MMI celebrates a 100-year journey from Dubai Creekside shipping agent to one of the world’s leading independent beverage distributors. Sharing in Dubai’s history and contributing to the rise of one of the world’s most vibrant cities, MMI has played its part in achieving world-class standards serving the hospitality industry, multinational consumers, international travellers and global connoisseurs in the UAE and beyond.

Embracing the wonderful tradition of Arabian hospitality, this is just the beginning of our remarkable story as we continue our exciting growth. A growth that will see the successes and achievements gained in the Middle East over the past 100 years further expand into Asia, Africa and beyond.

late 1800s:

entrepreneurial spirits

The Gulf plays a key role in shipping between India, Mesopotamia, Persia and the British Empire. Gray Mackenzie & Co., our founding company, was a pioneering general merchant and shipping agent, with an eye for opportunity along the trade routes from India to Europe. Over the next century, who knew what celebrations they would enjoy.


As Dubai seeks to build a reputation as a safe haven for shipping, Gray Paul & Co., a British acting shipping agent for British India steamers trading between India, the Gulf and Europe is established in Basra, Iraq. They will become Gray Mackenzie & Co. (Gray Mackenzie) in 1869.



Gray Mackenzie sees the importance of Dubai and successfully applies to be a licensed shipping agent here. Trade-ships have to anchor 5km off shore so Gray Mackenzie arranges cargo collection in wooden dhows.


Early 1900s:

Our 100 Year journey begins

part of the dubai family

As a key strategic partner to HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Al Maktoum, Gray Mackenzie & Co. opens our first office in Dubai.


Gray Mackenzie & Co rent their first office in Dubai, receiving their first official lease for a Dubai office from the Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum – written in his own hand.

1916 Letter


His Highness soon commissions the construction of Gray Mackenzie’s very own office building at the Creek.



open for business

Gray Mackenzie continues to support the ambitious growth of Dubai and opens its new headquarters, the maritime business gains pace, with oil tankers and offshore wells providing new trade. Dubai is becoming a key regional commercial centre in need of banks and security.


Original Gray Mackenzie & Co office, Bait Al Wakheel construction commissioned by His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.



The first bank opens in Dubai.


Dredging of the Creek allows Dubai to play a bigger role in regional shipping. Gray Mackenzie takes ownership of coastal tankers, dry vessels and powerful tugs.



The Dubai police force is formed.


Gray Mackenzie out-grows its first office premises and moves to the Al Ras building in Deira, still situated on Dubai creek, close to our roots.

Al Ras


Dubai and its neighbouring Emirates are seeing the benefits of stronger ties. The Trucial States Council is formed with the support of the British Government.

Trucial State Council


Gray Mackenzie is appointed to manage and operate Port Rashid.


united ambitions

The United Arab Emirates comes into existence with HH Sheikh Zayed as President. Shipping continues to burgeon and Dubai takes steps to ensure it is the regional hub, with rapidly expanding, state-of-the-art ports and Gray Mackenzie’s expertise at the heart of it.



One united family. The Trucial States become the United Arab Emirates.

UAE Family


After further dredging, Port Rashid is officially opened.

Port Rashid


Dubai’s first 5 star hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel (now known as the Radisson Blue Hotel) opens on Dubai Creek.


Jebel Ali Port opens the largest man made harbour in the world. Dubai government introduces the Liquor Licence system to control the sale of alcohol.

Jabel Ali Port Jebel Ali Port


growing global connections

As Gray Mackenzie & Co. changes its name to MMI, Dubai’s future is mapped by its ruler, HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with an ambition to become one of the world’s foremost destinations. Work sets about putting Dubai firmly on the global map and MMI is key to providing and redefining a world-class hospitality standard.


Gray Mackenzie changes its name to Maritime & Mercantile International LLC (MMI), following government legislation requiring that all agents/ trading companies’ business names accurately reflect their trade.

MMI Name update


MMI extends its retail operations in Dubai to Bur Dubai, Deira and Jumeirah.


