Thursday, 9 March 2023

PM — Search engines will never be the same



Happy THURSDAY, friends. We’re wrapping up the first full workweek of March with a whole lot of big news stories on the home front, making us all the more grateful that the weekend is just a few short hours away.


#1- Are we about to see a fresh batch of temporary listings on the EGX? The bourse is reportedly studying temporary listings for four companies, Asharq Business reports, citing Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) boss Mohamed Farid, without specifying which companies are under study. The listings would, if executed, bring the total number of companies temporarily listed on the EGX to seven. The FRA had introduced new listing rules back in September that allow companies to “temporarily” list their shares on the EGX for six months as they work to meet listing requirements.

#2- Inflation surged faster than expected in February to hit new five-year highs, on the back of hikes in fuel prices and the continued depreciation of the EGP. Annual urban inflation rose 31.9% y-o-y in the second month of the year, up from 25.8% in January, according to figures from state statistics agency Capmas. This is the highest rate since August 2017 and is up from just 10% in February 2022. The uptick was primarily driven by food prices, which have increased 61.8% y-o-y.

#3- You can now send more money through InstaPay, after the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) raised the limit for each transaction to EGP 70k, from EGP 50k previously, according to a circular (pdf). The daily transaction limit on the CBE’s national digital payments app will become EGP 120k, up from EGP 60k previously, while monthly transactions will be capped at EGP 400k, rising from EGP 200k. The new limits come into effect next Wednesday, 15 March.


The global business press continues to lead this afternoon with JPMorgan’s lawsuit against its former investment banking chief, Jes Staley, who had ties to pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein. The story is still getting top billing from the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • It’s getting easier (and less expensive) for investors to acquire Egyptian citizenship: In its latest attempt to secure much-needed hard currency, the Madbouly government has come out with an expanded and more generous citizenship-for-FX program that would allow foreigners additional paths to Egyptian citizenship.
  • Could the gov’t field offers for up to 20% of TE in the next two weeks? The government reportedly hopes to wrap up a roadshow and receive offers for a 10-20% stake in national telecoms provider Telecom Egypt (TE) before the start of Ramadan.
  • Pachin is waiting on more offers before it moves forward with a sale: The shareholders of Paint and Chemical Industries (Pachin) will not consider National Paints Holding’s revised acquisition offer until the two other bidders in the race respond to the latest from the Emirati company.


We have a date for CIFF: The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) will kick off at the Cairo Opera House on Wednesday 15 November and run through to Friday 24 November, the festival’s admins said in a statement last week.

Thanaweya Amma exam schedules are out: Thanaweya Amma exams are scheduled to take place between 12 June and 15 July, the Education Ministry said last month.

Egypt is playing host to PPP MENA Forum: The two-day Public-Private Partnership MENA Forum kicks off at the Nile-Ritz Carlton in Cairo on 19 March, bringing together over 300 regional and international PPP players to discuss new partnership models and projects to advance the region’s socio-economic growth. Discussions held under the patronage of Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly will include policies for infrastructure projects, private funding for national projects, governance, and best practices.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Make some outdoor plans this weekend and soak up the sun: We’re sliding into some beautiful weekend weather, with daytime highs of 28°C both tomorrow and Saturday. The mercury is expected to dip to 13°C tomorrow and 17°C on Saturday, our favorite weather app tells us.



Spotify rolls out TikTok-style clips to boost user engagement: Swedish music streaming giant Spotify launched “Previews” yesterday, a new video feed of short clips showcasing songs, podcasts, and audiobooks, the company said in a statement. The recommendations are generated algorithmically, similarly to TikTok videos and YouTube Shorts.

The strategy: The new feature aims to boost what the company calls “foreground discovery,” co-presidents Gustav Söderström and Alex Norström told the Wall Street Journal. Rather than discovering new music through viral TikTok trends and coming to Spotify to stream it, the company wants users to unlock new tracks natively — a factor it believes is key to retaining users.

Spotify has been facing the music: The company recorded a net operating loss of EUR 231 mn in 4Q 2022, according to its earnings release (pdf) and announced in January that it plans to slash 6% of its workforce as it works to streamline operations. In 2019, it introduced a pricey podcast strategy, which has since seen it spend north of USD 1 bn on podcast companies and talent, the WSJ reports. Many of the executives leading the strategy have departed, however, and the company has now shifted its focus to cutting costs and “making good on those investments.”

