Emirates Has Lost its Place as the Middle East’s Most Valuable Brand to STC
Posted on April 10, 2017

Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the brands of thousands of the world’s biggest companies. A brand’s strength is assessed (based on factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, preference, sustainability and margins) to determine what proportion of a business’s revenue is contributed by the brand. This is proportion is projected into perpetuity and discounted to determine the brand’s value. The Middle East’s 50 most valuable brands, classified by both their industry and their nation, have been announced and are featured in the Brand Finance Middle East 50.

The Corporate Brand Battle

Emirates has been the most valuable brand in the Middle East ever since Brand Finance initiated its ranking in 2010 and the Dubai-based airline has been top of its industry at a global level for the last five years. However, 2017 sees a surprising shift. Emirates’ brand value is down 21% to US$6.1 billion. This sees it lose its place at the top of its industry; three US brands (American, United and Delta) have overtaken it. Even more surprisingly however, Emirates has lost its place as the Middle East’s most valuable brand to STC.

STC grew 11% in value this year to US$6.2 billion. Brand Finance Middle East Managing Director Andrew Campbell comments, “The Riyadh-based giant demonstrates a departure from its once traditional approach; it is embarking down a path of ‘humanisation’, re-engaging its many stakeholders with a fresh, personable outlook. A clear indication of its success is the 5-point increase in its brand strength index score, proving that putting some heart into it pays off."

It is useful to look not just at the values of a specific brand but also the combined values of all brands owned by a corporate organisation. On a portfolio basis, Etisalat comes out on top in the Middle East, US$1.5 billion ahead of STC. Its stable of brands includes not just its flagship, but also Mobily, Maroc Telecom, PTCL, Ufone and Moov.

Qatar National Bank, the Middle East’s most valuable bank brand is up 56% to US$3.8bn. QNB completed the acquisition of Turkey’s Finansbank this year and continues to strengthen its position not just in the Middle East but in Africa and Asia Pacific too. Qatar Airways has been hit by the same trend as Emirates, its brand value falling 38% to US$2.16 billion, meaning it has lost its position as Qatar’s most valuable brand to QNB.

The National Brand Battle

STC’s victory means Saudi Arabia can now lay claim to the region’s most valuable brand after years of the UAE taking the title. Saudi Arabia has been less successful in other respects however. It continues to have the most brands in the table, 18 to UAE’s 17, however this is down from 21 last year. It also continues to trail the UAE on total brand value, making up 32% of the total value of the top 50; the UAE constitutes 44%.

Qatar continues to solidify its position as the Middle East’s third most important brand building nation, further marginalising Kuwait, which used to hold that status. Kuwait’s four brands now account for 7% of total brand value, less than half the total of Qatar’s eight brands.

Brand Finance’s Middle East Managing Director Andrew Campbell continues, “Zain flies the flag for Kuwait. It has improved its regional rank from 10th to 9th and is the Middle East’s second most powerful brand behind Emirates. However, Kuwait needs more brands to follow Zain’s example by investing in and managing brand value, if it is to regain its podium position in the region.”

Oman has just one brand in the list, with Omantel managing to improve its rank from 47th to 45th despite modest 5% brand value growth.

2017 sees a positive development for Jordan and Lebanon, which have both re-entered the Brand Finance Middle East 50. Jordan’s Arab Bank just edges out Lebanon’s Bank Audi with a brand value of US$382 million to US$368 million.

Bahrain is the only GCC nation not to feature. Ahli United bank, Bahrain’s most valuable brand has had a positive year, growing from US$252 million to US$296 million, however this has not been enough to reach the US$358 million threshold for 50th place.