Sir Naim Dangoor

Sir Naim Dangoor

Tributes have been paid to Iraqi-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Naim Dangoor, who has died aged 101.

Dangoor, who was knighted for his “extraordinarily generous philanthropy” in 2015, was this week credited with bringing Iraqi Jews together in the UK.

He arrived as a refugee in 1963, when the political situation in his native Baghdad began deteriorating, having earlier returned to Iraq to run numerous businesses, including Coca Cola’s franchise in the country.

In London, he built a successful property empire, before focusing on the disparate Iraqi Jews in the capital.

“He felt it was his duty to gather Iraqi Jews in this country,” said Rabbi Abraham Levy, the former leader of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews Congregation. “The task was not an easy one.”

Levy said The Scribe, a periodical which Dangoor edited, “gave Iraqi Jews the confidence to face their new lives in London”.

Dangoor himself always paid tribute to “this wonderful country” where “immigrants can restart their lives”.

He showed his gratitude by setting up a charity called the Exilarch’s Foundation. It made donations to educational and health causes, including millions to Cancer Research and Age UK, in addition to funding thousands of scholarships.  

As the grandson of the former Chief Rabbi of Baghdad, he was also keen to maintain his heritage, founding a centre for new Iraqi Jewish immigrants, in Kensington.

“He was a man of outstanding talents and versatility,” said Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush.

“He combined a powerful intellect, a gifted writing style and a humane vision.”

Edwin Shuker, vice-president of the European Jewish Congress, who was born in Baghdad said: “He was a visionary who saw things well ahead of his time. He established The Scribe which reached almost all Iraqi Jewish communities around the world. It always proved prophetically correct years later. If you go back to the older editions, who understand how he saw the contribution of Jews from Arab countries towards understanding the Middle East and the Arab world.”

Dangoor married Renée in 1947 who died in 2008. They had four sons.

“Dad always felt it was important for his children to see him giving something back,” said David Dangoor, who is now President of S&P.

Sir Naim’s funeral will be on Sunday in Golders Green.