Tuesday, 19 January 2021

State-owned former zombieco El Nasr inks electric vehicle pact with China’s Dongfeng

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to hump day — and to one of the slowest news days we’ve had in months.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The Financial Regulatory Authority’s annual conference on non-banking financial services (NBFS) will be held today. Look for discussion of upcoming regulatory and legislative changes relevant to the fast-growing industry.

Abu Dhabi’s Global Energy Forum kicks off today and runs until Friday. The Atlantic Council-organized event will focus on the post-pandemic energy system.

A webinar on the economic impact of covid-19 and policy responses in Africa is scheduled for today, organized by the Cairo Center for African Studies. Speaking at the event are World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti Marina Wes, IMF Senior Representative in Egypt Said Bakhache, and Institute of International Economic Finance Deputy Chief Economist Elina Ribakova. You can check out the flyer and register for the webinar here (pdf).


DATA POINT OF THE DAY- Agricultural exports to neighboring countries are booming, says our friend Mohamed El Ahwal, CEO of IACC Holdings, which bills itself as “a leading container shipping company-owned and operated exclusively by Egyptians.” The company’s Transmar subsidiary moved more than 75k TEUs last year and says it doubled the number of refrigerated containers it shipped, it said in a recent statement. Reefers are used to move food and other agricultural products.

THE FATHER OF PUNK ROCK WAS EGYPTIAN. Sylvain Sylvain was founding guitarist of the New York Dolls, “the influential though short-lived proto-punk band whose outrageous shows … paved the way for the era of the Ramones and the [redacted] Pistols,” the NY Times writes in an obituary. Born Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo on Valentine’s Day back in 1951, Sylvain’s family left Egypt in the wake of the Suez debacle, as did thousands of other Jews who had called Egypt home for generations. He passed away last week.

Don’t take our word for it: Soundgarden says so, too: “Forever peace to Sylvain Sylvain, founding guitarist of the New York Dolls. They were (incredibly) the stylistic progenitors of both punk, and hair metal. They were a direct musical influence on the [redacted] Pistols, and their visual style and attitude would influence Poison amongst many others in the genre. Their style and music imprinted significantly on megastars such as Kiss and Gun n’ Roses. Sylvain, you influenced the rock culture milieu of the 80’s Seattle scene and with it Soundgarden. Thank you always.” Give a listen here.

WHAT WE’RE READING TODAY- International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat’s blog on LinkedIn, which will focus on leadership insights, answer readers’ questions, and present news on Egypt and its path to sustainable development, according to a press release (pdf). You can check out the first postOn harmony and diversity: How can we harness every individual’s power in a collective spirit” which explores how diverse teams can foster a work environment of harmony and innovation.


Egypt suffered its first defeat of the 2021 Handball World Championships yesterday, narrowly losing 24:23 to Sweden in the final group game. Both teams have qualified for the next round, with Sweden topping the group and Egypt coming in second.

We’ll be facing Russia tomorrow at 7 pm CLT, and are scheduled to take on Belarus and Slovenia for the remaining games of the main round.

Cape Verde, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the championship after some of its squad members tested positive for covid-19, making it unable to field the minimum 10 players required, the IHF said in a statement.

A very dystopian changing of the guard takes place at the White House tomorrow. Phalanxes of troops will stand guard around a crowdless Mall when Joe Biden is sworn in to the presidency tomorrow. Bloomberg sets the scene.

US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram pages appear to be up and running again, after being suspended on 7 January after inciting his followers to riot at the US Congress. It isn’t clear though whether the president has access to his accounts, with his latest Facebook post dating from 6 January. His Twitter account remains suspended.

Is “no jab, no job” going to be the new normal? Employers in the US are offering their employees perks to tempt them into taking the vaccine, with some even saying vaccination will be mandatory for all new hires, the Financial Times reports. But hesitancy over the vaccines still remains widespread, signaling we may be working from home for some time to come.

