By Adeeb Alghoufary
Licensing is essential for businesses looking to expand their reach and revenue streams. By licensing their intellectual property, they can leverage the expertise and resources of other businesses to penetrate new markets and generate additional revenue streams. Through licensing, companies can also capitalize on the goodwill and reputation of their brands, thereby increasing brand recognition and customer loyalty. In the Middle East, there is growing interest in licensing deals between local brands and international licensors. This trend reflects the fact that Middle Eastern brands are recognizing the benefits of licensing in terms of reaching and tapping into new markets, and international licensors see the potential of partnering with them to gain a foothold in this dynamic and rapidly expanding market. Middle Eastern brands are known for a distinctive blend of tradition and modernity and a strong emphasis on quality and luxury. Recognizable examples include Dubaibased Emirates Airlines, the Saudi Arabian oil and gas company Aramco, the Qatar-based media company Al Jazeera, the massive Dubai Mall, and the Saudi Arabian food and beverage company Almarai. As the Middle East continues to grow and develop, the licensing of local brands is becoming an ever more important part of the region’s business landscape. In recent years, these brands have increasingly turned to licensing to expand and increase their revenues. The success stories include the Dubaibased luxury hotel operator Jumeirah Group, which has licensed its brand to other companies to operate hotels and restaurants in various locations, capitalizing on its reputation for luxury and quality while minimizing the risk and cost of operating in new markets. The aforementioned Emirates Airlines has licensed its brand to companies in various industries, including hospitality and interactive location-based entertainment, to increase brand awareness and increase its profitability. Even the Dubai Police has licensed its brand, partnering with a toy company as a means of self-promotion through products that appeal to both children and adults. Amid these great opportunities is a unique set of challenges that lo- In his latest column, Amer Bitar, head of Markettcom in Dubai gives readers an overview of the growing power of Middle Eastern brands. TOTAL LICENSING 137 cal brands tend to face when crafting licensing strategies. While there are many similarities across Middle Eastern countries, they also differ in language, customs, and laws, including those relating to business operations. Brands must, therefore, remain in compliance with local laws and regulations. For example, some countries in the region have strict rules regarding foreign ownership of businesses and/or require specific licenses for certain activities.
Another major challenge for Middle Eastern brands is finding the right partner. From suppliers and distributors to licensing agencies and other businesses, brands must carefully vet potential partners to ensure that they are trustworthy and aligned with their values and goals. One consideration when choosing partners is their understanding of the local market and culture, which needs to be comprehensive and up-to-date. Other factors to consider include, naturally, a potential partner’s reputation, track record, and commitment to building long-term relationships. Also crucial are efforts to protect brand identity in the region, for counterfeiting and intellectual property theft are not uncommon. A key step in this regard is the registration of trademarks and other intellectual property with the relevant authorities to discourage the unauthorized use of brand names and logos and provide for legal recourse when intellectual property is infringed upon. Monitoring the market for infringing products is a significant part of this effort, and brands may need to work with local law enforcement and other partners to identify and take action against knockoffs and counterfeiters.
A couple of examples of successful licensing partnerships between Middle Eastern brands and global companies will serve to demonstrate the potential for the businesses in the region. In one licensing agreement, Al Tayer Group joined forces with Bloomingdale’s to open several stores across the region. In another, Emaar Properties partnered with Armani to develop a series of luxury hotels and resorts under that brand, resulting in the development of iconic properties, including the Armani Hotel Dubai located in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Both of these partnerships have been mutually beneficial, with each party leveraging the other’s strengths to create successful ventures. Licensing, then, is a proven approach for Middle Eastern brands seeking to extend their reach and identify additional revenue streams. By leveraging the expertise and resources of an international partner, a regional brand can create opportunities to penetrate new markets and capitalize on its reputation for craftsmanship and refinement. Successful licensing partnerships have allowed brands such as Emirates Airlines and Emaar Properties to extend their reach and increase brand awareness while minimizing the risks and costs associated with entering new markets. To be sure, local brands seeking to grow through licensing face challenges, especially when it comes to navigating the various languages, customs, and laws across the region, finding the right partners, and protecting their identity. These challenges are surmountable, though, and the licensing of Middle Eastern brands is expected to become increasingly important for the region’s businesses since the opportunities for growth and collaboration between Middle Eastern brands and global companies are bountiful.
About the Author Amer Bitar is an international executive specializing in brand licensing, IP monetization, media, and sports entertainment. As the CEO of Markettcom, a boutique agency focused on brand licensing, he helps global brands expand their presence in the Middle East and North Africa. For information, contact:
Source: Total Licensing 2023 Summer Edition 
By Amer Bitar, Markettcom Ltd CEO

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