A collaborative research project between New York University Abu Dhabi and Tharawat Family Business Forum



The Family Business Histories Spotlight Series is a collection of brief case studies that seeks to document the rich and  complex history of family businesses in the MENASA region. Despite the significant economic contribution and multi-faceted founding journeys of MENASA family businesses, their histories remain largely undocumented. The limited amount of existing documentation is often dispersed across highly localized sources. This lack of documentation, combined with access barriers present significant challenges to academic researchers and other stakeholders seeking to study the field.

As a first-of-its-kind endeavor in the MENASA region, the Family Business Histories Spotlight Series is an ever-growing collection of brief case studies, or profiles, aiming to shine a light on the unwritten stories of family businesses of the region. The profiles are available through this web portal, where the histories of family businesses from various countries, company sizes and industries are compiled. Each profile provides insights into the founders’ background, the business founding story; and the key business milestones of the business operations across the decades.

The series is intended to offer entry points for researchers and practitioners into case studies of interest, while contributing to the foundational documentation of the rich and complex history of regional family businesses.


Family Business

Establishing a unique definition of the organizations known as family businesses or family firms remains a challenge in the academic literature (Chua et al., 1999); (Martos et al., 2007); Harms (2014); Miller et al. (2007). Despite the lack of a uniform definition, several recurring criteria have been employed by scholars in various combinations to establish their own unique definitions. These criteria include family ownership, family involvement in management, inter-generational ownership transfer, and the family’s self-perception of the business as a family enterprise (Eugster, 2018).

The Family Business Histories project has used these recurring criteria as a foundation. Through a synthesis of research findings on a large sample of MENASA-based family businesses, the project has generated its own distinct definition.

We consider an organization to be a family business if it meets, or has met, all of the following conditions at one point during the span of its operations:


The owning family is the majority* shareholder in terms of either voting rights or cash flow rights, or both.


At least two members of the owning family are actively involved in the business leadership.


Ownership and leadership of the firm have been transitioned from the founder(s) to the next
generation at least once.

* We have used a threshold of 60%, with the exception of countries such as Syria where the threshold was much lower due to national regulations and private ownership restrictions

Snapshot definitions

Each profile in the Spotlight Series is preceded by a summary of facts and figures (Snapshots) about the family business in question.


Name of the family or multiple families who own(s) and run(s) the business. In the cases where the business was established by a female founder whose family name is not passed on to her descendent, we used the founder’s family name – even if it is not carried by the succeeding generations.


We recorded the earliest name we were able to find, which varies for each business:
• Name in first official registration license
• The earliest official corporate documents found
• Name given by local community prior to official incorporation, or earliest name found in the archives


In most cases refers to the official year of incorporation of the business


• Businesses that no longer correspond to our definition of “family business” as of the publication date of the article are marked as “no longer operational as a family business”

• Businesses that correspond to our definition of “family business” as of the publication date are marked as “Operating


Each profile in the Spotlight Series focuses on providing a historical account of an individual business entity. It is not intended to encompass the history of multiple businesses that may be owned by the same family. Businesses that may have been interconnected at some point in their history, but currently operate as separate entities, will each be treated as distinct subjects in separate profiles.


The Spotlight Series is designed to offer a foundational overview of the histories of family businesses in the MENASA region. To depict the heterogeneity of businesses in the region, a range of diversity criteria were taken into consideration when selecting the family businesses to cover:

• Geographical diversity
• Industry diversity
• Business age diversity
• Company size diversity*
• Operational status

* We sought to cover equal numbers of large family conglomerates and SMEs. However, larger family enterprises were covered more extensively due to larger availability of primary and secondary source information.


The Spotlight Series research is primarily based on online sources. This resulted in the following:

• The choice of businesses, as well as the scope and depth of each profile, were determined by the availability of information. In instances
where information is limited or scarce, the profile may reflect this limitation.

• The reliability and accuracy of some information obtained may impact the accuracy of some research statements.



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