Dubai Duty Free

Dubai Duty Free

For millions of travellers staying in or transiting through Dubai, Dubai Duty Free has become a global institution. Many visitors revel in the chance to spend hours in what has become one of the world’s biggest and most successful retail operators.

Launched in 1983, Dubai Duty Free realised sales of AED73.5 million ($20 million) in its first year. One of the set-up team’s key executives, Colm McLoughlin, rose to become the Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, a position he still holds today. In 2018, the company’s sales figure figures exceeded AED7.3 billion ($2 billion).

For what is essentially a series of duty-free shops, the numbers are breathtaking: 6,000 employees manage the 36,000 sq m of retail space at the Dubai International Airport and the 2,500 sq m space at the Al Maktoum International Airport. The latter is set to eventually reach 80,000 sq m.

In recent years, the organisation has introduced significant advances in its customers’ experience, which have since been copied by rivals worldwide. These include providing free, unlimited high-speed internet and offering passengers the option to collect their items upon returning from abroad.

Dubai Duty Free’s activities extend beyond the retail space. Its Leisure Division owns The Irish Village Dubai, Century Village, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. The organisation also promotes its brand to a global audience with its sponsorship of high-profile events such as Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.