The Mediastow Story - part 2
The Sudan Operation: Hisham's brainchild and the ultimate betrayal
I have never had any desire to have any footprint in Sudan. The country was a mess and still continues to be one. Most importantly, I have a strong dislike to the work culture in Sudan. I never wanted to have an office in Sudan. I never wanted to hire people from Sudan. I don’t even feel like I belong there.
And in fact, early 2017 I was already pressuring Hisham (Research Director, and my brother) to wind down our Sudan operation. I wanted to keep the stars and shed the heavy weight as I started feeling we were losing our lean structure. These are things no one knows but Hisham and I - and of course the Suwaida Gang when they hacked my emails.
When I first hired Hisham, I told him this, “I will underpay you and overwork you.” That was the deal. The reason why this is the deal, was that he was my brother, and I didn’t want the investors to feel that I was just paying my family. This is the kind of integrity that we have in my family.
If you were to ask my youngest brother Waleed, who worked for the bank my father was the CEO of, who was making less than anyone in that same position, he’d bitch for hours. He was constantly frustrated, but my father maintained that, he did not want the optics of it to distract from the job. You may think that is extreme, or it is right. It certainly is a question to debate.
But the integrity that Hisham and I conducted ourselves in are beyond reproach.
At some point Hisham became disillusioned with Dubai and told me that he simply could not afford to continue living in Dubai at the wage he was getting. It wasn’t workable and he was right. I still did not feel that I could pay my own brother a fair price for the incredible work he’s doing. So, we made a new deal.
Hisham would move to Sudan and work from there. I reluctantly agreed. I secretly would have preferred for him to simply resign and find another job, because I was never happy with being so unfair to him. He moved to Sudan and worked remotely for a long time. From home.
My brother was ridiculed in Sudan for “working from home”. No one took his job seriously, because no one thought working from home was real work. It’s a cultural thing that is unfortunate but true.
As time went by, Hisham, always with the new ideas, suggested that we hire Sudanese talent for writing, editing, and analysis. I was skeptical, but he sold me the idea. My position was this: Sudanese people have a horrible work culture and do not care to produce quality work, especially if they are at home (not abroad). Hisham’s position was: I will create a new culture within Mediastow’s Sudan operation.
It was a long battle between us and as I write this, I truly miss those debates. I have always liked being challenged by people working with me. Whenever someone is passionate enough about an idea, I have an urge to let them see it through, regardless of my personal feeling about it.
Hisham ran the most incredible operation that made me concede that he was right. He was truly able to create a culture of excellence within Mediastow in Sudan. There was true pride in working for multinational brands out of Khartoum. We produced world-class work out of the dusty, electricity-strapped Khartoum.
I am so proud of his achievements. I don’t think I ever really told him :) After all, this is the man who put Mediastow on the International map winning us our first (and only) award from AMEC in 2008. Yeah man. That was badass.
So, imagine when the Suwaida Gang refused to pay him his salary and End of Service Benefits, claiming that he never did any work for Mediastow.. because he was hardly in Dubai. Yeah, seriously, that was their argument. Just to be clear, he took them to court and beat them.
But what truly hurt was the lawsuits that came from the very people that he championed and fought so hard to create jobs for. My immediate reaction was, “I told you, Sudanese culture is terrible. Look at those people, our people, turning on us like that.. “ Truly hurtful.
Word has it that people were saying things like, “Their family has money, so that’s the only place we can go.” Imagine, we’re all suffering and instead of sticking together, some people are throwing punches at us from the inside.
Let us not make this mistake again. Yahya Al Kodmani and his Suwaida Gang thought of us as easy targets because we’re Sudanese. They did it with impunity because, let’s be honest, they think it’s easy to get away with it. Because we’re from Sudan.
Yeah. That’s real shit.
Are you gonna sit there and let those criminals get away with it? Cause I know I won’t.
This is the second installment in a series “The Mediastow Story”. Part 1.