Dubai is hoping the hesitation will dissipate soon so it can kick off its (already postponed) Expo 2020 event on 1 October. The event, a decade in the making, is supposed to be one of the largest in the world this year, and the UAE is steamrolling ahead with its vaccination program to keep it on track. The country aims to inoculate half of its population by March.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Amendments to the VAT Act are on tomorrow’s agenda for the House Budgeting and Planning Committee, which will discuss the bill with representatives from the Finance Ministry and Tax Authority, committee deputy chair Yasser Omar tells the local press. The proposed changes would, if passed in a general assembly vote, apply a 14% VAT to the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties, while the 5% schedule tax on crackers and sweet pastries would be replaced by the standard VAT rate.

More ministers to appear before parliament in the coming days: The information, education and higher education ministers will all deliver statements to MPs over the next two days, Head of the Local Administration Committee Ahmed El Sigini told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 7:37). We have the run-down of PM Moustafa Madbouly’s statement to the House, as well as the supply and local development ministers’ addresses, in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

Uber is hosting a series of virtual panel discussions on urban challenges and tech-driven solutions in the MENA region, with the first event — Tech for Transport Safety — due to kick off the series on 26 January. The discussion will see representatives from Virgin Hyperloop, Derq, Trella, General Motors, and Ubers, according to a press release (pdf).

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

enterprise

AUTOMOTIVE

One step forward for our EV future

Egypt took a step toward its electric vehicle future after state-owned El Nasr Automotive signed two contracts with China’s Dongfeng yesterday to locally assemble electric vehicles as well as to rehabilitate a mothballed El Nasr factory through one of the Chinese group’s subsidiaries, according to a Public Enterprises Ministry statement (pdf). The two companies plan to install the assembly line in 2Q2021 at an expected cost of EGP 2.5 bn and expect to crank out 25k vehicles each year. The target will be increased to 53k vehicles within three years, with plans to export to Europe.

The first El Nasr-Dongfeng EV should be ready to hit the road by the beginning of 2022, with 58% of the components also planned to be locally manufactured, El Nasr CEO Hany El Kholy told Masrawy.

The sticker price for each vehicle could be in the EGP 300-320k range, while a full charge at a station will cost EGP 65, with a KW of energy to be priced at EGP 0.475, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said, according to Al Mal. The car will have a maximum speed of 150 km/hr and can travel 400 km on one full charge.

There are currently 300 EVs licensed in Egypt as they slowly begin to trickle into the country, Tawfik said. The government has been pushing for a transition to EVs with incentives including set charging prices and subsidies of up to 50k per vehicle, while also moving along with plans to set up 3k charging stations within three years.

Future EV tech we could tap into? Companies abroad are testing dynamic charging technology that would allow EVs to charge on the move using under-road pads that wirelessly transmit electricity to receivers mounted underneath cars or overhead wires for larger vehicles, reports the Wall Street Journal. The tech could help increase enthusiasm for EVs which has long been held back by concerns about battery life.

CLARIFICATION- In our story yesterday about the government’s plan to set up charging points across the country, we linked to our past coverage of EV outfit Revolta Egypt — which we’ve since learned no longer appears to be doing business in Egypt. Infinity Egypt now has a total of 130 charging points in operation at 40 charging locations on major roads in or near Cairo, Hurghada, Alexandria and Ain Sokhna. The company plans to add Sharm El Sheikh this year and already has points of presence in the capital city at Wataneya’s ChillOut filling stations, in compounds by Sodic and New Giza, as well as major shopping centers including Almaza City Centre and New Cairo’s Downtown Mall. Infinity is pushing ahead with a plan to spend EGP 300 mn on the installation of electric car chargers by 2023.

OTHER AUTOMOTIVE NEWS-

Some 30k vehicle owners have applied to replace their old cars with newer natgas models under the government’s car transition plan, cabinet said in a statement. At least 83k people have created accounts on a government portal to file applications. The government is aiming to take 250k old cars off the road and outfit them with dual-fuel engines by the end of 2023 under the first phase of the plan, which kicked off at the start of this year and covers seven governorates including Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Qalyubia.

