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Telecom giants STC, Etisalat are most valuable brands in UAE and Saudi Arabia

Dubai: Two telecom giants, STC ($9.7 billion) and Etisalat ($5.2 billion), are the Top 2 most valuable brands in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, followed by two banks – Al Rajhi ($4.7 billion) and FAB ($3.9 billion). Emirates airline, with a brand value of $3 billion, places fifth in the first such rankings brought out media giant WPP and branding consultancy Kantar.

In all, 30 brands have been ranked, and together account for $50 billion in value. Only those entities from the UAE and Saudi Arabia were reviewed and assigned rankings and value this time. WPP and Kantar have repeated the same formula that they follow for the annual global rankings of the most valuable brands.

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On whether the COVID-19 left its impact on regional brands, Amol Ghate, CEO – Middle East at the Insights Division, Kantar, said: “At the moment, we cannot say this from the Emirati and Saudi BrandZ data since this is the inaugural edition and we don’t have trends to compare against.

“What we can say is based on the Global BrandZ Top 100 work, we have seen that sectors like automotive and airlines were disproportionately affected owing to the pandemic. However, we can confidently say both the Global BrandZ Top 100 as well as from the Emirati and Saudi BrandZ Top 30 that the stronger brands showed more resilience than weaker brands and declined lesser than the average brand.”

Coming up with the rankings

In all, 343 brand performances were put through the test, and the process involved seeking consumer insights as well as tallying financial info from what’s available in the marketplace. More than 12,000 consumers were interviewed about the 343 brands across 19 categories.

If Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook lord it in the global rankings, over here, online entities still have some way to go before they have a clear sighting of the top ranks.

Getting there

A snapshot of the brands that made the cut in the first UAE and Saudi focussed rankings from WPP and Kantar.
Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Kantar says the digital-only brands are “knocking” on the door of the Top 30. There is noon, and its move to add grocery to its marketplace won it favours during the pandemic. The ride-hailing app Careem is another, and then there is CAFU – the petrol-on-order app. In fact, Kantar rates CAFU as being the “most disruptive brand in the region” and scoring big on “difference”.

Only those companies that are publicly listed or where the financial info is available in the public domain were considered. That excluded many privately held brands and popular online apps/portals. 

“Many of the online-only brands are found to be highly meaningful and different, and therefore garner a high brand power share,” said Ghate. “They are seen as brands that are making consumer lives better and leading the way by setting trends.

“However, it is important to understand the criteria for brands to be considered for the valuation list: (a) they have to have originated locally in the UAE or Saudi Arabia; (b) they should be publicly-listed on a recognized stock exchange and their financial data should be available freely, and (c) they should be consumer-facing brands.” (The first criterion thus excludes Amazon, even though its regional operations had acquired

From a consumer feedback perspective, we do have data for online brands, as we have captured consumer feedback on many in the online retail, online takeaway, video entertainment and online sharing & networking space

Amol Ghate of Kantar



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