How RelationalAI is partnering with Manara to leverage untapped developer communities in MENA

RelationalAI is a company based around connections - both human and data. The fully remote company, founded by serial founder Molham Aref, has raised close to $125M and hires only exceptionally curious developers. In this case study, learn how RelationalAI is partnering with Manara to hire some of the most talented engineers from the Middle East and North Africa to scale its product.

“The type of talent we want to recruit is rare,” says Bria Porter, Global VP of People at RelationalAI.
“To find the talent we need, we know we have to look past conventional channels to universities, networks of our leadership team, and of course strategic partners like Manara.”

Founded in 2017, RelationalAI is the creator of a breakthrough relational knowledge graph database. As of Nov 2022, the fully-remote company had raised a total of $122M, after closing $75M in Series B funding early in the same year. 175 people work at the company, 45% of whom are based outside the US, in places like the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

Bria and Molham Aref, CEO and Co-Founder, are the driving force behind RelationalAI’s recruitment strategy. Molham is analytical and straight-talking, Bria is culture-driven and charismatic. Both are clearly very people-centric. And that’s fitting because RelationalAI is a company clearly built around connections — both data and human.

“My ambition for the company," says Molham Aref, “was to build a place where people felt empowered, where they felt they could make visions reality. I believe in a culture of transparency, performance, and kindness. We want to be very open and inclusive.”

To do so, Molham and the team set about building partnerships into niche talent communities. “RelationalAI doesn’t look for developers specialized in specific programming languages. We want language-agnostic engineers with strong intellectual curiosity, an ability to prioritize, and a desire to work on complex, cutting-edge projects that require creative thinking,” explains Molham.

RelationalAI Team at university

RelationalAI has a network of 27 universities across the world with whom they work on various research projects and special events. “Given the type of product we are building, it's very important that we are plugged into academia and cutting edge research,” says Molham.

Once new people are onboard, RelationalAI measures their leaders on their ability to attract people to the org. Bria explains, “We expect our leaders to have a broad network and offer strong mentorship.”

Aside from leveraging university partnerships and the networks of their employees, RelationalAI is constantly looking for new geographies to scout talented engineers. When Manara’s name came up in conversation with a colleague from AWS, Molham was intrigued to learn more.

“I knew there was great, underutilized talent in North Africa. In my previous company, we had excellent experiences with Tunisian developers. However, we had little access into the Middle East and into other countries in North Africa. I wanted to learn more.”

After a quick talk with the team, RelationalAI began the partnership with Manara Nov 2021. In less than 6 months, the company hired 7 developers, some of whom have gone through the company’s internship program.

For Bria and Molham, Manara’s training, combined with the raw talent of the engineers from the region, make the Manara alumni perfectly ready for the open, innovative, remote culture that RelationalAI has built. “So far, Manara engineers have had a great attitude and a strong work ethic. We’re impressed.”

Aside from the engineering capabilities, the company appreciates the opportunity the partnership gives to diversify their teams: “Frankly the partnership with Manara helps us in all aspects of diversity, especially

finding more women,” says Bria. Molham seconds that: “The women we have hired are amazing. They have contributed so much to our teams and culture by being themselves.”

With a new influx of investment in March 2022, RelationalAI is continuing to hire. They aim to keep the quality of new joiners high and will continue to develop partnerships with universities, employee networks, and of course continue to hire MENA talent with Manara.

On a final note about Manara, Molham adds, “Our partnership with Manara has been excellent. It has exceeded our expectations. We look forward to continuing to hire skilled, diverse engineers. Manara has identified a pool of talent that the rest of the world doesn’t know about – perhaps I should stop letting everyone know!”

Join RelationalAI and hundreds of companies hiring from Manara’s community of top Middle East engineers

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RelationalAI is the next-generation database platform for AI-driven applications based on Relational Knowledge Graphs




HQ in San Francisco, but fully remote

Company Size*:

175 People

*as of Dec 2022

Molham Aref

CEO and Founder

Molham has more than 30 years of experience in leading organizations that develop and implement high-value machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions across various industries. Prior to RelationalAI he was CEO of LogicBlox and Predictix (now Infor), CEO of Optimi (now Ericsson), and co-founder of Brickstream (now FLIR). Molham also held senior leadership positions at HNC Software (now FICO) and Retek (now Oracle).

Bria Porter

Global HR Leader & People Ops

Bria Porter is a Global HR Leader & People Ops Consultant with 10+ years of progressive people operations experience at early-stage start-ups and mid-sized global companies. Global expertise spanning: NORAM, EMEA and APAC regions.She is passionate about building and leading successful people ops functions that include unconventional, yet highly effective strategies, initiatives, processes, and systems that support rapid scaling while maintaining (or establishing) company culture. Bria considers herself a Culture Champion and Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) advocate.

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