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Dubai - a star in the east A case study in strategic destination branding

Worldwide approximately 200 national economies are competing in the destination market. In 2006, global government and capital expenditure exceeded US$1,480 billion making destination branding an important concept that still remains fragmented and unplanned. Dubai, an emirate of the UAE in the Middle East has been chosen as a case study to explain successful destination branding. Introduction Tourism and destination branding: a symbiotic relationship Worldwide destinations are spending an estimated US$1,480 billion on attracting tourism through both capital and government expenditures (WTTC, 2007a), making this a lucrative product. Execution of destination branding is often confined to logo design and development. It is estimated that more than US$2 billion is earned per day through international tourism. What makes this a complex topic is that the success of a destination is not always dependent on controllable factors in the microenvironment but that it is also dependent on uncontrollable macro-environmental factors. Earthquakes, tsunamis, disease other competing government policies and terrorist attacks can disrupt tourism earnings. As information and travel becomes more accessible, customers have a greater variety of destinations to choose from. As a tourist, there is a choice of approximately 200 nations and 2 million destinations to visit. How does a destination stand out, attract its target customer and generate sufficient earnings to ensure its economy grows? Destination branding: Places are products but existing branding frameworks cannot be directly applied to the destination context . Some of the reasons why are: past history; geographical constraints (location, weather, resources, infrastructure and people); inherited names; stakeholders - destinations are run by governing bodies which often report to their citizens and are influenced by other stakeholders limiting the decisions they can take; and personal, consumer, business and government service dependency.

The destination branding framework can be developed looking at place and destination marketing theories, services, product, portfolio and corporate branding strategies. Dubai, a star in the Middle East The case focuses on Dubai, an emirate of the UAE. UAE lies in the heart of the Middle East (ME) and is one of the world's fastest growing economies with a per capita income of US$31,000 (MD, 2005). Worldwide, in 2006, the ME Travel and Tourism economy was ranked number nine in terms of absolute size (US$150 billion) and is expected to grow to US$280 billion by 2020. UAE ranks 18th in the world and number one in the Arab world, according to the global tourism competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum . Global Futures and Foresight, a British think tank expects the investment in tourism and infrastructure for the ME to be about US$3 trillion by 2020, with current investments standing at US$1 trillion which is much higher than what is considered current global expenditure. As a country brand, UAE is known as the 4th best for conventions and 3rd best for business, but, it still does not feature in the top ten country brands. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the main economic contributors out of the seven emirates (formally known as the Trucial States) that make up the UAE. Non-oil revenues contribute 63 percent to the GDP. Abu Dhabi contributes 59 percent to the GDP of UAE (56 percent which is oil dependent) while

Dubai contributes 29 percent (5 percent is oil dependent). Dubai contributes over 80 percent of the non-oil assets (Middle East Monitor, 2007). Dubai is very strategically placed. It lies at the confluence of the ME, Asia, Western Africa and Central/Eastern Europe. It is in a bed of ancient civilizations, a birthplace of three major religions and a transit point for onward journeys. See Figure 1 to see Dubai's location. Dubai, an emirate of UAE, is spearheading the destination branding revolution in this area.

Discussion of key elements


Branding of a destination can take some cues from corporate and service branding. The branding of a destination begins with the strategic vision of that place as a strong vision results in performance. Vision, as a driver should facilitate trade and investments. Strategic vision of any destination can look at five drivers for their branding strategy: economics, tourism, retail, services and transit hub drivers. Vision must be focused, yet consider the diversity of stakeholder needs often looking for commitment from inhabitants to get performance. Stakeholders can be internal like people/citizens, business/governing bodies and influencers like media or they can be external governments, NGOs, businesses, or influencers. When looking at internal stakeholders; heritage, citizen values and priorities, level of citizenship and ethnocentric tendencies need to be considered. With respect to external stakeholders which might influence or contribute to the destination branding, factors like the country of origin (COO) effect, destination product portfolio performance, ability to match/contribute to international quality and delivery of services, and information are some of the factors that must be considered . Governing bodies can exploit existing networks or forge dynamic alliances and partnerships between key stakeholders and influencers to add value to the brand. With respect to a destination, often a portfolio of products is developed and then offered to a targeted segment. Product portfolios must take advantage of natural assets, past history, culture, developed infrastructure and facilities. What is most easy to exploit is past history and the natural advantage of a strategically placed location. Hence, a destination can act as a transit point for trade, logistics and even people. When segmenting the target customer, a destination brand must be able to match customer needs. The needs for visiting can be business travel, family or friend visits, trips based on health, education, rest, recreation or retail; exploring regions, experiencing culture, history, lifestyle, nightlife, and enjoying natural geographical assets, infrastructure and entertainment . The destination loyalty (level of tourist perceptions of a destination as a recommendable place) is significantly dependent on safety, perceived cultural differences and perceived convenience of transportation. These were augmented product services required by the target customer. When positioning and differentiating the destination, COO effect or heritage must be considered as both residents' and customers' perceptions and attitudes can be changed only after the negative COO effect is corrected. The image of the brand must be carefully designed as it must take into account: past associations of the place; alignment and consistency of brand image and attitude with customer perceptions of themselves and with other users; and the usage occasions