A small airline launches in Dubai, with just two planes. Today, you know this airline as Emirates.

Emirates Airline Started


Port Rashid and Jebel Ali Port merge to form Dubai Ports Authority (DPA), a public enterprise, and MMI bids farewell to management of the Port. Today, DPA has become DP World, the third largest port operator.

Port Rashi and Jabel Ali Port merged


The first of many luxury hotels opens on Sheikh Zayed Road – The Crowne Plaza Hotel. MMI ensures they can show guests a truly good time.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel


The world’s first 7 star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, opens – making headlines across the planet. Again, MMI is at the heart of its unrivalled hospitality.

MMI divests its shipping business to ISS (Inchcape Shipping Services), a company owned by DPA (now DP World).

Burj Al Arab Hotel


MMI becomes a subsidiary of the prestigious Emirates Group. It’s a coming together of two proud Dubai success stories. 

Subsidiary of the prestigious Emirates Group


Dubai diversifies.

We specialise.

With Dubai expanding faster than almost any other city on Earth, fuelled by the hospitality sector and its support services and industries, MMI focuses purely on its beverage business. This specialisation provides new momentum at an exciting time.


MMI acquires management of Oman United Agencies (OUA), distributors and marketers of world leading beverage brands in Oman.


Dubai is now the world’s fastest developing city, with iconic developments rising in all directions. Dubai Marina is one of the key projects – the largest man-made marina on the planet.

Man made Marina


Sirocco is formed as a joint venture between the Emirates Group and Heineken for the marketing and distribution of beer in the region.

MMI also obtains Duty Free Dubai Ports (DFDP).


With Dubai hospitality booming, MMI takes the key decision to divest all non-core business units, and focus on its real passion – beverages. Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) is established to manage and operate the Emirates’ hospitality interests (restaurants, cafés and bars) in the UAE and abroad.

On January 4th, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum formally becomes the Ruler of Dubai – with an unstoppable ambition to fulfill his father’s vision.

Emirates Leisure Retail

2007-Present Day:

Expanding our horizons.

reaching new heights.

Weathering the storm of the global financial crisis, Dubai and MMI tackle the issues at home, while continuing to explore opportunities for growth abroad – undaunted, unwavering and united.


MMI consolidates its leadership position within the UAE through the partnership with Spinneys liquor Abu Dhabi and the opening of Al Hamra Cellar in Ras al Khaimah to service the Northern Emirates.

Partnership with Spinneys


The ‘Le Clos’ retail concept is launched by MMI at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3. It’s credited with changing the game for fine wine airport retailing.

ELR Australia (ELRA) is established to expand the business into Australia, primarily through the operation of the Hudsons Coffee chain.

Le Clos


Dubai Metro opens, enhancing the world-class travel and living experience for millions of Dubai residents and tourists.

International expansion: MMI begins operations in Maldives and Zanzibar.


The most globally talked about construction project, Burj Khalifa, opens after 6 years of rising. At 828m it defies logic – the world’s tallest building by an incredible 196m.

Burj Khalifa


A step into Asia: MMI partners with Thai distributor, Independent Wines and Spirits.


Open in Africa: MMI takes its first step onto mainland Africa and sets up shop in Dar es Salam.


Le Clos opens store number five at Dubai International Airport, including a flagship outlet on Concourse A – the terminal dedicated to Emirates A380 aircraft.

The UAE wins the bid to host Expo 2020 of which DP World is a premier partner.

Le Clos


MMI opens its 15th retail outlet in Dubai, which now has a population of 2.2 million people and attracts over 13 million visitors.


New partnerships, new opportunities.
Entry into India: MMI establishes a partnership with Dynamic Brands Ltd in the extensive Indian market and continues its African expansion, forming a strategic partnership with Edouard Garabedian in Ethiopia.
Dubai International Airport overtakes Heathrow to become the world’s top airport for international travel.

New Opportunities


2016: MMI celebrates its 100th anniversary in Dubai and continues on its remarkable journey.

MMI Celebrating 100years in Dubai