Etisalat, Emaar, Saudi Telecom among Middle East’s best brands

Emaar Properties enters Brand Finance’s regional top 10 following tie-up with Aldar

Etisalat, the UAE telecoms operator with a 28 per cent stake in Saudi telecom operator Mobily, will see up to Dh175m wiped from group net profits in the coming years after a new annual royalties structure in the kingdom. Akintunde Akinleye for The National

UAE telecoms operator Etisalat overtook Saudi Telecom Company as the Middle East’s most valuable brand in Brand Finance’s list of the Middle East’s top 50 brands, published on Sunday.

“The Abu Dhabi-based operator has turned the dial up with a 40 per cent increase in its brand value, cementing its place as a strategic enabler in the UAE’s digital transformation,” the latest report said.

It comes after the research and consultancy firm issued its Global 500 list of the world’s top brands in February, in which Etisalat – with an estimated brand value of $7.7 billion this year – ranked 217th.

“The key growth drivers include the brand’s innovative customer service-driven strategy, its leadership position on the 5G revolution, and successful launches of global brand-building initiatives,” Brand Finance said.

The consultancy compiled its ranking by evaluating a company’s “brand strength” based on three key factors: marketing investment – methods used to create brand loyalty and market share; stakeholder equity – the perceptions among stakeholder groups including customers; and business performance, which includes market and financial measures to judge the success of the brand in achieving price and volume premiums, the consultancy said.

STC, Saudi Arabia’s national telecoms operator, slipped to second place in the Middle East ranking with an estimated brand value of $6.7bn, up 7 per cent from the 2017 regional league table.

The company is “cementing its place as a key contributor towards Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030” economic diversification strategy by creating opportunities outside its core telecoms business, including in cloud computing, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, Brand Finance said.


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Meanwhile, Dubai state carrier Emirates was third in the ranking, although its brand value fell 12 per cent to $5.3bn this year, according to the report. Despite economic turbulence over the past year, the airline has remained a "firm favourite among its loyal passenger base", Brand Finance said.

Beyond the top three, companies that made the list this year include Saudi chemicals major Sabic in fifth position with a brand value of $3.7bn, up 78 per cent from last year and making it Saudi Arabia's fastest growing brand, Emirates NBD bank in fifth position as the UAE's most valuable banking brand at $3.5bn, and First Abu Dhabi Bank in eighth position with a brand value of $3.1bn.

Dubai's Emaar Properties entered the top 10 for the first time, ranking ninth, following 39 per cent growth in its brand value to $2.7bn. Last month, the real estate developer signed a partnership agreement with Abu Dhabi-listed developer Aldar Properties.

“The strategic partnership between Aldar and Emaar strengthens prospects for the UAE’s real estate sector as well as delivering a real boost for the investment community as we inch closer towards Expo 2020,” said Andrew Campbell, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East.

UAE ports operator DP World’s brand value rose 31 per cent to $900 million, putting it 26th in the list, the rise attributed to its latest acquisitions in India and Peru which “significantly expand the brand’s footprint”, Brand Finance said. Entertainment company Dubai Parks and Resorts entered the list for the first time with a brand value of $300m.

The UAE is home to six of the Middle East’s top 10 brands and 42 per cent of the total brand value in the regional league table this year, more than any other regional country.

“It is a real testament to the region’s economic growth that we are seeing more world class brands emerging from the UAE,” Mr Campbell said.