The irrelevant attributes can be used to differentiate brands and even create value but its impact is dependent on competition. Destinations are products with a heavy dependency on services which act as a destination differentiator, increasing brand value . Vision, which needs to be translated into the brand promise, needs to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders to gain a competitive. The value of a brand can be increased by using any ingredient brand of greater value. Hence, governments can use consumption at FMCG, luxury, infrastructure, macroenvironmental and business levels to increase perceived brand value of the destination . The consumer trust and comfort level increases when they see brands familiar to them in a place. Though destinations use the entire range of media vehicles, there is still a significant amount of dependency on word of mouth (WOM)

generated through friends, family and travel agents. Also when using advertising, it has been found that emotional advertising helps in the initial brand contact and influences the decision to visit again. The destination experience itself, which leads to positive WOM must be a sensory delight, using sights, sounds, smells and taste that ideally must reinforce the "flavor" of the place. Making services tangible affects impressions of the brand. However, services are people dependent. Though various communication tools can be used to convey destination positioning, one of the most important methods is the people of the destination. They are involved in the service process, affect brand associations and help customers form emotional attachments with the brand . According to Simon Anholt, the Founder of the Anholt-GMI City Brand Index, immigration as a strategy does affect the nations branding strategy. Immigrants are more likely to invest than transient labor who are perceived as "outsiders". Transient labor will repatriate assets out of the destination which means loss of potential financial investments. Branding must often start with the people of that destination - the feeling of pride, the essence of the place and maybe even sufficient knowledge to create a positive association for visitors with the destination. Pride is considered one of the greatest motivational factors. The positive associations with the destination experience and its people will contribute to positive WOM which will increase the brand image of the destination. A simplified version of the destination branding framework is shown in Figure 3 as a simplified seven step process.

Branding of Dubai as a destination


A historical perspective Dubai was a sleepy fishing and pearl diving village that had over the years survived on the bounty of the sea. Through visionary leadership, it used its strategic location to grow into a trading centre, and overnight transformed into an economic beacon for the ME. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum (1958-1990), facilitated this change. In 1958, he borrowed millions of dollars from Kuwait to have the creek (the original trading souk) dredged. The chance discovery of black gold (1966) further financed his vision: in 1970 he began the Jebel Ali port project which today is the world's largest man-made port In 1971 when the British left, the warring tribes of the Trucial States were brought under one banner by the creation of UAE. It enabled synergistic pooling of the resources. The rapid pace of development in Dubai was initially fueled by oil but today this forms less than 6 percent of the overall GDP. Dubai has some unique advantages. First and foremost its leadership has been strong and endowed with great vision. They have constantly taken advantage of the strategic location and been proactive to global change. Historically and geographically, Dubai is a transit point, but the refocus is to make it much more. To forget the barren desert, Dubai has encouraged trade, business, shopping, lifestyle and tourism. Projects have been completed at a rapid pace. For example, the city metro was conceptualized from a survey in 1997 and by 2009 will carry 1.86 million passengers daily. The Airport which was created in 1961 today has 25 million passengers transiting per annum. A new airport being built in Jebel Ali will handle 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo. Nakheel (a part of Dubai World), is one of the world's largest privately held real estate developers. It takes credit for planning over 1,000 km of coastline through its Palm Trilogy, World and Waterfront projects and will develop over 2 billion sq.ft. of land (see Figure 4 for dramatic cityscape changes). But there are some inherent disadvantages Dubai has to work with. History of this region has always been distorted and September 9-11,2001 made things worse with the ME region being clubbed as one area of political instability and terrorism. The average global citizen viewed his Middle Eastern counterparts as backward or threatening. Arab leaders said in a survey that the two largest external factors affecting leaders were the political situation (35.56 percent) and international perception of ME (26.77 percent) (Survey of Arab Leaders, 2005). The negative COO impacted the DP World (a part of Dubai World ) takeover of the 6 P&O managed USA ports. American public pressure was strongly against having a company from the ME managing their ports though the US Government including President George Bush vouched for DP World. Another potential disadvantage is that 82 percent of Dubai's population is expatriates. With a service

