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Multinational research team wins grant to develop ‘Brand UAE’

Sunday, 6 October, 2013

UOWD professor among a team of researchers set to develop a national brand for the UAE

A team of researchers from the UAE, Hong Kong and the USA has been awarded a two-year research grant to create and launch a national brand for the UAE.

The multinational team showcases international and inter-university collaboration and includes marketing experts from Zayed University, University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), George Washington University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the Academy of Arts University, San Francisco. The researchers bring a multidisciplinary skillset including expertise in tourism and hospitality, marketing in industry, and international communications strategy.

Inspired by the call from the Prime Minister’s Office to develop a place brand design for the UAE, the team submitted a bid to the Research Incentive Fund (RIF), a competitive grant scheme administered by Zayed University. The team was successful in securing an award of AED 65,200 to research the concepts surrounding place branding, and ultimately come up with ‘Brand UAE’.

Dr Ian Michael, Associate Professor at Zayed University and an expert in tourism marketing said, “There isn’t a vast amount of international research on place branding, so this collaboration aims to provide the insights that will help develop a greater understanding of this important subset of marketing, whilst delivering a national brand for the UAE.”   

Dr Melodena Balakrishnan, Associate Professor at UOWD and an expert in place and MENA marketing said, “This is an important project given the growing significance of the tourism industry to the UAE economy. It is also the foundation for other prospective studies around neuro-marketing, which is very much at the cutting edge of research in this field. Our research will have implications for a cross-sector of stakeholders, from the national Government and its entities, to investors, tourism organisations, and the UAE’s own citizens and residents.

“The first phase of the research involves building the brand architecture – identifying the components and values that represent the essence of the UAE, and that people elsewhere can relate to. Branding has to tell a story, and in order to do this, we need to capture the heart and soul of the country through the insights of its own people.”

These initial activities will provide opportunities for students of the universities involved to take up research internships on the project. The students will interview local people to obtain personal stories and identify indigenous artefacts, to help piece together the foundations that will define the brand values.

The research team will go on to examine other place branding initiatives, such as ‘Incredible India’, and conduct quantitative and qualitative assessments of stakeholder and customer perspectives, before going on to develop the final brand. The research team also intend to disseminate their findings through international conference papers and journal articles.

The project team are due to deliver their findings and unveil ‘Brand UAE’ in early 2015.