Chinese online apparel retailer Shein has ambitious financing plans this year, as it looks to raise around USD 2 bn in a funding round, followed by a US listing in the back half of 2023, Reuters reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The company has slashed its valuation by a third from last year’s USD 64 bn ahead of the funding round. Previous investors General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital China, and the UAE’s Mubadala will be joined by Tiger Global Management this round, Reuters’ sources said.

Where’s the money going? The company and its investors refused to comment on the matter but it looks like Shein is moving forward with a bullish expansion plan. The growth strategy includes expansion in Europe, starting with a new team in Ireland and a new facility in Poland, after having begun production in Turkey.

Growing despite controversy: The Chinese company came under fire over several reports that scrutinize its alleged labor violations and environmentally damaging practices, which some critics say are on a larger scale than any of its fast-fashion peers. The overseas IPO will be watched closely as China published new rules laying out how companies might list overseas last month. Following a regulatory crackdown, those regulations led to a slowdown in the number of Chinese companies listing in the United States.



(all times CLT)

See the infamous Tonya Harding in a new light through I, Tonya. The biographical sports mockumentary follows figure skater Harding, played by Margot Robbie, and her husband Jeff Gillolly, played by Sebastian Stan, as they each point the finger at the other for the assault on Harding’s rival Nancy Kerrigan. The movie explores themes of the obsessed athlete, love, and revenge, all told through Robbie’s brilliant performance. You’ll experience a whole range of emotions watching Robbie’s performance, from sadness and pity, to anger, to pure frustration. Just make sure the kids are asleep before you put it on, as every character featured in this movie is blessed with an obscenely foul mouth. Watch the movie on Hulu or Amazon.

It’s time for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 away matches. The most important matches we’re going to keep an eye on tonight:

  • Sporting Clube de Portugal v Arsenal (7:45pm)
  • Roma v Real Sociedad (7:45pm)
  • Juventus v SC Freiburg (10pm)
  • Man United v Real Betis (10pm)

The majority of Europe’s major leagues kick off new rounds tomorrow: In La Liga, Cadiz and Getafe face off at 10pm, while Spezia plays host to Inter Milan in Serie A at 9:45pm. Over in Ligue 1, LOSC Lille plays against Lyon at 10pm, after the Bundesliga sees Koln and VfL Bochum hit the field at 9:30pm.

But Saturday is the day we’re really waiting for, with plenty of action everywhere we turn.

Al Ahly faces off against Mamelodi Sundowns in Matchday 4 of the CAF Champions League group stage at 3pm on Saturday. The Reds — which are currently in 3rd position with four points — are entering the match with no choice but to win, in order to narrow the point gap with the South African champions — which are currently 2nd with seven points. Al Ahly will also be looking to inch closer to Sudan’s Al Hilal, which is in 1st position with nine points.

Liverpool kicks off the English Premier League’s Gameweek 27 with an away game against Bournemouth at 2:30pm on Saturday, while Manchester City will be hosted by Crystal Palace at 7:30pm. At 5pm, the following matches will kick off:

  • Tottenham v Nottingham Forest
  • Leicester v Chelsea
  • Leeds v Brighton
  • Everton v Brentford

In La Liga: Real Madrid meets Espanyol in a match that begins at 3pm, which Real Madrid is hoping to win as it looks to narrow its point gap with league-topper Barcelona to 6, from a current 9. The rest of the matches scheduled for Saturday:

  • Elche CF v Real Valladolid (5:15pm)
  • Celta Vigo v Rayo Vallecano (7:30pm)
  • Valencia v Osasuna (10pm)

And the biggest matches in the Serie A, the Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 on Saturday:

  • Napoli v Atalanta (Serie A — 7pm)
  • Bayern v Augsburg (Bundesliga — 4:30pm)
  • Leipzig v M’gladbach (Bundesliga — 4:30pm)
  • Schalke v Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga — 7:30pm)
  • Brest v Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1 — 10pm)

In the Egyptian Premier League: Arab Contractors host Smouha at 7pm.

The U-20 Africa Cup of Nations between Senegal and Gambia is scheduled for 7pm on Saturday. The Lions of Teranga have become a fixture of most final matches in the continent’s championship (as we have yet to forget), and have cracked their way into the final match of the championship — hosted by Egypt — by getting through all of its matches undefeated. Senegal edged out Tunisia in the semi-final round, while Gambia unexpectedly defeated Nigeria in its own semi-final match.


