Sunday, 11 October 2015
CBE may ask Cabinet for support on a temporary ban on luxury imports; bankers expect extraordinary FX auction ‘soon’ (Speed Round)
Naguib Sawiris is bidding for Beltone with former EGX chief Torgoman (Speed Round)
Seif Elyazal sees his Fi Hob Masr coalition as leading the next parliament, says Salafis and Ikhwan will have a presence through back door (Speed Round)
Headline inflation up, core inflation down (Speed Round)
Egypt’s Bey2ollak is launching a traffic app in KSA (Telecoms + CIT)
Disarray at Al-Ahly after Jose Peseiro is appointed manager (Sports)
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
The T20 “Innovation in Government” conference at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza opens today. Leaders from government and the private sector will gather today and tomorrow (11-12 October) to discuss best practices and dissect case studies with foreign and Egyptian experts alike.
Today also marks the final day of the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Lima, Peru.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is set to meet with Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb of Al Azhar in Cairo. The meeting comes as Valls kicks off an Arab-world tour, leading a French delegation that includes that nation’s defense minister and the chair of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and members of the Ismail cabinet met with the delegation yesterday, holding discussions on everything from Egypt’s participation at the COP 21 climate change talks to be held in Paris in December to the signing of contracts on Egypt’s purchase of two French Mistral-class helicopter carriers. More in Speed Round and Diplomacy, below.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
On the PM’s agenda this week: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is looking to advance the 1,000 factories project and will try this week to start setting a timetable for the 1.5 mn feddan land reclamation project, one of the cornerstones of the Sisi administration’s economic program. Ismail will also hold a meeting with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and will lead the weekly Cabinet meeting, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Tuesday (13 October): The first N Gage Debate tackling the African Tripartite Free-Trade Agreement. You can download their overview report on trade relations with Africa without charge here (pdf). The conference agenda is here (pdf), and the registration form for the paid event is online here.
Thursday (15 October): The United Nations General Assembly will elect five rotating, non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Egypt is running unopposed for one of two available seats designated for Africa often referred to as the “Arab swing seat,” which alternates every odd year between the Arab states in North Africa and those in Asia.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
Lamis El Hadidy, host of CBC Egypt’s Hona El Assema, began her program with coverage of Egypt’s recent purchase of Mistral warships from France before transitioning to a discussion on the upcoming parliamentary elections with Al Masreyeen Al Ahrar Party founder Naguib Sawiris. The 45-minute discussion with the iconic businessman touched on a wide range of issues including Al Masreyeen Al Ahrar’s goals for the elections, as well as his personal thoughts on the performance of Egypt’s economy.
Sawiris: “I am not the president of Al Masreyeen Al Ahrar. The party acts independently of me and has its own vision for the future of Egypt… The party’s decision to join the ‘For the love of Egypt’ coalition is based on the fact that the current state [of the country] cannot withstand political rivalries. We should work together at this current stage in the country’s history… I stand firmly against the Coptic Egyptians who decided to join the electoral lists of the Al Nour Party… Egyptians will not repeat the mistake they made by electing the Ikhwan… Egypt should attempt to emulate the social market economy of Germany… If the Prime Minister wishes to succeed in his role, he should dismantle Egypt’s bureaucracy… President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has done a good job in leading the country. HIs most notable achievement is the fact that he was able to win the confidence of the Egyptian people.”
Sawiris also criticized the Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy, saying it is resulting only in a market slowdown.
Osama Kamal began Saturday night’s episode of Cairo 360 with coverage of Saturday’s twin bombings in Ankara, Turkey, targeting a pro-Kurdish rally, which has left at least 97 dead and is being described as likely the worst terror attack in Turkey’s history. The host began the segment by offering his condolences to the Turkish people, describing the attack as a “cowardly act”. A Turkish analyst and a member of that country’s opposition then called in with conspiracy theories about the likely identity of the massacre’s perpetrators.
Ban on import of luxury goods in the offing? The Central Bank of Egypt is channeling the nation’s remaining hard currency reserves to only the most critical imports, Al Borsa reports, and may turn to the Ismail cabinet for support on a ban on a temporary ban on the import of luxury goods or setting quotas for certain categories of goods. Bankers also expect the CBE to hold an “super auction” of FX in the coming days to ease demand for the USD.
