As Jordan’s economy has gradually opened up to the world, giant international companies have rushed in with products and services designed to cater to the demands of the Kingdom’s increasingly sophisticated and discerning consumers.
But despite this ever stiffer competition in the marketplace, many home-grown brands have still managed to survive, and even thrive.
Here we highlight just a few of these successful and unmistakably Jordanian brands, which have built up a loyal following down the years by remaining innovative, unique, and customer-focused.
What is it?
As the name clearly suggests, Al Ameed Coffee is a local coffee brand that has excelled by specializing in distinguished Turkish coffee, in addition to other types, making it a brand trusted by many Jordanians.
How did it Start?
Founded more than 40 years ago, Al Ameed Coffee is still a family-run company. It started out in 1973 as a single, small roaster, but soon managed to find its niche in a quality-focused approach to selling coffee. The company expanded from one store to becoming a regional coffee giant through the opening of industrial scale manufacturing plants coupled with continuous product development.
It has expanded locally with over 25 stores, and can also be found throughout the Kingdom in most grocery outlets and coffee shops as well as in hypermarkets across Amman. Today, Al Ameed controls most of the Jordanian market and has become synonymous with coffee regionally.
The company’s “success came from and continues to be rooted in its commitment to producing quality coffee without compromise,” a brand’s spokesperson told Venture. “Every batch of coffee is precisely calibrated and carefully processed to continue providing the great flavors that have become the company’s bedrock.”
Furthermore, the company’s focus on continuous improvement ensures its longevity as it constantly strives to offer value to more customers.
Currently, Al Ameed Coffee is available across 13 markets, from the United States and Canada, to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Oman, Sweden, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Palestine, and most recently the UAE. Looking into the future, Al Ameed Coffee hopes to become a brand that is recognized worldwide for its renowned coffee.
What is it?
Arab Bank is one of largest financial institutions in the region and one of the pillars of the Jordanian economy.
When did it Start?
Arab Bank grew out from the first privately-owned financial institution in the Arab world into one of the key financial and truly regional institutions in the contemporary Middle East. In 1930, with seven investors and a startup capital of 15,000 Palestinian Pounds, Abdul Hameed Shoman established an institution that was to act as an active partner in the socio-economic development in Palestine and the region.
One of the major traits of Arab Bank in the decades to come was its rapid regional and global expansion; in spite of the turmoil the region was experiencing. Though founded in Jerusalem, the bank moved its headquarters to Amman in 1948. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Arab Bank opened 43 branches in the region and grew its capital to JD5.5 million.
In 1961, the bank became the first Arab financial institution to create presence in Switzerland, its first international location. In the following decade, the bank branched out to the world’s leading financial centers such as Frankfurt, London, Australia, New York, and Singapore to name a few.
Today it has over 600 branches across five continents, the Arab Bank Group (including its sister institutions) operates the largest Arab banking branch network worldwide. The bank was lately recognized for having the “Best Cash Management Services in the Middle East” by EMEA Finance, and it was also awarded the “Best Bank in Jordan” by Global Finance, Euromoney, EMEA Finance, Asiamoney, and the Banker-Financial Times.
Arab Bank’s 2016 financial performance implies that the group enjoys strong liquidity and robust capitalization, and it proves the bank’s resilience against the challenging environment. Its total assets value stood at $47 billion as of March 31, 2017.
Arab Bank’s Chairman Sabih Masri pledges the bank will remain focused on the fundamentals of banking and its best practices with an emphasis on sustainable growth, maintaining its hard-won status as a pioneer of the region’s banking industry.
What is it?
ArabiaWeather is Jordan’s popular privately-owned weather website that has successfully branched out into the region.
How did it start?
Mohammed al Shaker started his journey to becoming Jordan’s celebrated weatherman in 2006 when Ammon News began publishing his forecasts. He later moved to the UK to study at the respected Met Office College and eventually gained certificates in aviation and advanced meteorology.
Al Shaker, at just 23 years of age, established ArabiaWeather Inc. that operates ArabiaWeather.com.
“The passion drove me to provide the service, then the service drove me to create the business,” he told Venture in 2014. Al Shaker was named Ernst & Young’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in Jordan for 2012. The company is headquartered in Amman and has an office in Dubai.
The company has a team of more than 30 meteorologists, researchers, and in-field experts from Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Syria, and other countries in the region.
The weather data is gathered through ArabiaWeather’s unique hyper-local technology, data amalgamation from various weather models, and the company’s network of automatic weather stations, which represents the largest such network in the MENA region, as well as the expertise of its meteorologists and weather experts.
In a interview with Venture, al Shaker revealed that ArabiaWeather has plans to expand its video coverage, content, and launch new features that will help in crowdsourcing the weather.
“We believe that we will be the largest weather company in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.
He also pledged further development of integrated solutions for businesses that are subjected to weather conditions such as aviation, marine, oil and gas and others—all through the means of the $7 million investment that ArabiaWeather secured in the same year. Additionally, al Shaker wanted to use the funding to upgrade his company’s weather technology and algorithms. This includes an extensive network of automatic weather stations across the region that serve as the backbone for ArabiaWeather’s products and services.
In July, ArabiaWeather was selected to provide weather data to Al Arabiya News Channel, thereby allowing the news channel viewers to have access to ArabiaWeather’s customized and accurate weather coverage.
What is it?
