January 22 2024  |  People

​Sinéad El Sibai receives Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award

By GTR Magazine Staff

Dubai Duty Free's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sinéad El Sibai, accepts the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Michael D Higgins

Dubai Duty Free’s Senior Vice President for Marketing, Sinéad El Sibai has received the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Michael D. Higgins at a ceremony held at the presidential residence Ãras an Uachtaráin in Dublin on January 16.

Sinéad, who is one of the 13 people living outside of Ireland to receive the award this year was recognized in the category of Irish Community Support, which acknowledged her contribution to the Irish diaspora in the UAE and her role of raising awareness of the UAE in Ireland.

The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were introduced by the Irish government in 2012 and are aimed at recognizing the Irish abroad who have given sustained service in areas such as business, education, community, arts and culture, sport, charitable works and peace.

Commenting on the award, Sinéad El Sibai said, “I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition from the President and government of Ireland. I would like to share this with the many Irish people in the UAE who, in one way or another, have supported the wider Irish community. I am also thrilled to follow in the footsteps of Colm McLoughlin, who was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Business in 2014.”

Over the past 35 years, Sinéad has served in many pivotal roles among the Irish community in Dubai. She is a founding board member of the Irish Business Network (IBN) and served as Chair up to 2022. Following her tenure as Chair she has continued to work with the IBN through the Woman's Network, leadership sessions, webinars, and mentoring.

In her role as Senior Vice President for Marketing at Dubai Duty Free, Sinéad has been at the forefront of the operation’s major sponsorship agreements in Ireland including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and Dublin Arabic Film Festival. As part of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby charity activation, she has helped raise funds for Irish charities over the years including Autism Ireland, the Jack & Jill Foundation and Barretstown Children’s Camp.

In Dubai, Sinéad is often the first port of call for sponsorships from the Irish Community including the Dubai Celts GAA Club and the Dubai Irish Golf Society.

Other awardees included Philip Treacy, the world’s most in-demand hat designer; Fr Gabriel Dolan, Executive Director of the Human Rights Organisation Haki Yetu (Our Rights) in Kenya; and Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley of the Irish Arts Centre in New York. Awardees in previous years have included the actor Liam Neeson (2018) and presenter and London Irish Centre Patron Dermot O’Leary (2020).

To date, there have been three Irish nationals living in the UAE who have received this award, including Colm McLoughlin (2014) and Gerald Lawless (2016), who were both awarded in the Business and Education category.

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