OTMT and Act in bid to acquire Beltone Financial: Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT) and Act Financial have submitted a letter of intent to acquire 100% of Beltone Financial’s shares for EGP 650 mn, subject to due diligence. If the transaction goes through, OTMT would take 87% of Beltone, while Act would hold 13%. The consortium’s statement noted that the agreement is expected to conclude in 4Q2015. If completed, it would see OTMT’s strategy “shifting from a solely Telecom and Technology based firm to an Investment Holding company with a special focus on the financial services sector, the energy sector and the transport and logistics sector among other business lines,” CEO Naguib Sawiris is quoted as saying. Read the official press release from OTMT here or in Arabic. The project will not need regulatory approval from the New and Renewable Energy Authority, the electricity ministry has since added, noting that as the lead partner in the acquisition consortium, OTMT must inform the agency of any changes in its shareholder structure, Al Borsa reports. Act Financial is headed by former EGX chairman Sameh Torgoman, the newspaper reminds us as it goes into an inside-baseball discussion of the personalities playing in Naguib’s latest bid to acquire a foothold in the finance industry. Sawiris has previously backed two failed bids to acquire leading regional investment bank EFG Hermes, the most recent of which was mounted by Beltone. PricewaterhouseCoopers is apparently leading the due diligence on the transaction.
INTERVIEW- ‘Former Egyptian general sees his bloc leading new parliament:’ Reuters carries an extensive interview with former military intelligence general turned analyst and politician Sameh Seif Elyazal, who heads the “For the Love of Egypt” electoral alliance. Seif Elyazal states, “We are coordinating with the individuals so that we can have an independent parliamentary bloc … that can lead parliament. ..Give it a year, a year-and-a-half, two years maximum, we will see what really does need to be amended in the constitution… In my view there are some articles in the constitution that we should look at a bit seriously and see what we can do with them… For example, the issue of appointing and removing ministers, the naming of the prime minister…” Interestingly, he expects Salafist Al Nour Party to only manage to secure 5-6% of individual seats, and warns that the Brotherhood will re-emerge in parliament, also by securing independent seats. (Read)
Is this why Sovaldi has all but disappeared from the market? Local news publications said AbbVie launched its new Hepatitis C cure in partnership with the Health Ministry. This came a day after we reported on the shortage of Sovaldi domestically, leading us to wonder if the government will now be looking for AbbVie to tackle Egypt’s Hepatitis C epidemic instead of Gilead Sciences. The new drug is being referred to in Arabic-speaking press as “Quervo,” which in late August was approved by the Health Ministry, according to Egypt Independent. That name, however, yields no results online and that leads us to believe that “Quervo” will be the domestic branding of AbbVie’s Viekira Pak, a drug which is “indicated for the treatment of adult patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus infection, including those with compensated cirrhosis.” The Cairo Post also makes note of Hep-C drugs Daklinza and Harvoni (in addition to Quervo) as part of a second generation of drug treatments for the disease. The Ministry also announced that it has plans to reduce the price of drugs that treat Hepatitis C in Egypt to EGP 1,000, down from the current price range of EGP 1,600 to EGP 2,400.
Headline inflation up to 9.2%, core inflation falls: Egypt’s annual headline urban consumer inflation rates increased to 9.2% in September, up from 7.9% in August, according to CAPMAS. The increase is seasonal with the start of the school year and the Eid Al Adha break. Al Masry Al Youm cites CAPMAS in reporting that the increase was due to rises in food, particularly tomato price, as well as increases in clothes price inflation with more demand for school uniforms. Hajj season was also reflected in increased travel prices. On the other hand, core inflation fell to 5.55% in September from 5.61% a month earlier. (Read) Notably, the aforementioned spike in food prices represents the highest such increase in the past five years, as noted by EFG Hermes in a recent research report, Aswat Masriyasays.
Egypt, France sign warships agreement as French PM starts Arab tour: Egypt officially signed an agreement with France on Saturday for the acquisition of two Mistral warships, in a ceremony witnessed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, French Prime Minister Manuel Vall and other French and Egyptian politicians and dignitaries. Egypt will take delivery of the ships in March, with the the AFP noting the acquisition of the vessels was largely financed by the Saudis. Following his visit to Egypt, the French prime minister will visit Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In Saudi, PM Valls will meet with King Salman, where he will request a pardon for the pending beheading and crucifixion of the young Ali al-Nimr who was arrested for taking part in Shiite anti-monarchy demonstrations.
