The OceanGate Titan submersible dominating global headlines lost connection and went missing an hour and forty minutes into its expedition on Sunday. 

U.S. and Canadian navies, marine authorities and commercial deep-sea companies began a frantic search beneath the North Atlantic Ocean.

It was confirmed through a statement by the Dawood family that Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Sulaiman, were onboard the vessel.


But who are the Dawoods? 

The Dawoods are a prominent business family primarily based in Karachi. Shahzada’s grandfather, Seth Ahmed Dawood, migrated to Karachi from Bombay when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.

He and his brothers started Dawood Corporation Ltd. In the following decades, Dawood founded several businesses and chaired companies in a plethora of industries including cotton, textiles, paper, consumer goods, oil, logistics, insurance, jute, chemicals, motorbikes, home appliances, electronics, and fertiliser industries in East and West Pakistan.

Seth Ahmed Dawood was a major figure in the industrialisation of Karachi. Pakistan’s former president Ayub Khan would often consult Dawood on trade and industry affairs.

Seth Ahmed Dawood with former president of Pakistan, Ayub Khan

When Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971, Dawood lost his factories in Dhaka and Chittagong. Back home in Pakistan, the nationalisation process initiated by the government led to him losing his most profitable industrial projects. One of these projects, Dawood Petroleum Limited, became an official part of PSO (Pakistan State Oil) in 1974.

In spite of the massive losses, Dawood continued to develop projects on a relatively smaller scale. The fertiliser business founded by the family in 1965 eventually grew to become one of the biggest companies in the country today: Engro Corporation.

Engro operates through four divisions: Food & Agriculture, Energy & Related Infrastructure, Petrochemicals, and Telecommunication Infrastructure. Shahzada, who is lost somewhere at the bottom of the North Atlantic with his son, is currently the acting vice-chairman of the company.

Pakistan’s philanthropists

The family also set up a not-for-profit foundation called The Dawood Foundation. It has financially assisted Pakistanis affected by the 2005 earthquake and the catastrophic 2010 floods. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in Pakistan, Shahzada’s father Hussain Dawood, pledged one billion rupees on behalf of Engro Corporation and Dawood Hercules Group, another company predominantly owned by the family.

Moreover, the foundation has funded a variety of formal and informal education projects, the most notable ones including Dawood University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi School of Business and the Mariam Dawood School of Visual Arts and Design at Beaconhouse National University.