News & Highlights

  • MAY 2019

Senior Executive Leadership Program – Middle East (SELPME)

Amr Habis, Deputy Secretary-general of Olayan Financing Company, shares his experience as a participant in the Senior Executive Leadership Program—Middle East (SELPME). While on the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus for the program's first module, Amr explains how the SELPME experience has already accelerated his leadership development—and revealed strategies for developing his team as well. SELPME is a business management program that aims to help individuals become strong leaders who can deliver value in a global context. The program is taught in a series of modules offered in Boston and Dubai.
  • MAY 2019

HBS Alumni & Friends Gathering with Professor Christina R. Wing in Istanbul, Turkey

On May 29th, 2019 the MENA Research Center hosted an event with Professor Christina Wing, Senior Lecturer specializing on Families in Business. Over 50 HBS alumni and friends of the School attended, and the event presented an opportunity for HBS alumni and recently admitted students to engage in conversations with each other and Professor Wing. HBS looks forward to welcoming the recently admitted students to campus in the upcoming months.
  • MAY 2019

A Discussion on U.S. – China Relations with Vice Provost Mark C. Elliott in Istanbul, Turkey

On May 3, 2019, the Harvard Club of Turkey in collaboration with HBS Alumni Turkey welcomed Mark C. Elliott, the Harvard University Vice Provost for International Affairs to Istanbul. Professor Elliott gave a talk to 28 HBS and Harvard alumni from both business and academia and led a discussion on U.S.-China relations. As Vice Provost, Professor Elliott oversees and works to advance international academic initiatives, extending the global reach of Harvard’s research and teaching activities.
  • FEBRUARY 2019

7th Annual HBS Crossroads Conference in Dubai

On February 28, 2019, Harvard Business School Alumni Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosted the 7th Annual Harvard Business School Crossroads Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, Jumeirah in Dubai. The event, led by the President of HBS Club of the GCC Goulam Amarsy (MBA 1981), welcomed 300 alumni, business leaders and thought leaders who debated on the issue of “Growth Opportunities Along The Silk Road’’. The HBS Alumni Club of the GCC gathers to address the critical issues facing the region.

New Research on the Region

  • August 2019
  • Case

Twiggle: E-commerce with Semantic Search

By: Shane Greenstein and Danielle Golan

By 2018, Twiggle, e-commerce search enhancement API, utilized advanced structuring and linguistic tools that understood shoppers’ intent and matched it with the right products. Four years after being founded by Amir Konigsberg (CEO) and Adi Avidor (CTO), Twiggle had developed a search enhancement that plugged into the online merchants’ existing framework. The company utilized advanced structuring and linguistic tools to build search technology that understood shopper intent and matched it with the right products. Twiggle was founded in 2014 by former Google executives Amir Konigsberg (CEO) and Adi Avidor (CTO), who believed e-tailers were losing enormous revenue due to poor search results. The team built a set of proprietary tools that created a human-like understanding of customer queries in the e-commerce search experience, using natural language processing that translated text into meaning. The team also constructed a semantic model of the e-commerce world for three product domains: fashion, home and electronics. The resulting “ontology” was a set of concepts and categories in a subject area that showed their properties and the relations between them. Twiggle’s tools could also unlock significant online sales revenue by increasing click-through and add-to-cart rates, ultimately improving sales conversions. So far, the company had secured deals with more than half a dozen large e-commerce retailers, and could improve search results in three product categories: fashion, home, and electronics. The company initially targeted large direct-to-consumer e-commerce players. Yet the cofounders encountered challenges pursuing this type of buyer/customer. The customer acquisition process included lengthy, intensive face-to-face sales cycles, expensive and technologically complex proof-of-concept testing, and requests for customization. Konigsberg and Avidor wondered if they should expand their customer focus to target a wider set of smaller e-tailers that still had significant volumes of online search queries, but their search quality tended to be less robust and might be easier to improve. They also contemplated a variety of growth opportunities.

  • August 2019
  • Case

Family Matters: Governance at the Zamil Group

By: Christina R. Wing, Suraj Srinivasan and Esel Çekin

This case focuses on a large Saudi Arabian industrial conglomerate and family business Zamil Group’s corporate and family governance journey. The 12 sons of the founder led and grew the group successfully after taking over from their father in 1961. The secret to their success was to arrive at all decisions with a consensus, although each had their own approach to dealing with issues. In the mid-1990s, they hired world-class consultants and created manuals and guidelines for governing the business and continuing the growth of the Group’s assets. They were the model for running a family business in Saudi Arabia. However, the increasing number of family members in the group—84 third-generation and 162 fourth-generation members and the upcoming fifth generation—created challenges going forward. They wanted to ensure that the governance principles they had created would evolve and develop in line with the changing dynamics. The upcoming generations did not have jobs waiting for them in the family business simply because they were members of the Zamil family, and not all of them were motivated to remain invested in the businesses. The second-generation and senior members of the third-generation wanted to make sure that they balanced the needs of the business and those of individual family members. They sought to put mechanisms in place that would keep the shares of the business in the family so as to avoid diluting the family’s ownership as they diversified the asset portfolio, addressed diverse risks, and catered to the consumption goals of the next generation. This might mean that the Group would eventually move from being operators to becoming financial investors.

  • August 2019
  • Article
  • International Journal of Middle East Studies

Review of The New Turkey and Its Discontents by Simon A. Waldman & Emre Caliskan

See more research

Istanbul Staff

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

Dubai Staff

Samer Al-Rachedy
Research Associate
Alpana Thapar
Assistant Director, MENA Region

Tel Aviv Staff

Danielle Golan
Assistant Director