dependent economy, people play a very important role in the perception of service satisfaction. A majority of the cheap labor is male and they live without their families; this makes for very skewed demographics. Sheikh Zayed Road, the main feeder road that runs the length of Dubai in the 1990s, had very little building construction along it, but that no longer remains true . Parking, the huge number of apartments and villas that will hit the market by 2010, and maintaining security when tourists will outnumber residents by 4: 1 are areas of worry economic welfare of residents need not equate to nationals who form a shrinking minority. The median income of its average expatriate citizen is less than US$700 and in response to recommendations of UN experts, the Ministry of Economy has begun UAE's first household income and expenditure survey to form a consumer price index (Gulf News, 2007a). Looking at businesses, Dubai has been able to attract foreign direct investments (FBI) through incentives like no tax, free zones and the revised property ownership laws. The World Competitive Yearbook ranks Dubai 5th in terms of positive image abroad with respect to encouraging business development (IMD, 2005). There is still a long way to go though UAE has joined WTO in 1996. International laws as of yet do not apply uniformly across the entire Emirate - only in free trade zones. There is nepotism when you look at national companies which makes real business performance harder to evaluate. Information is not very easy to obtain in Dubai especially from business organizations as there is no need to disclose financials. With the booming economy, inflation is an issue as the Dirham is pegged to the dollar. As of May 2007, the US dollar was devaluing compared to the Euro. For residents this was a problem but for European investors it was a boon. Cost of living within the city is high with rents comparable to Singapore (IMD, 2005). There is disparity between official figures of inflation (7 percent) and banking reports (12-15 percent). Another issue Dubai faces due to its population composition is the remittance of money (12.5 percent of global remittance) where the flow of money is outwards (Gulf News, 2006). Currently imports are higher than exports so this is one area of refocus. Small- and medium-sized enterprises have been identified as engines for economic growth, but this region has a deficit of venture capitalists. Programs like Bedaya funds new ventures but target only Emiratis. Vision - encouraging tourism Tourism in the ME region is booming post 9-11. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts the UAE travel and tourism industry will grow at 5 percent (2007-2016), which is higher than the ME average of 4.4 percent and the world average of 4 percent. UAE T&T industry attracts one in every 8.5 jobs whereas the world average is one in every 11.5 jobs . A lot of the UAE activity is primarily due to Dubai. As of 2006, 6.5 million people visited the emirates excluding visitors staying with friends and family. Tourism according to DTCMs Director, Mohammad Khamis Bin Hareb, currently contributes 18 percent to Dubai's GDP directly and 29 percent indirectly. Current destination focus seems to be on individuals: the lifestyle, business conferencing, sports (17 golf courses, dhow racing, horse racing, and tennis), entertainment and shopping. Future sports attractions range from cricket, football, formula one racing and the development of the "Sports City" make it an ideal venue for future Olympics. Dubailand will also host the Bawadi - a hotel strip similar to Las Vegas and the world's largest Ski Dome which will attract an additional 200,000 visitors per day. The "family" is partly the focus with Dubailand's Universal theme park however these are expensive options. Dubai should look at culture and historical exploration as other areas for development. By becoming a cruise terminal, it could do just that. Medical tourism exceeds US$56 billion worldwide in 2006 and is growing at 15 percent pa according to a report by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Within the UAE it is expected to generate AED 7 billion (US$1.9 billion) by 2010. The focus is to attract 6 million of the 600 million tourists with special needs and get residents to use medical facilities within the emirate rather than going abroad. Education is another potential area for tourism. HE Sheikh Mohammad announced an AED 37 billion fund (US$10.8 billion) for education and knowledge-development in the region. Vision - retail spending According to the 2006 Global Retailer Development Index, UAE ranks 16th with respect to Gross Leasable Area (GLA) (see Table I for GLA per capita estimates). The GCC itself will be home to five out the eight

largest malls in the world by 2012. Average daily private consumption spending in UAE is at US$26.80 making it the highest in the Arab world where others spend an average of US$3.50 on consumer items. People spend over US$700 million per annum in the Dubai Duty Free alone, which is the third largest in Year Estimated GLA (m2) 1,103,463 4,820,320 11,630,347 mall Estimated GLA (m2) total GLA per capita GLA per capita (Dubai (population population) (m2) including tourists) (m2) 1,379,463 0.98 0.51 5,670,964 2.73 1.25 12,922,608 4.23 1.66

2005 2010 2015

Note: A healthy GLA per capita is below 2.5 m2 Source: GRMC retail services Ditcham (2007)

