Indian Man, Who was Abu Dhabi’s ‘Employee No. 1’, Dies in Canada

Alfred Silvester looked into the correspondence of Shaikh Zayed with non-Arab countries for three decades.


Alfred Silvester, 82, who held a labor card that declared him as Abu Dhabi government’s Employee No. 1, passed away in Canada.

Silvester worked in Shaikh Zayed’s court for three decades and wore the Rolex watch gifted to him in 1968 by the first president of the UAE until his death, his nephew Edison James told Gulf News on Dec. 10. Silvester’s job was to look into all official and private correspondence of Shaikh Zayed with non-Arab countries.

During his job, he wrote letters to the heads of states of various countries, including Queen Elizabeth, and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The letter he drafted was translated into Arabic. After verification of its contents, it was signed by Shaikh Zayed.

Silvester was also awarded the Benemerenti Medal from the Pope for service to the church in 2004. “He passed away on Dec. 8 evening in Toronto where he had settled with his elder daughter after his retirement from the presidential court in Abu Dhabi,” James told the publication from Sharjah.

Silvester died in a local hospital in Toronto after suffering from a bout of pneumonia. His wife Dr Edith Alfred and families of their two daughters, Sheba David and Shyama Richard, were present at the time. Silvester will be remembered in condolence meetings held in Dubai and Sharjah this week.

In 2014, expats from Sakthikulangara — the place Silvester hailed from in Kerala — invited him for a special event to mark the 50 years of expatriate life in the UAE. The then Indian ambassador to the UAE, TP Seetharam, hosted a reception for him.

Silvester first came to then Trucial States in 1964 aboard a ship on a third class ticket. He worked for Lebanese firm Albert Abela at first. The chief engineer of the firm later put him through to the head of administration at the Qasr Al Hosn Palace at Abu Dhabi.

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