TE is again under pressure to amend its pricing for network infrastructure use after a meeting between CIT Minister Yasser El-Kadi, TE and the three mobile carriers. El Kadi ordered both parties to come to an arrangement as soon as possible, Al Borsa reports. Executives from TE criticized the action, saying that pricing of its infrastructure is a business decision and should be subject to government interference. (And yes, TE and the mobile network operators all had service issues in the second half of Saturday afternoon. There was apparently an issue with one of the undersea cables; the problem has since been fixed.)
Preaching like it is 1985: 55 Saudi clerics of Wahabi extraction have signed a call for jihad against Russia for its military intervention in Syria. Brookings’ Bruce Riedel said the clerics’ statement “calls on all Sunni Muslims to unite to defeat ‘tsars and Caesars’ who have backed the ‘Christian regime’ and its Alawi partners in Damascus. Russians, the ‘fanatical people of the cross,’ are warned to remember how the Afghan mujahideen destroyed the Soviet Union in 1989 in Afghanistan. The Russian state will suffer the same fate.”
As if a new potential energy-driven axis of conflict in the Mediterranean wasn’t enough:Afek Oil and Gas said it has found oil on the Golan Heights after a year of drilling activities. Globes says “estimates are that the amount of oil discovered will make Israel self sufficient for very many years to come.” The reports are that the potential production is “dramatic” and could provide bns of barrels, “which will easily provide all Israel’s oil needs.” Besides environmental concerns over the damage of the area’s natural landscape, geopolitical considerations weigh more heavily as the international community considers the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria in 1967, as occupied territory and does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the region. (We reported onThursday about speculation gas finds in the Med could fuel strategic tensions in the region.)
Daesh closes in on Syrian city of Aleppo; U.S. abandons rebel training effort: Daesh is reportedly closing in on the Syrian city of Aleppo, seizing surrounding villages from other rebel groups,Reuters reports. The advance comes at the same time that the United States is abandoning the US Department of Defense’s failed program to arm and train vetted Syrian rebels after having spent USD 500 mn with little to show for their effort.
Ankara terror attack: As noted in our talk show review above, a Kurdish peace rally protesting violence committed by both Kurdish militants and the Turkish government was struck by two bomb blasts on Saturday, killing at least 95 demonstrators, although that figure may rise as more bodies are identified and accounted for. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Some witnesses said ambulances could not immediately reach the scene of the attack, and that police obstructed the quick evacuation of the wounded from the square, the Guardian reports. The Turkish Prime Minister’s office attempted to instate a gag order on the attack, prompting some Turkish outlets to bluntly declare they would not observe the media blackout. Turkish general elections are set to take place on 1 November.
Libya unity government announcement premature? Fearing peace talks would collapse otherwise, it would appear that the UN has prematurely announced the successful conclusion of peace talks between rival Libyan factions, as both main rivals have agreed the announcement was premature, the BBC reports. “The rival parliaments have not even accepted the political agreement that embodies the proposed unity government, so announcing the names appeared rushed. The UN pushed for it because there were still objections to the wider agreement and mediators worried that talks would collapse. But there is a danger that this latest move will backfire,” writes Rana Jawad for BBC.
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. From the Nobel press release: “The National Dialogue Quartet has comprised four key organizations in Tunisian civil society… The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 when the democratization process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political assassinations and widespread social unrest.It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.” Some people aren’t taking too kindly to the Quartet being awarded the prize, namely the folks at Nobel Peace Prize Watch, who stated, “‘An encouragement to the Tunisian people’ is fine, but Nobel had a much greater perspective” (pdf). The “watchdog” group had nominated an alternate list of candidates, including Edward Snowden.
CORRECTION: We reported incorrectly on Thursday that the Fawaz Alhokair group has begun talks to acquire 100% of the United Beverage & Food Company (UBF Egypt), when in fact it was the Alhokair Group as correctly stated in the headline and TL;DR section. We regret this error. H/t Frances A.
