played a significant role in expat society as Abu Dhabi grew. He helped with the construction of the capital's first church after Sheikh Shakhbout granted land for the building that became St Joseph’s, which opened its doors in 1965. He also played a hand in the setting up of The Club, a private members’ club in Abu Dhabi founded in 1962 on land donated by Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, and became its first elected chairman.
“He was well known in Abu Dhabi - played a lot of golf, knew everyone,” says his son, Michael, who is Bin Moosa & Daly's managing director.
“So when you’re having a 50-year celebration a lot of it was about my dad. There was a 95-year-old lady there, Mrs Henderson. Her husband died long ago. He was an ex-British ambassador. But she is still here - courtesy of the Royal Family.”
Another guest was Fr Eugene Mattiolo, an Italian priest who has served in the region for decades.
“He knew my dad for 50 years,” Mr Daly says. “He’s still working in Mussaffah. I said, ‘Fr Eugene, you are 86, you are 60 years a priest - all of it in the Middle East. Isn’t it about time you retired, went back to Italy and enjoyed yourself?’. He said, ‘I’d get bored’.
“He retired two years ago, and then came out of retirement. He’s an amazing man.”
Many of the other guests were from companies whose equipment Bin Moosa & Daly supplies in the region.
“A lot of these are family businesses,” Mr Daly says, explaining that relationships with some of these firms stretch back almost as long as the company’s own history. The Australian company Davey Water Products has been supplying the company with water pumps of all sizes since 1969, for instance.
“We’re their biggest overseas customer,” he says. “We’ve been dealing with them since 1969. In 2005, they had just finished making their four millionth pump. They made two gold-plated pumps. They kept one in their head office in Melbourne and they gave one to me.”
Mr Daly says he had initially planned to follow in his father’s footsteps by working for BP after graduating from university in England, but eventually decided to go into the family business.
“To be honest, if you worked for a big company in those days you could get sent anywhere. I could have been sent to Alaska or Venezuela, and I just didn’t fancy being sent here and there.
“I was brought up here. I spent a lot of time here. It’s an unusual place. It’s unique in the Middle East. There is nowhere else like it. The tolerance, the lifestyle ... I’ve been working here for 42 years and I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Mr Daly turns 64 this month and although his son Luke is involved in the business running the Dubai showroom, he says he has absolutely no plans to retire.
“I don’t retire - it’s a family business and I want to stay. Like my dad, they’ll take me out in a box.”