Monday, 4 July 2016

Amer says defending EGP a “big mistake,” but no word on devaluation


What We’re Tracking Today

It’s officially the last Ramadan workday of the season. When do we eat? Iftar will be at 7:01 pm CLT today, while the cut-off for sohour will be at 3:15 am CLT, according to Islamic Finder.

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On The Horizon

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Speed Round

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Holding the EGP at a specific exchange rate in the past was a “big mistake,” CBE Governor Tarek Amer told a number of Egyptian newspapers including Al Mal, Al Ahram, and Al Shorouk. Implicitly attacking former governors Hesham Ramez’s and Farouk El Okda’s policies, he said the FX policy “in the last five years” cost the state’s coffers bns of USD and indirectly subsidised all citizens, “including the rich… The central bank received USD 22.5 bn in deposits and financial support … wasted it on the FX market … [and which] should have been used to fix monetary policy.” Amer says his policy from day one was to support economic growth and productivity, while preserving an exchange rate that somewhat reflected real demand and supply. Bloomberg has coverage in English.

We had a choice, either to preserve the EGP’s stability or to “make factories work.” Steel producers were working at 20% capacity as controlling the the FX rate meant the CBE also had to curb foreign currency demand, Amer says. Now the producers are utilising 70-80% of their capacities. Amer also said the CBE is preparing a new banking law that would nudge banks to support economic growth further still and increase the utilisation rate of their funds.

Egypt has not asked the IMF for funding, but it is an option the country could resort to as a member, Amer notes, “but we do not accept any interference with domestic policy.” He added that Egypt’s debt levels are close to “dangerous levels,” but the central bank is embarking on a reform programme with the government.

40% of Arab African International Bank’s share and 20-30% of Banque du Caire’s will be floated on the EGX by year’s end or the beginning of 2017 at the latest, Amer said. United Bank of Egypt, on the other hand, will be marketed to a strategic investor and already a number of GCC-based suitors are lined up.

… Although the CBE respects the court verdict that annulled its decision to limit the tenures of private bank managing directors, Amer says the CBE will handle bank board of directors’ term renewals on a case-by-case basis. The central bank will decide “who is fit to continue and who is not,” Amer explained.

“I will take full responsibility for my decisions … I will never be happy when the FX rate is stable but factories are not working … people need to know we are going through a challenging period,” Amer said.

Egypt’s balance of payment deficit for 3Q2015-16 widened to USD 3.64 bn from USD 1.05 bn in 3Q2014-15 on the back of a current account deficit that increased to USD 14.47 bn from USD 8.35 bn a year earlier, according to central bank data. The wider current account was caused by a USD 4.51 bn y-o-y drop in transfers to USD 12.44 bn as remittances dropped to USD 12.38 bn from USD 14.34 bn a year earlier and financial assistance and transfers to the government plummeted to USD 60.7 mn from the USD 2.61 bn recorded in 3Q2014-15. A smaller services surplus compared to last year was also recorded, as income from the Suez Canal fell USD 204 mn y-o-y to USD 3.88 bn and, more significantly, on lower tourism receipts that decreased to USD 3.26 bn from USD 5.47 bn in the first three quarters of 2014-15. This was partially balanced out by a slightly improved trade deficit as both petroleum product imports and exports fell, albeit the latter at a slower rate. The upside is that net inflows to Egypt increased to USD 13.91 bn from USD 6.65 bn a year earlier as FDI recorded USD 5.85 bn in 3Q2015-16, compared to USD 5.11 bn in 3Q2014-15 along with increases in short-term credit and other assets and liabilities. The complete report can be downloaded here.

Egypt has officially asked Saudi Arabia to provide it with the second USD 500 mn tranche of the USD 2.5 bn grant that was agreed on during King Salman’s visit to Egypt, sources told Al Mal. Egypt has already received one USD 500 mn tranche, but so far, there is no specific arrival dates for the following tranches.