term of turnover next to Heathrow (London) and Incheon (Korea). In 2006, the average spend of Dubai visitors amounted to AED 6,429 (US$1,785.8) per day (Ditcham, 2007). In order to support the retail industry successfully, spending per capita has to rise from US$3,000 to 7,000 by 2010 (this will decrease by 40 percent with tourist influx), which means retail will contribute 50 percent to GDP (PRZoom, 2007; Davis, 2006). Dubai has positioned itself as a home of luxury brands. Damac Properties, the largest private master developer in the ME has a tag line "Live the Luxury". But besides the rich and super-rich, resident consumption must increase. Dubai has been able to do that also. For example, summer is a low-retail month due to harsh weather conditions and the fact that most expatriates leave for annual vacations. For the last ten years, Dubai has tried to revive this period through the Dubai Summer Surprise - a ten week shopping, childfocused extravaganza. In 2006, 1.87 million tourists came during that period (Gulf News, 2007b). During every winter, The Dubai Shopping Festival takes place and in 2006 attracted over 3.6 million tourist contributing 8 percent to the overall GDP (Gulf News, 2007c). The Dubai shopping festival, Dubai summer surprises and Ramadan initiatives account for nearly two-thirds of annual gold and diamond jewelry sales (Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group, 2007). This marks a change in tourist attitude: in survey conducted during 1998-1999 by the DTCM, it was found that the main reason people came to Dubai was primarily leisure (44 percent) and business (39 percent), with shopping being a low priority (4 percent) (DTCM, 2007). Vision - strengthening services Services contribute 74 percent to Dubai's GDP and have a CAGR of 21 percent. Services must look at business government and consumer services; intellectual, social and human capital; welfare; quality of life and security . One of the areas the Dubai strategic plan focuses on is people management. Dubai faces brain drain, has issues attracting competent skilled labor, and scores very low on remuneration, productive labor relations, worker motivation and employee training. Hence, intellectual capital is low. According to the World Competitive Yearbook, the people of Dubai work the hardest of the 60 regions surveyed clocking 2,298 h per year versus an average of 1,922 h per year (IMD, 2005). Of a population of 1.4 million (growing at 7 percent pa), 85 percent is employed. Of the employed, 97 percent is foreign labor. This means over 82 percent of the population is expatriate, mostly Asian with a majority working in the construction industry (Dubai Healthcare City, 2007). Services currently account for 85 percent of the employment of nationals who are less than 2 percent of workforce. A key driver is Emiratisation where the emphasis is to balance demographics and responsibility (create greater ownership), reinforce culture and knowledge management through a quota system for nationals. Services are not only people dependent but also on rules/policies and infrastructure. Dubai embraces the latest technology (UAE has one of the highest mobile penetrations and internet usage in the Arab world) and is currently integrating eServices of all 24 government offices. Not only does it allows electronic payment of bills but also allows access to information on fines, utility bills and business queries. Hotlines like Al Ameen (a security hotline for suspicious activities not in the general purview of the police) have been launched to improve government services. The government constantly benchmarks itself against other cities and nations. The Department of Economic Development of the Government of Dubai partnered with the IMD World

Competitiveness Centre to identify a competitive framework. The 2005 World Competitive report compares Dubai with 51 countries and nine regions on 314 criteria (IMD, 2005). USA, Hong Kong and Singapore led the survey in that order and Dubai is benchmarking itself against the best (Table II). Vision - facilitating the transit hub The ME, which is strategically placed in terms of resources and location, is able to facilitate trade. When the UAE joined the Customs Union in 2003, it helped Dubai become a major port of entry for the ME and Africa. In addition, it has become both a sea and air transit point. In 2006, Dubai processed 1.5 million tons of cargo and 28.7 million passengers through the Dubai International Airport according to the Airports Council's International Report. The Jebel Ali port with 67 berths is attached to JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone), which is home to 5,500 companies from over 120 countries. Dubai's seaport is currently the 9th busiest in terms of container traffic. The proximity of JAFZA and the new Jebel Ali Airport (stated to be the largest in the world) will lead to an economic free zone with access to sea, road and air. Emirates, Dubai's flagship airline files to 83 different destinations. Today Emirates is the 4th largest airline in the world (in terms of passenger traffic) with its 18th consecutive year of profit. Dubai's open sky policies and facilities have encouraged over 112 airlines to connect via Dubai to more than 165 destinations (Emirates Airlines, 2007). Dubai has historically been associated with trade. More than 80 percent of the UAE's AED 510 billion (US$139 billion) merchandise trade is conducted through Dubai. Dubai is currently the third largest reexport centre in the world serving a massive regional market (DMCC, 2007). Dubai's strategic location is not only geographical but also in terms of time zones as it falls more comfortably between Europe and the Far East which makes it a potential financial centre. To ensure the growth of trade and to become a trading hub, Dubai has initiated bodies like the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (formally known as Dubai Metal and Commodities Centre). It was set up in 2002 to facilitate trading of gold and precious metals, diamonds and coloured stones, energy and other commodities. It is rated "A" by Standard & Poor's and has over 850 registered businesses (DMCC, 2007). Dubai's construction boom has seen approximately 8.1 million tonnes of iron and steel traded through Dubai (the world produced 1.8 billion metric tonnes of steel in 2006) and it is expected that this demand will rise by 8.4 percent to 43.6 million tones (Dow Jones Evaluation criteria Overall ranking Economic performance Government efficiency Business efficiency Overall infrastructure
Source: MD (2005)

