Colm McLoughlin to be honoured with the prestigious Presidential Distinguished Service Award 2014

30 September 2014

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, has been named as a recipient of the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Awards 2014 for the Irish abroad, making him one of a select group of people, and the first Irish person living in the UAE, to be recognized by the Irish government for his outstanding contribution to Irish business and communities abroad.

Dubai Duty Free is an airport retailer with a turnover of US$1.6 billion in 2012. Owned by the Government of Dubai, Dubai Duty Free manages all aspects of the retail operation at Dubai International Airport. McLoughlin is also Chairman of the Dubai Duty Free Foundation, a non-profit charity founded in 2004 under the auspices of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free.

Over the past 30 years, Colm McLoughlin has been an integral part of the Irish community in the UAE. Both in his highly successful professional career with Dubai Duty Free, and in his leadership roles across almost every Irish organization, he has played a hugely positive role in the promotion of Irish interests in the UAE.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman, Dubai Duty Free


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 recognize 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 recognized in this way.”

The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were introduced by the Irish government in 2012 with the aim of recognizing 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.

Announcing the ten recipients of the 2014 award, which will be presented later this month, Minister Flanagan said:

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these remarkable people for what they individually contributed to Ireland, to the Irish abroad and our international reputation.

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award acknowledges the many ways in which our diaspora contribute to Ireland. Whether through their charitable work, their support for Irish communities, or their contribution to the arts, their service and commitment to this country is a shining example to us all and I am delighted that they will be honoured by the President in such a fitting manner.

Engagement with the diaspora was a priority on my first official trip to Britain recently. I had very constructive meetings with the Irish community in the United States this week and I look forward to maintaining the strong connection to Irish communities throughout my time as Minister.”

Jimmy Deenihan T.D., 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.

“They are not all Irish born. Thomas Keneally, the wonderful writer, is first and foremost an Australian; but he is proud of his Irish heritage and has written and spoken about it. Niall O’Dowd has become one of the best known voices of the Diaspora here in Ireland. Taken together, this group show diverse talents: cultural awareness, business acumen, humanity, far sightedness and, in different ways, a concern to make the world a better place. I want to congratulate them all and look forward to meeting them when they come to Ireland”.

The recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards in 2014 are:

Arts, Culture and Sport

Fionnula Flanagan (US)
Thomas Kenneally (Australia)

Charitable Works

Fr. PJ McGlinchey (Korea)

Business and Education

Jim Flaherty (deceased,Canada) 
Catherine Day (EC)
 Colm McLoughlin (UAE)

Irish Community Support

Mary Allen (Britain)
 Avril Conroy (Russia)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development

Niall O’Dowd (US) 
Kevin Cahill (US)


The Awards will be presented by President Higgins later this month.