Etisalat has been named the Middle East’s most valuable brand for the first time; dethroning heavyweights such as Emirates, Etihad, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 report. The Abu Dhabi-based telecom operator, has turned the dial up with a 40% increase to its brand value, cementing its place as a strategic enabler in the UAE’s digital transformation.

The key growth drivers behind the US$7.7 billion brand value include the launch of Etisalat’s popular “Smiles” loyalty programme alongside the user friendly app. Additionally, Etisalat has amplified the rollout of its smart “Customer Experience Centres” and renewed support for its global football sponsorships with further focus on its partnership with Manchester City Football Club.

Andrew Campbell, Managing Director of Brand Finance Middle East, commented, “The UAE’s focus on digital innovation has helped support Etisalat brand’s success and paved the way for future growth ahead of Expo 2020. With its stated strategy of ‘Driving the Digital Future’, Etisalat has adapted to a new competitive marketplace dominated by the rise of tech giants”.

Digital era is now as technology brands make their way up the ranks

For the first time since the inception of the Brand Finance Global 500 study, technology brands claim all top 5 places in the league table. Samsung (4th, US$92.3 billion) and Facebook (5th, US$89.7 billion) both recorded impressive year-on-year brand value growth of 39% and 45% respectively, overtaking AT&T (6th, US$82.4 billion). Change at the top is reflective of a wider global trend as the technology sector accounts for more than twice as much brand value as telecoms.

The dominance of digital is set to grow even more in the coming years as other brands make their way up the Global 500. Google-owned YouTube more than doubled its brand value to US$25.9 billion, jumping 70 places to 42nd. Chinese technology brands, taking advantage of captive market conditions, can also boast high brand value growth, with Alibaba (12th), Tencent (21st), WeChat (49th), Baidu (57th), JD (65th), and NetEase (121st), going up by an average of 67% year on year.

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