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
No progress on USD 35 bn Arabtec housing scheme: Reuters covers the delay of the Arabtec housing project, once touted as a one mn unit plan but since scaled back to just 100K units as noted both by Reuters and in our 10 September issue. The Reuters report highlights that despite a targeted completion date of 2020, Arabtec yet to even “submit a building plan.” Allen Sandeep, director of research at Naeem Holdings in Cairo, is quoted as saying that disagreements stem from “profit sharing terms, the government’s return for providing the land and state insistence labour and materials be sourced mostly locally for a project that will provide very thin margins.” Ambitious-but-sluggish Dubai projects are not unique, the newswire reports: Egypt’s first coal-fired power station, built by Abu Dhabi-based Al Nowais Investments, still hasn’t even finalized the paperwork a year after its announcement. (Read Egypt’s stalled USD 35 bn housing scheme – big dreams to harsh reality)
Egypt to restore Tutankhamun’s beard after botched repair: Restoration work on the gold mask of King Tutankhamun began yesterday, The Guardian reports, citing state news agency MENA. The work will be handled by a German-Egyptian team and will seek to restore the mask after a botched and hasty gluing of the beard using epoxy after it was accidentally broken off by museum workers.
Where is the world’s most stressful city? In a piece by Hayley Birch for the Guardian that never answers the question posed in its title, Cairo is strongly hinted as being the world’s most stressful city, along with several other contenders for the title, including Miami and Mumbai.
Egyptian journalists call for freedom of press: In a piece in Voice of America, the official external broadcast entity of the US federal government, in response to the recent presidential pardon that witnessed the freeing of prominent activists and journalists, senior member of the Journalist’s Syndicate Khaled Elbalshy is quoted as saying: “Protecting journalists doing their work instead of arresting them or attacking them — these would be real positive steps… Not just make a show of reform by releasing famous journalists.”
Turkey Is in Serious Trouble: Written only five days before the Ankara terror attack targeting a Kurdish peace rally, Soner Cagaptay’s piece for the Atlantic reads as prophetic rather than dated. “I am usually an optimist when it comes to Turkey’s future. Indeed, I wrote a whole book about The Rise of Turkey. But these days, I’m worried. The country faces a toxic combination of political polarization, government instability, economic slowdown, and threats of violence—from both inside and outside Turkey—that could soon add up to a catastrophe … Erdogan has ensured that ISIS sees Turkey as an enemy, and the group will inevitably, and unfortunately, attack Turkey again. The only question is when, and how severely … Polls show that the AKP is unlikely to win a majority of the vote in upcoming elections on November 1. In that context, and given the country’s deep divisions,Turkey’s only way out [from its current political polarization] is for Erdogan to pull back to the powers defined for his office by the Turkish constitution: a non-partisan president who is not in charge of government. There is no evidence that Erdogan will accept this …” (Read)
IMAGE OF THE DAY
Raw footage of the terror attack against the pro-Kurdish peace rally in Ankara on Saturday — from the moment of the explosion, to the aftermath when demonstrators discover the bodies of their loved ones, with some trying to resuscitate them, to the heavy-handed and buffoonish response of the Turkish police who arrive later to try to secure the scene, including the careless speeding of APCs through the crowd. While the video is highly relevant to understanding political dynamics in Turkey and eventually regional politics, it is unedited and some of our readers may find some of the footage disturbing. (Watch, running time: 6:16)
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met with French PM Valls yesterday to discuss a host of economic and political topics and strengthening bilateral cooperation. The summit was followed by a meeting with the Egyptian-French Business Council (Read in Arabic).
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received Elisabeth Guigou, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly on Thursday, according to a statement from the MFA (Read in Arabic). The two discussed regional developments, with a particular focus on the political reconciliation efforts in Libya.
Response to New York Times article “As Egypt Floods Gaza Tunnels, Smugglers Fear an End to Their Trade”: The MFA’s blog has a new post, this time authored by the MFA’s spokesperson Counselor Ahmed Abu Zeid, who writes in response to the 7 October New York Times piece ‘As Egypt Floods Gaza Tunnels, Smugglers Fear an End to Their Trade.’ Counselor Abu Zeid argues that Egypt is concerned for the welfare of Gazans, pointing to the donor conference co-hosted by Egypt and Norway for the reconstruction of Gaza. The conference, carried out with good intentions on the part of Egypt, managed to raise USD 3.5 bn in pledged funds, but thus far only 35% of that figure has been disbursed, as noted by the World Bank last month.
