ADNOC is making headway on its de-carbonization commitments, while Saudi Aramco retains its influence as one of the world's systemically important energy firms. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE and Saudi energy companies – Aramco and ADNOC - and telcos – Etisalat by e& and stc - retained their status as the Middle East’s ‘most valuable’ and ‘strongest’ brands, based on the annual Top 500 rankings by the consultancy Brand Finance.

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Aramco, despite a slight drop in brand value for the year, still came to $41.6 billion, which, Brand Finance says, was ‘largely influenced’ by revenue changes.

The Abu Dhabi headquartered energy company ADNOC’s brand value came to $15.2 billion, up 7 per cent over a year ago. Boosting its status – and value – was the company’s ‘commitment to decarbonisation’. An additional plus was the investment in Storegga, a company that ‘focuses on global carbon capture and storage projects’.

Who wins the global brand rankings?

Apple is the winner by some distance. The tech giant perched itself at the top of the 500 list, with a value that rocketed to $517 billion after an eye-popping gain of 74 per cent – or $219 billion. It meant a reclaiming of the top spot – ‘even as iPhone volume share largely plateaued’. The gains came by way of ‘finding new markets, expanding its ecosystem, and encouraging upgrades to higher-value iPhones’.

All of which added up to Apple maintaining its position as the dominant name in the premium smartphone market, with 71 per cent value share.

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iPhone sales plateauing doestn't seem to be hurting Apple all that much from a brand value perspective. The company is still finding the sweet spot when it comes to expansion, whether in markets or of its ecosystem. Image Credit: Reuters

Then comes the AI led wave

AI, of course, had its say in a year when it became the most talked about tech feature. That was enough for Nvidia, the chip company, to be the world’s fastest growing brand (with a value of $44.5 billion).

“Brand Finance research found significant gain amongst brands that have heavily invested in AI,” the report says.

UAE, Saudi telcos

For the Saudi telecom company, stc, there was also a push into the world’s Top 150 brands, as its ‘value’ hit the $13.9 billion mark. This makes ‘stc the first consumer brand in the Middle East to enter the 150 most valuable brands globally’, according to Brand Finance. (stc’s buy of a stake in Spain’s Telefonica, one the biggest telecom companies in the world, ‘marks a key milestone’ in the Saudi company’s 2024 prospects.)

Stock-Etisalat by e&
Another year as the Middle East's 'strongest' brand for etisalat by e&. in Saudi Arabia, stc too was getting its numbers just right. Image Credit: Supplied

More Top 500 breakthroughs?

According to David Haigh, Chairman and CEO of Brand Finance, “We are witnessing several brands from a wide array of sectors on the cusp of breaking into the Top 500. The region is investing heavily in tangible and intangible away from the oil industry and as such many brands are making the step up from being strong regional players to becoming brands with global aspirations.”

Brand strength

etisalat by e& - the ‘strongest’ telecom brand in the world - benefited from being ‘part of a larger technology group e&’.

“This means that e& has retained its ranking as the most valuable portfolio of TMT (technology, media, telecom) brands in the Middle East and Africa, with an increase of 15 per cent to a brand value of $17 billion,” Brand Finance notes. “Key contributing factors include its ongoing Manchester City Football Club partnership, 5G network leadership, innovative customer experience initiatives, and participation in global events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi and COP28.”

Tesla drops out
In the latest Brand Finance global Top 10 rankings, the EV company Tesla slipped out. It is now placed 18th.

“Tesla has been harmed by its large exposure to the Chinese EV market, and BYD has overtaken Tesla to become the world’s largest EV maker,” says the report. “While Tesla’s brand strength remains high overall, Brand Finance research shows a significant fall in reputation. Tesla’s close association with Elon Musk creates added reputational risk for the brand.”