Authentic Korean food in the heart of Maadi: Tomato Korean is a quaint, family-run Korean restaurant tucked away in an unassuming spot off Maadi’s Street 233. While the aesthetics leave much to be desired, the food more than compensates for the overall experience, with plenty of delicious options, sizable portions, and prices that won’t break the bank. We recommend ordering the galbi (marinated and grilled boneless rib BBQ), bibimbap (steamed rice with fried vegetables, minced meat, and eggs), and jabchae (sweet potato noodles with vegetables and beef). Their bulgogi and ramen have also yet to disappoint. Although Tomato doesn’t serve dessert options, you’re most likely going to walk away feeling too full for dessert anyway.

(all times CLT)

Learn a thing or two about positive parenting with a specialized workshop with certified trainer and doctor Mai Elwayy at the Rakhawy Institute for Training and Research. The workshop is designed to teach parents about “effective, modern and ethical tools and methods” to integrate positive parenting and discipline to correct children’s behavior. Parents can attend the workshop solo (for EGP 200) or as a couple (for EGP 300). You can register for the workshop here.

Get ready to be inspired by some of Egypt's most talented female artists with Art d’Egypte’s Kaon exhibition at the Arts’ Hub in Zamalek. Kicking off today and running through Thursday, 23 March, the exhibition is held in celebration of International Women's Day.

Cirque du Soleil’s OVO: The event features 100 performers taking the stage with their acrobatic acts. OVO, which kicked off yesterday, is hosting 16 shows until Friday, 18 March at Cairo international Stadium Hall, courtesy of real estate developer Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (pdf).

Not an adaptation of the Adel Imam movie, just the exact same name: The El Tagroba El Denmarkeya play continues to run at the Falaki Theater tonight and tomorrow at 7pm. You can get tickets for tonight or tomorrow.

Bazaar season isn’t over: Check out the She Crafts Bazaar at the Grand Nile Tower Hotel in Garden City from 12pm-8pm tomorrow and Saturday, where craftswomen will have their products on display. The bazaar is designed to give women in crafts a chance to display and market their products “to support women and guide them in financial independence and finding their way in the labor market.”

Head over to El Sawy Culturewheel for its 20th anniversary celebration to catch a Massar Egbari concert this weekend. The band will be performing tomorrow and Saturday from 8pm-11pm. Tickets will be available at the door, or you can buy them in advance here and here.


If your daily to-do list isn’t cutting it with improving your productivity, give Beyond the To-Do List a listen. Erik Fisher sits down with productivity experts including bestselling authors, doctors and journalists, to hear about the strategies they have implemented to increase productivity in their personal and professional lives. Many of the podcast’s guests have written books on topics ranging from mentors to focus to resolutions. Several popular podcast hosts have also been featured as guest hosts. The episodes are engaging and feature actionable tips and thought-provoking discussions on ways we can push ourselves in order to live more meaningful lives.


Your regularly scheduled dose of climate anxiety: The Deluge by Stephen Markley is a dystopian sci-fi novel that’s very much grounded in reality. The story follows multiple characters — including a scientist, a political operative, a recovering addict, and a mathematician — but the real plot is about a looming climate disaster, as mean global temperatures rise by a cataclysmic 6°C. Markley artistically plots out each character’s storyline and weaves it into the broader narrative about humanity’s race to address the collective doom on the horizon.



Sinai Cement’s consolidated net losses narrowed to EGP 330.4 mn in 2022, from EGP 354 mn the year before, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). The company’s total sales for the year rose 62.3% y-o-y to EGP 2.3 bn.


The EGX30 rose 0.9% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.7 bn (16.7% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 12.7% YTD.

In the green: Oriental Weavers (+4.8%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (+4.0%) and Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (+2.8%).

In the red: Juhayna (-2.7%), Edita (-2.7%) and CIRA Education (-2.4%).


AI could be mounting a threat to Google’s hegemony over search: Google’s management team late last year declared a code red for the company in response to the public unveiling of ChatGPT, signaling the approach of potentially serious competition to the search engine’s core business. The new technology represents a risk so substantial that current management at Google called in the company’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, for ideas on how to maneuver the looming threat of generative AI.

