The UAE has “challenged the western status quo” to be ranked among the strongest nation brands in the world.
Brand Finance this year lists the Emirates at number 11 in its global brand Strength Index — beating the UK and US.
The UAE climbed three spots from last year, after a 2.5-point increase in its Brand Strength Index (BSI) score to 79.1 out of 100.
Separate metrics showed a rise in the country's economic ranking and financial value.
“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,” said Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.
“There is no doubt that achieving 11 per cent brand value growth, from $672bn to $749bn, 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.”
Brand Finance measures the relative strength of nation brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance. The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index — the world’s most comprehensive research on nation brand perceptions, surveying opinions of more than 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries.
Switzerland, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore and Germany comprised the top five, followed by Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand.
Mars Mission, Expo and Golden Jubilee make 2021 a bumper year
Overseas perceptions of the UAE’s prowess in the Education and Science pillar are high, and the successful Emirates Mars Mission is a factor, state news agency Wam reported.
The UAE also stood out for its Covid-19 response, and scored high for the Influence and Business and Trade pillars, both of which should receive a further boost from Expo 2020 Dubai.
The rise from 14th to 11th place in the Brand Finance 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”, said Mr Al Gergawi.
He said the UAE's rise by three positions over the past year reflects the pioneering projects and policies that have helped foster a climate of excellence, competitiveness, innovation and leadership.
It also comes in conjunction with the golden jubilee of the nation’s founding, which will mark the beginning of a new stage of development and creativity, said Mr Al Gergawi.
Andrew Campbell, managing director at 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, 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 Dubai.”
The UAE improved its position in the nation brand value ranking, claiming 17th position, compared to 18th last year, after an impressive 11 per cent increase in nation brand value to US$749 billion.
The continued increases in brand strength and value are testament to the UAE’s strategy of diversifying its economy for long-term growth and solidify its position as the foremost nation brand in the Middle East.
Total nation brand value up 7 per cent
The top 100 most valuable nation brands in the world have recorded a 7 per cent increase in brand value since 2020, signalling that recovery is under way from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although this is a positive sign, uncertainty lingers and nation brand values have not reached pre-pandemic levels yet. At US$90.8 trillion, this year’s total brand value of the top 100 ranking is still 7 per cent lower compared to 2019.
'Handling of pandemic and recovery set nations apart'
David Haigh, chairman and chief executive of 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 roll-out. 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.”
Switzerland No 1
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. According to Brand Finance’s research, the Alpine nation saw external perceptions slightly rise following its strong response to Covid-19.
The country used a mix of compulsory and non-compulsory measures during the pandemic to control the spread of the virus. For example, non-essential businesses had to close, but the government’s order to stay at home was only ever advisory — entrusting the people to make the decision for themselves.
This is reflective of Switzerland’s model of government, with the public allowed to voice their opinions on laws through frequent referendums — last year the population rejected a motion to end its freedom of movement agreement with the EU and voted to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal.
Mr Haigh said, “Small size is no barrier to occupying a solid position for nation brand strength and Switzerland securing the top spot this year is the perfect example. Switzerland has held firm whilst other nations have faltered over the course of the pandemic. The nation has recently been thrust under the spotlight, however, with the leak of the Pandora Papers, which could taint its reputation as Swiss financial advisers are scrutinised on the global stage.”
US and UK score poorly at home and abroad
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.
The UK, falling from second to 14th with a BSI score of 77.4, and France, falling from ninth to 16th with a score of 75.4, recorded average Global Soft Power Index scores for overseas perceptions of their handling of the pandemic, but perceptions domestically were particularly low.
Japan, falling from seventh to 15th with a score of 76.7, had a similar experience with the perception at home that the pandemic was mishandled. However, this is different when compared to perception abroad, where it achieved some of the highest scores in the Global Soft Power Index research.
The US, dropping from 4th to 17th with a score of 75.1, saw poor scores at home and abroad, and was also one of the lowest ranked nations by the specialists.
Despite their brand strength taking a hit, these nations all still feature in an unchanged top 10 when ranked by nation brand value.
Mr Haigh added: “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.”