Egypt invites firms to settle 45-cargo LNG tender on Sunday
Egypt is set to settle a tender for the purchase of 45 liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes on Sunday after completing talks with up to seven winning suppliers, which could cover much of Egypt’s near-term energy needs, Reuters reports. The companies invited to meet with Egypt Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) on Sunday are Trafigura, Vitol, Noble Group, EDF Trading, Gas Natural, PetroChina and Shell, according to trade sources speaking to Reuters. “The award has basically been made and the relevant companies were contacted this week,” a source said, adding that details have yet to be ironed out. (Read)
Siemens to begin trial runs for 4.8GW power station next May, source says
Siemens will begin trial runs for a 4.8GW power station in May 2016, a source said. The company aims to connect the power station to the national grid by December 2016. The company is constructing three power stations in total, each with a capacity of 4.8GW and at a total cost of EUR 6 bn. (Read in Arabic)
Reducing IOCs’ receivables is key to encourage more exploration, El Molla says
Reducing the state’s dues to IOC partners is key to encourage more oil and gas exploration activities, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said. In just a year and a half, 56 E&P agreements were signed, he told Amwal Al Ghad. El Molla added that besides managing to reduce the IOC’s receivables, Egypt’s energy sector has also managed to agree to new pricing schemes for produced gas. (Read in Arabic)
10 Ramadan water treatment plant begins trial operations Monday
The EGP 2.2 bn water treatment plant in 10 Ramadan will begin trial operations on Monday, announced Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouli. The facility will serve communities including Shorouk, Madinaty, and the New Administrative Capital, among others. (Read in Arabic)
USD 90 mn AfDB loan for Sharm airport expansion
International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr signed a USD 90 mn loan agreement with African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina for the development of Sharm El Sheikh Airport, reports Al-Ahram. The development plan aims to increase the airport’s capacity from 10 mn to 18 mn annual visitors.
Arab Contractors begin connecting infrastructure to new administrative capital
The Arab Contractors have begun preparations to connect infrastructure to the first phase of the New Administrative Capital, sources told Al Mal. The project involves connecting water and electricity, as well as building a main road. The first phase of construction in the new Capital is expected to be completed in five years. (Read in Arabic)
Housing Ministry engaged in extensive water infrastructure projects in Beheira
The Housing Ministry is currently working on seven drinking water projects and 44 water drainage projects in the villages of Beheira Governorate, with a further 14 projects slated for the 2015/2016 fiscal year. According to Al Borsa, funding for the projects came from an Emirati grant. (Read in Arabic)
BASIC MATERIALS + COMMODITIES
Evergrow inks EGP 1.3 bn loan
Specialized fertilizer manufacturer Evergrow inked final agreements for an EGP 1.3 bn loan to complete the EGP 2 bn second phase of expansions at the Sadat city industrial zone. As we had previously reported, the loan is being arranged by the Arab African International Bank (AAIB) and the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), who are lending Evergrow EGP 675 mn and EGP 450 mn, respectively, over eight years. The expansion operations are expected in 2018 and could cut the cost of chemicals and specialized fertilizers imports, including potassium sulphate and sulphuric acid, by EGP 370 mn. (Read in Arabic)
Misr Financial Investments to act as independent consultant on Mopco IPO
Misr Financial Investments has been hired to act as the independent consultant on the Misr Fertilizer Production Company (Mopco) IPO. Misr Financial Investments will evaluate the company and make a determination on the share value, said managing director Nagy Hany. Mopco, whose major shareholder includes the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM), recently received USD 1.5 bn financing from 22 banks to fund a 1.3 mtons per annum expansion in its production capacity. (Read in Arabic)
REAL ESTATE + HOUSING
Second phase of Khedival Cairo project to be completed by month’s end
The second phase of the Khedival Cairo restoration project will be completed before the end of October, said Galal Mostafa Saeed, the Governor of Cairo. The second phase of the urban renewal projectincluded restoring 50 period buildings, roads and squares in Talaat Harb, 26 of July Street, Tahrir Square, Ramses Square, and Abdeen. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt signs EUR 15 mn agreement with AFD to develop informal settlements
The French Development Agency signed an EUR 15 mn agreement to fund an informal settlement development program in Egypt, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced on Saturday. The Social Fund for Development (SFD), in cooperation with the Cairo and Giza governorates, will carry out the redevelopment projects. The agreement stipulates the development of infrastructure and public services in four informal settlements in Cairo: Meet Okba, Al Zawya Al Hamra, Ard El Lewaa and Ezbet KhairAllah. (Read in Arabic)
Travco to inaugurate 12 new projects in Egypt
Travco Group is planning on inaugurating 12 new projects from 2016 across Egypt, Al Mal reported. Al Mal says Travco is planning to deliver two projects next year, with the rest being delivered in 2017 and 2018. In total, the projects should bring up the total number of hotel rooms controlled by Travco to 3,820 rooms. (Read in Arabic)
