Brands of Jordan

Brands of Jordan Part 2

Hikma Pharmaceuticals

Said Darwazah, Hikma's Chairman

Said Darwazah, Hikma’s Chairman

What is it?

Hikma Pharmaceuticals is one of the top pharmaceutical brands in the region. Headquartered in London, the company specializes in developing, manufacturing, and marketing a broad range of injectables, branded pharmaceuticals, as well as generics, and it also acts as a leading licensing partner in the MENA region.

How did it Start?

Hikma Pharmaceuticals was established with a modest capital of JD300,000 at the end of 1970’s in Amman by the late Samih Darwazah. Darwazah was one of the country’s first pharmacists. Hikma’s initial focus was on branding out in the region. The focus was widened in the early 1990’s when the Group expanded to Portugal and the United States. Its 2005 IPO on the London Stock Exchange allowed the Group to further grow their business both organically and through acquisitions.

“We’ve been doubling in size every four years, this was our message to the market and our internal management target is to continue doing that either through organic growth or through acquisitions,” the company’s Vice-Chairman Mazen Darwazah told Venture in a 2013 interview. One of the most significant acquisitions has been the take-over of Egypt’s EPCI in the same year.

In the following years, Hikma acquired assets of Bedford, Ben Venue, and Roxanne Laboratories. The company currently operates 29 manufacturing plants in 11 countries (United States, Portugal, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Germany, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan). The US market, where Hikma has more than 2,000 employees, represents 62 percent of the Group’s revenues. Another 33 percent of revenues come from the MENA region, where the number of staff reaches 5,000. Europe and the rest of the world account for the remaining 5 percent of the total revenues.

Future prospects

Hikma is a global leader in the manufacturing of sterile injectables and the fifth largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the MENA region. The Group’s total revenues reached almost $2 billion in 2016. Chairman Said Darwazah describes 2016 “as a year of transformation as we re-balanced and strengthened our business to position ourselves for future growth. As a result of these actions, I am pleased to say that our business has never been in a better shape strategically … We have a clear strategy for growth, which centers on optimizing our current portfolio, developing our people, deepening our investment in product development, expanding our manufacturing capabilities and looking for new M&A opportunities.”


Tamer al Masri, Jobedo Cofounder

Tamer al Masri, Jobedo Cofounder

What is it?

It is a lifestyle brand that sells t-shirts and other types of clothing and accessories. Although they have grown into a formidable brand, t-shirts remain the most iconic of Jobedu’s products, and still the largest selling item in their retail stores.

How did it Start?

Jobedu was founded in 2007 by Tamer al Masri and Michael Makdah. Their main idea was to start a line of t-shirts rooted in Arab pop culture. Jobedu started with just six designs and $4,000, yet the founders managed to take the company to the next level in 2011, when they opened an online shop.

Since 2013, Jobedu’s products have been sold through Virgin Megastores in the UAE and the shopping website Namshi, both adding further international exposure to the brand. The company also sells their products in the United States, North Africa, and Europe. In 2014, they used crowdfunding platform Eureeca to target investors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, raising more than $119,000 from 28 different investors.

“People of all walks of life invested. People that work in banking, consulting, business owners from the UAE and Qatar, some people from Saudi, and a lot from Jordan,” al Masri told Venture in 2016.

To support their expansion and growth, Jobedu partnered up with Merchmallow, a merchandise company that produces the same type of merchandise products for gyms, automobiles, NGOs, and others. At the moment, this partnership creates about half of their revenue. One of the interesting things is that the company played a pivotal role in the birth of Amman’s modern street art.

Future prospects

Jobedu says it strives to empower creative self-expression by providing designers with a medium to produce their work, commonly depicting Arab pop culture images and slogans. Determination of the Jobedu team made earning the great success possible. The key aim of the company for now is to continue creating a sustainable brand that will embody the Middle Eastern culture, and further tap into the international market.


Kasih Food Production Company

Khaled Kasih, Kasih Food Production Company's General Manager

Khaled Kasih, Kasih Food Production Company’s General Manager

What is it?

Kasih Food Production Company manufactures canned Mediterranean delicacies, including humus, foul, and Jameed.

It was established in Amman in 1926 by Haj Raslan Kasih. At the beginnings the company specialized in producing halva and tahini sesame seed paste. In 1994, building on the mother company’s reputation as a leading food manufacturer, an affiliate company was set up to produce canned food including their now famous humus and jameed, which became fully independent under the name of Kasih Food Production Company in 2002. The company specializes in Mediterranean products, including tomato paste and different types of soups and beans.

“We are very dedicated and extremely focused on our core value and our products,” said Khaled Kasih, the General Manager of Kasih Food Production Company. “We are also extremely innovative, and always on the look out for new products to introduce and new markets to penetrate.”

He added that the company takes pride in developing its own technology, which has cost it no less than $10 million so far, that it uses to process food and package the final products.

Today Kasih Food Production Company exports 50 percent of its total production to Iraq, the United States, the GCC, Pakistan, Poland, Italy, and Russia. Kasih says that the humus is particularly popular in foreign markets.

Future prospects

Kasih wants his products to be sold in every market around the globe. The company is currently planning for a rebranding campaign that will include new packaging as well as new product lines, to be launched across all the markets it operates in, in 2018.



Wael Attili, Kharabeesh's Cofounder

Wael Attili, Kharabeesh’s Cofounder

What is it?

