News & Highlights

  • OCTOBER 2023

10 Year Anniversary of the MENA Research Center

To mark its 10 year anniversary milestone, the MENA Research Center unveils a video series aimed at shining a spotlight on the significant diversity of enterprises in our region and the important role played by family businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit shaping local economies. The Center has had the honor of turning some of the powerful stories into HBS case studies, and the videos feature a distinguished lineup of speakers, including faculty members, subject matter experts, and the case protagonists. In addition to those themes, the Research & More segment introduces perspectives from leaders representing key departments at HBS with which the MENA Research Center collaborates: Executive Education, External Relations, Global Initiative, Global Experience Office, and MBA Admissions. Watch the videos here.
  • SEPTEMBER 2023

Creating Emerging Markets Interviews: Middle East & North Africa Region

The Creating Emerging Markets project provides a unique research and teaching resource on business leadership in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East over recent decades. At its core are over 170 interviews by Harvard faculty with high impact leaders in business and social enterprise. There are three recent CEM interviews focused on leaders in the MENA region: Adib AlZamil (Saudi Arabia), Amina Laraki Slaoui (Morocco), and Badreddine Ouali (Tunisia). The Creating Emerging Markets project is led by Professors Geoffrey Jones and Tarun Khanna.
  • SEPTEMBER 2023

Can Remote Surgeries Digitally Transform Operating Rooms?

Launched in 2016, Proximie was a platform that enabled clinicians, proctors, and medical device company personnel to be virtually present in operating rooms, where they would use mixed reality and digital audio and visual tools to communicate with, mentor, assist, and observe those performing medical procedures. The goal was to improve patient outcomes. Nadine Hachach-Haram, founder and CEO of Proximie, aspired for Proximie to become a platform that powered every operating room in the world, but she had to carefully consider the company’s partnership and data strategies in order to scale. What approach would position the company best for the next stage of growth? Harvard Business School associate professor Ariel Stern discusses creating value in health care through a digital transformation of operating rooms in her case, “Proximie: Using XR Technology to Create Borderless Operating Rooms.”
  • MAY 2023

Alumni Event in Egypt

On May 31st, the Center partnered with the HBS Club of Egypt to host an intimate gathering in Cairo featuring Professors Michael Chu, a Senior Lecturer in the General Management Unit, and Alvaro Rodriguez-Arregui, a Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit. The Professors focused their discussion on the rationale behind using business as a tool to respond to some of society’s most pressing problems, drawing examples from the cases they have taught in MBA courses. The event was attended by 20 alumni and friends of HBS.

New Research on the Region

  • February 2024
  • Case

Nuwa Capital: Investing During Uncertainty

By: Paul A. Gompers and Fares Khrais

Nuwa Capital (Nuwa) was a venture capital firm based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The business was founded in 2020 by Khaled Talhouni and his partners Sarah Abu Risheh, and Stephanie Nour Prince (they were later joined by Nitin Reen and Victor Sunyer). Together, they had a combined experience of nearly 20 years investing in over 300 companies, including some of the Middle East and North Africa’s most successful startups. In a startup ecosystem as nascent as theirs, their track record eclipsed most other firms. By August 2021, Nuwa had achieved a first close on its fund and, in response to changing market conditions, pivoted their investment thesis to earlier stage startups. One of the industries they decided to invest in was foodtech, and they had been in advanced stages of conversations with Calo, a Bahrain based foodtech player. The team was conducting their already accelerated due diligence when they received word that another investor had just met Calo and was willing to take Nuwa’s spot. Promising founders like Calo’s were hard to come by and Nuwa had to decide quickly. The problem was that Calo did not, on the surface, fit Nuwa’s thesis. However, it had the potential to only after a pivot. The case chronicles the founding of Nuwa and describes the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and investors in the Middle Eastern startup ecosystem, and Nuwa’s decision to pivot their investment thesis. The case also explores how Saudi Arabia and Dubai stimulated the development of a startup ecosystem through a multi-pronged approach. The case then describes Calo, its industry, and Nuwa’s investment thesis, and explores whether Nuwa should invest in Calo.