No. of criteria 314 77 73 69 95

Ranking 17 6 9 21 32

Report, 2007). Dubai has the highest per capita gold consumption in the region at 30 grams (19 percent of world consumption) and in a survey conducted by AC Nielsen, it was found that tourists account for 52 percent of the gold and jewelry sales in Dubai (Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group, 2007; Husain, 2007c). In terms of diamond trade, in 2006, Dubai was the 5th largest trading centre in the world (Husain, 2007c). Dubai is trying to replicate its success in metals and commodities by trying to become a regional flower trading hub with the Dubai Flower Centre which was created in 2004. The Dubai Urban Development Framework was created in August 2007 to look at both the environmental and social aspects of urban development and to facilitate integration between government, quasi government and private stakeholders. This is of importance as already 50 percent of the emirate's land is under urban planning and as more businesses move to this region, coordination between them and government for smooth functioning is paramount. A big caution area for Dubai is the rapid pace of development which may not give sufficient time to learn from mistakes. The free trade zones and the multiple real estate projects have put demands on existing basic infrastructure and transportation. Road upgrades are happening at a frantic pace. Will it be sufficient? This is

yet to be seen once all real estate properties are occupied as parking and free space seems to be at a shrinking as vacant dunes disappear under concrete and glass. Water is at a premium as 70 percent (about 24 million cu. Meters per day) of the UAE's water comes from desalination plants and UAE has the 3rd highest water consumption per capita with USA and Canada ahead (ME Electricity, 2007). Most higher education still focuses on business degrees though as an area this region can encourage archeological, geological, architecture, engineering, energy, science and medical education. Dubai is still seen by many as an "earning transit point." To encourage intellectual and social capital, and balance demographics, immigration can be used as an alternative. Security though one of the strongest in this region will need to be strengthened as tourists numbers start increasing. Dubai has a strong vision but needs to integrate and balance the pace of progress of all components of its vision. Vision: discussion and recommendations Vision should be the starting point of any destination strategy. Vision must be well-rounded with all components integrated. The key questions practitioners must ask are: What benefit is there for the people of the location? Why should visitors come to the location and spend/invest their money? What policies/infrastructure/investments are required from the governing side to encourage the first two questions? Is there a mind-set change that needs to be facilitated among the residents to encourage tourism?

There are also several caution areas: maintaining continuity with change of governing bodies; integrating elements for better synergy; keeping vision current with changing world expectations; and moderating pace of development.

A strong vision takes advantage of its history and geographic areas and builds infrastructure to make it more accessible. It must balance all stakeholder needs to gain the momentum needed to make the destination branding strategy a success. Stakeholders Dubai, the most liberal emirate of the UAE has to balance its culture with the more conservative dictates of the ME and hence its ambition to be a "Global Arab City" has to have a strong grounding in its heritage. This has to be balanced by integrating and educating expatriates and residents to deliver best practices in services and products. Balancing the Arab traditional laws with international laws is not very easy. The great diplomacy and skill of the ruler of Dubai, who also holds the Vice President and Prime Minister's office for UAE has been recognized to this effect. As of 2007, he has been given overall responsibility for developing and implementing UAE's strategy. This should help facilitate change and bring some synergy into the regions plan. With Dubai's success - each emirate has been replicating the real estate and free trade zone formula which reduces differentiation and causes confusion as the distances between emirates is small. It is estimated that in this region over US$1,200 billion worth of real estate projects are under development with US$600 billion in UAE, 50 percent of which is Dubai's. Nationals are a key area of focus as not only do they form a small percentage of the population, they control sizeable assets and have a huge unemployment rate. Other key stakeholders are residents, individual investors from the ME, Europe and Asia; corporate investors and businesses (some details are covered in the section on target customers); governments and other international bodies that can add to the credibility of Dubai. Growing demand is coming from overseas expats including returning short-stayers (tourism). This

includes rich Muslims from the West, rich GCC and South Asian citizens, upper middle income groups from Western and Central Europe who want a home in Dubai for visits and/or investment. Though expatriates are the majority and the economy depends on them, it was only in the last decade that they were allowed to own properties in designated areas and get a residency visa with it. Residency visas are normally employer-sponsored which meant in the past expatriates with children over 18 years had no way to keep their children with them. Now with education visas and property ownership, the situation is changing. The past policies encouraged illegal immigrants and led to violation of human rights. To combat this, in 2007 under the government's amnesty program, more than 184,000 applications were received for repatriation without consequences (Gulf News, 2007d). Jeff Swystun, the Global Director of Interbrand says: Place Branding is actually a misnomer, it's actually about people branding. It's about branding the people that represent the region because there are actually very few differentiators that you can hang your hat on from a geographic basis it's the people who populate [the place] that [make] it unique. [Dubai]... should be a global center, but not a transient one - one that attracts and makes people loyal". There has been a change in the government's outlook with respect to the average citizen. In the past, government programs like Tanmia focused on a quota system where even private sectors companies like banks needed to hire Nationals, today the focus is on development where Nationals will have to compete on equal footing with expatriates which is a tremendously progressive step to take. Dubai has identified its key stakeholders well and is actively pursuing them to influence and spearhead change. An additional refocus on ALL residents will create a greater feeling of pride, loyalty and unity and encourage social, human and intelligence capital. Stakeholders: discussion and recommendations Stakeholder identification is derived from the vision itself. Governing bodies need to ask themselves the following key questions. Who/which bodies will be responsible for: Sanctioning? Investing? Implementing/coordinating? Promoting/influencing vision?

