After the burial of Colonel Gaddafi this week – the symbolic end of his 42 year rule, I asked myself: “What countries will emerge from the Arab Spring and succeed in increasing tourism revenue streams and securing foreign investment?” I wondered where Iraq’s place would be within the context of the re-shaping that’s occurring in the Arab world? What I was sure about was that from a nation brand positioning point of view, safety and stability are pre-requisites to success.
In a very short period of time, numerous long-standing nation brands, their symbols, leaders and oppressive values have been booted out by their own citizens. The search for new, unified national identities and renewed values in largely tribal nations is on. Mammoth tasks. For Libya this is a new challenge, for Iraq, not so.
A coherent and unified national identity is vital for the economic success of these nations – for the long-term wellbeing of their people, not to mention regional and global political and economic stability. Crucially, it communicates stability and safety – which by default opens the floodgates to foreign investment and tourism. Apart from those with humongous appetites for risk – who wants to live, invest, work and holiday in unstable regions? Is this not what’s held Iraq back? Regardless of the improved situation on the ground the perception that Iraq is not particularly safe hasn’t changed much. Whether it has or not in reality – I don’t know, I’m talking about pure perception here.