Colm McLoughlin

“Second place is not an option in Dubai”

In 1983, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, then Defence Minister of the UAE, told Colm McLoughlin that he wanted Dubai Duty Free to be the best in the world. “This energy,” McLoughlin says, “and the attitude that second place is not good enough and that everything has to be the best and most efficient started a long time ago; and has been instilled in everyone who has come here ever since.”

The positive attitude, along with the efforts and investment of the government to provide a modern and up-to-date way of life to all that live here is in McLoughlin’s view, the reason for its success. “I often get credit for achievements that belong to Dubai Duty Free and our team,” he says  humbly, but under McLoughlin’s lead, Dubai Duty Free has become one of the most successful operations in the duty-free industry throughout the world.

Dubai Duty Free has won more than 500 awards from various bodies around the world, and by the year 2020, it expects business to be in excess of US$3 billion a year, employing between 9,000 and 10,000 people. McLoughlin attributes this success to the guidance he has received from His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, as well as “one of the best team of staff in the duty-free industry”.

Anyone can achieve the Dubai dream, McLoughlin says, the key is to “work hard, work honestly, obey the rules, treat everyone the same, and be kind to people.”