Syed Omar bin Mohamed Alsagoff



Syed Omar bin Mohamed Alsagoff (b. 1852, Singapored. 18 May 1927, Soekaboemi, Java),1 was the head of Alsagoff and Co. Ltd. and leader of the local Mohamedan community.2

Early life
Syed Omar was born in Singapore to a prominent family from the Hadramaut region in Arabia. The family had been associated with Singapore since its founding.3 When he was 20 years old, Syed Omar established the firm Alsagoff and Co. with his uncle, Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff. Syed Omar then left Singapore and represented the company in Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.4


Business dealings
Upon his uncle’s death in 1906, Syed Omar returned to Singapore and continued to run Alsagoff and Co.5 By then, the company was involved in real estate and also served as an agent for Muslim pilgrims travelling between Singapore and Jeddah.6 Through the business of bringing pilgrims to Mecca, Syed Omar became closely linked with Mansfield and Co. Ltd. and the Blue Funnel Line.7


In 1907, the murder of his business partner, Syed Abdul Kadir bin Abdul Rahman Alsagoff, made Syed Omar the sole proprietor of Alsagoff and Co.8 Rumours circulated that  he had instigated the murder as he was jealous of Syed Abdul Kadir’s share in the company.9 In 1916, Syed Omar was accused of breach of trust in the management of Alsagoff and Co.10

Contributions to the community
A successful businessman and philanthropist, Syed Omar came to be regarded as the head of the Mohamedan community in Singapore.11 He was often seen contributing to major events. For example, in 1922, Syed Omar welcomed the Prince of Wales with a miniature battleship, the H.M.S. Slamat, which cost him nearly $8,000. Built at the United Engineers’ Tanjong Rhu dockyard, the ship was towed by a tractor to the Town Hall where the full crew on board saluted the royal visitor. After the event, the vessel was used as a motor boat on the lake at Bukit Tunggal, Syed Omar’s residence.12


Syed Omar also contributed to the upkeep of Alsagoff Arab School, which was established in 1912 through a wakaff fund set up by the late Syed Mohammed Alsagoff. Syed Omar was appointed as one of its trustees. Promising that he would continue to maintain the school’s operations during his lifetime, Syed Omar contributed his own money towards the upkeep of the school.13

Arabic links
Syed Omar represented the interests of both the sultan of Hadramaut and king of Hedjaz, and was later honoured with high decorations in Turkey.14 He also served as an agent of Sultan Abdullah Alkathiri of Seywoon, Arabia, as well as the sultan of Muscat.15


Personal life
Syed Omar owned several houses in Singapore, including one on Rochor Road and another in  Woodlands,16 as well as the Omaran at Chancery Lane.17


Syed Omar died on 18 May 1927 during a visit to Soekaboemi, Java.18 His remains were brought back to Singapore and interred at the Alsagoff Mosque on Java Road, which housed the Alsagoff family tomb.19

Appointments
1907–1910: President, Muslimin Trust Funds Association of Singapore20
1910: President, Muslim Association21
1915: Member, Mohammedan Advisory Board22
1915: Member, Commission of the Peace for the Settlement of Singapore23
1916: Chairman, South Bridge Road Mosque management committee24

Awards
25

Osmanieh Order of Turkey
High Order of Sheriff Hussein, King of Mecca

Family
Grandfather
: Syed Ahmed bin Abdulrahman Alsagoff26

Uncle: Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff27
Brother: Syed Ali Alsagoff28
Wives: Two wives29
Sons: Syed Mohamed bin Omar Alsagoff, Syed Ibrahim bin Omar Alsagoff and Syed Ahmat bin Omar Alsagoff30
Daughters: Sharifah Zainab binti Omar Alsagoff and Sharifah Ayesha binti Omar Alsagoff31

Variant spelling
Sayyid ’Umar al-Saqqâf32



Author
Bonny Tan



References
1. More colony trade with Middle East sought. (1956, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 14; Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Late Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. More colony trade with Middle East sought. (1956, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9; Supreme court case. (1919, April 1). The Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Legal intelligence. (1917, February 15). The Malaya Tribune, p. 12; Supreme court case. (1919, April 1). The Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. The Alsagoff inquest. (1907, April 30). Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, p. 3; Supreme court case. (1919, April 1). The Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Roff, W. R. (2002). Murder as an aid to social history: The Arabs in Singapore in the early twentieth century. In H. de Jonge & N. Kaptein (Eds.), Transcending borders: Arabs, politics, trade and Islam in Southeast Asia (pp. 92–108). Leiden: KITLV Press, p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 305.8927059 TRA)
10. The Alsagoff estate. (1916, October 3). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Late Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. “H.M.S. Slamat”. (1922, April 7). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. The Alsagoff Arab School. (1923, October 12). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A. H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
16. Property auction. (1922, October 2). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 4; Contractor’s claim. (1924, January 30). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. [Untitled]. (1923, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Late Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 9; Funeral of the late Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 25). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 324. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
21. Muslim Association. (1910, February 18). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Moslem Advisory Board. (1915, June 18). The Malaya Tribune, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Social and personal. (1915, March 27). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. [Untitled]. (1916, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
26. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Acknowledgements. (1923, August 3). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
30. Late Syed Omar Alsagoff. (1927, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 16. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
32. Mohammad Redzuan Othman. (2002). Conflicting political loyalties of the Arabs in Malaya before World War II. In H. de Jonge & N. Kaptein (Eds.), Transcending borders: Arabs, politics, trade and Islam in Southeast Asia (pp. 37–52). Leiden: KITLV Press, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 305.8927059 TRA)



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Omar bin Mohamed Alsagoff, Syed, 1854-1927
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Philanthropists--Singapore--Biography
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Islam
Community leaders
Muslim businesspeople--Singapore--Biography