  • 2024
  • Other

Overcoming Barriers to Resolving Gaza and Beyond

As of early January 2024, discussion of the Gaza war heavily focuses on its humanitarian costs, cease fire possibilities, hostage prospects, and “day after” options. Yet what longer-term strategy guides actions on these vital issues while offering a more positive vision for Israelis, Palestinians, and key regional players? This paper sketches such a vision and strategy, but far more importantly, highlights the formidable barriers to its realization—and the elements of a realistic path to overcoming those barriers. With old political assumptions jolted by recent events, an opening exists for a new and better regional reality to take shape. The past Israeli approach to the Palestinians and the region has failed. On October 7, Hamas seized the strategic initiative and Israel remains in reactive mode. The current war in Gaza has a primarily short- to medium-term focus that entails substantial risks, especially if fighting remains Israel’s dominant effort without a longer-term political and diplomatic approach to the Palestinians. These risks include an isolated Israel not integrated into the region, most Palestinians further from their national aspirations, and Israel’s main backers bearing substantial diplomatic costs. Under this “primarily military” scenario, Palestinian radicalization will increase as will regional sympathy for their plight. Simmering violence in the West Bank and Gaza with episodic outbursts will continue indefinitely. And Israel will indefinitely act to suppress them. This paper argues for an alternative path that would explicitly complement Israel’s war effort with a longer-term, positive vision and strategy. Sketched here as an “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Initiative (AIPPI),” this approach includes Israeli, Palestinian, regional, US, and global components. This alternative “military plus diplomatic and political” scenario promises to lead—on a phased basis, over time—to a unified West Bank and Gaza under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, meaningful steps toward two states living in peace and security, and normalized political, economic, and security relationships between Israel and its regional neighbors. Relative to the risks of a primarily military strategy, the AIPPI would offer considerable advantages to Israelis, Palestinians, regional Sunni powers, as well as the United States and the Western backers of Israel. A distinctive focus of this paper is to highlight and address some of the truly daunting barriers in many quarters that would block the AIPPI, especially those that would prevent this initiative from being advanced by major Israeli figures, let alone realized in practice. While Israel’s commitment would ultimately be pivotal to bring this initiative to life, getting Israel on board calls for a sequential and phased approach by the United States and key regional parties as described in the final section of this paper. Relative to Israel’s current approach that is primarily military, this AIPPI strategy offers the promise, over time, of overcoming the formidable barriers to the AIPPI en route to a more stable, just, and integrated Middle East. The AIPPI can only work in phases, or in stages, over time: as Israelis become more confident that their security concerns on the West Bank can be met and that regional normalization is the credible “reward” for embrace of the AIPPI, as the Palestinians come to believe in a genuine Israeli acceptance of a political horizon for their aspirations and progress toward realizing them, and as regional powers see these Israeli and Palestinian convictions as real. Yet, as necessary and valuable is this kind of phased approach, it also opens the door to would-be spoilers of all kinds who view the AIPPI as inimical to their interests: Israeli far right-wingers, Palestinian rejectionists, and Iranian-influenced parties in the region who fear regional integration of Israel with Sunni states, and repudiate the very existence of the state of Israel. Overcoming these potential spoilers requires acceptance of the end-state of the AIPPI and ongoing efforts to build a winning coalition in its support.

  • October 2023 (Revised January 2024)
  • Case

Ӧzyeğin Social Investments: A Legacy of Giving

By: Christina R. Wing, Zeshan Gondal and Brittany L. Logan

This case explores the work of Özyeğin Social Investments, founded by Hüsnü Özyeğin, one of Turkey's most successful entrepreneurs. With a focus on education, health, gender equality, rural development, and disaster relief in Turkey, Özyeğin Social Investments and the Özyeğin family—Hüsnü, his wife, Ayşen, and their children, Murat and Ayşecan—have spent decades serving and improving communities in need. Their efforts led to the creation of one of Turkey’s top universities, the establishment of schools and rehabilitation centers, post-earthquake humanitarian shelter and facilities, nationwide campaigns and an internationally recognized educational training initiative for young children, amongst other achievements. Students will learn how Özyeğin Social Investments represents a model of giving that has had a significant impact across multiple sectors of society and discuss how the legacy can be sustained in the future.

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Dubai Staff

Alpana Thapar
Executive Director
Sadika El Hariri
Research Associate
Fares Khrais
Senior Researcher

Cairo Staff

Ahmed Dahawy
Research Associate

Istanbul Staff

Yasemin Çağlar
Associate Director, Educational Programs
Gizem Cihan Dinçsoy
Senior Researcher
Zeynep Mağgönül
Assistant Director, Administration

Tel Aviv Staff

Orna Dan
Senior Researcher