Top 10s are always the hardest lists to categorise. Can anyone choose a top ten films or albums without defining a genre? That said here are my top ten brands in the Middle East purely collated on the basis of their disruptive power.
10 – Almarai (Dairy)
‘Quality You Can Trust’; a household name for dairy products across Saudia Arabia and beyond. Visionary leadership and consumer centric thinking enabled Almarai to transform Saudi Arabia’s traditional dairy farming industry and become world’s largest vertically integrated diary company. Their firm commitment to healthy living has given the business a clear focus and their brands a valuable role in enriching consumers’ lives.
9 – Ajmal (Perfume)
A perfumery that isn’t from France and yet is part of a trend that is changing scents worldwide. With a portfolio that covers traditionalists to young fashionistas, Ajmal has spent the last 62 years developing a range of over 300 fragrances, to challenge the hegemony of the major perfume and fashion houses.
8 – Bateel (Fine foods)
From dates to fine foods, Bateel defines quality - if it’s not a Bateel date then your host doesn’t value your presence. Bateel defines subtle sophistication, separating connoisseurs from the masses. In many ways Bateel is akin to the finest distilleries in Scotland, or the vineyards of France. Half the pleasure in consumption is knowing what others don’t.
7 – Etisalat (Communications)
With smart phone penetration reaching 60-70 percent within the GCC, broadband services increasing speed and the gradual digitalization of local economies, Etisalat drive an expanding communications, entertainment and payment infrastructure. Regional expansion has meant Etisalat has become many peoples communication gateway, influencing lives as it delivers quality infrastructure and services.
6 - Patchi Chocolates (Confectionary)
From the behemoths of the corporate world to the niche world of the chocolatier. However that could imply Patchi is a small company. With 145 boutiques in 28 countries it is taking on the likes of Lindt in its own backyard, even creating the World’s most expensive box of chocolates at £5,000.
5 – Emaar (Property)
Another of Dubai’s pillar businesses delivering the Emirate’s vision. Emaar has transcended the business of bricks and mortar, to become a lifestyle company. Like Dubai itself, the secret to its success has been leadership, passion and unwavering commitment to quality.
4 – Mubadala (Investment)
Some may regard Mubadala as a strange choice given that many would not understand who they are or what they do. However Mubadala’s influence touches many sectors from energy provision to Ferrari to aerospace. I’m sure Mubadala will be the 21st Century equivalent of GE.
3 - Al Jezeera (Media)
With established rivals such as the BBC and CNN, Al Jezeera has cut a new path, breaking news stories and not shying away from the realities of troubled communities. In a region that has tight, implicit media controls, Al Jezeera is a breath of fresh air, providing an Arab insight to the challenges the world faces.
2 – Emirates (Transport)
Since its inauguration in 1985, Emirates has been the distribution channel of Dubai. Like Dubai it continues to set the product and service benchmarks, innovating at a rate that others struggle to compete with. Look no further than its ICE IFE system for a demonstration.
1 – Dubai
Pictures tell a thousand words. Anyone who is in any doubt of Dubai’s position as number one should look at the images over the last 30 years.
It’s truly staggering what has been achieved through a carefully crafted mix of visionary leadership, pricing, distribution, product, services and experiences that capture the imagination of tourists and entrepreneurs alike.
Dubai is an Emirate but displays all the characteristics of an FMCG brand, in fact it’s the GCC’s Apple. It’s never the first to market but when it enters, it changes the game, disrupts the competition and sets the benchmark ever higher.
John Brash, CEO of Brash, a leading independent brand and business consultancy in the Middle East, unveils his top 10 brands.
Named 19th most influential Brit in The Arabian Business Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Brits in the UAE, Brash was made an Honorary Professor by Amity University in recognition of his distinguished 27-year career in branding.