A Dubai resident was among the first people to receive the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) from King Charles in a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
John Martin St Valery, former chairman of the British Business Group (BBG) in Dubai, received the award last month.
The OBE is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service.
Mr Martin St Valery told The National what an honour it was to receive the accolade from the newly crowned king.
He also explained how it was a privilege to be named among the recipients of the queen's final honours list ― Queen Elizabeth died in September after 70 years on the throne.
“The moment was unforgettable. A short conversation with the monarch ― who seemed remarkably well informed ― is an interaction I will never forget,” he said.
“I honestly had no idea what to really expect, until it happened."
He said he felt enormously privileged that his award was announced in the queen's final honours list and presented in one of the first investitures of King Charles.
On his way to receive his OBE, with his mother, wife, daughter and son, Mr Martin St Valery wondered which member of the royal family might present him with his award.
“Even on the journey to the castle on the way to the investiture, I was being quizzed as to who it may be,” he said.
“It was a wonderful surprise on arrival to be informed that it was to be His Majesty, King Charles.”
It was announced in January that Mr Martin St Valery was receiving an OBE for his services to UK businesses in the UAE.
He was the chairman of the BBG at the time and is still a board member.
Mr Martin St Valery was also recognised for his work as chair of his own company JacksonMSV – Market Entry Solutions, a company he established in 2016.
The pride that the British community in the UAE has in the monarchy was the subject of his conversation with King Charles.
“The late queen had been a constant in the lives of all her subjects, both at home and overseas,” he said.
“Having been an expatriate myself for nearly 25 years, I have always felt that the importance and respect for our monarch from overseas have always been very palpable.
“This is what I reminded His Majesty of when we spoke.”