Good afternoon, wonderful people, and welcome to what seems to be the calm before the storm. Not a bad storm, mind you, but something in our bones tells us that the usual summertime, pre-weekend news slowdown isn’t in the cards this week.
First up: Mass transport startup Swvl looks like it’s about to go public — by merging with a SPAC and taking up residence on the Nasdaq. We have the bare-bones facts in this afternoon’s Speed Round and expect a formal announcement later today.
Second: We’re digging deeper into this morning’s story on vaccines for folks who need to travel. We want to be sure of two angles: First, that folks who have already been jabbed can go get a QR-coded vaccination record. The hand-written certificates the Ministry of Health has been issuing (documenting your first and second jabs of AstraZeneca or Sinopharm) don’t have QR codes, and a growing number of countries demand them. In fact, Egypt is at the head of the list of countries asking for QR-coded vaccine records to be presented at ports of entry.
We’re also looking deeper into the suggestion that new international vaccination centers will jab would-be travelers with what they need to get into their final destinations.
So far, over 10 mn people in Egypt have registered to receive the covid-19 vaccine through the Health Ministry’s website, the ministry told Youm7 today, adding that all those signed up would receive their vaccine “soon.” More than 5.3 mn vaccine doses (5,337,506, to be exact) have been administered in the country as of 26 July, according to the World Health Organization country dashboard.
CORRECTION- Saudi visitors to Egypt will NOT be subject to a travel ban after they return home. EnterpriseAM picked up today a Reuters story claiming Saudi Arabia had banned travel to Egypt, Argentina, South Africa, Lebanon and other countries — and that claimed Saudi citizens could face an automatic three-year travel ban if they visit those red-listed countries. Egypt is not on the kingdom’s “red list,” which covers 13 specific countries. We are, however, still classified by Riyadh as a “very high risk” destination, meaning KSA authorities are advising against travel here. The story has since been removed from our website.
MEANWHILE- Low- and middle-income earners can now apply for 30-year mortgages at a subsidized rate of 3% to buy fully-finished homes built as part of the Sisi administration’s Housing for All initiative, according to a Housing Ministry statement. Homes under this phase of the initiative will be delivered in two groups. Available for immediate delivery are homes priced at up to EGP 310k for lower income earners in 19 governorates including Alexandria, Ismailia and Fayoum. The second batch will be earmarked for middle-income earners and will be delivered within 36 months in all governorates. The initiative is taking place under the EGP 100 bn mortgage finance initiative for low- and middle-income earners, which the CBE launched earlier this month.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Economy to grow 4.5-5% in 2Q2021 -RenCap: Renaissance Capital economists are also maintaining the bank’s forecast for 4.2% growth in 2021, which they believe will accelerate to 5% next year.
- Tycoon to officially kick off bid for 90% of ANFI: The FRA has approved Tycoon Holding’s MTO for Alexandria National Company for Financial Investment (ANFI) which will see it acquire 90% of the company at EGP 6.25 a share.
- Gov’t to start handing out covid travel certificates soon: Egypt will open designated centers for those who want to get vaccinated for travel purposes in the coming days, with individuals required to show their passport, visa or airline ticket and obtain a documented vaccination certificate.
HAPPENING NOW- The US Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting draws to a close later today, with the central bank widely expected to give a hint this evening “about how and when to begin paring their asset purchases amid an economic rebound clouded by supply-chain bottlenecks and rising Covid-19 cases,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Look for a statement at around 7pm CLT and for chairman Jay Powell to hold a news conference at around 7:30pm.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Startups have until this Thursday, 29 July, to apply for round two of the Green Works Growth Acceleration Program, which aims to support green enterprises in Egypt. The 10-month program is supported by Hivos and implemented by Nahdet El Mahrousa and will see 10 startups receive financial and non-financial support. Chosen startups will be eligible for up to EGP 250k in funding. You can read more about eligibility requirements and the program here (pdf) and register using this form.
Egypt will host the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center on 2-4 August.
The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 5 August.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Is gaming the next battleground for Chinese soft power? Chinese tech giants like Tencent and NetEase are acquiring more gaming studios around the world, raising flags (for Westerners) about China’s cultural influence, CNBC reports. Sceptics say Chinese owners may try to alter the gamescape of the US and European gaming companies that they have acquired — and could attempt to spread Chinese values through games. The Chinese gaming industry is also heavily censored for political and adult content, and games may have to adapt to strict Chinese gaming regulations. But the cultural impact on the content of games may be different from what we expect, experts say — with games that position the Western character as the bad guy and the Chinese character as the good guy, or games that center the role of female characters to cater to China’s 500 mn strong female gamer market — becoming more likely.
Spotify added fewer subscribers than expected in 2Q220, though it recorded 165 mn paying subscribers, a 20% increase y-o-y compared to the same period, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company attributes the results to covid-19 spikes in emerging markets, where it was expecting to make much of its growth, and to the end of lockdown in other countries pushing people towards more activities outside the home. Meanwhile, average revenue per subscription in the quarter slipped 3% to GBP 4.29 as the firm attracted more users through discounted plans.
