Colm McLoughlin

COURTESY BERNARD AQUINO
RELATIONSHIP: Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty Free

Colm McLoughlin was born in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, Ireland, in July 1943 and is one of five siblings.

Colm was one of a team of ten from Aer Rianta (the Irish Airport Authority) who came to Dubai in 1983 at the request of the Dubai Government to set up Dubai Duty-Free. Following the successful opening of Dubai Duty-Free in December 1983, Colm was asked to remain and head up the operation, which in its opening year had a turnover of US$20 million.

As the Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty-Free, Colm reports directly to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty-Free.

On 1st June 2021, Colm celebrated 52 years in the duty-free industry. Under Colm's direction, Dubai Duty-Free has become one of the leading airport retailers in the world, with an annual sales turnover of over US$2 billion in 2019. It is a recipient of over 700 awards presented by international, regional and local entities, which bear testimony to its retail success. On a personal note, Colm has received several awards, including the Dubai Government Excellence Award for 'Most Distinguished Employee' in 2000 and the 'Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award' in the Business and Education category in 2014. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex University Dubai.

A charismatic and accessible media figure, Colm has dramatically raised the profile of Dubai and Dubai Duty Free both regionally and internationally through in-depth media interviews. His open and friendly response to media queries has made him a much sought-after interviewee for industry and general business features, including Dubai TV, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg TV and CNBC. He has also appeared in leading local and international publications such as Gulf News, Khaleej Times, The National, The Irish Independent, The Arab Irish Journal and Forbes, to name a few. During his career, Colm has met with many heads of state, including senior members of the UAE Ruling families, the President of Ireland, HRM The Queen, several UK Prime Ministers and Irish Prime Ministers, former US President, former president of the Philippines, as well as Consul Generals from various countries.

As a Dubai resident of 38 years, Colm has seen the UAE grow dramatically and is very proud of the role played by Dubai Duty Free in putting Dubai on the map through its business success. In addition to many international sports sponsorships, including the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships, began in 1993 and attracted the world’s leading tennis players. In addition to the retail business, Dubai Duty-Free’s Leisure division includes The Irish Village in Garhoud, which is hugely popular with residents and visitors alike. The village concept was conceived and developed by Colm and a second Irish Village opened in Studio City last year. The Leisure division also includes the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Stadium and The Century Village in Garhoud. Along with his wife Breeda, Colm is very much part of the social fabric of Dubai and attends many official gatherings both here and abroad, representing Dubai Duty Free. Colm is a single handicap golfer and is the former Captain of both the Emirates Golf Club (1995/1996) and the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club (2007). He is the only person to have held both captaincies. During his many years in Dubai, Colm has invested in properties, including his current resident in The Palm, where he enjoys cycling.

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