Tourism Ministry extends charter flights incentives package
The Tourism Ministry will extend for five months an incentives package for charter flights that deliver tourists to regions, including Luxor, that have been hard-hit by the post-2011 decline in tourism. (Read in Arabic)
TELECOMS + ICT
Bey2ollak to launch Why Traffic app in November
Bey2ollak plans to launch its Why Traffic app in Riyadh and Jeddah in November, announced Bey2ollak cofounder Gamal Sadek at the fifth anniversary celebration of the company’s founding. He added that the company has plans to expand throughout the Arab world and Europe in 2016. Bey2ollak has also partnered with Uber, allowing users to use the ride-sharing app through the Bey2ollak platform. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
EBRD lending NBK-Egypt USD 50 mn
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is lending National Bank of Kuwait-Egypt (NBK-Egypt) USD 50 mn support financing for Egyptian SMEs. “The proceeds of the EBRD’s loan will be on-lent to private SMEs, contributing to increase available funding to this vital sector,” EBRD said in a press release. (Read) During the press conference to mark the signing of the NBK agreement, Director of EBRD Egypt Philip ter Woort was quoted by DNE as saying that the development bank will focus on funding renewable energy projects in Egypt, and has allocated 100s of mns of euros for such efforts.
EBRD considers pumping USD 20 mn in Egyptian mid-cap fund Ezdehar
The EBRD said it is considering making a USD 20 mn equity commitment to the Ezdehar Egypt Mid-Cap Fund. The fund is targeting USD 100 mn in capital commitments to be channelled to Egyptian “equity and equity-related investments into Small and Medium sized Enterprises.” EBRD says participation in the fund will help mobilise additional private sector investments in it. (Read)
Salman: Public sector insurance companies should compete with private sector
State-owned insurance companies must fight to increase their market shares by competing head-to-head with the private sector on real products, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman told Al-Ahram. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Oil minister Tarek El-Molla: Rumor-mongering parliamentary candidates in Upper Egypt responsible for fuel shortage
Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla says that rumors of a fuel shortage by parliamentary candidates in Upper Egypt have directly led to an actual crisis, implying that hoarding has taken place in response, despite the ministry allocating sufficient supply to the market. On an unrelated note, El Molla was quoted as saying “‘We plan with our Cypriot partners to transform Egypt into a regional center for energy exports,’ he said, adding that he will soon resolve the problems of the stalled liquefaction plants in Edco and Damietta, regardless of the arbitration cases that were filed against them.” (Read in Arabicor in Egypt Independent)
Niqabis will not be allowed to vote unless they reveal their identities – HEC
The Higher Elections Committee said women donning the niqab will not be allowed to vote unless they reveal their identities. The committee said that polling stations will have women who would be tasked with checking the identities of women wearing the niqab. Refusal to comply means that they will not be allowed to vote, the committee’s spokesperson said. (Read in Arabic)
Appellate court upholds sentencing Islam El Beheiry to five years for “defamation of religion”
An appellate court in Old Cairo supported the Masr Al-Qadima Criminal Court’s decision to sentence former TV host and Islamic researcher Islam El Beheiry to a five-year term for “defamation of religions,” AMAY reports. The court considered El Beheiry’s appeal “nonexistent” and ordered him to pay the necessary fines. Neither El Beheiry and nor his defense team were present during the 10 October heading. (Read in Arabic)
Military begins second stage of operation ‘Martyr’s Right’ in North Sinai: The second phase of the military operation ‘Martyr’s Right’ has launched in the North Sinai cities Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Arish. The operation also coincided with a convoy of medical supplies and construction materials headed for North Sinai. According to a statement released by the army, this second phase of the operation will “pave the road for creating suitable conditions to start development projects in Sinai.” (Read)
40 Brotherhood members arrested for incitement, targeting security installations: The Interior Ministry announced in a statement on its Facebook page that it has arrested 40 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, 29 for incitement and 11 arrested for targeting security installations. (Read in Arabic)
Police conscript injured in blast near 6 October: A police conscript was injured in an explosion that went off in Emad Rageb Street in 6 October on Friday, according to a statement from the interior ministry as reported by AMAY. The Interior Ministry announced that no damage occurred as a result of the explosion. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
High State Security Prosecution appeals court decision to release leading Islamist figures: High State Security Prosecution appealed a criminal court decision to release controversial preacher Mahmoud Shaaban and 10 other defendants on Thursday who are under investigation in the “Salafist Front” case, Ahram Online reports. The prosecution also appealed against the release of Magdi Hussein and four other leading figures in the former Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL).