Nonetheless, the streaming platform boasted triple digit gains in revenue, bolstered by its growing podcasting business. Revenue from subscriptions rose 17% to GBP 2.06 bn while advertising revenue rocketed 110% to GBP 275 mn. As of June 30, Spotify has 365 mn monthly active users, up 22% from a year earlier.
Maybe now they can consider offering podcasts to those of us peasants who rate only an Egyptian spotify account?
Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia are creating their own border-free travel and business zone by the end of the year in response to delays in their bids to join the European Union, the FT reports. The agreement, dubbed “mini-Schengen,” is expected to provide reduced travel restrictions to tourists, workers and business in the Balkan region as frustration with the EU grows.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Docuseries The Movies That Made Us is a look behind the scenes of some of the best flicks of our time. Each episode focuses on a blockbuster movie from the ’80s or ’90s, allowing the filmmakers to tell the story of how it was made, what obstacles they had to overcome, and all the fun they had along the way. The first season looks at Home Alone, Dirty Dancing, Die Hard, and Ghostbusters while the second season has episodes for each of Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Pretty Woman, and Jurassic Park. The films all proved revolutionary, with some pioneering a genre, and the docuseries also sheds light on the impact of the flicks and how the filmmakers reacted to audiences and critics’ reception.
🏅 TODAY AT THE TOKYO OLYMPICS-
Egypt’s football team is going to the quarterfinals after defeating Australia 2-0 in a Group C game today and qualifying for the next round. Our quarter finals match will take place against Brazil on Saturday at 12pm.
Egypt's handball team beat Japan 33-29 in their second win in Group B. Denmark and Sweden each have six points, while Egypt ranks third with four points, putting the team in a position to advance to the quarter finals.
Egypt’s fencing sabre team claimed fifth place in the men’s team sabre after beating Iran 45-24.
Swimmer Farida Osman failed to qualify for the semifinals of the women’s swimming 100m freestyle after finishing 33rd in qualifying heats. However, her last race was a valiant one, with Osman coming in third with a time of 55.74 seconds.
Tennis table player Omar Assar was beaten after reaching the quarterfinals, losing to world champion Ma Long of China 4-1.
Amal Adam was eliminated from the archery women’s individual round of 32 after losing to South Korea’s Jang Minhee.
Abdel-Aziz Mehelba finished in 9th place in the men’s trap qualification round, while Ahmed Zaher came in 22nd.
Shooter Maggy Ashmawy finished 21st out of 26 contestants in the first day of the women’s trap qualifying round.
Abdelrahman Oraby was taken out of the boxing men's light heavyweight round of 16 after losing to Benjamin Whittaker of Great Britain.
WORLD STANDINGS- China is now in the lead, with 12 gold medals and 26 in total. Japan closely follows with 12 gold medals and 21 in total. The US has slightly more medals at 30, but has lagged behind with the gold, now holding 10.
WHAT TO WATCH tonight and tomorrow-
- 2:00am: Maggy Ashmawy will compete in the second day of the shooting women’s trap qualifying round.
- 2:50am: Abdel-Aziz Mehelba and Ahmed Zaher are up during the qualifying round for the shooting men’s trap.
- 3:50am: Egypt’s women’s fencing team will compete in the quarter finals for the women's team foil against the Russian Olympic Committee.
- 4:50am: Abdelkhalek Elbanna will compete in the rowing men's single sculls semi-finals C/D.
- 11:51am: Yousry Rezk will go up against Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev in the boxing men's super heavyweight round of 16.
- 12:54pm: Youssef Ramadan will compete in the swimming men's 100m butterfly heats.
Times still TBD as of dispatch:
- Ramadan Darwish will compete in the judo men's 100kg round of 32 against Pakistan’s Shah Hussain Shah.
- Aly Badawy has two opening series sailing laser races coming up tomorrow.
- Khouloud Mansy will take part in two laser radial sailing races tomorrow.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
The GrEEK Campus is hosting a mental health event on Friday at 9am. The event is titled Mint Your Mental Health will feature talks, panels, mentoring circles, and networking groups to discuss the importance of mental health, and how to take care of your own.
Egyptian music-inspired DJs Disco Misr are performing at El Sawy Culturewheel on Saturday at 4pm.
Sheikh Zein is performing his folklore music at Darb 1718 tomorrow at 7pm.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
What animal emotions can tell us about ourselves: Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal starts off with the story of the chimpanzee Mama who went viral after comforting a scientist who was emotional about the animal’s impending death (watch, runtime: ). Their heartbreaking goodbye is just a small testimony that animals, like humans, experience emotions ranging from sadness to empathy, joy, anger, shame and love. From this notion, de Waal explores human emotions by comparing and mirroring them to those of our often-furry friends. He looks at facial expressions, the emotions behind human politics, the illusion of free will, and animal sentience in a book that will help you better understand yourself and the world around you.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 41°C in the capital city and nighttime lows of 24°C, our favorite weather app tells us. Sahel is at 34°C during the day and 24°C at night.