CAPITAL MARKETS

EGX30 gets a boost with new criteria

New criteria for inclusion in the country’s most important stock index are rolling out next month. The changes aim to make the EGX30 more attractive to foreign investors by giving more weight to stocks with large market capitalizations that are more attractive to institutional investors. The changes would give less prominence to heavily-traded small cap “momentum” plays favoured by retail investors. You can check our EGX boss Mohamed Farid’s statement here.

How it works today: The EGX30 basically reflects the index’s 30 most-traded companies, with a few caveats: Constituents, as they’re known, must also have a minimum 15% freefloat, be traded on at least 65% of trading days during the rebalancing period, and can’t have 30% or more shares in cross-holdings. You can read up on the current methodology here (pdf).

How it’s going to work starting in February: To qualify for inclusion, a company will need to have a freefloat market cap (which is simply the number of shares in freefloat multiplied by the share price at any given moment) equal to or above the median average of the 60 most actively-traded companies. The idea is to ensure that the EGX30 simultaneously reflects the largest and most actively traded companies on the bourse. Requirements on freefloat and active trading days remain in effect under the new system.

Companies ranked #1-27 are included automatically, while the EGX has some flexibility to choose the last three companies from among those ranked #28-33. The idea is that the automatic inclusion of the top 27 companies will see fewer changes to the index every time it is reviewed.

The EGX30 is reviewed (or “rebalanced”) every six months, at the beginning of February and of August each year. This means that the changes will be felt next month when companies are kicked off and added to the index.

Analysts cheered the new new system: “This effectively creates an index that is better representative of the large, successful Egyptian corporations with fundamentally sound stories, rather than just highly-traded names that might be impacted by retail activity,” Pharos Head of Research Radwa El Swaify told us.

IPO WATCH

Giza Spinning postpones IPO + shut up about Egyptian Iron and Steel, already

Giza Spinning is shelving its planned IPO until at least 1Q2022 due to covid-19, but will reassess the timeline again based on market conditions, Managing Director Fadel Marzouk told Al Mal. Even if vaccine rollouts begin soon, the company has opted out of listing during the summer of 2021 as the season is “not a good time for an IPO,” he said. Marzouk did not confirm the anticipated size or value of the stake sale, but the company had previously said it is looking to put up to 40% of its shares on the EGX. The proceeds from the IPO will be used to finance an EGP 250 mn project to expand its yarn and garment production capacities.

Fifth time’s the charm? Giza Spinning has repeatedly delayed the IPO, with the recent announcement marking the third time the privately-owned company has postponed. The listing was first meant to take place in December 2018 but pushed the transaction to 3Q2019 to wait for better market conditions. The garment exporter delayed the IPO for a second time to Feb 2020, still citing poor market conditions. When that never happened, the company announced in August 2020 that it was looking to IPO before the year’s end.

Advisors: Beltone Financial is serving as global coordinator and bookrunner and Matouk Bassiouny is legal counsel to the issuer.

Egyptian Iron pushes ahead with liquidation + demerger

The liquidation of Egyptian Iron & Steel is final: That was the message given by Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik yesterday as the House Manpower Committee began scrutinizing the ministry’s plans to shutter the loss-making company and spin off its mining operations. In an interview with Masrawy, the minister said that the company general assembly’s decision last week was final and can only be overturned by the State Council.

The minister is taking heat for the decision: MP Mostafa Bakry has come out forcefully against the liquidation, calling it reckless and dangerous to the Egyptian economy. Tawfik has defended the decision, saying that it was taken after the ministry attempted to save the company and promising that workers will be compensated in the next three months.

As for its mining spin-off, the ministry is working on building a scaled down mining unit in the Bahariya Oasis as a trial run and will wait to see the concentrations of the raw materials extracted before committing to building the full mine, the minister said.

Background: The company had said last week that its operations would be liquidated in a process that would take up to two years as part of a government strategy to streamline the public sector. It plans to spin off its mining operations to create a new company, Iron and Steel for Mines and Quarries, that will be listed on the EGX in the coming weeks.

