Belgium has awarded its highest civilian honour to Antwerp-based Indian-origin diamantaire Dilip Mehta, CEO of the world's largest diamond company Rosy Blue.
Mehta has been chosen for the prestigious title of 'baron' in Belgium's annual honours list.
The selection was made by the Belgian Foreign Ministry and the Belgian Royal Palace. The announcement comes ahead of Belgium's national day on July 21.
Mehta told INEP agency: "This a great honour for Antwerp's Indian diamond community. I feel lucky to have been spotted in this nice contribution of India. This is a global recognition of the Indian rise."
Some 300 Indian families mainly hailing from the state of Gujarat live in the port city of Antwerp, the world's rough diamond trading capital.
Today Indians control 60 per cent of Antwerp's rough and polished diamond trade that recorded a turnover of 36 billion dollars and contributes 8 percent of Belgian's exports.
Mehta joined his family business in Mumbai in 1970 and came to the port city in 1973 to establish Rosy Blue NV, the first overseas office of B Arunkumar (now Rosy Blue India). Mehta took Belgian nationality in 2001.
Over the last 35 years Rosy Blue has grown into the leading global diamond company with an annual turnover of $1.7 billion in 2005. Rosy Blue is located in 15 countries and employs over 10,000 employees.
In a Rosy Blue press release, Mehta said, "Belgium, and Antwerp in particular, has granted me many opportunities and this is why I have always been happy to live and work here in this multi-cultural and harmonious city from the moment I arrived in 1973.
"I am extremely proud to have received this award and would like in particular to thank both the Belgian Royal family and government for honouring me in this way."
Mehta sits on various world diamond industry boards including the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). He is also an Honorary Member and supporter of Special Olympics Belgium.