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Forbes Arabia recently released its list of top Arab brands for 2008, and half of the top ten spots are occupied by media.

February 2, 2009 10:11 by

Forbes Arabia magazine released its second Top 40 Arab Brands survey last month, and Al Jazeera comes up trumps, again. The Qatar-based television news channel was the top-seeded brand of Forbes’ last survey in 2006, and has since expanded internationally with the launch of Al Jazeera International in 2006, keeping it at the top of 1,200 minds across the Arab world.

With half of the top 10 spots in the list occupied by media, and the rest including food products, an airline, a telecoms company and a paper products producer, the list picks up where the 2006 roster left off. Rotana, LBC, Etisalat, and Melody make it into the top 10, while Americana, Burj Al Arab, Jarir Bookstore and Emaar have dropped off the leaderboard.

Researchers presented the participants of the survey with 82 brands originally, explains Khuloud Al Omian, managing editor of Forbes Arabia, broken down into categories: airlines, cosmetic and fashion products, real estate and construction, consumer products, hospitality and leisure, media and entertainment, telecommunications, banking and finance, transport and travel, luxury products and food, beverage and household products. The survey, conducted by marketing research firm TNS Middle East & Africa, posed four questions to respondents between the ages of 18 to 55 across 12 countries: How popular do you think the brand is? Does the brand meet your needs? How important are Arab brands to you? How important is each of the brands to you? The top 40 brands made it into the final list.

“Most companies in the top 40 come from the Gulf,” says Al Omian. “I think the Gulf is very interested in production, in investing in brands, and in expansion. Even though brands from the region are younger than some in other countries, they rise quickly because there is the capability for expansion, for advertising, and in most cases, the capability to ensure the quality is just as good.”

We asked Hermann Behrens, CEO of The Brand Union Middle East how much the results reflect brand strategy versus plain old right place, right timing. He says brand growth and development is complex in a region that is changing so rapidly. “Strong brands are not as a result of circumstance but rather reflective of how a brand reacts to circumstance. That is to say, changes in the market, consumer sentiment, cultural issues, economic circumstances, etcetera,” he says. “Creating brand loyalty is especially important in times of economic crisis when consumers look beyond the brand and focus more on what value the brands provide them.”

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