News & Highlights

  • JANUARY 2021

Virtual Discussion with Professor Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury

On January 12th, the MENA Research Center virtually welcomed, Raj Choudhury, Lumry Family Associate Professor of Business Administration. Professor Choudhury discussed how to deal with today’s challenges and prepare organizations for the post COVID-19 era. The event gathered around 100 alumni and friends of HBS.
  • DECEMBER 2020

MBA Webinar Series with Current Students and Alumni in the Middle East and North Africa Region

In December 2020, HBS MENA Research Center hosted panels with fellow alumni and current students who shared their MBA experiences. The virtual panels gathered over 300 prospective students from Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, and Eileen Chang, a member of the MBA Admissions Board, shared about the MBA program.
  • October 2020

24 Hours of Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, 2020, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. MENARC hosted two events during the Worldwide Week. In the first, ‘’Being HBS-Affiliated During the Pandemic: HBS MBA Alumni Discussing the Effects of the Pandemic with Current MBA students,” panelists from across the region shared their experience on how the pandemic has affected each person’s plans and how the Harvard community has been a support during these tough times. In the second, ‘’Conversation on Managing During the Pandemic: Prof. Victoria Ivashina and Hisham El-Khazindar,’’ Hisham El-Khazindar (HBS MBA 2003), Managing Director of Qalaa Holding in Egypt, talked about how he managed his business during the pandemic and the future outlook in the region.
  • October 2020

Fatima Albassam

MBA Perspectives is a collection of HBS student profiles that highlight student experiences across different geographies and industries. These profiles provide prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this article, Fatima Albassam, a student from Saudi Arabia, discusses her work with nonprofits working with Syrian refugees, what brought her to HBS, and how she plans to take what she learns at HBS to the US social sector, and eventually, back to Saudi Arabia.
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  • 08 OCT 2020
MENA Research Center Managing During the Pandemic
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  • 08 OCT 2020
Being HBS-Affiliated During the Pandemic

New Research on the Region

  • January 2021
  • Case

Saham Group: It's In the Genes

By: Christina R. Wing and Gamze Yucaoglu

The case opens in August 2020 as Moulay Mhamed Elalamy (Mhamed), CEO of the Saham Group (the Group), a pan-African investment company that operates a variety of businesses out of Morocco, contemplates the Group’s identity, its investment strategy, and how to navigate the existing businesses through volatility. Since Mhamed’s father Moulay Hafid Elalamy (Moulay Hafid) had laid the foundations of the Group in 1995, its insurance arm became the largest insurance company in Morocco and expanded into the rest of Africa, and the Group diversified to include call centers, real estate, and agriculture. In 2013, Moulay Hafid Elalmy left his executive duties to take on the role of Minister of Industry, Trade, and New Technologies. The case talks about Mhamed’s entering the family business at the age of 23 and his rise through the ranks to eventually assume the CEO position. In 2018, Mhamed decided to sell the insurance businesses, the Group’s crown jewel, and the Group became a private equity house. Since then, Mhamed and his sister Anissa Elalamy were focused on making sure that business continued to prosper. While the Group was settling into its new identity as a family office focused on private equity, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the difference between the father and son’s risk appetite and management styles: Mhamed was focused on value preservation and risk-reward analysis, while Moulay Hafid’s saw opportunities everywhere. This raised questions for the future and the family contemplated its risk tolerance and allocation, governance, and succession. The case introduces the different family members and executives and their points of view and asks: What difficult conversations did the Elalamys need to have to ensure shareholder value and continued success in the upcoming generations?

  • January 2021
  • Case

Snapp: Scaling Under Sanctions in Iran (A)

By: Meg Rithmire and Gamze Yucaoglu

"The case opens in November 2019 as Eyad Alkassar and Mahmoud Fouz, co-founders of Iran’s first and leading ride-hailing platform, Snapp, find out about Apple’s and Google’s decision to remove all Iranian apps from their respective application stores. The case takes us through the founding story of Snapp in 2014 to how the company grew to reach two million daily rides in Iran servicing 30 million customers through its two million registered drivers in 100 cities in Iran. The case then goes into detail about how the removal of all Iran-based apps from application stores limited Snapp’s operations and its go-to-market channels. Next, the case chronicles how the co-founders focused on finding operational and technological solutions to minimize Snapp’s reliance on U.S. technology following the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and instating the secondary sanctions on Iran. The case highlights the challenges of operating under sanctions and the different ways the co-founders try to find to keep Snapp alive in a market that had been out of reach for Western investors. In 2019, Snapp had become the largest Internet company in the Middle East yet it was increasingly difficult to navigate the operational hurdles. The co-founders could not help but think whether it was now time to reach out to major media outlets and launch a public relations campaign to create awareness around the unexpected decision that had put the very existence of many companies at risk, including Snapp’s. Alkassar and Fouz needed to weigh it against Snapp’s realities. The case then asks: Should they go public with their story, or would it be better to stay under the radar and focus on efficiency and sustainability of operations?"

  • January 2021
  • Case

Anodot: Autonomous Business Monitoring

By: Antonio Moreno and Danielle Golan

Autonomous business monitoring platform Anodot leveraged machine learning to providing real-time alerts regarding business anomalies. Anodot’s solution was used in various industries in order to primarily monitor business health, such as revenue and payments, product usage and customer experience. Every day, Anodot used 30 types of learning algorithms to analyze 6.2 billion data points and 428 million unique metrics. By 2019, Anodot’s platform tracked more than 400 million metrics daily, driving four billion autonomous decisions that were translated to less than 1,000 alerts for all its customers. This highly accurate monitoring led to a low incidence of false positives, or false alerts, and customer satisfaction was high. Since Anodot’s tool had the ability to identify granular business anomalies in real time, such as an unexpected drop in e-commerce sales for particular products or markets due to a technical glitch, fast detection and resolution of the problem meant that the potential financial damage could not be easily measured. The management team contemplated several strategic issues: How could they help their customers realize the value of Anodot? They had been working on several tools to show the value in different stages of the sales cycle and post-sale, but it was still hard to measure the actual financial value. In 2019, Anodot had adjusted its strategy to focus on client verticals and use-cases that would benefit most from Anodot. Would this make the sales process any easier? An improved product-market fit, combined with an ability to measure Anodot’s value, could increase conversion and retention. Should they narrow down the use cases even more? As the team was thinking about their next funding round, it was important to prioritize their efforts.

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Istanbul Staff

Esel Çekin
Executive Director
Youssef Abdel Aal
Research Associate
Yasemin Çağlar
Educational Programs Manager
Zeynep Mağgönül
Office Manager
Gamze Yücaoğlu
Associate Director, Research

Dubai Staff

Alpana Thapar
Associate Director, Dubai
Fares Khrais
Research Associate

Tel Aviv Staff

Danielle Golan
Assistant Director