Egypthas repaid USD 720 mn in Paris Club debt last Friday, an official at the CBE told Reuters’ Arabic service on Sunday. A CBE source told Al Shorouk on Thursday that Egypt would repay both Qatar and Paris Club in “a few days.” Egypt returned USD 1 bn to Qatar on Friday.

Egypt appointed a new vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) on Sunday, Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy told Reuters. Former head the central administration of purchasing at GASC Ahmed Youssef has been appointed its new vice chairman. The appointment comes as Egypt’s wheat industry is in the throes of fraud allegations, with no clear resolution on acceptable levels of ergot fungus in shipments after a “legal snag” prevented Prime Minister Sherif Ismail from issuing a decree to adhere to the international standard of 0.05% contamination. The Agriculture Ministry told Reuters last week the decree was delayed due to a months-old judicial order from the prosecutor general banning all ergot from shipments. "The prosecutor needs to remove that order first before a decree can be issued," Agriculture Ministry spokesman Eid Hawash said.

Hanafy also told Reuters on Sunday a recount of wheat in privately held silos would be finished in less than a month. "It is impossible to recount 5 mn tonnes, but we will take random samples in various places," he said, adding “there is no proof until now that there is a shortage of wheat but it is just a doubt that is present so let’s wait for the result of the investigation," Hanafi said.

The House of Representatives’ wheat fact-finding commission, which was set up last week, agreed on Sunday to begin field investigations on wheat silos today, stopping short of revealing their whereabouts, according to Al Shorouk. In related news, the five officials detained on 20 June over the embezzlement of public funds through manipulating wheat imports in Qalyubia have been charged with fraud and the misappropriation of public funds and banned from travel.

The John Lethbridge vessel contracted by Egypt recovered all mapped human remains under water from the crash site of EgyptAir flight MS804, Egypt’s investigation committee said on Sunday, according to Reuters. The ship is on its way to Alexandria port to turn over the remains to coroners and prosecution officials.

MOVES- Emad Ghaly was appointed CEO of Siemens Egypt, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Ghaly was previously the Country Division Lead for Power Generation, Siemens Egypt.


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The Macro Picture

Italy is the eurozone’s “biggest vulnerability” now that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is determined to defy the EU and pump bns of EUR into the country’s troubled banking system, according to the FT (paywall). A referendum on constitutional reform in Italy in October is “the single biggest risk on the European political landscape this year,” (bigger even than Brexit) Citi wrote in a research report, considering Renzi has wagered his job on the outcome.

But if it had to happen, Brexit probably came at the best time considering the global economy was in reasonably good shape, according to the latest Fulcrum nowcast models, Gavyn Davies writes in a blog piece for the FT. “Overall, global growth seems firm enough to shrug off the Brexit risk, provided that it is confined mainly to the UK and its direct trading relationships,” he writes. IMF head Christine Lagarde is equally optimistic, saying Brexit will give the EU more room for reform, according to the FT (paywall). “I believe Europeans will come out of Brexit on top,” she said at a business conference in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday.

Just in case you thought we’d end on a high note: New chief executive of metals and mining giant Rio Tinto Jean-Sébastien Jacques tells the FT (paywall) on Sunday that there is no end in sight for the commodities downturn. “Oversupply is there in all commodities, let’s be clear,” he said. “The first one that may come out of the oversupply is copper. If you look at the others — iron ore, coal and so on — there is a long way to go. Our view is that prices will remain under pressure with lots of volatility.”

Egypt in the News

In light of Tarek Amer’s remarks yesterday, economists are anticipating a devaluation this fiscal year, Reuters’ Asma Alsharif writes. "I think that this is something that would have to happen to preserve the country’s FX resources that are currently declining as we have seen in the net foreign assets," said Hany Farahat, economist at CI Capital. But another devaluation could up inflation if the CBE implements it early this year. Prime Holding economist Eman Negm thinks the CBE will wait until the first or early second quarter of the year to allow “inflationary pressures to be contained,” she said. "You can’t fix everything at the same time. You either need to structurally reform the economy or just maintain everything at a standstill for fear of very high inflationary pressures,” said one economist who asked to remain anonymous.


