UAE/IRELAND. In major news, Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin has been named a recipient of the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Awards 2014 for the Irish abroad.
The accolade makes him one of a select group of people – and the first Irish person living in the UAE – to be recognised by the Irish government for outstanding contribution to Irish business and communities abroad.
The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were introduced by the Irish government in 2012 with the aim of recognising persons living abroad who have given sustained and distinguished service in key areas such as business, education, community, arts and culture, sport, charitable works and peace.
Colm McLoughlin has been nominated in the category of Business and Education, while his support of the Irish community in the UAE is also acknowledged.
The ten recipients of the 2014 awards were announced yesterday by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan T.D., who is on an official visit to the USA.
The Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, will present the ten awardees of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards at an official ceremony to be held later this month at Aras an Uchtarain, the official presidential residence in Dublin.
Minister Flanagan noted: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these remarkable people for what they have individually contributed to Ireland, to the Irish abroad and our international reputation.”
Following the news of his nomination, Colm McLoughlin said: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be selected for this award. Although it is designated as a personal award, I recognise that it belongs equally to many Irish people in the UAE, both past and present, who have supported the Irish community here. I am also delighted that the UAE is being recognised in this way.”
Colm McLoughlin arrived in Dubai in July 1983 and was part of a ten-man team from Aer Rianta, the Irish airport authority, who established Dubai Duty Free on behalf of the Government of Dubai.
He remained on as head of the operation and has been the driving force behind establishing Dubai Duty Free as a US$1.8 billion business with a global reputation. The Irish Village, which is part of Dubai Duty Free’s leisure division, is also hugely successful and employs 22 Irish staff.
Over the past three decades, McLoughlin has been an integral part of the Irish community in the UAE and as a result of his success as a business leader, he has greatly enhanced the reputation of Ireland and the Irish in the UAE.
Commenting on the major contribution made by the Irish diaspora over the years, Minister Jimmy Deenihan T.D., the newly appointed Minister for Diaspora Affairs added: “These ten people show the remarkable diversity of Ireland’s reach in the world. For the first time, there are awardees from the UAE, Korea and Russia, in addition to the more expected locations of Britain, the US, Canada and Australia.
“The nominations are made in different categories, but there is enormous overlap. For example, Colm McLoughlin is, deservedly, nominated for his business successes, and using that success to support Ireland’s reputation; but he is equally an unstinting supporter of the Irish community in Dubai. I want to congratulate them all and look forward to meeting them when they come over to Ireland.”
The Irish Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Hennessy, said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to Colm McLoughlin, who is the first Irish person in the UAE to receive this Presidential Distinguished Service Award.
“During his time in the region, Colm has been hugely important in helping to increase business ties between the UAE and Ireland and has always been readily available to visiting delegations, including the large trade delegation led by An Taoiseach which visited in January this year.”