Dubai Duty Free (DDF) Senior Vice President for Marketing Sinéad El Sibai has received the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award.
She was presented with the accolade by Irish President Michael D. Higgins, at a ceremony held at the presidential residence Ãras an Uachtaráin in Dublin on 16 January.
El Sibai is one of the 13 people living outside Ireland to receive the award this year. She was recognised in the Irish Community Support category, in acknowledgement of her contribution to the Irish diaspora in the UAE, and her role in raising awareness of the UAE in Ireland.
Deserved recognition for Sinéad El Sibai
The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were introduced by the Irish government in 2012. They are aimed at recognising Irish nationals living abroad, who have given sustained service in areas such as business, education, community, arts and culture, sport, charitable works and peace.
El Sibai commented: “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 [DDF Executive Vice Chairman & CEO] Colm McLoughlin, who was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for Business in 2014.”
Over the past 35 years, El Sibai 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 until 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 DDF, El Sibai has been at the forefront of the operation’s major sponsorship agreements in Ireland, which include 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 many Irish charities over the years, including Autism Ireland, the Jack & Jill Foundation and Barretstown Children’s Camp.
In Dubai, she 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 milliner Philip Treacy; 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: El Sibai, Colm McLoughlin (2014) and Gerald Lawless (2016).