** WITH THAT, CAN WE PLEASE SHUT UP about Egyptian Iron and Steel? We’re with Naguib Sawiris on this one: What the government is liquidating is a welfare program for a few thousand workers that costs taxpayers bns of EGP every year.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Sanad, Green for Growth to pour USD 100 mn in Egypt this year

Impact investor Finance in Motion’s Sanad MSME fund and Green for Growth Fund plan to invest USD 100 mn into projects in Egypt in 2021, head of Finance in Motion’s regional office Mohamed Morsy tells Al Mal. Morsy did not disclose details on where the investments will be allocated but said that the fund is currently prioritizing small-scale solar plants and energy conservation projects. The funds invested USD 57 mn in Egypt in 2020, out of a total investment portfolio worth USD 200 mn for both funds since they began operating in Egypt. The funds had pledged USD 30-80 mn in investments in Egypt in 2019.

OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS –

Egypt Kuwait Holding plans to invest USD 180 mn in its projects in Egypt in 2021, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed company sources. The company will invest USD 80 mn in its pressed wood factory and will use the rest of the funds to expand its operations in natural gas and electricity production and distribution.

COVID WATCH

Everything you need to know about covid at home and abroad on 19 January 2021

The Health Ministry reported 878 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 890 the day before. The ministry also reported 55 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 8638.Egypt has now disclosed a total of 157,275 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The world is on the cusp of “catastrophic moral failure” as poorer countries struggle to get their vulnerable citizens vaccinated against the virus, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday, Reuters reports. COVAX’s attempts to ensure equal distribution of vaccines were being undermined by almost 70 bilateral agreements signed with pharma companies. “This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response and continued social and economic disruption,” he said.

Russia and China are keen to use covid-19 to take their vaccine production capacity global as they see significant international demand for their inoculations, despite the absence of full phase 3 clinical trial data calling into question the vaccines’ efficacy, the Financial Times reports. Chinese vaccines in particular have had issues with quality and corruption in the industry in the past, and vaccine makers must now figure out how to promote confidence in their jabs internationally, without relying on the backing of the Chinese government.

Global disparities in covid-19 immunity could allow the virus to continue spreading and breed more dangerous variants, medical experts fear, reports Bloomberg. Rollouts across countries are proceeding at different paces, with many countries still left without access to a vaccine. The World Bank’s projection for 4% growth this year depends on widespread deployment of vaccines, but the number could be revised to 1.6% if the unequal distribution and delay in delivery of the vaccine continue.

Europe is debating vaccine passports: European countries yesterday began discussing whether to introduce vaccine certificates, documents that would make it easier for vaccinated people to travel across the continent, according to Reuters. While the EU seems to be leaning toward a hands-off approach, some are in favor of giving a few benefits to vaccine-takers. EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is echoing the idea that vaccines could be a condition for travel, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is proposing a vaccination certificate, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas believes folks who get the jab will be able to return to restaurants and cinemas sooner.

ICT

Local IT companies are eligible through export incentives through ITIDA

IT exports are getting a shot in the arm with export incentives from ITIDA’s annual Export IT program. The program is designed to encourage local IT companies to boost exports, secure their position in existing markets, and increase market penetration capabilities, according to a press release (pdf). Companies eligible for the program will receive direct monetary subsidies of up to 20% of value-added exports based on the company size, capped at EGP 3 mn for companies operating in new tech parks and EGP 2.5 mn for everyone else. Additional incentives will be offered to companies exporting e-commerce, e-gaming, or e-design services, new entrants to the program, and companies operating in governorates other than Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

Who is eligible for the program? Approved companies will need to have more than 50% Egyptian ownership, be headquartered in Egypt (only for companies founded before 2016), and export ICT services or IT-enabled services such as call centers.

