For the fourth year running, the Emirates achieved the highest score of any Middle Eastern nation brand, but this year’s increase stood out
Published: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 1: 46 PM
Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 7: 38 PM
The UAE has been ranked among the world’s top 10 soft power superpowers for the first time and is the only nation from the Middle East in the top 10 positions, according to the Global Soft Power Index 2023 released on Thursday.
The index is a research study conducted annually by brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance on a representative sample of over 100,000 respondents in more than 100 markets worldwide, measuring perceptions of 121 nation brands.
With otherwise little change in the top 10, the performance of the UAE is a standout. For the fourth year running, the Emirates achieved the highest score of any Middle Eastern nation brand, but this year’s increase of +3.2 to 55.2 has meant a jump of five ranks to allow it to claim 10th position in the global ranking for the first time.
Alongside the three key performance indicators of Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence, the Global Soft Power Index also measures perceptions of nation brands across 35 attributes grouped under 8 Soft Power Pillars. Both the Reputation and Influence of the Emirates have seen notable increases this year.
“The UAE was one of the first economies to roll out mass vaccination and open during the Covid-19 pandemic, giving it a head start ahead of others and allowing it to maintain positive perceptions across the business and trade pillar with a particular improvement on the ‘future growth potential’ attribute, where it ranks 3rd globally,” said David Haigh, chairman and CEO of Brand Finance.
“The successful showcase of the Emirates as a global trade hub thanks to Expo 2020 has also undoubtedly provided a significant boost. At the same time, the UAE is one of the largest donors of foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, which is recognised by the global general public counting it the world’s third most “generous” nation.”
Perceptions of the UAE’s Governance and International Relations are on the up too and the nation’s salience is only expected to grow. The Emirates Mars Mission has landed the UAE at 8th for “invests in space exploration” while hosting the world’s most high-profile climate conference, COP28, which will put the nation firmly in the spotlight in 2023. The historically oil-heavy economy continues to increase its commitment to diversification, innovation, and investment in a more Sustainable Future. The UAE already scores relatively high on the new soft power pillar of that name, placing 19th globally.
Gulf nations on the rise
Other Gulf nations have also seen a surge in Global Soft Power Index scores in 2023, explained by a growing salience at a time of a global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Home to one-quarter of the world’s known oil reserves and with the largest output of oil production globally, Saudi Arabia has gone up to 9th in the Influence ranking and enters the overall Index top 20 for the first time at 19th.
Fellow Gulf nation Qatar has also seen impressive gains in this year’s Global Soft Power Index. In 2022, Qatar hosted the world’s most widely viewed sporting event, the FIFA Football World Cup. Organising a major sporting event can really put a nation brand on the map. With improvements recorded across the three KPIs of Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence, Qatar enters the top 25 for the first time, coming 24th in the overall Index ranking.
US still No. 1
Under President Joe Biden, the US reclaimed its top spot in the ranking in last year’s Index and has further increased the lead over other nation brands this year. The USA’s overall score is up +4.1 points to an all-time high of 74.8. With the strengthening of the dollar and widely publicised large-scale investment projects by the federal government, perceptions of the US economy are on the up, resulting in America claiming the top spot for business and trade from China.
The UK has defended its 2nd position in the Index this year, with an increase of +2.4 points to 65.8, recording increases across a number of attributes, from “good relations with other countries” (up 7 ranks) to “appealing lifestyle” (up 5 ranks).
Many worried about Germany losing its international standing after the departure of Angela Merkel. A year later, the nation has largely held its own, retaining 3rd position in the Index, with an increase of +1.2 points to 65.8. Olaf
Although China has seen marginal growth in its Global Soft Power Index score (+0.8 to 65.0), it dropped in the ranking from 4th in 2022 to 5th in 2023, overtaken by Japan.