Expo 2020 Dubai compels regional brands to go global

Expo was a realisation that a world of opportunities exists beyond borders.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sun 10 Apr 2022, 3:51 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Apr 2022, 4:03 AM

Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy will compel regional brands to think global and will bring in branding strategies that will boost their footprint. The mega-event set the stage for global consumers with a message of the UAE being a global gateway.

The UAE has ranked 14th globally and first regionally in Kearney’s 2022 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index. The country is one of only four emerging markets on the 2022 index along with Qatar, China, and Brazil, and has recorded a higher ranking this year in an increasingly competitive global FDI attraction environment.

The business environment in the UAE has continued to strengthen based on factors that are most important to investors, including growing technological and innovation capabilities. Central to the country’s attractiveness as a business and financial hub are plans to deepen trade ties in fast-growing economies in Asia and Africa with the aim to invite $150 billion in foreign investment. Kearney projects a strong average growth of 5.4 per cent over the next three years, bolstered by institutional reforms to promote trade and investment and improve the ease of doing business in the country.

“If we are to create the future, we must use the opportunity that Expo 2020 has provided us – which was to connect minds. At Expo 2020, we saw some of the world’s smallest and largest countries actively pitching their business brands to the region. The Expo gave these visiting businesses the opportunity to physically experience how the UAE has built for itself a vibrant business community,” said Ramesh Menon, CEO, brandform

“For companies in the UAE, the Expo was a realisation that a world of opportunities exists beyond their local or regional borders – physical or imagined. With our advantageous location, advanced logistics networks, and connectivity, there is very little to stop us from scaling to new markets.

“There are only two limitations to scaling – one, our capability to actually deliver services or products (which is dependent on individual businesses), and two, how we want to be perceived by our audiences in those new markets. It is with these audiences – business partners or direct consumers - that companies in the UAE need to build corporate, product or service brands (and communications) that exude internationalism, credibility, quality, and consistency.”

The mega event had participation from top regional brands having their dedicated pavilions like Enoc, DP World and many more.

The six months period of the Expo witnessed the exchange of ideas from global markets and brands providing a platform to understand regional brands paving the way for business collaborations.

Laszlo Svinger, vice president and managing director at 3M Middle East & Africa, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai will go down in history as one of the most notable world expos as it has continuously focused on addressing global problems with technology and innovation at its helm amid a global pandemic. As a multinational conglomerate and a well-known brand operating across various industries such as automotive, construction, manufacturing, safety, health care, and consumer, we expect to see new and innovative solutions driving the future of these industries post-Expo, and the global platform has played a key role in making that happen.”

Endorsing similar sentiment, Andrew Campbell, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East, said: “The Expo opened a door for many businesses in the UAE, and it is now up to businesses to walk through the door and take advantage of the opportunities that arise. Brand Finance’s research shows that businesses need to have a clear brand identity by understanding what their brand purpose is, communicating that purpose to key stakeholders, and then delivering on that purpose to customers.”

Recently e& — formerly known as Etisalat Group — appointed Paris-headquartered Publicis Groupe as its creative partner. Utilising its robust UAE and global presence, Publicis Groupe will provide creative services for all e& business pillars in support of their transformation journey. e& had just announced its transformation from a giant telco with digitalisation capabilities into a global technology and investment conglomerate in February. Etisalat Group has changed its brand identity to e& and its strategy aims to accelerate growth through the creation of a resilient business model representing the group’s main business pillars.

“Positioning a brand in global markets needs first a change in mindsets. From product names to service features, owners need to honestly review what makes their current brands unique locally, and how much of that uniqueness is relevant internationally. Often, this is not possible through internal review and may need the assistance of brand strategists with relevant experience. It is also hugely important to conduct a brand audit of existing, competitive products/services in the markets chosen, to understand what makes them successful, and how well they engage with the communities they target,” added Menon

“The success of UAE brands in the international market, including visibility is initially dependent on aligning them closely with any international trade marketing opportunities that the UAE government provides, supports, or participates in. Any brand from the UAE going global must always remember that it comes from the stables of a well-established country brand. This is why it is important for such brands to carry the ‘Made in the UAE’ flag – a legacy and promise that will not only help them but others who seek to conquer new markets.” — sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

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