By Ben Garcia
Mohd Abdur Raouf Mowla, a Bangladeshi expat, has spent 44 years in Kuwait. On March 27, 2021 Mowla and his family will fly back to Dhaka for good. Without any regrets, 65 year-old Mowla is concluding his four-decade stay in Kuwait, where most of his dreams and ambitions came true.
“With all honesty, I am fully satisfied and contented. I am grateful to Kuwait for helping me achieve what I’ve achieved and what I am now,” he said. “I left Dhaka when I was 22 at the invitation of my uncle. I had only completed two years in college at that time, but I needed to help my family.” Mowla arrived in Kuwait on Nov 3, 1977, when most of the areas in the country were undeveloped, streets were unpaved and roads were deserted.
“At that time there was no money involved in coming here. It’s wasn’t too hard, there were no hassles and I immediately got a work visa,” he said. “I got a job as an electrician at Al-Nafissi and Farouki General Trading Company in Shuwaikh. I worked there for two years, then transferred to National Industries and became part of their team at the electricity maintenance department, where I stayed for five years. From there I moved to the Ministry of Electricity and Water, where I worked as an electrical supervisor from 1983 till June 2020,” he recounted.
Mowla is also the General Secretary of the Bangladesh Journalist Union-Kuwait, President of the Awami League Kuwait Central Committee, Editor of the Monthly Morulekha-Kuwait, life member of Bangladesh Manobadhikar Council-Dhaka, Chairman of Kuwait Bangladesh Integrated Company Limited and President of International Media Forum.
Mowla said his decision to retire to Bangladesh was triggered by several predicaments he faced during the 2020 pandemic. His children also want him to be with them in Bangladesh – they want their dad to retire and stay at home and enjoy life. But for Mowla, retirement is not in his vocabulary yet, as his new life has just started after he agreed to retire from the ministry of electricity and water in June 2020.
“My plan is to continue my business venture in Bangladesh while I am still capable of doing so and my health is still okay. I am happy that with my job here and my additional income during my stay, I managed to save money and invest in real estate. Now I have passive income flowing to my bank account,” Mowla admitted.
“I have two flats, plus a commercial building which I have rented to a bank and supermarket on its first and second floors respectively. I am receiving monthly rent from these two commercial entities. I also have shares in two buildings built together with 40 other Bangladeshis in a cooperative scheme. I have also bought land for my future use, along with a building I am currently trying to erect in Dhaka, which will be my future home. The first floor will be occupied by my family and the remaining storeys will be for commercial purposes,” he said.
From 1983, Bangladeshis began flocking to Kuwait in search of jobs and greener pastures. But as their numbers grew, stories of human trafficking and fraudulent recruitment abounded. “In 2000, I decided to establish the ‘Monthly Morulekha-Kuwait’ magazine, and it became the voice of many of our compatriots seeking help from the embassy and our government. It was eventually recognized by the Kuwaiti government as being the first Bengali journal in the country,” said Mowla.
“My heart was never complete without helping others, and it served as my vehicle to help. Since I established this magazine, I become popular among my countrymen. I am always called to help and share something with the community. I became the source of news for Bangladeshis. It was a fulfilling job and I will never forget the sense of patriotism of our people and the inspiration they contributed to make me a public servant and a community leader,” he added.
According to him, the ‘Monthly Morulekha-Kuwait’ magazine will serve the Bangladeshi community even as he leaves Kuwait for good. “I transferred the management of my magazine to my trusted man here. I will remain the editor of the magazine since distance is no longer an issue in this era of technology,” Mowla said. Himself and rest of his family members will leave Kuwait with a grateful/thankful heart! “Goodbye and Thank you Kuwait! Till God permit us to meet again, thanks Kuwait to all your generosity and love and for embracing me and my family,” he concluded.