Kharabeesh is an online entertainment network that serves as a platform for digital creators of Arabic content, spanning political, social, and educational issues. It is best known for its popular online comedy videos. 

How did it Start?

Kharabeesh was founded in Amman in 2008 by Mohammed Asfour, Wael Attili, Shaher al Otaibi, Wafa Nabulsi, and Firas Al Otaibi.

Its idea goes back to 2005 when social media sites started to become a thing. The group wanted to produce content that targets the youth and stimulates creativity, introducing Arabs to a relatively novice idea.

Kharabeesh also benefited from the Arab Spring, which enticed them to create timely content, following which they shot to fame across the region, instead of just being a Jordanian content creator.

Kharabeesh was part of ThinkArabia, along with five other companies. However, after Kharabeesh’s success, the partners decided to shut down all the companies and focus on Kharabeesh instead.

The network, which helped launch the careers of such stars as Rajae Qawas and Tima Shomali, receives 82 million monthly views and has 12.5 million subscribers across the company’s seven different platforms. 

Future Prospects

Although Kharabeesh faced some financial issues at the beginning; it is well past that today. Late last year, Wamda Capital, Endeavor Catalyst Fund, and Dash Ventures came together to invest $5 million in Kharabeesh. The funding will be used to expand Kharabeesh’s operations in Dubai and Jeddah, while achieving growth between the discovery and development phase and producing content, monetization, and technology.

“Kharabeesh is focusing more on the success rate of monetizable traffic. It’s not about generating blind views and reach anymore. And TV is always a secondary revenue stream for us,” Kharabeesh CEO Mohammed Asfour said. “I would say the modern media industry has a great potential. I see what we predicted to happen five years ago is starting now.”

Today, Kharabeesh is one of the biggest developers of online content in the region.


MedLabs Consultancy Group 

Hassib Sahyoun, MedLabs' CEO

Hassib Sahyoun, MedLabs’ CEO

What is it?

MedLabs is the largest network of private laboratories in the Kingdom and the Levant where it is also the only reference laboratory.

How did it Start?

In 1993 a group of laboratory medicine specialists established MedLabs. The company was set up in the hope that more labs across the Kingdom would join the group so they can reach people everywhere.

“A one-man show – we all know has its limitations,” said Hassib Sahyoun, CEO of Medlabs in an interview with Venture in 2013.

Eventually, the company started to put forth measures that would unify the procedures across all the labs operating under its brand, including systems, HR practices and training. However, integrating new labs was not an easy process as each lab has its own employees and culture. Today, there are 40 MedLab centers across the Kingdom, in addition to labs in Palestine, Iraq, and Sudan.

It also managed to gain accreditation from a host of US and European colleges and bodies, which helped in the expansion of MedLab’s referral business—labs in the region that are unable to carry out certain sophisticated tests are now sending their samples to MedLabs instead of sending them to the United States or Europe. 

Future Prospects

According to Zeina Sahyoun, the company’s chief marketing officer, MedLabs wishes to continue serving every Jordanian area and citizen. “We want to build on our core vision of being a caring company that builds bridges with all the communities it operates in, including through SCR initiatives. We also want to continue offering quality services,” she told Venture. Currently, MedLabs has three labs under construction in the Kingdom. Regionally, the company wants to expand their services, not necessarily through the establishment of more labs, but by expanding their reference labs while maintaining their international accreditation.

The company also aims to increase its health awareness campaigns and raise the bar of excellence in laboratory service in Jordan to maintain the country’s reputation as a destination for medical tourism.


Mr. Chips 

Robert Y. Haddad, Marketing Manager at Yousef M. Haddad Company

Robert Y. Haddad, Marketing Manager at Yousef M. Haddad Company

What is it?

If you grew up in Jordan, then you would surely recognize Mr. Chips as the potato chips you begged your parents to buy for you. Mr. Chips produces a potato chips line, in addition to a variety of corn chips and pellet chips like Bugles, Pizza Chips, and Party Mix. They have other secondary brands like Master Chips.  

How did it Start? 

Although the family’s business started with a distillery in 1953, a business they are still thriving in up to this day, in 1983, Mudieb Haddad traveled to the United States where he bought the Mr. Chips brand from its previous owner. With the brand, he also got the exclusivity of distributing it worldwide. He then started producing the renowned Mr. Chips with its different flavors in Jordan, where it grew and expanded beyond the Kingdom.

“For us it’s a source of pride that we were able to grow it into this big business. We’re also very picky about the quality that we produce because everybody in the family eats Mr. Chips. If it’s not something that we’re willing to eat then we wouldn’t produce it,” said Robert Y. Haddad, marketing manager at Yousef M. Haddad Company.

Haddad stressed that the company only relies on the highest standards in producing its chips, including natural ingredients that are free of MSG, nor any of the cheaper flavors that are produced using unnatural sources. The majority of the potatoes used in Mr. Chips is produced in Jordan from partner farms and the company’s own farms, with little import. As for flavors, Haddad gets them from major flavor manufacturers around the world.

Future prospects 

Today, besides their market in Jordan, where their market share is no less than 60 percent, the company sells Mr. Chips in the UAE and Palestine as well. They are hoping to further expand into Lebanon, North Africa, South Africa and beyond and to regain their markets in Syria and Iraq, which were shut down following the instability in both countries. Furthermore, they produce flavors based on each market’s preferences, and are always open to introducing new flavors.

End: Brands of Jordan Part 2

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.. To see the previous story, click here