Elsewedy Electric secures USD 22.0 mn substation contract in Qatar

Elsewedy Electric subsidiaries Elsewedy PSP and Elsewedy Cables Qatar signed a QAR 80 mn (USD 22.0 mn) EPC contract with SAK Holding Group for a 132/11kV substation, the company announced. The project, implemented on a turnkey basis, is expected to have a duration of 14 months, Elsewedy added.

NREA agrees with international, domestic banks to finance EUR 2 bn Siemens wind farm

The New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) has reached an agreement with international and domestic banks to finance the EUR 2 bn Siemens wind farm, NREA Chief Mohamed El Sobky told Al Borsa. The CBE has approved the banks involved, and final agreements will be signed next week, he added. The agreement includes a first tranche of EUR 180 mn that will be issued this month, said El Sobky. Siemens has already begun construction on the first phase, which has a capacity of 180 MW out the total 2,000 MW. International banks are set to finance 75% of the project, and the remaining 25% through domestic banks. The first payment is set to come from international banks, representing 15% of the total project cost, a government official told Al Borsa. The report made no mention of clauses requiring domestic arbitration, a dealbreaker in many other renewable energy projects negotiated by the state.

World Bank, African Development Bank approved of local arbitration –unnamed official at Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration

The World Bank and the African Development Bank reportedly released “secret” reports in the past indicating that the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) conforms to all international arbitration standards, an unnamed official at the CRCICA said, Al Borsa reported on Sunday. His statement comes amid news that lenders such as the EBRD and OPEC Fund for International Development have backed out of financing renewable energy projects as a result of failing to reach an agreement on arbitration with the Electricity Ministry. In 2012, the World Bank, which was in the process of financing electricity projects, had sent a committee to review the centre for six months after which it filed said report, said the source. The African Development Bank allegedly produced a similar report.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Suez Cement now part of HeidelbergCement following Italcementi acquisition

HeidelbergCement completed the acquisition of a 45% stake in Italcementi, making Suez Cement, in which Italcementi owns a 55% stake, part of HeidelbergCement Group, with the same share of participation. According to the company press release, “Suez Cement will benefit from joining one of the strongest building materials in the world and will bring its strong and leadership position in Egypt cement market.”

 Damietta furniture city management firms to be launched today

An EGP 3 bn firm to manage the new furniture city in Damietta will be launched today, with Trade Minister Tarek Kabil, Planning Minister Ashraf El Araby and Damietta Governor Abdelhamid Taha all planning to attend the launch, head of the New Damietta City Investors Association Osama Hafila said, Al Mal reported on Sunday. He added that the city will span across an area of 331 feddans where 85% of that to be allocated to small businesses. The first phase of the city is set create 40k direct jobs and another 120k indirectly. The National Investment Bank will also be providing loans to small manufacturers with low interest rate.


Fears EGAS cutting natural gas supplies to steel factories for two months

Steel factories are anticipating a two-month cut in natural gas supply by EGAS during the summer, Chamber of Metallurgical Industries General Director Mohamed Sayed Hanafi told Al Shorouk. EGAS had cut natural gas supplies to steel factories around the same time last year due to increased demand from power stations. The supply cut would force factories to work at less than 25% capacity, driving up the cost of production and, subsequently, driving prices up, he added. EGAS Chairman Mohamed Aly Elmasry had earlier said EGAS would not cut supplies to factories in August.

Trade and Industry Ministry preparing gas pricing formula applicable to all industries

The Trade and Industry Ministry is preparing a formula to price natural gas supplied to all industrial sectors that incorporates the cost component as a variable, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil told Al Borsa. The ministry is looking to normalise the price of natural gas to all industries at USD 4.5 per mmBtu by September, he added. The decision requires cabinet approval.

Rubex looks to bolster exports

Rubex for Plastic Manufacturing is looking to bolster its exports by 25% and turn to profit by 2017 by accessing new export markets such in Africa, the GCC, Turkey, and Cyprus, the company said in a statement, Al Mal reported.

