Hello, everyone. We’re now over the mid-week hump and coasting straight toward the what we hope will be a three-day weekend.
THE BIG STORY this afternoon? It’s got to be talk that Moscow may soon allow the resumption of direct flights from Russia to Egypt’s seaside resorts, possibly giving a very nice boost to our tourism industry, which continues to struggle thanks to the global pandemic. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.
HAPPENING NOW- Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and 11 members of his cabinet are flying now to Libya for talks, according to a Cabinet statement. Among those heading west are the ministers of international cooperation, communications and information technology, health, transport, civil aviation, oil, electricity, manpower, trade and industry, education, and housing, among others. While in Tripoli, the PM is expected to meet with the prime minister-designate of the new interim Government of National Unity, Abdel Hamid Al Dabaiba.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- GDP growth for Egypt this year: Fitch forecasts Egypt’s economy will grow at a 2.9% clip this year.
- Mobile wallet users will soon be able to access loan and saving services in real time under new regulations the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) issued yesterday.
- Senate opposes Thanaweya Amma overhaul: The amendments would change the way students are assessed. The proposal will now be debated by the House of Representatives.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The latest exchange in what the talking heads are calling the Second Cold War as Chinese leader Xi Jinping “called for a new world order, using a speech at China’s flagship business event to launch a veiled attack against US global leadership and to warn against economic decoupling.” The story leads the front pages everywhere from the Financial Times to Reuters.
China is stepping up the heat as the US ambassador to Moscow heading home for “consultations,” according to an embassy statement. The move comes four days after the Kremlin suggested that Washington should recall him. Moscow has already recalled its ambassador to Washington, Reuters notes. Washington and Moscow have recently exchanged sanctions triggered by the Biden administration’s finding that Russia has interfered in American elections, engaged in cyber hacking, and is threatening neighbouring Ukraine.
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED afternoon covid update: There’s mixed news on two of the most-hated (in some circles) aspects of the pandemic.
#1- Twitter is on fire with calls for governments to scrap mandatory mask requirements in outdoor spaces. Leading the charge are pro-mask advocates including Zeynep Tufekci. The argument? That passing someone outside on the sidewalk (even if they’re running) isn’t a big risk at all, so the requirement we all mask outdoors desensitizes us to the vastly higher risk of indoor transmission. Tufekci (the professor and public intellectual who has gotten more right about covid-19 than most), notes that “Masks outdoors make sense only for *extended* contact in very close proximity (especially if talking) but indoors, they make sense even if beyond the six feet. The main transmission mode is clearly aerosols, not droplets, and hence those are different.” Her call is spreading and has been picked up everywhere from the New Republic to the Washington Post.
#2- The World Health Organization isn’t down with vaccination passports, saying in a statement after a meeting yesterday that governments should “not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry” to a country “given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution.”
#3- CLOSED DOORS- The US will extend its ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ list to include around 80% of countries as the covid-19 pandemic continues to surge worldwide, reports Reuters citing a statement from the US State Department. The US already has 34 countries listed as due to their risk to travellers, and the 80% figure means adding nearly 180 countries. Egypt is currently at Level 3, which the State Department defines as “reconsider travel.” It is unclear whether we’ll be nudged up a level in the coming days.
#4- OPEN DOORS- Is KSA serious about reopening next month? Maybe so. The latest sign: National flag carrier Saudia is tweeting to ask whether its passengers have “prepared their bags.”
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The iSheep among us are all jazzed up about Apple’s spring event tonight. Pundits think the iPhone maker will unveil AirTags and a new iPad Pro with an improved display and faster processor, among other new products. The headline: Spring Loaded. The event will stream at 7pm on Apple’s website and on YouTube.
Cheech and Chong ask: Are you celebrating 4/20 today? (Ask your teenager if that doesn’t mean anything to you). Also: Earth Day is Thursday, April 22.