REAL ESTATE

A handful of updates

There’s plenty of real estate news this morning:

  • Al Ahly Sabbour Developments and Hyde Park Developments subsidiary Founders have launched their EGP 26 bn Gardenia City project on the Suez and Ring Roads, Al Mal reports. The project spans 513 feddans and will include 19.5k homes.
  • Hilton signed a management agreement (pdf) with Leopard Construction for the third Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Egypt, which is scheduled to open in 2024.
  • Heliopolis Housing will offer two plots of 270 feddans in New Heliopolis in a public auction on 15 February.
  • The borders of New Cairo and Shorouk City have also been redefined according to a Housing Ministry decree that sets the northernmost border of the former and the southernmost border of the latter as the Cairo-Suez road.
  • The New Urban Communities Authority has temporarily suspended all real estate auctions in new cities as a precautionary measure to prevent gatherings in light of covid-19, according to a cabinet statement.

enterprise

MOVES

Hadeer Shalaby appointed managing director for Talabat Egypt

Food delivery platform Talabat appointed Hadeer Shalaby (LinkedIn) as the managing director for Egypt operations, according to Al Mal. Shalaby was previously the CEO and co-founder of Taxi El Sa7el, which was acquired by Careem Egypt. Shalaby succeeds Sofiène Marzouki who was temporarily holding the position since January 2020. Otlob was rebranded as Talabat by Delivery Hero in August of last year.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Madbouly & Co’s statements to the House were the top story on the airwaves last night, while President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s trip to Jordan also got significant play.

Policy continuity was the order of the day as Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly addressed the new class of MPs for the first time yesterday. Madbouly reiterated the importance of the House of Representatives’ role in supporting the Egyptian people through circumstances such as covid-19 and protecting national security and recapped the his government’s recent successes such as the economic reform program, lowering inflation, and pursuing a handful of national projects.

The priority over the next three years: Getting the economy back on track after last year’s covid shock. The government wants to achieve an annual growth rate of 6%, double exports, and complete a raft of infrastructure projects over the next three years, the PM said.

Taking notes were Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:51), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:19), and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 1:38) all had coverage.

The supply and local development ministers addresses don’t seem to have gone down too well: The airwaves were full of criticism the Supply minister Ali El Moselhy and Local Development Minister Mahmoud Sharawy, who were the first cabinet ministers to address the chamber yesterday. Rep. Tarek Radwan told Al Hayah Al Youm's Lobna Assal that parliament criticized El Moselhy for shortages of (subsidized) food staples while Shawary was rebuked for not using World Bank funds to finance development projects in Sohag (watch, runtime: 7:19). Speaking on Msaa DMC, Rep. Mohamed El Komy said much of the supply minister’s achievements had come when collaborating with different ministries and said that the House criticized him for past controversial statements (watch, runtime: 3:45). Speaking on Ala Mas’ouleety, Rep. Mohamed Badrawi gave El Moselhy a 7/10 and Sharawy a modest 6/10 (watch, runtime: 9:29).

MPs were in Lamees’ firing line as the queen of nighttime talk criticized them for failing wear masks and keep their distance from one another (watch, runtime: 1:12).

Meanwhile, in Amman: Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 13:16), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 10:55), and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 7:19) gave airtime to the president’s visit to Jordan to talk Palestine with King Abdullah. We have more on this in Around the World, below.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag in the foreign press this morning: The New York Times has a long look at a recent viral video of an alleged oxygen shortage in a covid ward. Meanwhile, Reuters is out with another Arab Spring recap, and Czech media suggest that Egypt will be the most popular travel destination for Czechs in 2021. Egypt also plays a walk-on role in the FT’s deep dive into Turkey’s push into Africa with “aid, trade and soaps.”

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Apex International Energy has discovered oil at the Bahariya and Abu Roash G formations in the Western Desert, it said in a statement yesterday.

Qatar Airways touches down in Cairo: The first passenger flight from Doha landed in Cairo yesterday, bringing an end to a 3.5-year travel hiatus between the two countries, Masrawy reports.

Local airline Air Cairo will begin operating four weekly trips from Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh to Copenhagen and Billund in Denmark as well as Oslo and Stockholm as of 21 February.

Egypt paid EGP 21 bn in export subsidy arrears in 2020, with over 1k exporters receiving payments, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday. Some EGP 13 bn was paid out in November and December to businesses that agreed to take a 15% haircut on the arrears.

PLANET FINANCE

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China smashed 2020: China’s economy is growing at a faster rate than before covid, expanding 6.5% and marking the highest y-o-y growth of any quarter since 2018. China was the only major world economy to grow last year, recording a GDP increase of 2.3% in 2020 despite a historic 6.8% contraction in the early months of the year as a result of an extensive lockdown to combat the initial spread of the virus. The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal have the story.