Health + Education

Consortium looks to invest 100 USD mn into new private university

A consortium of Kuwaiti and European businessmen led by Magdy Saad Qambar is looking to invest USD 100 mn into building a new private university in Egypt, Qambar told Al Mal. The consortium is also looking to build a international schools in Egypt, said Qambar.

Real Estate + Housing

Egypt real estate market enters “semi-transparent” category for first time, JLL says

The Egyptian real estate market ranked fourth in the MENA region and 65th globally in real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2016, published last week. The report also put Egypt in the “semi-transparent” category for the first time — a category reserved for emerging markets such as the BRICs as well as fast-growing markets such as the MISTs. Ayman Sami, director of JLL’s office in Cairo, added that countries with a category of “very transparent” control 75% of the global market. The report indicates that government initiatives such as including “steps to register property title and to provide more transparency in the allocation of government housing” aided in raising Egypt’s ranking.

Mountain View studies real estate project in Riyadh in partnership with Sisban Holding

Mountain View is planning to build a real estate project under the name i-City Riyadh in cooperation with Saudi’s Sisban Holding, Mountain View Chairman Amr Soliman told Al Shorouk. The companies are currently evaluating locations for the project and conducting studies on the Saudi real estate market and housing patterns, he added.

Paradise Real Estate completes Cassia project in 2020

Paradise Real Estate company is set to complete the EGP 600 mn Cassia project in the North Coast by 2020, Chairman Abbas Gendeya told Al Shorouk. The project includes a 160-room hotel and the Cassia Avenue mall, which will open its doors during Eid, he added.


Hajj prices being revised to match parallel market exchange rate

The Ease-of-Doing-Business Committee at the Tourism Companies Chamber of Commerce is revising the price of Hajj packages to match the parallel market SAR rate, Al Shorouk reported. There is no final price on the market now, a member of the chamber said, as the CBE has not provided them with sufficient SAR liquidity. The chamber says the repricing is needed to pay for the accommodation costs in Saudi Arabia, which are SAR-denominated. The prices mandated by the Tourism Ministry assume an exchange rate of EGP 2.35 per SAR 1.00, but the rate on the parallel market is now closer to EGP 2.90 per SAR 1.00, the head of the chamber said.

Nile Air begins UAE service

Egypt’s Nile Air launched its first flight from Al Ain International Airport to Cairo International Airport, acting COO at Abu Dhabi Airports told Emirates 247. The airline has scheduled four weekly flights between the two cities, he added.

Tourism Minister dismissed all boards of tourism chambers

Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed issued a decree dismissing the boards of all tourism chambers, including the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), Al Mal reported on Sunday. The decree also dictated the formation of a council to handle all of ETF’s activities for six months or until elections for a new board takes place. Among the chambers that witnessed a dismissal of their boards for two months or until new elections take place is the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association, the Chamber of Tourism Establishments, the Egyptian Chamber of Tourist Commodities and the Chamber of Diving & Water Sports.

Telecoms + ICT

Global Telecom’s Mobilink, Warid complete merger

The merger of Global Telecom Holding-owned Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited (also known as Mobilink) and Warid Telecom has is now complete, according to an official statement from VimpelCom on Friday. VimpelCom has invested USD 1 bn into building new infrastructure “providing higher quality national voice and data coverage, faster downloads and a wider portfolio of products and services,” the statement said. In May, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had approved the merger but with 10 conditions, among them that Mobilink must take on Warid’s liabilities.

Xiaomi launches phone sales in Egypt, partners with for exclusive distribution of Redmi Note

Chinese electronics company Xiaomi has officially launched sales of its phones in Egypt, starting with an agreement signed with to be the exclusive distributor of the Xiaomi Redmi Note smartphone, DNE reports. “The partnership with Xiaomi will begin by launching the Redmi Note 2 and will extend to also offer the company’s upcoming mobile phone models,” said general manager of Omar Elsahy.