Renaissance Capital virtual conference titled RenCap ESG – a New Focus for EM kicked off today and will run until Thursday. The conference will include three panel discussions exploring environmental, social and governance issues in investing. Panels will be live streamed.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
MUST READ #1- Jeff Bezos’ final CEO note. The Lex Luthor body double has penned his last letter to shareholders as CEO as he prepares to hand over the day-to-day reins to top lieutenant Andy Jassy and become executive chairman, focusing on “new products and early initiatives.” What makes this a must-read? Everything from Bezos’ notion that we should all produce more than we consume through to his thoughts on how “differentiation is survival.” It’s accessible, clear, visionary and to the point everything a good CEO’s note should be.
MUST READ #2- What Nobel laureate Robert Schiller thinks the popular culture of the “Roaring Twenties” can tell us to watch for now as bears call for an end to the stock market’s very, very long bull run in the west. His argument: “The current widespread fascination with the rising market accompanied by recent concern about a possible downward spiral and strained stock market valuations echo those of 100 years ago,” but we also have more reasons to be optimistic today than our ancestors did a century ago. Read: Looking back at the first roaring twenties.
Because we have nothing better to worry about: Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal think your love of skinny jeans may “date” you. See: A new ‘denim cycle’? After a decade, jeans move from skinny to loose and Skinny jeans and 9 other styles that date you.
This year could see the second-largest increase in energy-related carbon emissions since 2010, driven by a resurgence in the use of coal in Asia, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest report. Global energy-related CO2 emissions could jump by 4.6% y-o-y to reach 33 bn tonnes in 2021, reversing 80% of the decline seen in 2020. Almost 70% of the projected increase in global energy demand is expected to come from emerging markets, while China alone is expected to account for over 50% of the increased global demand for coal, which is expected to grow by 4.5% this year. Natural gas on the other hand is set to grow by 3.2% in 2021, propelled by increasing demand in Asia, the Middle East and Russia.
Tesla under fire over bizarre car crash: Two US federal agencies are investigating a Tesla Model S crash in Texas that left the two passengers dead, but with neither behind the wheel, CNBC reported. Preliminary police reports said no one was in the driver’s seat when the car veered off the road. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has since claimed that data logs showed the car’s autopilot feature was not turned on. Musk stressed that both the autopilot feature and full self-driving technologies are meant to be used with “active supervision.”
US regulators have already been cracking down on driverless vehicles: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for stronger federal requirements on the design and usage of automated driving technologies on public roads last month. Tesla has been testing its Level 2 Autopilot system — where vehicles have some automated functions but require drivers to remain attentive and keep their hands on the wheel — in its cars “with limited oversight or reporting requirements,” NTSB chief Robert Sumwalt said.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
The political thriller Miss Sloane is now out on Netflix. Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a Capitol Hill lobbyist (good lord…) at a conservative firm who switches sides after being asked by her boss to support a new gun lobby, a move which comes at a high personal cost. Chastain was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film, with this review likening her to “every mastermind serial killer on ‘Criminal Minds.’” The New York Times and Empire are also fans.
⚽ Chelsea are playing Brighton tonight at 7pm in the English Premier League.
Serie A will see Verona go up against Fiorentina at 8:45pm.
In Umm El Donia, the Egypt Cup is on tonight, with Misr Lel Makassa to face off against Ceramica Cleopatra at 9:30pm.
Liverpool forward and national star Mo Salah has been named the captain of the Egyptian national team, the Egyptian Football Association said in a statement. The selection comes as Egypt is vying to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
🥐 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
One of the best parts of the Iftar table are the appetizers. From sambosak (samosa, if you’re on the other side of the controversy), mombar, wara2 3enab, and kobeba, Splatter offers a mezze platter that includes all our favorites and more. From cheese and fruit platters, to traditional Ramadan mezzes, to its signature seafood platter boasting mussels, shrimp, crab, salmon, and herring, these aesthetically pleasing platters are sure to become the centerpiece of any dining table.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
El Sawy Culturewheel is hosting the standup comedy show Ostor Yarab tonight at 9pm, featuring nine local comedians in a two-hour performance.
Singer Shahira Kamal will be performing her recent EP album "Dokki ya Mazzika” at The Room New Cairo tonight at 9pm. Kamal was the voice on the Cairokee song Kol Haga Betaady.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- More decent weather ahead. Expect highs of 31°C during the day and nighttime lows of 15°C tomorrow, our favorite weather app tells us.