Traditional search engines could become obsolete in the near future: The introduction of ChatGPT, Open AI’s generative AI-based software that can churn out essays, poems, code and thoughtful responses to questions rather than links to potential answers in the way a basic search engine like Google does, could potentially wipe out many users’ reliance on traditional search engines for basic, straightforward information. Already, a third of white-collar employees in different industries — including banking, tech, and marketing — have tried using AI-based platforms and tools at work.

Google has typically been hesitant to roll out chatbots in the past, probably for good reason: Google parent Alphabet launched Bard, its AI chatbot response to ChatGPT, last month — but Bard made a factual error in Alphabet’s presentation, causing investors to worry that Alphabet is losing ground to Microsoft in the AI race. The botched launch came after Google was previously reluctant to come out with an AI-powered chatbot due to copyright, privacy, antitrust issues it finds central to the technology in its current form. According to a recording obtained by the NYT, Chatbots’ history of delivering racist and sexist responses are also to blame.

This wasn’t Google’s first go at AI: Google’s LaMDA — or Language Model for Dialogue Applications — made headlines last year after a company engineer falsely claimed the chatbot had achieved sentience. The company is also planning to release some 20 new products including a chatbot-equipped version of its classic search engine at some point this year, the NYT reports, citing a private Google presentation it viewed.

AI-driven search is bad for business: One of the biggest challenges traditional search engines are facing with the rise of these generative AI systems is the question of monetization, specifically how to run the digital ads that are central to their business model. Ads comprised some 80% of revenue for the company in 2021. Having chatbots come up with responses in sentence form makes it less likely that users will click on a sponsored link or come across a digital advertisement.

But it doesn’t necessarily seal Google’s fate: Even with the popularity of generative AI systems likely to continue growing over the coming years, it's not yet clear that they’ll completely replace traditional search engines. One of the reasons is because systems like ChatGPT and Neeva are subject to inaccuracy and bias. Another defining feature that makes search engines useful amid generative AI popularity is that they offer user direct access to sources. “Solutions like ChatGPT, they offer you an answer, Google is offering you results. So, if you get results, you can choose — you can read more than one opinion,” CEO of AI-search engine Nuclia tells TechMonitor.

Microsoft has been going big on AI: Microsoft said in January that it would be making a multi-bn USD investment in OpenAI, which sources close to the agreement estimate could be worth some USD 10 bn. The announcement comes after Microsoft in 2019 said it would invest USD 1 bn in OpenAI to develop an AI-backed version of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service and as it aims to step up its competition against Google and Apple in “the next major wave of computing,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week said. Company executives are reportedly aiming to incorporate generative AI technologies into many of its products like Microsoft Office and bringing an AI-powered Bing to the public.

And they’re not the only ones: Investors over the past two years have been pouring money into generative AI systems and trying to capitalize on the hype generated around these kinds of technologies. VC investment into this kind of tech has grown 496% between 2020 and 2022 to reach USD 1.37 bn according to PitchBook.



23 February-11 March (Monday-Saturday): Diarna Exhibition, Cairo Festival City Mall, New Cairo.

8-18 March (Wednesday-Saturday): Cirque du Soleil’s OVO, Cairo international Stadium Hall.

9-23 March (Thursday-Thursday): Art d’Egypte’s Kaon exhibition, The Arts’ Hub, Zamalek.

10 March (Friday): The El Tagroba El Denmarkeya play is on at 7pm in the Falaki Theater, Downtown Cairo.

10-11 March (Friday-Saturday): She Crafts Bazaar from 12pm to 8pm, Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Garden City.

10-11 March (Friday-Saturday): The 10th edition of Spend the Day in Al-Khalifa from 10am to 9pm, Al-Khalifa Heritage and Environmental Park.

10-11 March (Friday-Saturday): Massar Egbari @ El Sakia, El Sawy Cultural Wheel, Zamalek.

11 March (Saturday): The Rahet Bally Experience – WonderMama Around The World Edition from 11am to 7pm, Zed Park, Sheikh Zayed City.

15 March (Wednesday): Season 3 of Ted Lasso will be out on Apple TV.

23 March (Wednesday): First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.


16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

21-26 April (Friday-Wednesday): LaLiga Egypt Football Camp, Xanadu Hotel, Makadi Bay, Hurghada.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

1 May (Monday): Backstreet Boys at 7pm, ZED East, New Cairo.

4 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).


10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.


26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

13 October- 20 October (Friday-Friday): The sixth edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF).

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