An open letter to the management and staff at Dubai Duty Free

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Dear Colm and Team,

For the 24th year running you have hosted travel retail industry colleagues from around the globe at the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup.

My name, alas, has never figured on the trophy that you award at the end of the tournament, nor on any of the multiple prizes you hand out each year. Chances are, such is my game, that it never will.

And yet… I, like all other participants, am consistently the recipient of a major honour each year I attend. The honour of immense warmth, grace and heartfelt hospitality bestowed.

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To the winner the spoils: Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO Colm McLoughlin presents Scott Campbell of Dubai Airports with the trophy; also at the presentation were Dubai Duty Free senior management including Salah Tahlak, Sinead El Sibai and Nic Bruwer, along with Irish pro golfer Des Smyth (third from left)

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And you know, it is all so very much more than skin-deep. Dubai Duty Free’s heartbeat lies not in its outstanding and sustained commercial success (though that is in no doubt), but in its people. It shows in their professionalism and their personalities, time and time again.

People like Chit, the young Wine Adviser from Myanmar at Arrivals Duty Free, who, when I asked him if he sold Cloudy Bay, not only knew the wine and its origins but replied with a broad smile, “Certainly Sir, would you like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir?” People like Sujman in departures, whom I watched giving detailed and knowledgeable advice to a young woman wanting a bottle of Pinot Noir as a gift and then not batting an eyelid when she proceeded to break it on the floor, instead reassuring her immediately she could simply take another.

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People like Anna Khan (pictured below second to left), Jasmin Micoyo and Christine Feliciano from the marketing team, all on hand seemingly day and night, always smiling from the heart, nothing too much fuss.

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People like Raslan from Uzbekistan, who manned the tournament welcome desk at Dubai International for hours and greeted guests like they were his family. People like your entire management team, who display a level of buy-in that is perhaps unrivalled on the travel retail planet.raslan

For two days we play on some of the greatest golf courses on earth as your guests; we party like there is no tomorrow (and judging by our hangovers the next day we feel there might not be) at your Irish Village; and we are treated to a sumptuous send-off dinner under the stars.

We take much. What does Dubai Duty Free get in return for much cost, much hard labour, much time and dedication? One suspects your company deems such a question irrelevant, that it never forms part of any annual budgeting process. It is not about commercial nor even reputational return. It is about contribution. Contribution to the ‘industry’ from which Dubai Duty Free has risen from start-up status in 1983 to industry giant. It is reassuring, in fact humbling, to know that none of those human values that characterised the early pioneering days have been lost along the way but in fact have been embellished and broadened. That indeed, as much as your incredible success story, is the mark of greatness.

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of your tournament, and the 34th year of your business. Once again I shall return to dig up your golf courses and marvel not at my game but simply at how you all do it.

Thank you.

Martin Moodie
Founder & Chairman
The Moodie Davitt Report

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  • Any other comment would be superfluous, well to be sure Super! Amazing hospitality, friendship, camaraderie, and what an experience, it’s been my privilege for 19 of those 24 years. Many thanks Colm, Ramesh, Sinead, Salah, and the entire Dubai Duty Free team.