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Kenya Tourism industry mourns Mombasa elder Zul Harunani

IN MEMORIAM - ZUL HARUNANI: On January 10th 2018, social media was awash with the outpour of grief, mourning the loss of a much-loved personality and pillar of the community.

The hospitality and tourism fraternity both at the county, national and international level suffered the loss of an iconic luminary – Zulfikar Harunani a.k.a. Zul.

Zulfikar Harunani a.k.a. Zul | Coastweek


“Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”  - C. H. Spurgeon

Zul was ever the man in spotless white, lighting up any gathering with his warmth, radiance and positivity, a true gentleman who went way beyond the call of duty in extending and sustaining social, business and community networks.

His dynamism and constant engagement with people was a source of his energy and inspiration to many.

In 1984, Zul founded what was to become a brand – Shehnai, the family’s award-winning restaurant heading into its 35th year.

As the Managing Director, he realized his vision through sheer toil and determined drive with his constant quest for excellence in quality and service

Zul created some of the most memorable mughlai dining experiences while serving his patrons in person adding to the magic of Shehnai’s ambience.

Shehnai will forever remain a brand synonymous with Zul Harunani.

Indeed, what a genial host and a consummate hotelier he was!

Zulfikar Harunani a.k.a. 'Zul'.

Zul discovered early enough in life that his true calling was hotel management.

He was one of the pioneer students at the Kenya Utalii College in the mid 70s and then he proceeded to Glasgow, Scotland for further training. In the early 80s, he earned gainful experience at African Tours & Hotels, Mombasa Beach Hotel, Ngulia Safari Lodge and Diani Sea Lodge in both supervisory and management positions.

It was a matter of time before the entrepreneur inside him took over and the world witnessed the birth of Shehnai – serving authentic Indian Mughlai cuisine right here in Mombasa!

Zul also served as Director in yet another family business venture, Kitchen Masters since 1992.

“A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” - Shannon Alder

Shehnai grew from strength to strength as another member of Zul’s family, Mehboob Harunani joined as his right hand and General Manager, infusing new ideas into the business.

Zul’s brand soon won international recognition acquiring affiliations to KCTA, KHC, Skal International, FKE, Chaine des Rotisseur and Trip Advisor.

The icing on the Shehnai cake was its rise in status to becoming a classified five-star restaurant in 1999 and the accolades poured in one by one including ‘Chaine des Rotisseur’, Kenya National Chambers of Commerce, Mombasa County Awards (Tourism & Hospitality), International Hotel and Quality Award (Madrid, Spain) and certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor.

It is no wonder therefore that various dignitaries from the public and private sector, ambassadors, high commissioners, Hollywood and Bolly-wood celebrities, royals from the middle east and the County Governor, executives and other VIPs have visited Shehnai for a uniquely Indian culinary experience.

A man of small physical stature, yet larger than life, Zul always saw the glass as half full rather than half empty.

He took on senior leadership assignments and assumed chal-lenging responsibilities with confidence.

The mover and shaker that he was in the hospitality and tourism industry, his services to community – both at the county and country levels were vast.

He rose to become the Chairman of Mombasa Coast Tourist Association (MCTA) in 1989 and the Trustee of Kenya Coast Tourist Association since 2003.

He also chaired the board at APDK Bombolulu.

Zul was a member of the Skål Club of Kenya as well as an executive committee member and Conselliur Culinaire of Chaine des Rotisseur.

In 1993, he was appointed Director on the Board of National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation.

In 2002, he took over the helm as Chairman of Hotels and Restaurant Authority.

He served as a trustee of Mombasa Cultural Carnival and member of Fort Jesus Museum Advisory Board.

Zul’s social and voluntary spirit knew no bounds as he joined the Mombasa City Beautification Committee in 2002.

In 2015, he became the President of Federation of Kenya Employers (Coast) where he served till his last.

Zul hailed from the Nasserpuria Memon Community and he was instrumental in establishing the early childhood training course at Memon College, as well as serving as its founding board member in 1999.

He was the also the founding Chairman of the Memon Foreign Affairs Committee and continued to serve since 2006.

The man in white was admired at every level for being a stickler for time, discipline and decorum.

He made a profound impact in the various committees and organizations and the many portfolios he held simultaneously and discharged so successfully with dignity and accountability.

In the process, he has guided, inspired and mentored many a newcomer to the industry.

The impact of his contribution will last well beyond his years.

Softly the leaves of memory fall, gently we gather and treasure them all, unseen, unheard, you are always near, so loved, so missed, so very dear.  - Unknown

For his wife and three children Imtiaz, Saleem and Suhaila, here is a wonderful husband and father gone too soon.

For the Mombasa community and for our country, we lost a solid pillar of the tourism industry.

However, you cannot miss Zul Harunani as you walk into Shehnai Restaurant even today.

From the beaming usher clad in Indian attire to the soft instrumental music within, from the muglai delicacies to the vegetarian delights – all savored with Zul’s welcoming smile and his service par excellence.

Zul’s personal touch is never amiss in Shehnai.

Look for him …

May The Almighty grant him everlasting peace and a lofty abode in the hereafter.  Amen.



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