Q&A with Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou on Mitigating Political Risk in MENA

iStrategic is an advisory company that specializes in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA)

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou has a Masters degree in Economics and a PhD in Political Science

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou has a Masters degree in Economics and a PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University. She is fluent in Arabic, English and German. Her research focuses on strategy, political risk assessment, political risk management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), in addition to MENA economy and private sector. Dr. Hetou is a consultant, academic and author. She teaches Master seminars at Rutgers University titled: State Building After Civil Wars, Political Risk Analysis, Politics of Water and Security, and American Foreign Policy. Her publications include a book on Syria (Routledge 2018), articles in academic publications, and a weekly Op-Ed in Forbes Middle East magazine.


LIFARS: Introduce iStrategic LLC to our readers.

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou: iStrategic is an advisory company that specializes in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
iStrategic is based in NJ, United States, with associates throughout MENA. We offer our services to the private sector and government agencies looking to enter or expand their operations in the region. Our services include: macro/micro political risk analysis, market intelligence, due diligence, and risk management. We offer our services through consultations, red team, reports, exclusive seminars and workshops.

LIFARS: How does iStrategic differentiate itself from other consultancy services?

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou: iStrategic values technical data-driven knowhow in addition to indigenous knowledge, and we combine both strengths for the benefit of the client. Being prepared to handle and succeed in a new operational setting is important especially in today’s competitive environment, and in a volatile region ripe with opportunities such as MENA. Reports and consultations are private and exclusive to the client who maintains full rights to content. In addition to communicating through encrypted platforms post-contract, files are always password protected. Having advanced corporate capabilities to mitigate political risks in MENA is a comparative advantage, hence exclusivity is a priority.

LIFARS: What type of methodology is usually deployed in your risk assessments at iStrategic?

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou: We deploy both quantitative and qualitative analysis in our proprietary political risk assessment models. We understand the region as a complex system, and systems-thinking is part of our assessments especially during the scenario analysis stage. Historical data, trends and seasonality are not always the best predictors of future events especially in unstable regions. Understanding and mitigating risk factors requires a better integration of context in the risk assessment model, and that is one of our differentiators.

LIFARS: If you want to give an advice to our readers who might be contemplating exploring business opportunities in the region what would it be?

Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou: As I mentioned, acquiring corporate adaptive and proactive capabilities to mitigate risks is important. What is also crucial to keep in mind when thinking of entering a MENA market is that relations, helpful introductions, and meetings that establish good-will and advance mutual interests is an art form. Having a consultant with the right cultural and linguistic background during the first meetings with prospective local business partners makes a tangible difference in outcome, and certainly aids during the decision-making process. When we provide a client with a risk assessment he/she also knows that a consultant is available to accompany their mission to the MENA country.

Contact Dr. Ghaidaa Hetou by visiting: https://www.i-strategic.com/