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The time could be right for a ‘Made in the Gulf’ brand

A 'Made in the Gulf' brand has potential 'if it is built upon the genuine strengths of the region', says one expert Dubai Tourism
A 'Made in the Gulf' brand has potential 'if it is built upon the genuine strengths of the region', says one expert
  • Plans for geographical designation
  • GCC trade volume over $100bn
  • ‘Challenging’ idea would take time

Creating a “Made in the Gulf” brand for the region’s manufacturing sector would not be easy – but such an initiative has potential, according to industry experts.

Plans to establish a unified definition and standards for such a brand were discussed by trade and industry ministry representatives at a meeting of the Industrial Cooperation Committee meeting earlier this month in Oman.

Khalid al Sunaidi, assistant secretary-general of the GCC States, said: “With the trade volume between GCC countries surpassing $100 billion, there’s an undeniable urgency for intensified efforts to advance our shared Gulf initiatives.”

Manufacturing has historically lagged behind in the GCC because of limited workforce productivity, the dominance of state-owned or government-related businesses, a relatively high cost base and trade barriers within the bloc and with neighbours. 

Over the past decade, the share of manufacturing in GDP has risen in Saudi Arabia, but remains stuck at around 5-10 percent in the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

“It will be challenging for any new geographic designation to earn the brand strength of established geographic brands, but ‘Made in the Gulf’ has potential if it is built upon the genuine strengths of the region,” Andrew Campbell, director of Brand Finance, told AGBI.

Sandeep Ganediwalla, partner at Redseer Strategy Consultants, Middle East and Africa, said skills would need to be built over time.

However, he added that there is “a sizeable local demand in the region” as countries continue to attract more business.

“There is strong government intent to diversify the economy and manufacturing is an important driver to their diversification plans,” he said.

Gulf states invest billions of dollars promoting local producers, and the two largest economies in the GCC have already launched their own in-country programmes.

National companies have spent AED31 billion ($8.44 billion) in purchases from UAE-based manufacturers since the inaugural Make it in the Emirates forum last year.

Under the ministry’s national strategy, the UAE aims to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to GDP to more than AED300 billion by 2031. Last year it grew to AED182 billion, up from AED132 billion in 2020.

In 2021 the Made in Saudi programme was launched – a National Industrial Development and Logistics Programme initiative led by the Saudi Export Development Authority (Saudi Exports).

It aims to help local businesses grow, by encouraging local consumers to buy more locally made products and helping businesses increase their exports to priority markets. 

“Across the world, the most successful geographic designations support the pre-existing views of customers and are built upon a long-tradition of brand-building,” said Ganediwalla.