Dubai Duty Free Soaring to a New Heights


Dubai Duty Free, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary on 20th December, has grown to become one of the leading airport retailers in the world with sales turnover of Dhs6.65 billion (US$1.8 billion) in 2013.  


Its founding principal of providing travellers with a first class retail experience in a shopper-friendly environment and a diverse range of products still holds true to this day.


Employing 6000 people, the operation has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retailing in the Middle East.


To date, Dubai Duty Free has received over 440 local and international awards which bear testimony to the operation’s retail success, including the Duty Free News International (DFNI) Asia/Pacific Award for “Middle East Travel Retailer of the Year”, the DFNI Global Award for “Best Airport Travel Retailer of the Year” and “Best New Shop Opening” as well as the Business Traveller Middle East Award for “Best Airport in Duty Free Shopping”.


In June, the operation was once again named a ‘Superbrand’ at the Superbrands Tribute Event held in Dubai. Other accolades received were the Gold Award for Event Marketing (Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2013)  at the 7th ISEM Awards held in London in November and the ‘Best Duty Free Shops’ presented by the US-Global Traveler Award won by the operation for the 7th time, in December.    


Also in 2013, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free was presented with the “CEO of the Year” at the 3rd Asian Quality Leadership Award for  his outstanding contribution to the travel retail industry and the “Sir Michael Smurfit Business Achievement Award” presented at the 25th Annual American Celtic Ball held in New York. The award recognizes his leadership over the past thirty years and joins a list of renowned business leaders from Ireland for their significant contribution to international business. He was also presented with the “Lifetime Achievement” Editor’s Choice award at the inaugural Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Awards.



Dubai Duty Free opened for business 30 years ago and employed just 100 management and staff. Astoundingly, 40 of them remain to this day. The original “Pioneers”, as they have come to be known, gathered for a special dinner at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel to celebrate their collective longevity with the company and Dubai Duty Free’s 30th Anniversary.


The “Pioneers” were honoured and presented with a certificate of appreciation and a collector’s edition “Dubai Duty Free Gold Coin” to mark the 30th anniversary milestone. 


Dubai Duty Free have marked the milestone anniversary in a number of ways, including the publication of a picture book Through the Lens which celebrates Dubai Duty Free’s history through photographs. Through the Lens chronicles the past three decades and features the people and events that have been behind the inspiring success story of Dubai Duty Free.


Dubai Duty Free also commissioned The Moodie Report International, a UK-based trade publication, to produce a special book The First 30 years and a 40-minute documentary film depicting the growth and development of the operation.


Another 30th anniversary souvenir book was published on behalf of Dubai Duty Free by Motivate Publishing while special supplements from Gulf News, Khaleej Times and The National were also produced.




With the opening of the passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport – the  Dubai World Central, Dubai Duty Free has an additional retail area of 2,500 square metres and retail offer is on par with the facilities in Dubai International Airport, with a full range of merchandise presented in an extremely attractive and convenient shopping environment.


The offer in the Departures area features a 1,150 square metre central outlet that incorporates Perfumes and Cosmetics, Luxury Goods, Fashion, Confectionery and Electronics. On either side of this central area are two 300 square metre retail areas featuring: Liquor and Tobacco, and Food and Confectionery. The positioning of the retail offer is excellent and visible to passengers immediately after they enter the Departures Hall and once they complete immigration and security procedures.


In the Arrivals Hall, Dubai Duty Free offers a conveniently located 380 square metre outlet that offers the major categories of merchandise, and is located right in front of the baggage claim belts.


The coming on line of Al Maktoum International Airport – Dubai World Central is obviously a great opportunity for Dubai Duty Free. In the long term, the airport has capacity for over 160 million passengers and ultimately, the retail operation will cover some 64,000 square metres. 


The operation’s next phase of development will be the opening of Concourse D at Dubai International Airport which is scheduled for January 2015. This terminal will be for all non-Emirates, Qantas and flydubai flights and will be an important development for the entire airport. Dubai Duty Free will operate around 7,000 square metres of retail space in Concourse D, mainly located around a bright and spacious central atrium.


In another important expansion, The Irish Village which is part of Dubai Duty Free’s Leisure portfolio, was officially inaugurated by Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD. The new extension, which overlooks the lake and the DDF-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, has increased the restaurant’s outdoor capacity by 70%. The Irish Village is known for its live concerts and famous Irish artists performing there have included Bob Geldof, Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Dara O’ Briain and Tommy Tiernan.





Whether it is on the golfing green, the tennis courts, the racecourse or even the high seas, sponsorship and the support of international events has been an integral part of Dubai Duty Free’s marketing strategy since 1983.


A supporter of golf for many years, Dubai Duty Free is a proud sponsor of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Ladies European Tour Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, held every year at Emirates Golf Club.


In addition to this, Dubai Duty Free hosts a series of high-profile golf tournaments, including the annual Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup, Dubai Duty Free UAE Nationals Cup, Dubai Duty Free Golf Cup and Dubai Irish Golf Society tournament.


Away from the golfing fairways, the firm tennis favourite with UAE tennis fans and a global TV audience is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, owned and organized by Dubai Duty Free. The event comprises a WTA Premier 5 tournament played back-to-back with an ATP World Tour Series 500 Tournament.


Dubai Duty Free is a founding sponsor of the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world. International horse racing has provided an excellent medium for Dubai Duty Free to capture the global media attention and the Dubai Duty Free Stakes in the UK in April, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup (Ascot) in August, the Dubai Duty Free International Raceday in September are part of the operation’s racing sponsorship in the UK. The operation is also the title sponsor of one of the biggest races in Europe, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, which is held at the Curragh Racecourse in Ireland each June.


By supporting so many events at the highest level and all around the globe, Dubai Duty Free is effectively promoting Dubai’s sporting, leisure and business facilities, which are second to none. And with more and more world-class sportspeople choosing Dubai to showcase their talent, there is set to be much more to come in the future.







Corporate Social Responsibility

In October 2004, DDF launched the Dubai Duty Free Foundation, a charitable body founded under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, to organise its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and, most importantly, raise funds for worthy causes, specifically those aimed at benefiting children. The Foundation has since donated funds to several charities, both at home and abroad, and plays an active role in helping families and children in need.


In 2008, Dubai Duty Free established its own Corporate Responsibility (CR) department in-house under which the Dubai Duty Free Foundation is managed. In addition, the CR department is committed to reducing the Environmental impacts and health and safety risks associated with the storage and retailing of goods. It is the Company’s policy to operate an Integrated Management System in accordance with ISO 14001: 2004 and OHSAS 18001: 2007.