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

  • March 2021
  • Case

Cedar Environmental: Innovation vs. Corruption in Lebanon?

By: Nien-hê Hsieh and Youssef Abdel Aal

The case follows Ziad Abi Chaker, founder and CEO of Cedar Environmental, an environmental engineering company in Lebanon, as he weighs his options for how to grow the company despite facing barriers to growth, most notably the prevalent public corruption in his industry which he refused to participate in. Abi Chaker had established Cedar Environmental soon after the Lebanese Civil War with a vision of introducing a “Zero-Waste” concept to Lebanon by building and selling recycling plants, which used his proprietary dynamic composting technique, to local municipalities. But he soon found the public sector lacking the capacity to manage these plants as he envisioned. In parallel, Abi Chaker continued his research and development by developing new innovative products, most notably Eco-boards, a multipurpose building material made out of recycled plastics. In 2015, Lebanon suffered from a severe garbage crisis as the main waste collection companies had stopped collecting household waste, leading to country-wide protests. Seeing an opportunity, Abi Chaker aimed to shift his business model to run his plants and charge the municipality for the service, instead of selling them the plant and let them run it. While he launched a successful pilot, this model was fraught with other challenges, most notably finding the right municipality to partner with. Meanwhile, an opportunity presented itself to take his business abroad but might require moving his operations to that country. As his home country’s economic and social stability were under increasing pressure, he needed to decide on the future direction of the company. Should he remain in Lebanon, despite the challenges, to fulfill his dream of a “Zero-Waste” Lebanon or should he focus on growing the company and use his innovations to help other countries manage their municipal waste?

  • March 2021
  • Teaching Material

Snapp: Scaling Under Sanctions in Iran (B)

By: Meg Rithmire and Gamze Yucaoglu

The case opens in November 2020 as Eyad Alkassar and Mahmoud Fouz, co-founders of Iran’s first and leading ride-hailing platform, Snapp, eagerly await the results of the U.S. presidential elections. The case takes us through the challenging times between November 2019 and November 2020, as the confounders navigated Snapp through an increasingly challenging environment of sanctions, stricter restrictions of big tech companies, and since February 2020, through the operational difficulties exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that shook Iran to its core. The case highlights the challenges of operating under sanctions and the different ways the co-founders try to find to keep Snapp alive and asks how the U.S. election results could change the environment in which Snapp operates, as the two presidential candidates have vastly different approaches to their policy to Iran.

  • 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?

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