|Member of the European Parliament|
2 July 2019 – 31 January 2020
|Preceded by||Lucy Anderson|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Born||1950 (age 70–71)|
|Political party||Liberal Democrats|
|Alma mater||Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge|
Dinesh Dhamija (born 1950) is a British Indian business entrepreneur and politician. He is best known as the founder of online travel agency Ebookers. He was Member of the European Parliament for the London region serving for the Liberal Democrats. He was elected to the European Parliament in the 2019 elections and held the role until the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU.
Dhamija was born in Australia, the son of an Indian diplomat. He grew up in India, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands. He was educated at Mayo College, King's School, Canterbury and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he attained an MA in law.
He began his professional career working for IBM, but soon left to begin his own business. In 1980, Dinesh and his wife Tani started selling travel tickets from a kiosk at Earl's Court tube station in London. By 1983, the business venture had developed into Flightbookers, a travel agency with three established premises. The firm grew rapidly and, in 1987, was appointed General Sales Agent for Royal Nepal Airlines in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Over the next decade, the company became known across Europe and established offices in 12 countries.
In 1996 Dhamija was introduced to the relatively new idea of the Internet. Realising the potential, he began to raise funds for the development of an interactive branch of Flightbookers. In 1999 Ebookers became the first interactive online travel agency in the United Kingdom. Within a few years, the firm had established itself as one of Europe's leading travel agencies. In 2005, Dhamija sold Ebookers for £209m. He is now one of the wealthiest Asian residents in the UK, with an estimated worth of £100m as of 2004.
Dhamija was awarded the 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Management Today magazine. More recently, he was the founder and chairman of the Copper Beech Group, a firm involved in residential property development in Romania and education infrastructure in India.
Dhamija currently works as a Board Advisor for serviced apartment provider TheSqua.re.
Dhamija joined the Liberal Democrats in 2014. Then party leader Tim Farron asked him to be a business adviser to the party in 2016, and he is currently the party's Deputy Treasurer. In 2018 he put his name forward for selection as the party's candidate at the 2020 London Mayoral election but lost out to Siobhan Benita.
Dhamija was selected as a candidate for the 2019 European Parliament elections, voted second on the list for London. He took unsuccessful legal action in the High Court against his party to take the top list position, on the basis of being a minority ethnic candidate and Liberal Democrats diversity targets.
On 23 May 2019 he was elected as one of three Liberal Democrat Members of the European Parliament for the London Region.
- "The Andrew Davidson Interview: Ebookers founder plans to go far". The Sunday Times. 16 May 2004. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- "Dinesh Dhamija Member of the Faculty Profile". St. Gallen Symposium. 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- Adams, Richard (31 August 2002). "All the fun of the fare: Interview with Dinesh Dhamija, chief executive, Ebookers". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- "EU polls: Meet the desis on two sides of Brexit fight - Times of India". The Times of India.
- "Business interview: Dinesh Dhamija wants City Hall for the Lib Dems". Evening Standard. 28 September 2018.
- "London Board – TiE – Global Entrepreneurship Organization".
- "Dinesh Dhamija Guest Speaker Profile". Oxford Entrepreneurs. 20 April 2007. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- "London Speaker Bureau Bio".
- "NRI is expected to earn £85 million by selling travel website 'Ebookers'". NRIinternet.com. 3 December 2004. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- Griffiths, Katherine; "Travel giant Cendant takes over ebookers for £209m", The Independent, 3 December 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- "Dinesh Dhamija - Board Advisor - thesqua.re". thesqua.re.
- "Ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija bids to be Liberal Democrat Mayor". Evening Standard. 27 September 2018.
- Elgot, Jessica (25 April 2019). "Lib Dem European elections candidate loses legal row with party". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2019.