UAE's home-grown brands enhanced by country's positive image around the world

London // The UAE’s global image gave an extra US$12 billion boost to the value of its home-grown brands over the past year, research published this week shows.

The London consultancy Brand Finance said that the combined value of all the top brands in the UAE – including its biggest names like Emirates and Etihad Airways – stands at a colossal $478bn, a 19 per cent increase on last year.

Of that, $81.1bn of value is dir­ectly attributable to the reputational boost brands get by being based in the country and benefiting from “brand UAE”. That is 17 per cent – or some $12bn – more than last year, the 2016 Nation Brands report found.

Brand Finance measures the world’s companies according to both their brand strength – factoring in things like advertising spending, marketing investment and brand equity – as well as their financial performance in the wider economy.

The report published yesterday also considers brands’ countries of origin and what value national heritage – such as the positive impact of Ferrari coming from Italy – brings with it.

Alex Haigh, the nation brand director at Brand Finance, said things were looking up for UAE brands. “Compared to various other Middle Eastern countries, the UAE has improved quite significantly. And I think that’s largely because of the fact that it’s not quite so reliant on oil; it’s a more diversified economy,” he said.

In Saudi Arabia, by comparison, there was a 5 per cent decline in its “national brand value”, the measure of the combined worth of a nation’s brands, which factors in the boost they get from their country of origin.

“Saudi Arabia … is trying to open up and diversify its economy in a similar way to the UAE,” said Mr Haigh. “The UAE is obviously a success story. And considering its size, it’s biting at the heels of Saudi Arabia in terms of total value. [With] Saudi Arabia, it’s good that it’s going on the same track as the UAE, but it’s got a lot to learn.”

Emirates airline is the Middle East’s most valuable brand, with a valuation of $7.743b, Brand Finance data shows.

Despite the growth in the value of such brands, the UAE’s nat­ional brand strength – based on factors like its worldwide image and perceptions about tourism, investment, governance and sec­urity – slipped slightly this year.

The UAE now anks as the world’s 12th strongest nation brand, down from third position last year, the Brand Finance data shows. But the consul­tancy downplayed the significance of this, saying the country has retained its strong “AAA” brand strength rating. Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong were found to have the strongest nation brands globally.

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