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Title: Place branding in a globalizing Middle East : new cities in Saudi Arabia
Author: Shoaib, Turki Mohammed
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 8307
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2017
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The study explores the development and branding of a new city in Saudi Arabia. As place branding theory is geared towards existing places, it does not take into account newly developed cities. Here place branding takes on a new significance. How do we develop a brand for a city that does not yet exist? Who are the actors involved and how do they influence the process? The study uses thematic discourse analysis to investigate the interplay between actors and place brand development in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Saudi Arabia for two separate branding scenarios; holistic and investment. It is further structured through the theoretical lens of actor-network theory (ANT) to take advantage of relational aspects that can lend insight on how a brand is created and enacted. As the research focuses on the process of creating meanings and concepts to build a place brand, an exploratory, inductive approach was used as a basis for the methodology. This revolved around using the KAEC project as both a critical and representative case study to build theory in this specific type of urban development and location as it was the only new city in the country in a stage that showed both the development of urban fabric and place brand. Additionally, the study utilized a mixed- method approach that used multiple sources of data including the analysis of visual representations, public media, semi-structured qualitative interviews, and a focus group. The findings have highlighted the importance of place branding in the development of new cities and that the process is extremely actor driven. It also places focus on the challenges involved in place branding such as politics, special interest groups, management, stakeholder involvement, and authenticity. To properly develop and brand a new city, effort must be placed on aligning the development to all place branding goals. While economic goals are important in financing physical infrastructure, a focus on people is imperative to success, making social development equally important as physical development in new cities and their branding. In this context, place branding is not separate from the development process as a strong reciprocal relationship has been shown to exist between them. The study also emphasises the importance of branding practices in the beginning stages of new city development. It further suggests that the message itself, the conceptual place brand, can represent a socially constructed idea or belief that can shape perceptions about the project before physical form is developed and can also affect this form as it is being planned and created.
Supervisor: Keivani, Ramin ; Ward, Steve Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral