Record number of GCC residents expected to make Queen's Birthday honours list

You don’t have to be British to be recognised by Queen Elizabeth II in one of the most prestigious award systems in the world.
Record number of GCC residents expected to make Queen's Birthday honours list
By Hala Khalaf
Sun 11 Jun 2017 04:00 PM

You neither have to be a British citizen, nor residing in the UK to be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II.

A business person in the GCC, of any nationality, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in contributing towards their community on a local or global level – such as through a philanthropic, industrial, educational or technology-related approach – is eligible for an accolade as high as a knighthood.

They simply need to be nominated by someone who believes in their efforts. This month, when the Queen releases her 2017 names, a record number of GCC residents are expected to make the list, according to Mark Llewellyn-Slade, CEO of honours consultancy firm Awards Intelligence.

As awareness of the honours list is increasing in the region, business leaders, philanthropists and those working in the arts are expected to feature more prominently on the Queen’s list, released twice a year.

“If you don’t know about something, you don’t tend to enter it and you don’t bother to find out about it because you incorrectly believe you can’t possibly be eligible,” Llewellyn-Slade says.

But 100 years after the honours system was established on June 4, 1917, people are beginning to understand that the award is open to any outstanding individual.

“Any worthy person based anywhere in the world who meets the criteria can be nominated for a UK honour,” Llewellyn-Slade says.

Case in point would be past winners from the region, and particularly from the UAE. In 2013, two Dubai-based businessmen were honoured by the Queen for furthering UK-UAE relations: Mark Beer, DIFC Courts co-chief executive and former chairman of the British Business Group in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, and Joseph Tabet, the chairman and managing director of Frayland in Dubai. Both received their awards for enhancing business cooperation between the UK and the UAE.

In 2014, Frenchman Jean-Paul Pierre Villain, who lives in Abu Dhabi, received a Queen’s honour for his work as a volunteer governor at the British School Al Khubairat. He also was honoured for his work to develop the British Community School in Abu Dhabi and for promoting investment links between the UK and the UAE, as strategy director for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

In 2015, four GCC residents were honoured. In Dubai, they included Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, Jumeirah English Speaking School director Robert Stokoe and The British Community Assistance Fund governor Sandra Owen. Also recognised for his work in education was Mark Leppard, who was residing in Qatar before moving to Abu Dhabi to take over as headmaster at the British School Al Khubairat.

Llewellyn-Slade says anyone around the world can call or e-mail to ask about the process.

“There’s nothing that says you have to have made a specific profit, or employed a specific number of people to get an honour,” he says. “That’s why our phone is constantly ringing with people wanting advice and guidance on whether or not a potential nominee has a good chance if his nomination were to be sent in.”

Llewellyn-Slade cites Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson as prime examples of achievement in business.

“These are successful businessmen running very successful businesses known internationally as being one of the best at what they do, and with a global outreach,” he says. “But an entrepreneur running a smaller business in Dubai, say, who is perhaps employing 50 people, but is doing something particularly innovative and unique or helps people in some way or is perhaps resulting in a lot of overseas trade with the UK, would certainly be eligible for an honour.”

The UK’s current economic climate post-Brexit is also expected to see more people from outside the country recognised for benefiting the UK economy.

“Because Britain is going through Brexit at the moment, it stands to reason that the British government will be very keen to highlight and reward people who are fostering links between the UK and countries who are not in the EU,” Llewellyn-Slade says.

“There’s every chance that Britain will do less trade within the EU, and although we don’t know that for sure, it will be more beneficial for the UK now more than ever before to build global links and especially with a country like the UAE.”

One way to encourage that is to highlight and reward people who are building trade links.

“An honour will raise that business’s profile and enhance its reputation; that instils trust, which is a vital ingredient in business success, or success in any walk of life,” Llewellyn-Slade says.

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