‘Brand Qatar takes hit due to MidEast diplomatic dispute’: Strategist

‘Brand Qatar’ has taken a hit in the wake of the ongoing diplomatic dispute with its Arab neighbours (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt), says a globally renowned brand strategist.

“Brand Qatar has been challenged with negative impact across global stakeholders due to the diplomatic stand-off between the nation and Arab Gulf countries. Brand Qatar will be impacted until a solution is found to the current issues, after which some repair work needs to be done to regain the lost brand equity,” says business & brand strategist Martin Roll from global advisory firm Martin Roll Company.

Roll is a strategic branding expert and has advised several governments on nation branding strategy (www.martinroll.com).

Speaking to GMR exclusively, Roll notes: “Countries are generally dependent on positive associations as it benefits foreign direct investment, business and exports, tourism and, more broadly, across social and political issues.”

The positive associations, he added, are referred to country-of-origin effects and they impact the brand equity of a nation directly.

“Brand Qatar has built up a positive image over recent years as the nation was emerging quickly as a new economy, with heavy investments in infrastructure and economic developments, including the rise of Doha as a regional hub connecting the region to the world,” he says.

However, recent media reports, attributing that the Qatar Airways CEO disparaged American carriers and made fun of US flight attendants, do not impact Qatar’s image positively, Roll says.

“Qatar Airways is a great airline and has established itself on the global scene as a fresh new player with modern aircrafts, service levels and global reach. The comments from the Qatar Airways CEO do not add positively to the current situation and is regrettable as Qatar Airways is both respected and not directly involved in the political events,” Roll explains.

Friend or enemy?

A joint poll by Arab News (Middle East’s leading English-language daily) and YouGov (one of the world’s leading market research companies) released day before yesterday has also found that just 27 per cent of Americans consider Qatar as a friend or ally to the US, while many others associate Doha with accusations of terror financing.

The survey of 2,263 US citizens, conducted in July, also found that 31 per cent of Americans consider Qatar to be an enemy of their country, while 43 percent either don’t know or are unsure about how to classify the relationship with Doha.

The Arab News / YouGov poll on how the US views the Qatar crisis was carried out to mark 60 days since the start of the diplomatic rift between Qatar and its Arab neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

When asked about their general perceptions of Qatar, the poll found that 50 percent did not have enough information. Of those who did, the greatest proportion of US citizens – 34 per cent – associate Qatar with accusations of terror financing, compared to just 16 per cent who cited the Gulf state’s controversial hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“It is interesting to see that despite the billions spent by Qatar on various ‘soft power’ initiatives – from education to charity to international sport – the study has found that there are more Americans that associate it with supporting terror than anything else,” said Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas.

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