Qatar’s brand is now the ninth-most powerful in the world, according to an annual ranking released by UK-based consulting firm Brand Finance.
The Gulf country has made it to the top 10 in part because efforts to market itself as a tourism draw and a business-friendly destination for investment are paying off, the report said.
However, a methodology change means the 2015 results are not comparable to previous years, when Qatar did not fare as well.
This year’s strongest nation brands are Singapore, Switzerland and the UAE.
The report ranks countries by attempting to measure the value of a state’s tourism offerings, its image abroad and its appeal to businesses based on regulation, taxation, talent pool and protection for investors, among other factors.
By these measurements, Qatar appears to be overcoming allegations that the country supports terrorist organizations, is the home of widespread human rights abuses and was illegitimately awarded hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup, issues that have dominated international media coverage of the Gulf state in recent years.
“They are international transportation hubs with large, modern airports, that serve as the base world leading airlines … These act as flag carriers for their national and sub-national brands,” the report says.
Alongside its rapid expansion, Qatar Airways has broadened the reach of its brand through sponsorships and advertising campaigns.
This includes an agreement, reportedly worth more than US$200 million, to feature the airline’s logo on the team jerseys of FC Barcelona.
Nevertheless, Qatar’s tourism brand is still weak relative to the other countries that made the top 10 list. However, Qatar is expected to improve as the World Cup draws closer, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s tourism score is on an upwards trajectory in part because of unique attractions such as Abu Dhabi’s under-construction Louvre museum, Ferrari World at Yas Island and various water parks at high-end resorts.
Authorities are also trying to build Qatar’s reputation as a cultural destination, showcasing authentic Arab experiences, as well as an urban center with modern shopping malls and restaurants.
But overall, Qatar’s biggest brand strength is its appeal as an investment destination and benefits from low rates of crime and disorder.
“Doha (has) vast appeal for investors, highly skilled expatriate workers and tourists from Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” the report said.
However, while many international firms are drawn to Qatar for its growing, affluent population and business opportunities stemmed from massive infrastructure projects, some firms reportedly experience cash-flow problems once here – something local industry publication Qatar Construction News said is due to a “culture of late payments.”
The red tape associated with starting a business has also discouraged some would-be entrepreneurs based in Qatar.
The report also calculated the relative value of each country’s brand by taking the size of its economy into account.
By this measurement, Qatar ranks 36th, an improvement of one spot from last year.