Landmine kills one Egyptian, wounds another in Red Sea governorate: One person was killed and another injured in a landmine explosion in the desert area between Zafarana and Ras Gharib in the Red Sea governorate on Thursday, according to a police report as noted by Aswat Masriya. Egypt is one of the world’s most mine-plagued nations, with some estimates putting the number at 22.7 mn, most of which were laid during World War II, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Egypt has called upon the European powers which were involved in the laying of the mines to contribute financially for their removal, to the sum of USD 142 mn. So far, only Germany has contributed with USD 145k.
Saudi Arabia is ordering spending cuts as the drop in oil prices is weighing on the Kingdom’s finances, sources told Bloomberg. “The finance ministry told government departments not to contract any new projects and to freeze appointments and promotions in the fourth quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. It also banned the buying of vehicles or furniture, or agreeing any new property rentals and told officials to speed up the collection of revenue, they said,” Bloomberg reported.
Saeb Erekat, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, said that an international four-member committee will visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah next Wednesday to discuss the ongoing wave of violence, Ma’an reports. Erekat told Al Mayadeen channel that the committee is composed of representatives from the United Nations, Russia, the United States and the European Union. In other news, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced on Saturday a total of 20 Palestinians have been killed by IDF forces since the beginning of October, including more than 1000 Palestinians injured in recent violence.
Disarray at Al Ahly after Jose Peseiro’s appointment as manager
The decision to appoint Portuguese Jose Peseiro as the new manager of the Egypt’s leading football team on Friday resulted in an unwanted chain of events for the club’s board. Al Ahly fans gathered in front of the club’s headquarters on Saturday to protest the decision, calling for the sack of president Mahmoud Taher and his board, FilGoal reports. While the club hasn’t officially commented on the two events, Haitham Orabi, director of player transfers, and official spokesman Adly El Keiy announced their resignation from their respective positions on Saturday, KingFut reports. Oraby expressed displeasure with how the board “marginalized his opinions when searching for a new manager,” according to KingFut. Other reports indicate that El Keiy is reconsidering his decision. Meanwhile, Al Ahly general manager Mahmoud Allam accused former unnamed board members of creating “divisions” in Al Ahly’s management.
ON YOUR WAY OUT
Egypt’s version of the View recently addressed a topic near and dear to the heart of every young man around the world, in terms of, uh, “recreational viewing.” We hope you understand what we mean, because anything more specific than that and this email is not going to get delivered to anyone’s inbox this morning. Egypt’s conservative public has not received the video well, to say the least. And yet, it’s the highest trending video on YouTube in Egypt at the moment.(Watch in Arabic, running time: 3:59) Postscript: Whatever one’s personal feelings on the matter, the call for a ban by the dark-haired host, regarding the you-know-what, is technologically impossible. Despite this, there are perennial calls for just such an action every few months or so, usually in the form of a frivolous lawsuit that consumes state resources, with each new telecommunications minister being forced to eventually make a public statement, re-affirming statements by all his predecessors that such a ban is technically impossible. This has been going since at least Mubarak’s time, and will probably continue forever, as there seems to be no national memory when it comes to such things, save for the memory of this writer, who will likely be doomed to an eternity of writing this same summary over and over for the remainder of his life.
Jordanian MP in restaurant assault case allegedly renegs on agreement: Egypt’s ambassador to Jordan said in a Saturday interview with ONTV that Jordanian parliamentarian Ziad El-Shawabkah had violated a settlement agreement with the Egyptian waiter he had assaulted on camera. Ambassador Khaled Tharwat said El-Shawabkah failed to publish a formal apology in three Jordanian newspapers, Al Shorouk reported, prolonging a case that has lately bedeviled relations between the two nations.
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