Representatives from academia, politics and business were present to see the First Minister, Professor Geoff Palmer OBE and Sir Tom Farmer CBE pay tribute to the much-loved businessman who moved from Bangladesh to Scotland in the 1970s.
The star-studded event took place at Britannia Spice, an exceptional restaurant founded by Dr Uddin. In 2006 alone both BIBA and the British Curry Awards named it Best in Scotland.
Professor Geoff Palmer OBE led the proceedings with a welcome addressthat focussed on Wali’s charitable works in both Scotland and Bangladesh. The assembled guests were delighted when the time came for the address from the First Minister, who is known to hold Dr Wali Uddin in extremely high regard. The Right Honourable Alex Salmond MSP said:
"In Scotland we pride ourselves in having concern for the common weal, the welfare of others. Few people in Scotland exemplify that concern more than Wali. As a businessman, a community leader and a humanitarian, he has been an inspiration. That is something with celebrating. So I am delighted to be with you this afternoon. I am proud to have been asked to provide the foreword for the biography. And I’m sure I join any people – in Scotland, Bangladesh and elsewhere – in wishing Wali many more years of service and success."
Dr Uddin took pride of place at the launch, seated at the top table with the First Minister, External Affairs and international development Minister Humza Yousaf MSP, Tom Farmer CBE and Chief Constable David Strang QPM amongst other venerable guests. Sir Tom Farmer CBE welcomed guests to "Leith, the capital of Edinburgh" and presented Dr Uddin with a certificate that he joked may represent Wali’s biggest achievement yet, that of Honorary Leither.
Professor Steve Chapman FRSE, FRSC, C.CHEM talked about the impact Wali had in advancing relations between Bangladesh and Scotland. And Sarah Boyack MSP discussed her recent trip to Bangladesh where she spent 10 days working with underprivileged children. She said: "Wali has so many fingers in so many pies and they are all very successful. I am so delighted to see so many people here making a commitment to help Wali change people’s lives for the better."
Guests were welcomed by a traditional Scottish bagpiper and members of Dr Uddin’s family dressed in the national dress of Bangladesh. Special praise was reserved for Dr
Uddin’s family and friends, including eight year old twin brothers, Tajrian and Takian Rashid, who both travelled from Bangladesh with their family to attend the launch. They stole the show, one dressed in the traditional kilt and one dressed in Bangladesh’s national costume. Delicacies from Dr Uddin’s native Bangladesh were served alongside specialities from across India. The food at Britannia Spice has won many awards and notaries such as Malcolm Chisholm MSP, Sarah Boyack MSP and Principal and Vice Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University, Professor Steve Chapman FRSE, FRSC, C.CHEM enjoyed a feast for the senses.
Prominent guests from Scotland’s Bangladeshi community mentioned that, such outstanding achievement of Dr Wali will enhance reputation of Bangladesh in Scotland. Young people Jahura Hussain MSYP (Member of Scottish Youth Parliament) for Edinburgh West praised Wali’s contribution towards her motivation in taking part on Scottish mainstream political activity, now she is elected MSYP.
The event was attended by over 150 honourable guests, many of who bought a copy of the biography to have it signed by Dr Uddin himself. Amongst them were famous community activities from Bangladeshi and Asian background, voluntary organisations and public services from all over the UK and Scotland. Proceeds from books sold at the event will go to the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed, a charity was founded in 1979 by Valerie Taylor OBE and a small group of Bangladeshi people.
The life story of Dr Wali and his services towards community work have been heralded as an example for others to follow. In honour of this, the highly noted journalist A.F.M. Sayeed has composed a book on Dr Wali’s life and activities. The book carries two titles, one in Bengali and the other in English version -Wali Uddin – Blessed Son of Two Nations – and is published by World Power Books.
Wali is respected both throughout Europe and Bangladesh as a successful Businessman, a community leader and an outstanding humanitarian. Having done a wealth of good work to promote Scotland and Bangladesh across the world, Wali is recognised as having forged great international relations between the two countries and the rest of the world.
President of the European Bangladesh Federation of Commerce and Industry, Wali is well known for his acumen in the restaurant profession. With his portfolio including the famous Verandah restaurant, Lancers restaurant and his most recent venture, Britannia Spice restaurant, Dr Uddin has extensive interests in the commercial world. Dr Uddin’s contribution to the restaurant sector was recognised in 2006 with BIBA’s Industry Personality of the Year award as well as the Asian Jewel Lifetime Achievement award.
Dr Uddin is also an active director of the Edinburgh & Leith Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors and Rotary International. Chair of the University of East London Business School Advisory Board, Wali is also a Director of the Council of the Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the UK and a founder member and Director of Britain in Europe. The Junior Chamber voted him Young Scot of the year in 1992.
This success in the business world has brought recognition from many sides. In 1984, Dr Uddin was the first Bangladeshi in Scotland to be made a Justice of the Peace. In 1993, he was appointed as the first Honorary Consul-General of Bangladesh in Scotland and in 1995 he was made a Member of the British Empire for his services to race relations. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, in 2003, was included in Debretts’ People of Today. In 2000 he was awarded a Doctorate in Business Administration (Honouris Causa) by Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. 2007 saw Heriot-watt University award Wali a Doctor of Letters, D.Litt., and Edinburgh’s Napier University award him Doctor of the University, D.University. Respected as a community leader in Scotland, Dr Uddin chairs the Council for Bangladeshis in Scotland, was a founder of Edinburgh’s Central Mosque and is a director of the Shahjalal Mosque and Islamic Centre. Dr Uddin is also Chairman of the Commonwealth Society of Edinburgh and the BanglaScot Foundation. He is a Director of the Edinburgh Mela, the vibrant festival founded by Edinburgh’s South Asian communities, and the Edinburgh
Bangladesh Samity. The proceeds of the book launch were donated by Dr Uddin to the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), a charity set up by Dr Valerie
Taylor OBE. The charity received over £350 and is hoping for more through the publicity raised – www.crp-bangladesh.org.