Stock - e&
UAE and Saudi powerhouse brands held their own even as global growth and consumer sentiments weakened in other regions. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In rankings dominated by telcos, banks and property developers, Dubai’s Emirates airline recorded the biggest surge in ‘brand value’ in the 2023 rankings of the top UAE and Saudi brands by the global marketing data consultancy Kantar.

The Emirates brand value after that surge would total $5.4 billion, and placing it in 3rd spot after etisalat by e& (at $9.4 billion) and the mega-bank FAB ($5.69 billion). In Saudi Arabia, as has been the case for three years now, the pole positions still rests with the telco stc (with $13.6 billion in brand value) and followed by two banks, Al Rajhi ($12.56 billion) and Saudi National ($11.14 billion).

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The Emirates presence can be seen as just another pointer to how the airline and Dubai scripted their rebound from the depths of the pandemic and which then helped them to fully utilise the strong return worldwide travel made thereafter.

For e& and stc, their brand prominence has been driven by driving growth through their 5G services. Incidentally, they have also expanded their base to tap other branches of consumer services, including in the financial space.

To qualify for the Kantar BrandZ rankings, the brands to meet these criteria:

  • They must have their origin in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
  • It must be owned by an enterprise listed on a stock exchange, or by a private enterprise with its complete financial statements available in public domain.
  • For banks, a minimum of 30 per cent of its operating income should be generated by its retail divisions.

The only new entrant in the Saudi top brand listings this year is Nahdi, an operator of pharmacies in the Kingdom, and which landed in the No. 7 spot.

According to Kantar, the rankings also reflect how UAE and Saudi brands continue to hold their own even as key global consumer markets went into decline.

“The mood is optimistic for future growth,” said Amol Ghate, Managing Director at Kantar MENAP Insights Division. “As the markets continue to implement large-scale economic development plans, huge opportunities abound for brands: in fact, brand building is a key pillar of both countries’ strategies.

Brands must devote significant effort to understanding how Saudi and Emirati consumers’ mindsets and spending habits are evolving, as many of the parameters of their lives change.

- Amol Ghate

Combined, the Top 30 Kantar BrandZ Emirati and Saudi brands are ‘worth more than $94.2 billion’, or 5.8 per cent of the two countries’ combined GDPs.

“They have retained more of their value over the last year than their peers, in the face of the worldwide economic slowdown, with a decrease of 11 per cent compared with 2022,” says the Kantar BrandZ report. “This is a smaller drop than the top 30 brands in China, Italy and the UK.”

Of course, real estate developers also had their presence in the Top 10 UAE positions, with places for Emaar and Aldar. In Saudi Arabia, it was Dar Al Arkan who was flying the flag for real estate.

“These brands have looked beyond realising short-term gains tied to higher property prices, with the goal to build long-term brand equity by transforming how, and where, people live,” the report notes.

What makes UAE and Saudi Araba’s top brands tick
• The Top 30’s three-year growth is more than twice that of the Global Top 30. Between 2020 and 2023 the brands in the combined rankings have grown their total value by 87%, compared with 40% for the Global Top 30.

• Three quarters of the Emirati and Saudi Top 30 score high on Pricing Power. The strongest brands have the ability to justify charging a premium by being seen as ‘worth it’; being Meaningful and Different are by far the most important drivers of a consumer’s willingness to pay more for a brand.

• Sustainability contributes 8% of the overall brand equity for the Emirati and Saudi Top 30. However, seven of the most valuable Emirati and Saudi brands lack strong sustainability credentials, showing that there are opportunities for those that invest in making improvements in this area.

Credit: Kantar BrandZ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati & Saudi Brands