Aramex is today an international logistics company that is listed on the Dubai Financial Market.
How did it Start?
In 1982, Fadi Ghandour established Aramex as an express operator that caters to US-based express delivery companies including FedEx. Then, in 1990, Aramex was cofounded with Airborn Express and the Overseas Express Carriers (OEC). In 1994, the company started providing express, domestic, and freight services under one roof. Another milestone was reached in 1997 when Aramex became the first Arab company to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Thanks to Abraaj Capital, the company regained private ownership five years later. Aramex is also a cofounder of the Global Distribution Alliance (GDA) and the World Freight Alliance (WFA). The second listing in the history of the company happened in 2005 when it became listed on the Dubai Financial Market. Continued expansion in South East Asia and Africa was followed by the acquisition of PostNet South Africa, Austrialia’s Mail Call Couriers, and Fastway Limited.
The company has succeeded in introducing leading express delivery and logistics services to the Middle East and other emerging economies. The services offered include express courier delivery, freight forwarding, logistics, supply chain management, e-commerce, and record management services.
Aramex’s overall network expands to more than 12,000 offices with 66,000 employees across 240 countries through 40 alliances.
In addition, the company is also very active on the CSR front, being engaged in over 180 educational, social, and environmental projects worldwide through their “Delivering Good” sustainability platform.
Last year was a historic one for the company, as it achieved a record-breaking financial performance and its net profits increased by 37 percent, reaching an all-time high. Aramex recorded nearly $1.2 billion in revenues last year and grew 16 percent year-on-year, largely triggered by the increasing popularity of e-commerce and a few fruitful investments.
“Numbers reveal that e-commerce currently only represents 7 percent of retail globally, it’s still a small percentage, so we can all imagine the opportunity and potential. It’s going to grow,” Aramex COO Iyad Kamal told Venture in a 2016 interview. The company’s underlying vision is to further support greater trade in and between emerging markets, and to enhance overall customer experience by exploiting the two core area of innovation and technology.
What is it?
Fine Hygienic Holding is one of the region’s leading tissue and paper products manufacturers. It is also safe to say that the word “fine” is today associated with tissues in Jordan and around the region.
How did it Start?
What began as a family business has become one of the region’s leading paper manufacturers, with exports reaching 72 countries and investments that span various social projects.
Elia Nuqul was the founding father and entrepreneur whose name is well regarded among Jordanian businesspeople. Nuqul, who entered Jordan as a refugee following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, established the Fine business in 1958 in Jordan. Nuqul was the first Arab to bring this industry into the region. What helped them grow at the time was the Kingdom’s nascent market that was just beginning to grow. He also exported to Palestine and believed that the future lies in export markets rather than Jordan alone.
Although it was a slow start in the 1960s, the Fine brand eventually picked up. Fine’s first factory outside the Kingdom was in Saudi Arabia. “Eventually the Fine brand was on everyone’s tongue; and until today it remains so,” said Nuqul in an interview with Venture in 2008. “I’m proud of this outcome because I started very young and had secured success in spite of the hardships and the challenging environment we grew up in.”
In 2014, the company embarked on a 10-year expansion plan that resulted in raising capital through investors in a minority of Fine Hygienic Holding to fund the various expansions of the group.
In 2015, a consortium led by the private equity arm of Standard Chartered bought an undisclosed stake in Fine Hygienic Holding in a bid to boost the group’s growth in the region as well as expand its production capacity. Today the Fine Hygienic Holding has 9 plants and 5 paper mills in the region. They are planning to solidify their presence in the region and grow even further.
What is it?
HiGeen is a local sanitizer that has gone viral, thanks to its quality, funky packaging, and an increased awareness on the importance of keeping one’s hands clean inside the house, and outside.
How did it Start?
Although it is operated as a global institution today, HiGeen started off as a family business. The Munir Sukhtian Group passed through three generations and is today run by four women leading different sectors of the business, one part of which is HiGeen. The passion for medicine has been running in the family for generations, from the first pharmacy in Tulkarem that was created by the grandfather, up to HiGeen that was engineered in Amman by Nidal Sukhtian in 1998.
“My dad taught me something; that you have to be the first, be fast and seize the opportunity to make a large impact,” said Anoud Sukhtian, the company’s product development director. “Once he came up with the HiGeen idea he immediately started working on it. It was even before H1N1.”
In fact, HiGeen started off as a toothpaste that utilized Dead Sea salts and was launched into the Jordanian market in 1986. It then developed into another brand, a liquid iodine gel for hospitals, until the concept of a sanitizer was developed. By then the company succeeded at creating a need and justifying it with a successful product.
“Timing is everything, when you’re the first it gives you the head start,” said Sukhtian, who joined the family business in 2011. “My dad really cares about Research and Development, which is the bases for everything. An idea is only an idea until it is executed properly.”
Besides the funky packaging, the company also made sure to produce beautiful fragrances to convince the customers that this product was something that they wanted, not just something that they needed.
Today, HiGeen is distributed in over 40 countries around the world, including the Middle East where Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest markets, South America, parts of Europe and Africa. Their next goal is to penetrate the US market, which they know will require time and effort, although this is nothing that the company isn’t willing to fight for.
This story is one of a five-part series titled Brands of Jordan. Brought to you by the Safehouse / Arab Insurance Co in cooperation with the Housing Bank for Trade & Finance. For part 2, click here…