World leader, champion of compassion

Dubai Duty Free overcame one of the most turbulent years in travel retail history to close out 2009 with record annual sales of around US$1.14 billion, around US$40 million up year-on-year, The performance came as most travel retailers around the world were hit hard by the impact of the global financial crisis (Dubai had its own economic challenges) during much of 2009. The year was notable on other counts too. In a remarkable act of generosity, the world’s number one airport retailer made its largest donation to this point – writing a US$1.5 million cheque for The Smile Train, a charity dedicated to repairing cleft lip and cleft palate deformities in children.

Recreating history – George Horan, Colm McLoughlin and John Sutcliffe come together to recreate the landmark photograph of the 'Irish Trinity' after 23 years, featuring the three Frontier Awards won in 1985 and 1986.

US$1.14 billion

Dubai Duty Free’s annual sales

Colm McLoughlin and George Horan accept the Frontier Award for Best Marketing Campaign by a Retailer in Cannes.

Royal salute: Dubai Duty Free officially inaugurates its head office and distribution centre in Umm Ramoul. His Highness Sheikh Ahmed cuts the ceremonial ribbon to mark the official opening in the presence of Colm McLoughlin, Sinead El Sibai and Salah Tahlak.

Technological progress: The 90% automated warehouse employs the latest technology in logistics and seamlessly moves more than 120,000 pallets per year to the retail area.

Giving back: The Dubai Duty Free Foundation donates US$1.5 million to The Smile Train — the world’s leading children’s cleft charity— making it the largest donation since the body's establishment in 1999. Colm McLoughlin presents the cheque to Priscilla Ma, Smile Train's Vice-President of Marketing and Development, on the eve of the Miles for Smiles charity run in Dubai, organised by The Moodie Report.

Dubai Duty Free launches the Double Millionaire, a new addition to its world-famous prize draws, which offers 5,000 ticket holders the chance to win US$2 million. Its campaign transposes images to show the difference in lifestyle that would result from winning the prize money.

Market leader: Dubai Duty Free's sales of US$1.1 billion in 2008 make it the biggest airport retail operation in the world in terms of turnover (Generation Research). An advertisement in 2009 aptly captures the news that Dubai has overtaken the duty free operations at London Heathrow and Incheon International Airport in size.

To celebrate diversity in the workplace and offer staff a chance to show their hidden talents, Dubai Duty Free launches its Unleashed project in December.

A star is born: Irish teenager Rory Mcllroy wins his first professional title at the Dubai Desert Classic, held at the Emirates Golf Club. Mcllroy, pictured with Sinead El Sibai, Colm McLoughlin and Salah Tahlak, then picks the winner of the Finest Surprise draw.

Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin attend a series of official and social engagements during their visit to the UAE in March. Here Colm McLoughlin presents a memento marking Dubai Duty Free's 25th anniversary at a luncheon held in her honour at Madinat Jumeirah.

Moment for a makeover: A treatment at the perfumes & cosmetics section in Terminal 1. during another stellar year.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Colm McLoughlin on the occasion of Dubai Duty Free’s 25th anniversary party in January.

A black-tie dinner celebrating the retailer’s 25th year was held in January at the Grand Hyatt and was attended by representatives of the government, business and media, including several of the original team from Aer Rianta who helped set up the company in 1983.

International entertainers who performed at the 25th anniversary gala dinner included Mick Hucknall of Simply Red.

Rich reward: To mark the 25th anniversary and the opening of Terminal 3, Dubai Duty Free launched its Multi-Millionaire promotion with a cash prize of US$5 million. His Highness Sheikh Ahmed conducts the draw with Colm McLoughlin and Salah Tahlak. Dubai resident Piya Bahirwani won the grand prize.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed with Colm McLoughlin, who receives the Middle East Business Achievement Award for Businessman of the Year.

The Moodie Davitt e-Zine | Spotlight Series – Special Report | 20 December 2018