This is problematic for the Gulf country because negative perceptions can put nations at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting a talented workforce as well as tourists and investment, analysts have said.
But current events aside, Qatar has done a “fantastic” job of promoting itself to the world, said José Torres, CEO of Bloom Consulting, which specializes in nation and place branding.
Speaking to Qatar Today for its feature on Brand Qatar this month, Torres said the international success of homegrown brands such as Qatar Airways and Ooredoo, as well as the Gulf state’s political stability have helped bolster its reputation.
Other industry experts appear to agree.
According to a 2014 international brand value report, the worth of Qatar’s brand jumped from $184 billion in 2013 to $256 billion last year.
Consequently, the Gulf country moved up three spots – from 39th to 36th – in a ranking of the brand values of 100 countries, making it the fastest mover of 2014.
Report author Brand Finance attributed the improved rating in part to Qatar’s ability to retain skilled citizens, attract talent internationally and avoid “brain drain.”
Though Qatar has made strides in improving its brand, including recently opening up a communications office to counter bad press, there is still a lot of work to be done, said Dr. Khaled Al Jaber, editor-in-chief of the Peninsula.
Speaking to Qatar Today, he said authorities must actually work to address the root problems of damaging news reports.
“Beyond just contesting misleading media stories, what will change this image will be government action on addressing issues of human trafficking, abuse, creating awareness and changing habits, all the while remaining focused on the clear targets (Qatar) has laid out for itself.”
Torres added that the challenge won’t stop once Qatar establishes the perception it seeks. He told the magazine:
“Great country brands, like Finland and Sweden, are the ones who don’t just sit back and enjoy their current good reputation but continually work towards improving on them. This has to be the case with Qatar – you cannot relax. You always have to be asking: What is the next step?”