Re-branding Abu Dhabi: From oil giant to energy titan

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Place Branding and Public Diplomacy


This article presents a case study of Abu Dhabi's 'energy re-branding' since 2005 when it declared its intention to transform itself from an oil exporter to a total energy giant that also embraces alternative (renewable and nuclear) energy. The first part of the article identifies the benefits of this policy for Abu Dhabi's external diplomacy but argues that the real driver is the emirate's domestic gas shortage and its effects on economic diversification and political legitimacy. The second part of the article discusses the motivations and interactions of local and foreign agents by focusing on the implementation of alternative energy platforms. It therefore provides a rare glimpse of the policy-making process in Abu Dhabi. The final part of the article examines the extent to which energy re-branding may be linked to a process by the government to reiterate, reinterpret and repudiate Emirati identity in order to enhance regime legitimacy in the twenty-first century. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Li Chen Sim, Zayed University