Automotive + Transportation

Tourism buses prices rise by 30% following devaluation

The devaluation of the EGP against the USD has driven the cost of tourism buses up by 30% at a time when tourism companies are unable to increase the prices of their services, Al Shorouk reported. The cost of one tourism bus has gone up to EGP 2.2 mn from EGP 1.8 mn in the last two months, said Go Bus Chairman Maher Naseif. The cost of spare parts has also increased, ultimately postponing the company’s expansion plan, he added.

Banking + Finance

CBE measures fail to attract foreign investments in T-bills, bonds

Despite efforts by the CBE to re-attract foreign investment, T-bills and bonds only grew EGP 153 mn to EGP 356 mn by the end of March from EGP 203 mn at the end of December 2015, Al Borsa reported. Treasury officials said a noticeable growth in foreign portfolios was unlikely following a 2% increase in returns on T-bills and bonds. Returns are at their highest level since 2013, at between 14.5-16%, depending on duration.

Naeem increases stake in Smart Village

Naeem Holding increased its stake in Smart Village by 7.26% to 17.76% as part of its expansion plan, Naeem said in a statement. The transactional value of the increase is around EGP 55 mn. The company is studying additional acquisitions, the statement added.

Emirates NBD provides EGP 300 mn to Food Industries Holding Company loan

Emirates NBD is set to contribute EGP 200-300 mn to a syndicated loan for the Food Industries Holding Company (FIHC), sources told Al Borsa. The total value of the loan is EGP 1.2 bn and is managed by NBE, the source added. FIHC will receive the loan in three tranches, according to previous comments from NBE’s deputy chairman. The loan will be paid back over three years.

Other Business News of Note

Trade and Industry Ministry completes 90% of first phase of leather city, allocates EGP 200 mn for second phase

The Trade and Industry Ministry has completed 90% of leather city in Al Robeky, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil told Amwal Al Ghad. The ministry has allocated EGP 200 mn to extending infrastructure for the second phase, he added. It also received 600 applications from leather manufacturers requesting to relocate to Al Robeky, he added.

Federation of Egyptian Industries wants to cancel EGP 500k VAT registration limit

The Federation of Egyptian Industries is adamant on scrapping the value-added tax registration limit of EGP 500k, head of the federation’s tax committee Mohamed El Bahy said, Al Mal reported on Sunday. Previously, entities with a minimum of sales level of EGP 54,000 were able to register for the tax, he said, but raising the limit to EGP 500k would negatively affect the economy, which is largely comprised of small and micro enterprises. El Bahy added that the informal economy is now worth EGP 1 tn, with the government potentially missing out on EGP 200 bn in tax revenues.

Government plans IPO of public sector companies by end of the year

The government reportedly has plans for the initial public offering of one or two public sector companies on the stock exchange by the end of this year, an unnamed government source told Shorouk on Sunday. He added that part of the Food Industries Holding Company would go public, as well as a number of oil companies, with the government appointing National Investment Bank subsidiary NI Capital with studying the move. The idea has been welcomed by EGX Chairman Mohamed Omran and Finance Minister Amr El Garhy, as it would provide funding for their development without placing pressure on government budget. It had been previously reported that Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said that four oil companies would undergo a post-September IPO this year, including Middle East Oil Refinery (MIDOR), Misr Fertilizers Production Company (MOPCO), Petroneel and Gas Cool.


Irrigation Ministry completes Unified Nile Law, sends it to cabinet for review

The Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry has drafted the Unified Nile Law and sent it to the cabinet for review ahead of presenting it to the parliament for approval, said Salah Ezz, chairman of the Nile Protection Division at the ministry, Al Borsa reported on Sunday. The draft is set to address the Nile river infringement crisis, according to Ezz. The legislation deems trespassing a misdemeanor, with jail time of up to two years and fines of EGP 20,000 instead of the current EGP 200. In August, the Legislative Reform Committee had preliminarily approved the law, which would also give the ministry authority to issue necessary building permits and to monitor projects along the river.

