Richard Oliver, a British businessman who has helped build commercial and community links between his home country and the UAE, is to be made an OBE.
Speaking from the UK, where Mr Oliver is currently visiting from his home in Abu Dhabi, he described the award as a “tremendous honour”.
A banker by trade, he served for five years as chair of the British Business Group, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes trade between the UAE and the UK and offers networking opportunities and help to small- and medium-sized companies.
He is treasurer at The British School Al Khubairat, where three of his four children were educated. He has served as a governor at the not-for-profit school for the past 12 years.
The OBE (Order of the British Empire) is considered a major award in the British honours system.
It recognises achievements in a number of fields, such as arts, science, business and charitable work, and was established more than a century ago.
An investiture ceremony, which is conducted by a member of the royal family, will take place at Buckingham Palace in 2019.
“It gives you a great feeling of patriotic pride and it’s nice the think you have made a difference,” Mr Oliver, who first moved to the UAE in 1995, said.
“The school has done tremendously well over the years and being part of the British Business Group, working with SMEs and helping them get some sort of foothold in the UAE has been satisfying too.
“It’s also been very nice to be able to support UAE businesses who have wanted to do something in the UK.”
Proposed recipients of British honours receive a letter discreetly asking them if they would accept an award, and warning them to keep the offer in strict confidence. Mr Oliver, 56, said he successfully kept the secret, other than telling his wife, Jenny.
“I think you’re allowed to bring three people to the ceremony,” he said. “Of course, we have four children and I’m sure my father would love to come, so working that out could be tricky. But I’m sure the children will be thrilled.”
Mr Oliver has previously held senior positions at HSBC and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. He is currently employed by AES LLC, part of the Al Suwaidi Group in Abu Dhabi. He was chairman of the British Business Group for five years, between 2012 and 2016, and is still involved as group community liaison.
Recipients of the awards had shown “exceptional service to the UK economy and British prosperity, through UK export promotion across sectors from space and technology to fashion, and food and drink”, the UK Department for International Trade said.
Liam Fox, the UK International Trade Secretary, said: “I am delighted that leading business people are being recognised for their exceptional contribution and service to international trade. I congratulate everyone receiving an honour.”