RIYADH: Emirates, the airline, is the most valuable brand in the Middle East and North Africa, but telecoms brands dominate the rest of the top ten of the Brand Finance rankings for the region.

The Emirates brand, from the United Arab Emirates, was valued at $4.1bn in 2013 by the brand consultancy, enabling it to retain the top spot from last year.

Four telecoms companies took up the next four places. Etilsat (UAE), STC (Saudi Arabia), Qtel (Qatar) and Mobily (Saudi Arabia), along with Zain (Kuwait) in ninth place, had a combined valuation of $13.1bn, accounting for 59% of the value of the top ten brands.

The Arab News noted that, for the first time, a food brand made the top ten, as the brand value of Almarai (Saudi Arabia) leapt 60% to $1.5bn, pushing it from 12th to 6th in the rankings.

Two banks were in the seventh and eighth spots. Qatar's QNB was valued at $1.3bn, while Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi Bank was worth $1.2bn.

Many of the banks in the Middle East saw a drop in their brand value over the year, but 26 brands out of the top 50 were from the banking sector.

Tenth place went to a chemicals business, Industries Qatar, valued at $1.1bn.

Overall, 29 of the 50 brands were from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, constituting 70 per cent of the total brands' value in the Middle East.

"Bold marketing actions and big marketing budgets are now driving the organic growth of GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] brands," Hany Mwafy, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East, told Emirates 24/7.

"In the coming year, we expect to see further growth in the number of acquired western brands, together with significant organic growth of home grown brands," he added.

The global brands the region's wealthy investors and sovereign wealth funds have put money into range from retailers to football clubs, and include Harrods, Shell, Barclays, Amex, Citi, Sainsbury's, Paris St Germain and Manchester City.

Data sourced from Arab News, Emirates 24/7; additional content by Warc staff