Nine Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries feature in the bottom third of the latest survey reflecting national reputations.
A new survey, in which the nine countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) fared relatively poorly, found that it is almost as difficult to spoil a positive image of a country as to reinforce one. negative.
Published in October 2021, the latest Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) (https://www.ipsos.com/) ranked Germany, Canada and Japan among the top three nations considering six dimensions of national jurisdiction of the country.
The Global National Brand Survey examines images of nations each year via online interviews with adults aged 18 and over in 20 core panel countries. It takes into account exports, governance, culture, people, tourism, immigration and investments to give an overall indication of the country’s reputation.
Launched in 2005 by national image specialist Simon Anholt, it was the first time the NBI published the full list of country rankings and scores and revealed that OIC nations were only in the bottom third . Anholt is the author of six books on countries, cultures and globalization.
“What people call branding is nothing but prejudice. This can be a positive bias; it can be a negative bias, but it’s something we get from the culture around us,” Anholt told Salaam Gateway.
By 2021, NBI’s global sample size has tripled to 60,000 interviews per year. Each country in the panel, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, corresponds to a three-fold increase in samples to 3,000 interviews. Ten more countries have been included, bringing the 2021 figure to 60.
Anholt said there was increased interest in the concept from poorer states, as an improved image could create more favorable conditions for foreign direct investment, tourism, trade and even political relations.
The impact of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia’s concerted effort to diversify its economy saw the Kingdom launch Vision 2030 in 2016 and open its doors to international visitors and investors. However, despite hosting international business and sporting events and producing tourism campaigns entirely led by women, the Kingdom only ranks five countries from the bottom with a score of 51.74.
Describing Vision 2030 as “one of the most rigid national national strategies I’ve ever read”, Anholt cautions against short-sightedness, but thinks Saudi Arabia has the potential to improve its image.
“If Saudi Arabia chooses collaboration, enlightened self-interest and multilateralism, the fight against climate change and religious intolerance and misunderstanding, it could become one of the most beloved countries in the world, because it straddles the fault lines of these hugely important issues.”
However, changes are needed for the Kingdom to meet the objectives of its pre-pandemic national tourism strategy. This requires increasing annual tourist stays from 41 million (2019) to 100 million by 2030; providing 1 million Saudi jobs and increasing the share of gross domestic product (GDP) from tourism from 3% (2019) to 10% by 2030.
Saudi Arabia’s tourism revenue fell nearly 70% to $5.96 billion in 2020, or 0.85% of the total GDP of $700 billion reported by the World Tourism Organization, according to the World Tourism Organization. the World Bank. This makes the Saudi target of 5.3% of GDP via tourism an ambitious target in 2022.
“Tourism is the quintessential soft power activity,” Anholt said. “You won’t get mass tourism or even niche tourism in Saudi Arabia unless you do something for the image of the country.”
A fine performance from newcomer Morocco, but Palestine finish the list
After Egypt (position: 36) and Turkey (38), the newcomer Morocco (42) slipped ahead of Indonesia (43) to rank third among the best OIC nations. Anholt said Morocco was added to the survey because North Africa had generally been insufficiently covered.
The World Travel and Tourism Council said travel and tourism contributed 6.2% to Morocco’s economy of $113.55 billion in 2020, less than half of what the country obtained the previous year.
Anholt said Palestine’s inclusion in the index was based on establishing strong data on the country’s performance. He was “often asked” about global perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian issue and found it “fascinating to have proper survey data on this topic.”
“It was time, even if only for a year, to collect concrete data.”
However, he said the image of any country involved in a conflict, whether the nation is seen as the aggressor or the victim, is tarnished by the association.
“One hypothesis I wanted to test was whether Israel and Palestine equally suffer from being associated with conflict and that public opinion doesn’t necessarily blame one much more than the other,” Anholt said.
Palestine ranks last with a score of 46.73. Already present in previous years, Israel (47) scored 54.11.
According to Anholt, it is almost as difficult to spoil a positive image of a country as to improve a negative one. Germany, which is in first place for the seventh time overall and the fifth year in a row, is teaching the world a lesson in what it takes to build a strong national brand.
Its reputational strengths lie in exports, immigration, investment, governance and culture. Respondents were particularly optimistic about buying German products; the attractiveness of investing in German companies; government initiatives to fight poverty and the country’s ability to excel in sport. Collectively, these have placed Germany in the top two in all five categories in 2021.
Anholt believes that only world-renowned leaders and consumer brands have the power to raise a nation’s profile. Propaganda seems to go nowhere, but getting national brands to become global and ambassadors of a country takes patience.
“You need a lot of it, and it takes a long time,” Anholt said.
On propaganda, Anholt, who has advised presidents, prime ministers and governments of 63 countries since 1998, has only one recommendation.
“Don’t tell people what you did. Don’t tell people what you are going to do. Just make your country useful to the world and keep doing it,” he said.
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