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Ahmad Adaya, 78; Real Estate Tycoon Helped to Found Muslim School

February 17, 2006|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Ahmad Adaya, a founding partner of a prominent California commercial real estate company who also helped found the New Horizon School for Muslim religious education in Southern California, has died. He was 78.

Adaya died Sunday at his home in Santa Monica of complications after a heart transplant, said his daughter Nasreen Haroon.

In 1986, Adaya and three partners established Investment Development Services, now called IDS Real Estate Group. Their acquisitions included the Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica, where Adaya kept an office in recent years. The majority of the company's other holdings were industrial properties.

When the Islamic Center of Southern California established the New Horizon School in 1984, with four branches in Southern California, Adaya donated land for the Westside campus and the money to build an auditorium for the Pasadena campus, said Anis F. Ahmed, principal of the Westside campus.

Adaya helped sponsor exhibits of Islamic art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and funded the publication of a 2005 book about the museum's Islamic collection.

"Mr. Adaya was a very smart man, a gentle man, who exuded tranquillity and contentment," said Linda Komaroff, curator of the Asian Art Center at LACMA. "I think he considered himself a blessed person."

Born in Bantva, a village northwest of Bombay, India, in 1927, Adaya worked as a young man with his father and an uncle in the salt distribution business. He married Amina Dada in 1946. The couple had a daughter before relocating to Pakistan when the territory was partitioned to create an Islamic republic in 1947.

He earned a bachelor's degree in economics at Pakistan's Karachi University in 1950 and went into the textile business as a distributor of yarns made in Japan and Europe.

While on a family vacation to Southern California in the mid-1970s, Adaya had a heart attack and decided to recuperate in the United States. From then on, he and his wife spent part of each year in Santa Monica until immigrating to the United States in 1976. Their six grown children -- five daughters and a son -- also settled in Santa Monica.

Before founding his first investment company, Adaya began to buy and lease industrial properties in the Los Angeles area. After retiring from IDS in 2005, he helped found the Meridian Group, a property management company based in West Los Angeles.

He continued to support the Islamic Center of Southern California and its community outreach programs. He also contributed to Los Angeles-area community service and arts programs, including a women's shelter, an interfaith council and a community theater.

"Ahmad Adaya was remarkable in his ability to bring people together in a nondiscriminatory way," said Maher Hathout, a spokesman for the Islamic Center. "Muslim or non-Muslim, Pakistani, Arab, European or other. He was an equal-opportunity philanthropist."

In addition to his wife and children, Adaya is survived by 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Islamic Center of Southern California, 434 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles.

Contributions in his name can be made to New Horizon School Westside, 1819 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025.

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