The MEADFA Conference 2021
Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Duty Free

Colm McLoughlin began his retailing career in London in the 1960s, working for high-street chain Woolworths, before moving back to his native Ireland to work for Shannon Duty Free. As General Manager of Shannon Duty Free, Colm was one of a team of ten from Aer Rianta (the Irish Airport Authority) who moved 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 1983, Colm was asked to remain as General Manager of the start-up operation, which in its opening year had a turnover of US$20 million. Colm later became the Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, one of the leading airport retailers in the world with sales of US$1.89 billion in 2015. Now employing almost 6,000 staff, Dubai Duty Free is widely regarded for having set the benchmark for the duty free industry in the region.

In July 2011, Colm was named Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free and its subsidiary businesses, including The Irish Village, The Century Village, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. 

Under Colm’s direction, Dubai Duty Free has received over 500 industry awards presented by international, regional and local entities.

During the course of his career Colm has been honoured with several personal awards, including the Frontier Lifetime Achievement award which was presented in 2004 by Frontier magazine, making him only the second person after Dr. Brendan O’Regan, the founder of the duty free industry, to receive this accolade. In 2000, Colm was the first non-UAE national to receive the Most Distinguished Employee Award at the Dubai Government Excellence Awards, while back in his home country he was named as Galway Millennium Man of the Year.

In 2014, Colm was presented with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Business and Education, making him one of a select group of people to be recognised by the Irish government for his outstanding contribution to Irish business and communities abroad.