Nation Branding and its Potential for Differentiation in Regional Politics: The Case of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar

Cornelia ZEINEDDINE, Luminita NICOLESCU

Abstract


Simon Anholt, who fathered the concept of nation branding, values the nation brand as the most important resource of a state as it contributes to obtaining a competitive advantage and a consolidated position in the international marketplace. This paper pinpoints how Anholt’s paradigm for nation branding applies in the case study of two Middle Eastern countries: the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar and its benefits for this regional context. The Middle Eastern countries operate less with the nation branding concepts when compared with the Western world. However, the UAE and Qatar used nation branding techniques quite savvy, Anholt’s model internalization being relevant. As of today, the UAE represents Middle East’s most powerful brand, while one of its main cities- Dubai- has gained a reputation for its cosmopolitan vibe, whereas Doha of Qatar is consolidating its fame on the international sports circuit. Overall, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc - a region of great wealth positioned between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula- has become acquainted with the advantages of nation branding. Despite the fact that these countries did not target creating a nation brand per se, they took measures for economic development that resulted in nation branding and regional differentiation. In the recent years, Qatar and the UAE have developed strategies for branding attractions that help in distinguishing themselves from their neighbors. The study uses Anholt’s conceptual framework for assessing the two countries in their different development stages and from a comparative viewpoint, identifying both communalities and differentiating strategies while developing nation brands. The conclusion is that nation branding can be particularly beneficial to nations from emerging economies and that the GCC specifically can benefit from this process.


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