Nation Branding of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as a Response to Orientalism: Shaping a Modern Arab Identity

This project seeks to investigate the nation branding of Qatar and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) as a response to Orientalism. The omnipresence of Islam
in the Arab society projects a stigmatised image of inefficient development and
repression. The heavy reliance on oil and natural gas resources has pushed the
Gulf countries to invest in the diversification of their economy. Qatar and the
UAE utilise nation branding to strengthen their economic partnerships with the
West and overcome their negative Orientalist image. This dissertation analyses
the evolution of the Arab identity as the Gulf countries shift towards a Western
societal model. The purpose of this project is to examine if developmental
policies are sufficient to surpass a racial power structure. Also, this dissertation
explores the compatibility between modernisation and the Islamic society. The
project argues that Orientalism is a powerful racial framework that influenced
the branding policies in the Gulf. Accordingly, the Gulf countries adapted to
the importation of Western societal features in order to become more attractive
to the international community. Primary and secondary data were used in this
work, the core thesis was constructed around the academic writings of Simon
Anholt, Edward Said, and Ibrahim Abu-Rabi’. The project concludes that
nation branding enabled the Gulf to become a new global hub. As Qatar and
the UAE better their international reputation, the West continues to
differentiate the development of the ‘Oriental’. Finally, this project argues that
the Gulf countries challenge the Western model as they modernise their Arab
identity along with their rapid economic growth.

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