Stakeholders need to be identified, convinced to participate and to influence other stakeholders to make a vision succeed. Destinations should look at domestic, regional and international stakeholders. These can be government, public and the private sector enterprises. At the micro-level, an important category of stakeholders are the residents who help indirectly implement destination branding as we will see later in the case study. Portfolio of products Immediately following the aftermath of September 9-11, investments that would have gone to the west were redirected back into the region after the negative impression and treatment of people with Arabic profile. Taking advantage of its strategic location Dubai has started several free trade zones. The portfolio of products is diverse (there are 23 free trade zones) ranging from IT/media; education; health; trade of commodities, gold, diamonds and gemstones; logistics; manufacturing and finance. With the opening of the Dubai International Financial Centre in March 2000 more than 250 players have come to Dubai. There are over 58 brokerages which mean there is nearly one brokerage firm per company listed in the stock exchange. Still, there is a long way to go. GCC's share of global banking assets is less than 1 percent. However, there is some positive movement forward as more multi-national banks adopt Islamic financing to woo their Arab customers. Islamic finance assets are worth over US$250 billion and even the British government is trying to woo this neglected cash-rich source with its first Sharia-compliant bond (Reuters, 2007).

The hotel industry is growing with the real estate industry. There are 285 hotels and 135 service apartment blocks according to DTCM in 2006. According to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, ME investment in hotel sector is to exceed US$7 billion in 2007 and with UAE investors like Nakheel, Emaar and Tameer accounting for more than 76 percent of MENA regional hotel investments. Real Estate is booming: Nakheel projects are expected to contribute 25 percent to Dubai's tourism GDP (Nakheel Advertisement, 2007). Dubai Holding is developing the Bawadi project which is a Las Vegas type hotel strip and a Universal Studio operating over 6.5 million sq. ft. which will open by 2010. Dubai has a well diversified portfolio targeted at the high-end customer. Being a transit destination and a purely expatriate dominated destination means it cannot cater to the lower-middle income groups which maybe a neglected sector. In business there are some international systems (labour and legal laws) that need to still be put in place but efforts are underway to that effect. Portfolio of product: discussion and recommendation As with brand portfolios, consistency is important. That means not only must the products have consistency across the range (if you offer world class hotels, other services must also match up) but also tourism does depend on the how clearly you can segregate brand identities. Often destinations will attract the low-budget traveler, the business traveler and the wealthy jet set. Each has different needs and requirements. Hence, the clearer the portfolio of products, the easier it is to identify the target audience. The advantage of diversifying the portfolio, is that you reduce the investment risk. The moment a destination becomes a transit hub, you must be able to provide a range of destination products from middle income levels onwards. When designing the destinations portfolio, there are two key perspectives: (1) (2) infrastructure; and revenues.

Long term infrastructure investments that need to be funded with foreign capital becomes a destination product though often the initial capital outlay will be funded from the destination itself. Revenue generating activities like hospitality, retail and business are some activities that need to be supported by destination information services, banking, transportation, security and even cultural activities (museums, entertainment, etc). Target customers Who are the customers that Dubai focuses on? An interesting fact is that over 50 percent of the investment comes from the private sector. Within the ME Subcontinent, North Africa to the Caspian region, there are more than 544 million people with a GDP income of over US$1,000 (Gulf News, 2007e). It is estimated according to the Hedge Fund Report that the value of the potential Middle Eastern capital available for investment (private wealth and institutional funds) is approximately US$4.1 trillion, which makes this a lucrative segment to focus on. Kuwaitis are the largest owners of land in Dubai (29 percent), followed by Saudis (27 percent), Omanis (19 percent), Qatar (13 percent) and Bahrainis (12 percent) which shows that FDI is mostly regional at this point. With the relaxation on property ownership, and increase in business investment, the population has grown to 1.422 million, adding a total of 800 people daily in 2006. The challenge would be to make the composition of investors more international. Key trading partners in terms of exports are also regional - India, Pakistan, Iran and Kuwait. In terms of re-exports, key countries were India and Iran and in terms of imports it was China then India. Dubai is looking at more countries to form strategic alliances as seen by the spate of foreign travels HE Sheikh Mohammad has made in 2007 alone. The visitor composition has changed. The tourist numbers have more than doubled since 1999 and more Europeans are being wooed with Dubai's lifestyle, weather and facilities. According to DTCM's (2007) One Stop Information Centre, though hotel occupancy has increased from 66.8 percent (in 1999) to 82 percent (in 2007); average guest nights have not increased significantly (2.5 nights in 1999 to 2.7 nights in 2007), Hence, Dubai is not considered a long-stop location, it is more a transit point. This raises an interesting question as it is not a very economical transit point. These two opposing