On Your Way Out

More ad trouble: The Consumer Protection Agency has once again pulled Ramadan ads, according to Al Masry Al Youm. A Juhayna commercial was pulled for verbal abuse and “violating the innocence of children,” while a Labanita was found offensive to pharmacists. The agency removed a Dice from airwaves for excessively bashing competitors and called on NBE to remove a scene from an ad that was deemed offensive to doctors.

Al Arafa Investment & Consultancies announced on Sunday an increase in consolidated net profit in 1Q2016 to EGP 1.77 mn from EGP 1.16 mn a year earlier.

Acrow Misr announced on Sunday that consolidated net profit in 1Q2016 rose to EGP 41.58 mn from EGP 35.15 mn a year earlier.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Tuesday, 28 June): 8.78 (unchanged since Wednesday, 16 March)
USD parallel market (Tuesday, 28 June): 11.05-11.08 (down from 11.07-11.10 on Wednesday, 22 June, Reuters)

EGX30 (Sunday): 6981.72 (+0.6%)
Turnover: EGP 238.2 mn (45% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -0.34%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: EGX30 closed 0.6% up. To better reflect the broad-based buying wave, the equally weighted EGX50 jumped 1.3% while the broader EGX70 ended the day up0.7%. CIB came in first in terms of turnover and ended the session marginally in the red territory. The day’s most significant gainers were Egyptian Resorts, Pioneers Holding, and Porto Group. On the flip side, Credit Agricole-Egypt, Edita, and Elsewedy Electric were among the worst performers. At a market turnover of EGP 238.2 mn, foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP – 24.5 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP + 11.3 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP + 13.2 mn

Retail: 67.8% of total trades | 66.6% of buyers | 69.1% of sellers
Institutions: 32.2% of total trades | 33.4% of buyers | 30.9% of sellers

Foreign: 18.3% of total | 13.2% of buyers | 23.5% of sellers
Regional: 8.4% of total | 10.8% of buyers | 6.0% of sellers
Domestic: 73.3% of total | 76.1% of buyers | 70.5% of sellers

WTI: USD 49.22 (+0.47%)
Brent: USD 50.35 (+1.35%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.91 MMBtu, (-2.68%, August 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,342.80 / troy ounce (+0.28%)

TASI: Market closed
ADX: 4,549.42 (+1.15%) (YTD: +5.62%)
DFM: 3,336.88 (+0.78%) (YTD: +5.90%)
KSE Weighted Index: 350.71 (-0.21%) (YTD: -8.12%)
QE: 9,924.47 (+0.40%) (YTD: -4.84%)
MSM: 5,812.32 (+0.61%) (YTD: +7.51%)
BB: 1,131.04 (+1.13%) (YTD: -6.98%)

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06-08 July (Wednesday-Friday): Eid El Fitr (national holiday, tentative date).

28 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

28 July (Thursday): Ruling expected on charges of disseminating false news against former Central Auditing Organization head Hisham Genena.

05-08 September (Monday-Thursday): The 6th EFG Hermes London MENA and Frontier Conference, Emirates Arsenal Stadium, London, UK.

11-13 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Eid El Adha (national holiday, tentative date).

19-20 September (Monday-Tuesday): Euromoney Egypt, venue TBD.

22 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

02 October (Sunday): Islamic New Year (national holiday, tentative date) .

06 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day (national holiday).

November (TBD): Delegation of German companies in the renewable energy sector due to visit to discuss investment opportunities.

11-12 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): Global Islamic Economy Summit, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

01 November (Tuesday): Prophet’s Birthday (national holiday, tentative date).

17 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

27 November (Sunday): 2016 Cairo ICT, Cairo International Convention Centre.

04-06 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Solar-Tec exhibition, Cairo International Convention Centre.

04-06 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Electricx exhibition, Cairo International Convention Centre.

11-13 December (Sunday-Tuesday): The Middle East Fire, Security & Safety Exhibition and Conference (MEFSEC), Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo.

29 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

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