Dubai skyline, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai
File photo of Dubai skyline for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The UAE has been named the world’s ‘11th strongest nation brand’, above the US, UK, and a number of other countries, in the latest ‘Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021’ report released on Tuesday.

Ending the Western monopoly at the top of the brand strength ranking – along with Singapore in fourth position – the UAE has climbed three spots since last year following a 2.5-point increase in its Brand Strength Index (BSI) score to 79.1 out of 100.

How the rankings work
-Brand Finance determines the relative strength of a nation’s brands through a scorecard evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance.
-Every year, Brand Finance values 5,000 of the world’s biggest brands. The 100 most valuable and strongest nation brands are included in the Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 ranking.
-The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index – a study on nation brand perceptions surveying opinions of over 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries.

How the UAE is perceived abroad

Overseas perceptions of the UAE’s prowess in the ‘Education & Science’ pillar are high, and the successful Emirates Mars Mission is contributing a factor. The UAE also stands out for its COVID-19 response and scores high for ‘Influence’ and ‘Business & Trade’, both of which should see a further boost from Expo 2020 Dubai inaugurated this month.

The UAE has also improved its position in the nation brand value ranking, claiming 17th position, compared to 18th last year, following an 11 per cent increase in nation brand value to $749 billion (around Dh 2.75 trillion).

Meteoric rise

Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi

Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said: “The rise in the economic value of the UAE’s national brand from 18th to 17th position this year is a clear indication of the country’s global reputation and competitiveness in various fields.”

He added: “There is no doubt that achieving 11 per cent brand value growth, from $672 billion to $749 billion, is a major achievement in the 50th year of the UAE and underlines how quickly our nation has established its name and global identity as a developed and pioneering country. It is an exceptional success story that will be told to all generations.”

‘Excellence of Emirati model’

Al Gergawi pointed out that the UAE’s rise from 14th to 11th place in the Brand Finance National Brand index of the strongest national brands for 2021 is “the latest confirmation of the excellence of the Emirati model in strategic planning and development. It confirms the nation’s success in establishing modern, open, transparent and interactive media communication with the public around the world, through which it has been able to present its many inspiring success stories”.

‘UAE a challenger to status quo’

Andrew Campbell, Managing Director, Brand Finance Middle East, said: “The [UAE] punches well above its weight in terms of nation brand strength and challenges the Western status quo in the ranking. As the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee year [2021], it continues to fly the flag high, promoting the nation’s achievements across the world through ground-breaking initiatives like the Emirates Mars Mission and serving as the gateway to the region by hosting the world for 182 days at Expo 2020.”

Total nation brand rises

The top 100 most valuable nation brands in the world have recorded a seven per cent increase in brand value since 2020, signalling that recovery is underway from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this is a positive sign, nation brand values have not reached pre-pandemic levels yet. At $90.8 trillion, this year’s total brand value of the top 100 ranking is still seven per cent lower compared to 2019.

Turning a corner?

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, said: “Unlike previous economic crashes, recovery is uneven and is pinned on the combination of initial COVID-19 response strategies and a successful vaccination rollout.”

He added: “We are starting to turn a corner, as the world’s most valuable nation brands begin to return to pre-pandemic brand values. But results are varied, and it may take years for some to recoup lost brand value, creating even greater disparity between the most and least valuable nation brands.”

US and China lead the pack

There has been no movement in the top 10 this year, with each nation retaining its rank from last year. All the top 10 have recorded a modest uplift in brand value, however, in line with the global trend across the ranking.

The US and China remain in a league of their own, claiming the first and second spot in the ranking, respectively. The US has recorded a five per cent brand value increase to $24.8 trillion in a year that has been marked by great political and economic change with President Joe Biden taking the helm.

Similarly, China saw a six per cent uptick in nation brand value to $19.9 trillion. Both nations have celebrated economic recovery since the outbreak of the pandemic, contributing to their uplift in brand value. China’s economy was the first to recover – doing so at a rapid pace – as the only nation to register positive GDP growth at the end of 2020 and growing at record pace in the first quarter of this year.

Haigh said: “The superpowers from the West and the East unsurprisingly dominate the Brand Finance Nation Brands ranking, with China remaining hot on the heels of long-standing leader, the US. With China’s recovery and economic rise showing no signs of slowing down, as growth hit a record high at the beginning of the year, no doubt the gap will continue to close in the coming years.”

Switzerland is world’s strongest nation brand

Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 83.3 out of 100. Switzerland’s BSI score has remained stable, while the nations around it saw theirs take a hit, resulting in Switzerland moving to the top spot for brand strength.

Fallout from the pandemic

At the same time, the UK, US, Japan, and France have all fallen out of the top 10 strongest nation brands ranking due to the perception of how they handled COVID-19.

Despite their brand strength taking a hit, these nations still feature in an unchanged top 10 when ranked by nation brand value.

Haigh said: “It will be important for the world’s largest economies to focus on making up the ground they have lost in brand strength, in order to protect their brand value. The UK, US, Japan, and France have all scored poorly domestically for their handling of COVID and they need to rebuild this trust with their respective populations.”