UAE and KSA brand dominance leaves little room for other country players

10 May 2019 3 min. read

Brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance has revealed its most valuable Middle Eastern brands for 2019 – with those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia crowding the list.

Revealed earlier this year as the region’s most valuable brand on the global charts (in 208th spot at an assessed worth of $8.9 billion), the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – better known as ADNOC –  has naturally claimed this year’s top place in brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance’s annual Middle Eastern top 50. The only other regional firms to rank globally – Etisalat, STC, Emirates and Qatar National Bank – then round out the top five.

Representing the two largest regional economies, companies from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia altogether took up 38 of the 50 spots – at 19 apiece – while Qatar chipped in for another six, including top ten-placing telco Ooredoo and oil & gas company Woqod as a new entry. With only the available six places to share across the rest of the region, it was the Kuwaiti-headquartered telco Zain which achieved the highest placing, climbing one spot to 14th.

In accordance with the banking sector dominating the list – at a collective worth of nearly $40 billion for an around 35 percent overall share – National Bank of Kuwait was the next to follow from outside of the UAE, KSA or Qatar, landing in at 20th spot to be down one place on last year (in part due to ADNOC being a new entry). Also in the banking sector, Kuwait Finance House was similarly down one position to 23rd (yet added 29.5% to its worth last year), while Kuwaiti-born global logistics company Agility dropped six places to 44th.Middle East brand value by sectorThe final two places, both in the bottom five of the list, were shared by Jordan and Oman. Founded nearly 90 years ago in Palestine, the now Amman-headquartered Arab Bank claimed the 46th spot on the list as a new entry at an assessed brand worth of $475 million. Omani telco OmanTel meanwhile dropped five places to scrape in at 48th, pushed down by several other new entries from the UAE – with brands from the country accounting for close to half of the list’s overall worth.

And with Saudi Arabia already accounting for a further 31 percent, companies from outside of the leading three countries may soon find themselves slipping further again – should their competitors snatch their opportunity: “As the UAE looks ahead to Expo2020, Saudi Arabia races towards its Vision 2030 and Qatar gears up to host the World Cup in 2022, it is ever more important for these home-grown brands to be nurtured and catapulted to the global stage,” the report notes.

In terms of ‘brand strength’ – which feeds into brand value and is a measure of the ‘efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors’ – Emirates airline remained the region’s strongest brand at an index score of 85.8 out of 100 (while pushing its brand value to $6.3 billion, in adding 17.5 percent). Etisalat – formerly the region’s most valuable brand before being bumped by ADNOC – followed closely in second in respect to strength, with a score of 84.6.

Meanwhile, the Brand Finance report has also assessed sector reputation, noting with new technologies disrupting many industries, a poor reputation of the sector leaves all brands vulnerable to disruption. Here, the tech sector comes out on top (with YouTube the top-ranked brand in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE), despite ongoing reputational hits to some of the industry biggest players. In Saudi Arabia however, the tech sector was the bridesmaid to airlines.