Hikma’s success story: how to revive industry

King
His Majesty King Abdullah inaugurates Hikma Pharmaceuticals new Middle East and North Africa headquarters in Amman, and stresses the importance of the pharmaceutical sector for the national economy, on September 06, 2022. (File photo: Royal Court)
King

Khalid Dalal

The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally and globally.

In a promotional video introducing itself, Hikma, Jordan’s iconic pharmaceutical company, starts with the phrase: It’s simple.

Indeed, it is. It can be simplified as a company which started with a dream by its founder, the late Samih Darwazah, who established and turned it over the years into the biggest drug maker in the Arab world and a respected multi-billion dollar international company which employs more than 8,000 people around the world.اضافة اعلان

His two sons, Said and Mazen, continued the journey and expanded its outreach to new markets, building on their father’s respected legacy.

Last month, His Majesty King Abdullah inaugurated the company’s new Middle East and North Africa headquarters in Amman. In his remarks at the event, he “stressed the importance of the pharmaceutical sector for the national economy”, noting that “pharmaceutical industries are among the priority sectors of the Economic Modernization Vision for the upcoming 10 years”.

The King “lauded Hikma Pharmaceuticals as one of the leading national companies in the pharmaceutical sector”.

Mazen Darwazah, Hikma’s executive vice chairman and president of Hikma MENA, said during the event that the company “plans to establish a regional research and development hub in Salt, which will enable the company to outsource R&D capabilities to the region and the world”.

“Hikma Pharmaceuticals operates 32 manufacturing plants and seven major R&D centers in the US, Europe, and the MENA, including two in Jordan,” he said.

The story does not end here, of course. There is a lesson in it for Jordan and Jordanian entrepreneurs to learn.

A look at the founder’s career can easily show why and how such a pharmaceutical plant evolved into a giant. Samih Darwazeh had the vision, the knowledge, the right partners and talented successors who believed in his dream, which may have sounded far-fetched or been met with skepticism in the 1980s.
This is exactly how business should be run, and this is exactly what Jordan needs: industries that export products demanded in overseas markets to bring in hard currency and hire more people.
Quoting the Financial Times’ profile of the visionary businessman, his academic profile (a degree from the American University of Beirut and a Fulbright scholarship at the St Louis College of Pharmacy, before joining US drug maker, Eli Lilly) gave him enough strength to sow “the seeds of his future career”.

In his business, Darwazeh exhibited a profound understanding of the target markets, and decided to focus on low-cost generic medicines to meet the region’s demands.

This is exactly how business should be run, and this is exactly what Jordan needs: industries that export products demanded in overseas markets to bring in hard currency and hire more people. If we look at rich countries, this is the very recipe that they have adopted to turn into tigers.

According to Mazen Darwazah, “Hikma contributes approximately 5 percent of Jordan’s total national exports and nearly 75 percent of pharmaceutical exports”; “it has a 10 percent share of the Jordanian pharmaceutical market and a $370 million economic value flowing from it to the Jordanian economy”.

The top executive said that in 2021, Hikma “exported $392 million worth of pharmaceutical products from Jordan to global markets, expecting exports to grow in 2022 to surpass $465 million”.

Jordan has never lacked the brains. The belief that Jordanians are the country’s best asset is evident in the success story of Hikma.

Hikma translates in Arabic as “wisdom”. We need such wisdom to take off in many aspects of our life as Jordanians. One could learn from Hikma.


Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for media, strategic communication, PR, international cooperation, and business development locally, regionally, and globally. [email protected]


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