UAE Reaches Global Top Ten In ‘Soft Power’ – Report


The UAE has powered its way into the Top 10 nations on ‘soft power’ status, a list that sees the United States at the top. These rankings are based on where a country stands on parameters such as reputation, influence and familiarity. This is based on the Global Soft Power Index, and is calibrated every year. It is based on a representative sample of 100,000 plus respondents in over 100 markets, measuring perceptions of 121 ‘nation brands’.

A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power includes culture, political values, and foreign policies.

The report stated that “The UAE was one of the first economies to roll out mass vaccination and open during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving it a head start ahead of others and allowing it to maintain positive perceptions across the business and trade pillar with a particular improvement on the ‘future growth potential’ attribute, where it ranks third globally.”

For a fourth year running, the UAE achieved the highest score of any Middle Eastern nation brand, but this year’s increase by 3.2 to 55.2 ‘meant a jump of five ranks to allow it to claim 10th position in the global ranking for the first time.

The UAE has built on the legacy provided by the Dubai Expo 2020 as well as the visibility brought on from what it did in the pandemic phase. It is the only country from the Middle East represented in the Top 10, though there are significant gains for Saudi Arabia and Qatar, following its hosting of the successful 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.

Beyond Expo 2020 

Perceptions of the UAE’s governance and international relations counted for a lot in making it to the Top 10, as did the Mission to Mars and the wider ambitions on space. There is also the momentum build as host to the COP28 conference on creating more safeguards for the environment and action on climate. “The historically oil-heavy economy continues to increase its commitment to diversification, innovation, and investment in a more sustainable future,” says the report.

Gulf Nations Increasing Influence  

Other Gulf nations too have made marked gains in the soft power stakes, using the energy situation to their advantage after the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “Saudi Arabia is looking beyond oil – showcasing its tourism appeal on the one hand and commitment to energy transition on the other,” the report notes. “It ranks 11th in the world for ‘rich heritage’ and places highly for ‘invests in green energy and technologies’ (25th) as well as ‘sustainable cities and transport’ (27th).”

Qatar made strides on soft power, as was expected from the staging of the FIFA World Cup. “Organising a major sporting event can really put a nation brand on the map,” Brand Finance states. “With improvements recorded across the three KPIs – familiarity, reputation, and influence – Qatar enters the Top 25 for the first time.”

The 2023 ‘Soft Power’ top ten also included, in descending order, apart from the United States and UAE,  the UK, Germany, Japan, China, France, Canada, Switzerland and Italy. Neither economic giants and globally influential India or Russia made the top 20.

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