BrandZ: innovation presents growth opportunity for Emirati and Saudi brands

The inaugural BrandZ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati and Saudi brands have a combined value of $50 billion, with banks and telecom providers contributing 70% of total brand value.
06 October 2020
Women in hijab using smartphones
Get in touch

Identifying the most valuable brands in the region, the inaugural BrandZ™ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati and Saudi Brands 2020 ranking was released today by WPP and Kantar. With a combined value of $50 billion, the ranking includes consumer-facing brands from across a range of categories, from food to energy, which reflect the changing lifestyles and attitudes within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

The brands featured in the new BrandZ™ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati and Saudi Brands ranking 2020 are based on the unique and objective BrandZ™ brand valuation methodology that combines extensive and on-going consumer insights with rigorous financial analysis. For this study, over 12,000 consumers were interviewed about 343 brands across 19 categories.

Telecom providers and banks contribute 70% ($35 billion) of the combined brand value of the Top 30. Saudi telecom giant STC is the most valuable brand, worth $9.7 billion, topping the ranking due to its scale and strength, as well as bold new communications initiatives and a strong sense of brand purpose. As well as providing telecom services, it has made efforts to promote opportunities for women, young people and those with disabilities.

With its focus on customer experience, Etisalat ($5.2 billion) is the second most valuable brand. The telecoms company focuses on how technology enriches people’s lives, communicated through its “Together Matters” tagline and Smiles loyalty scheme. Al Rajhi Bank ($4.7 billion) and FAB ($3.9 billion) are no. 3 and no. 4, out of the 13 banking brands in the Top 30.

Emirates ($3 billion) completes the top five with the highest brand equity of the Top 30 brands. The only airline in the ranking, Emirates has successfully integrated online and offline services for a seamless customer experience, while pioneering sustainable measures.

HungerStation (no. 25; $488 million) is the youngest brand in this inaugural ranking and the only lifestyle platform in the Top 30. Its success shows the importance of understanding the market, from what people eat to how they shop, as well as the effectiveness of targeting different consumer groups with different communications. During the coronavirus pandemic the brand offered free delivery of groceries and pharmacy products to its customers.

Knowing the importance of local cuisine in people’s lives has propelled two food brands, Almarai (no. 6; $2.8 billion) and Saudia (no. 30; $290 million) into the ranking. Accounting for 6% of the Top 30’s value, both brands have expanded from their original dairy business, although this remains their primary focus because of its prominence in regional dishes.

Real estate brand Emaar (no. 9; $1.8 billion) has put innovation at the forefront of its customer experience by developing the Emaar ONE app to allow homeowners to fully manage their property from their phone. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) (no. 11, $1.7 billion) has successfully expanded its oil and gas operations across the region to meet the challenges of an ever-changing energy market.

Many brands have adapted their communications to reflect the developing role of women in the region and in the corporate world. Banks in particular have placed women at the heart of their brand building efforts, including Riyad Bank (no. 13; $1.0 billion) which offers specialised banking services with professional women-only staff. Samba (no.15; $901 million) offers dedicated branches for women and became the first banking group with a female CEO in Saudi Arabia.

In this first BrandZ ranking to cover Emirati and Saudi brands, it’s clear that there are huge opportunities in the region for brands that can adapt to new and dynamic markets and meet fast-changing consumer needs. Creating value by developing meaningfully different, valuable and responsible brands in the region is good for consumers, economies, businesses, employers and shareholders alike.


Our first Top 30 ranking is reflective of the diversity and dynamic nature of life within the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We see brands that have a long history in the region, as well as new and upcoming brands that are influencing the way people live, shop, eat and travel. It’s an exciting time as new innovative brands collide with old, but what they have in common is a desire to meet the demands of a changing society. At the same time, brands have had to adapt quickly during the global pandemic to meet customer needs and support local communities at a time of crisis.

Other key trends in the BrandZ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati and Saudi Brands ranking:

Closing the innovation gap – improving perceptions of innovation is a significant opportunity for brands to drive brand value growth and to connect with new generations of customers. With no pure-play technology companies in the Top 30, there is a big opportunity for brands to step into the breach and capitalise on digital connectivity and meet changing consumer behaviour, such as the move to online shopping

Disruptive and emerging brands are knocking on the door of the Top 30, including challenger brand Noon, which uses innovative geo-tagging technology to deliver products to exactly the right place, adding grocery to its existing portfolio to expand its base during the pandemic. Ride-hailing app, Careem has evolved its range of services including online grocery, while CAFU, the most disruptive brand in the region and scoring high on ‘difference’, is offering the first petrol delivery application and has customised its offerings to different types of customers. In addition, Saudi brand Albaik is shaking up fast food with its ‘must-have’ broasted chicken

Brand purpose is an untapped opportunity for brands in the region to increase brand value further. Companies like HungerStation, Emirates, Albaik and Almaria all score highly on the BrandZ Purpose Index. While purpose is not about ‘saving the world’, brands are recognising that even small steps can make a big difference with consumers

The BrandZ strong brand portfolios have consistently outperformed the market, including the S&P 500 and MSCI World Index. This validates the role of marketing and brand-building investment to support recovery at a critical time for businesses.

To find out more, view the BrandZ™ Top 30 Most Valuable Emirati and Saudi Brands report, ranking and extensive analysis.

Get in touch
Related solutions
Access insights from the largest global brand equity study: 4 million consumers, 20,000 brands across 50 markets.
Kantar BrandZ 2022 Emirates and Saudi Arabia Report
Discover the most valuable Emirati and Saudi brands, and how strong brand perceptions can provide a shield from future downturns.
Download the report