sides of the equation need to be balanced. Very often target customer segmentation is by geographic area or income but a study by Woodside and Ronkainen (1978) shows that though demographic profiles of tourists can be same across geographic areas, the psychographic profile will differ. This highlights the importance of matching the personality of the brand to the target customer, especially as brand "Dubai" moves westwards. Year Arabs (percent) 1999 3,026,734 39 2006 6,441,670 30 Source: DTCM One Stop Information Centre (2007) Target customers: discussion and recommendation Though the target customers outside the destination are crucial to bring in revenue, it is the residents that will help make it happen. Somehow that part often gets lost in wooing customers. Dubai is no exception. The key questions destinations need to address are: Who is your target market (looking at psychographic profiles also)? What kind of revenues are you looking from them? Who are the influencers for this group of customers? Are these groups of customers homogeneous across regions or does the regional differentiation need special services? How can you profile this group of customers yet have one common theme that attracts all of them? What are these target groups of customers looking in terms of service interactions from your residents? Total visitors Asian (percent) 22 22 Europeans (percent) 28 31.7

Image, differentiation, communication and response Dubai actively pursues ingredient branding. There are over 400 international brands in Dubai. Its no direct tax policy encourages investment. Its open skies policies allow any airline to land, increasing transit traffic. It has been the promoter of the Dubai Shopping Festival which has spurred retail sales and resulted in the world's best brands being found here. Its free trade zones have many Fortune 500 companies setting up offices (Microsoft, Nokia, CNN, Pepsi), Banks (Credit Suisse; Merrill Lynch; Deutsche Bank, etc.) and Hotels (Sheraton, Hyatt, Meridian, Raffles, etc.). Home brands like the Jumeira International Group (hotels), Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Holding (real estate), Dubai (Aluminum) Emirates Airlines and DP World (port management) are among its brand ambassadors. Many of its home grown brands are superlatives (Table IV). It is estimated that in order to promote the "Dubai" brand, the Department of Tourism and Commerce's unofficial marketing budgets are to exceed US$32 million. However, when you add the projected spend of quasi-government organizations like the above, the amount will exceed US$275 billion for the year 2010 . Emirates Airline is a Brand Ambassador for Dubai like Singapore Airlines was for Singapore or Lord of the Rings was for New Zealand. It is the world's youngest and fastest growing airline (it will accept delivery of an aircraft every month for the next eight years) and the strongest brand in the UAE and the second strongest in the ME . Its association with FIFA as the principal sponsor has helped change the image of Dubai. Emirates Airlines is perceived as a global carrier. During the 2005 FIFA World Cup campaign, their emphasis was "We all speak the same language" (implying football) which helped negate the negative COO effect. Today, over 120,000 UK citizens and 5,000 Germans have established residency in the UAE, plus over 1 million UK visitors and 30,000 Germans come every year. Their current campaign "Keep Discovering" encourages people to explore through emirates.

Media proclaimed 7 star hotel The world's highest hotel The world's largest hotel The world's first underwater hotel World tallest building The world's tallest building built to be bigger than The Burj The World's richest horse race The self proclaimed 8th wonder of the world The world's largest waterfront development Dubai Marina World's first purpose-built sports city The world's largest mall World's largest gold souk The world's largest amusement park The world's largest man-made port The world's largest airport Regions largest logistic hub

Burj Al Arab The Burj al Alum Asia-Asia Hydropolis The Burj The Al Burj The Dubai Cup "The Palm -The World" Dubai Waterfront World's largest man-made marina Dubai Sports City Mall of Arabia, which will be bigger than Dubai Mall which will become the world's largest mall In Dubai Mall Dubailand of which Universal studios is a part Jebel Ali Jebel Ali airport at Dubai World Central Dubai World Central

