The Parsi community of Karachi and Pakistan lost one of its great stalwarts on January 22nd, with the passing away of Byram D. Avari. Parsi Khabar offers its deepest condolences to the Avari family at the time of this loss.
Business tycoon Byram Dinshawji Avari passes away
Asian Games double gold medallist sailor, hotelier, business tycoon, politician and honorary consul of Canada, Byram Dinshawji Avari, passed away after a brief illness here on Sunday. He was 81.
Known better as a hotelier, business tycoon and politician, who represented his community of Zoarastrians in the National Assembly of Pakistan for a number of years, he was also the Chairman of the Karachi Parsi Anjuman. The Avari monogram of a yacht carried the biggest clue to something he held very dear to his heart. As a champion sailor, Mr Avari was not just the Commodore of the Karachi Yacht Club, a position he held in 1976 and 1980, but he was also a gold medallist in sailing.
He bagged his first gold medal in enterprise class yachting first at the 1978 Asian Games held in Bangkok with fellow sailor Munir Sadiq and then for a second time in the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi with none other than his own wife Goshpi, who he had coached himself.
Mr Avari was also the recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance award for sports in 1982.
A good swimmer, too, Mr Avari as a kid could only be found whiling away his free time in the Beach Luxury Hotel swimming pool. To get him out of there, his father, Dinshawji Avari, who had built the hotel, often had to bribe him with biryani, his son’s favourite dish. The family used to live right there in Khorshed Villa inside the hotel’s compound.
Taking over the family business from his father, Mr Avari also turned his attention to politics.
He became a member of the National Assembly a number of times, and played a significant role in highlighting some crucial social issues about minority rights. But later, he decided to withdraw from politics.
Following that he turned his attention to his hotel business. He was the chairman of the Avari Group of Companies operated by himself with his sons, the eldest of whom he had named after his father.
The group owns and operates the Avari Hotels chain, which include five-star deluxe hotels in Karachi and Lahore and the beloved and historical Beach Luxury Hotel. The group also manages hotels in the United Arab Emirates and Canada.
A kind-hearted soul, Mr Avari had several times allowed use of his hotel halls for free along with free catering whenever there was a need for a good cause.
Mr Avari had been in hospital for the last 20 days for an intestinal infection. He was responding quite well to medication, too, until the last week when his infection levels went up.
He leaves behind his wife and sailing partner Goshpi Avari, two sons Dinshaw and Xerxes and a daughter Zeena.
As the news of his passing became known, condolences and tributes started pouring in from all over. While expressing his grief at his passing, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said Mr Avari was a humble human being, whose work for the country and for his community would always be remembered.
Paidus/funeral prayers will be held at Khorshed Villa, his home inside the compound of Beach Luxury Hotel, at 1pm on Monday, followed by Sarosh prayers at sunset the same day and also on Tuesday.
Byram D Avari — The man who took sailing to new heights
One of the highly respected, prominent businessmen and sports personality, Byram Dinshawji Avari, passed away in Karachi on 22nd January 2023 (Sunday night). He was 81. Avari was awarded with the Pride of Performance for Sports in 1982. He, along with his sons, owned and operated the Avari Group of Companies – a leading hotel management company in Pakistan — of which he was the chairman. The group owns and operates Avari hotels which include a five-star deluxe hotel in Lahore, five-star Avari Towers and seafront Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi. The Avari Group is the first Pakistani company to have obtained international hotel management contracts: they operate a 200-room 4-star hotel in Dubai in United Arab Emirates and manage 200-room Ramada Inn in Toronto at Pearson Airport in Canada.
Byram Avari won Asian Games gold medals two times in sailing for Pakistan. The Pakistan Sailing Federation (PSAF) is the national governing body of the sport in the country. In the beginning, sailing activities were undertaken by the Karachi Yacht Club (KYC). However, the Pakistan Yachting Association (PYA) was formed in 1969. Byram Avari served as commodore of the Karachi Yacht Club in 1976 and 1980. In 1996, the name of PYA was changed to the PSAF. In Pakistan, sailing is restricted to Karachi only as no other city of the country is situated near sea. This game was considered to be the past time of philanthropists and Pakistan Navy personnel, who enjoy sailing off shores or pursue it for gaining professional efficiency. Pakistan’s first proudest moment in sailing came in 1978 when pair of Byram Avari, business magnate, and Munir Sadiq, Pakistan Navy, won Enterprise Class gold medal in the 8th Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand in 1978. The victory, which came as a big surprise, opened a new chapter in Pakistan’s sports history as the nation went on to dominate in that class for no less than 16 years before surrendering the title at the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994.
It is interesting to note that the duo had entered the competition on their own. The most significant thing of the Bangkok feat was that as sailing was not officially recognised, the pair were not sponsored by the Government and they had to foot their own bill. The gold medal was the fruit of their hard work, perseverance and patience. The sport gained instant recognition in the country. The triumph, a new beginning, paved the way for the Government to grant official status to the PSAF. Byram Avari again won gold medal in the same class at the 1982 Asian Games in India. This time Avari’s partner was his wife Goshpi Avari.
Pakistan won their second gold medal in OK Dinghy Class through Khalid Akhtar in the 1982 Games. No doubt, these yachtsmen put Pakistan’s flag on top in Asia. A new Enterprise pair of water- oriented Naval officers Munir Sadiq and Mohammad Zakaullah emerged on the horizon and kept the country’s flag high at the Seoul Asian Games 1986 and Beijing Asian Games 1990. Pakistan’s supremacy surprisingly came to a halt when Munir sailing with his younger brother Mamoon, also a Naval officer, were relegated to silver medal at Hiroshima in 1994. The Munir-Mamoon pair for the second time had to be content with silver medal at the Bangkok Asian Games four years later. At the same Games, Naval officer Zahid Rauf also did the country proud when he captured bronze in Super Moth class. Thus it became the fourth boat after Enterprise, OK Dinghy and Optimist in which Pakistan excelled by finishing on the podium at the Asian level. Pakistan grabbed their third silver in Enterprise this time through the pair of Shehryar Arshad and Mohammad Riaz in the Asian Games at Busan, South Korea in 2002. Apart from the Asian Games, Pakistan sailors have brought numerous laurels to the nation in the World Enterprise, Asian Regatta and Optimist. In all, Pakistan won 10 medals — five gold, three silver and two bronze — in sailing competitions at the Asian Games. For these victories and medals, Byram Avari, a star of Pakistan sailing, laid the foundation.