Over the past 50 years, the UAE has been climbing up through a number of global rankings, be they focused on growing tourism, foreign investment or development. Yesterday, news broke of its rising prominence on two global rankings that measure among the most fundamental factors behind a country’s success: whether people at home and abroad respect and value it.
In an important sign of things going well at home, the UAE jumped 10 places to be ranked the fourth-best place in the world in which to live and work, according to HSBC’s 14th annual Expat Explorer study, which polled people who live and work abroad in 46 countries.
And in a global sense, the firm Brand Finance listed the UAE at number 11 in its global brand Strength Index. This position beats the UK and US, something that “challenges the western status quo”, according to Andrew Campbell, managing director at Brand Finance Middle East.
Brand value brings together metrics that contribute to an overall global reputation, including brand investment, brand equity and brand performance, as well as results from the Global Soft Power Index. Soft power, defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the use of a country's cultural and economic influence to persuade other countries to do something”, has had a particularly strong few months in the UAE. From the country’s Mars Mission to Expo 2020 Dubai, the world’s eyes have been on the Emirates this year.
And beyond long-term projects, the unplanned-for disaster of Covid-19 and the UAE’s response to it has also lifted it up the rankings. David Haigh, chairman and chief executive of Brand Finance, has pointed to the fact that recovery from the virus favours those who dealt with it proactively in the first place. That is one of the reasons why the UAE's global reputation is growing further, and why the UK, US, France and Japan have all dropped out of Brand Finance’s top 10.
Instead, it was in countries such as the Emirates where global events returned, and have been under way for some time. And, fundamentally, this is where an effective response to the pandemic garnered a reputation for competence.
Closer to home, HSBC’s survey reminds us that the same success that ensures an international outlook also secures life at home. In the UAE, 86 per cent of overseas workers said their overall quality of life is better than in their home country and more than 80 per cent of residents feel optimistic that life will return to normal in the next 12 months. There are very few countries, even rich ones, that can command such confidence. The global average was 75 per cent.
In recent years, the UAE has been growing consistently in its status and influence. That it was able to continue doing so during one of the greatest crises in modern times is even more remarkable. It is no surprise, then, that so many want to live here and be associated with the country.