Dubai has used its international exhibitions and its "transit hub" status to facilitate travel. It featured on the cover issue of the January, 2007 National Geographic issue. It was used as a movie backdrop for Academy Awards Winner Syrianna. It has associations with celebrities who have "homes" here like football legend David Beckham; actors like Michael Owen and Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Dubai features in special documentaries on its mega construction projects to create a "Buzz". There are cautions. The "tallest, biggest, richest, unique" are all short-lived differentiators and when building destination images, it is better to build it on the promise of something more tangible and concrete than a passing title. Though Dubai is associated by so many images, not all images encompass the image of Dubai totally. There is no single logo or symbol representing Dubai. Singapore has the Merlion, the Singapore Airlines fabric, New York has its "I L Vve NY" logo, the Statue of Liberty and the "City that Never Sleeps" campaign, Egypt is associated with the pyramids but Dubai has yet to decide what will be its key image differentiator. Most tourists buy a camel as a souvenir which is alright if that is a part of the branding strategy, but more likely it is an entrepreneur's interpretation of a destination. Image also needs to be linked to an emotion. What emotional experience does the Destination want to engineer? These are areas that Dubai needs to work on branding. Services are the driver for the "Dubai brand." The portfolio of products Dubai has to offer: real-estate, business investment, financial services, lifestyle, tourism, shopping, healthcare and education have a strong dependency on people and other auxiliary systems like laws, regulations, infrastructure and social support to ensure that the overall "image" is reinforced. How can the response be managed? Though Dubai uses a variety of components of the communication mix as seen above, there still has to be: consistency; and feedback.

Dubai needs to synergize its media and branding strategy across government, quasi government and private sector companies. Also with respect to market information, there is lack of access of to data. Companies are reluctant to give information as are their employees (perhaps due to low job security). Another caution area is the promises so heavily advertised on which the brand Dubai stands for are still being completed. This can cause disappointment in investors and tourists. One traveler said "I was surprised to see so many buildings that were un-finished". If we look at the brand strategy framework, Dubai focuses on most of the key elements but there are a few areas that can be strengthened. The vision is clear, but it needs to be focused. Dubai is associated with too many images which makes it confusing. City of Dreams is too vague. To build a brand image sometimes we need to focus on a few key elements at least in the initials stages to get greater recall, association and usage. Dubai is building a destination with the right brand equity blocks. What they do not have in-house they are not afraid to ask for from outside. Since, people are the key drivers, they all need to own the vision and this is a challenge given the size of the expatriate population. At his historic speech in front of key influencers of

the nation, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai said: ... It is common knowledge that it is far easier to build financial capital than it is to build intellectual, psychological and moral capital. Building a road, or a bridge, may take a year or two, but building a person takes a lifetime. We live, today, in the ever changing era of knowledge, requiring continuous learning which does not end at a certain level, or by attaining a ... certain expertise. Pride is a good way to start. The pride "of belonging" and "visiting" a destination. All this together will make Dubai a truly "global city." Image, differentiation, communication and response: discussion and recommendations How do you create a positive image? When looking at ingredient branding, international brands give the tourist and business investor some immediate sense of affiliation and trust.Hence the more similarity between brand alliances (looking at functional and emotional aspects of the brand) exists, the greater likelihood of consumers purchasing that product. The destination must also export "home" grown brands as most tourists are looking for the "unique" destination experience. So the key question is how do you differentiate regions? Destinations need to identify which tangible and intangible components their target customers' value. Images based on destination attributes need to be matched to the customers perceptions and self image. Destinations need to balance tangibles/functional attributes with emotional/ambience components and can use methods like "Mood" marketing. On the other hand negative images of a destination need to be assessed as they affect overall image. For example, negative images of Singapore arose from the expensive price of goods and unfriendly people. In today's technology based world, tourists still prefer traditional distribution channels, especially for visiting new destinations though the net is used to supplement information. Results of a survey conducted by Future Brands (2006), a Simon Anholt group found that tourists preferred to depend on friends and family recommendations prior to choosing a destination 29 percent of the time and then they used the web 66 percent of the time post selection to get information. The net will become a formidable medium and it is important to keep track of its growing importance. Netnography as a way of getting firsthand feedback on perceptions of travelers to destination. It also is a useful way to find ways of uncovering the real "flavor" of a place and positioning the brand in a language they are comfortable with. The communication mix must look at the target customer behavior patterns and also must be able to display consistency of information and easy networking between various sites. Conclusion Dubai is truly a Star shining in the East with respect to destination marketing. They still need to continue focusing on new trends. They need to continue identifying new tourist segments, for example, China will become a key source of outbound tourism by 2020, supplying 100 million travelers (WTO, 2007). In addition Dubai needs to focus on the need for a clearer unified brand promise and a few select representative images. Responses must be engineered, so positive WOM can increase. Dubai has to look at internal and external customers. External customers will be of two types - visitors and people who have never visited. This can help remove the negative COO effect and reinforce positive brand elements. Since, people are a key driver of services and destination marketing and brand perception, more research can be conducted about understanding how a government can take onus for its population and the impact they have on key drivers like tourism and business. National pride can be reinforced in service delivery to make more positive experience outcomes. WOM is a strong influencer for short listing countries (29 percent dependency) hence reference generation must be an activity pursued. Simplifying positioning based on the visitors experience of features in a destination can improve the branding. The countries should focus on emotive parts of brand identity due to their diversity, while regions and cities can focus more on functional attributes. As more economies move towards a service economy the distinction between one destination and another blurs. Destinations must start focusing on the service experience and all customer touch points especially the people as they help deliver the experience.