One place that definitely didn’t is Europe — and it’s already having a bad 2021: Lockdowns across Europe have the continent heading for a double-dip recession, according to data which points to slowdowns in consumer spending, travel and workplace activity in the first weeks of the year, the FT says. Oxford Economics and Nomura estimate that the eurozone has already contracted between 1.8-2.3% in 4Q2020, and economists are expecting another fall this quarter, including in major economies Germany and Italy. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Add fossil fuel-focused equity funds to the “2020 was a bad year” club: Ranking as the year’s worst performers after a sharp drop in demand due to lockdowns and global oil prices floundering, energy funds run by BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and Brookfield each lost at least 30%, the FT reports. UK stocks also performed badly, being dominated by hard hit sectors such as oil and travel, while investments in technology and green energy gained ground.

Dubai’s property slump looks set to continue this year and the next: Property broker JL is predicting prices to fall by another 5-8% this year, having fallen 30% over the past seven years, Bloomberg reports.

Samsung is without its crown prince: Samsung’s Chairman-elect Lee Jae-yong is heading back to prison to serve a 30-month sentence following a rerun of a 2017 trial which found him guilty of a number of corruption charges in a scandal that caused the downfall of South Korean president Park Geun-hye. The sentence leaves the electronics giant without a leader for at least a year, and only if Jae-yong is granted early parole, Bloomberg says.

Up

EGX30

11,450

flat (YTD: +5.6%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.64

Sell 15.74

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

8,931

+0.6% (YTD: +2.8%)

Up

ADX

5,489

+4.0% (YTD: +8.8%)

Up

DFM

2,726

+1.2% (YTD: +9.4%)

None

S&P 500

3,768

flat (YTD: +0.3%)

Down

FTSE 100

6,720

-0.2% (YTD: +4.0%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 54.75

-0.6%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.64

-3.7%

Up

Gold

USD 1,836

+0.4%

Up

BTC

USD 36,705

+0.8%

The EGX30 was flat yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.5 bn (10.5% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is up 5.6% YTD.

In the green: TMG Holding (+2%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (+1.7%) and Elsewedy Electric (+1.7%).

In the red: Egyptian Iron & Steel (-9.9%), Juhayna (-3.2%) and Madinet Nasr Housing (-2.5%).

Asian markets are all in the green with the exception of Shanghai, which is down less than 0.1% as we hit dispatch time this morning. Futures suggest Wall Street and Europe are on track to open in the green later today.

AROUND THE WORLD

IN DIPLOMACY: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed the Israel-Palestine peace peace and political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas during talks in Amman yesterday, Ittihadiya said in a statement. Both countries are currently pushing for a revival of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis and held talks with the French and German foreign ministers in Cairo last week. The visit also comes less than a week after the Palestinian Authority announced that it would hold fresh parliamentary and presidential elections in the coming months in a step forward to ending Palestinian factionalism.

Coinciding with the visit: Egypt sent medical supplies to Jordan to help it face covid-19, the Defense Ministry said in a video statement (watch, runtime: 1:42).

In another sign of Egypt’s burgeoning EastMed military ties: Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki and army Chief of Staff Mohamed Farid held talks with Farid’s Greek counterpart Konstantinos Floros, who’s currently in Egypt, the Armed Forces said in a statement.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • The UAE has suspended travel without visas for Israelis until 1 July to curb the spread of covid-19 after ratifying an agreement last week that would have allowed travel without a visa between the countries starting mid-February, Bloomberg reports.
  • Attacks by militias in Sudan’s Darfur region left over 100 dead in the past three days in a flare-up of the nearly 18-year-old “Land Cruiser War,” Reuters reports.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Woman arrested for lewd baking released: The Public Prosecution has released on bail a woman arrested for making cupcakes decorated with male genitalia, Masrawy reports. Photos of the incriminating cakes taken at a birthday party in Gezira Club caused a storm online, with social media users voicing outrage that such “indecent and immoral shapes” be viewed by the public. This led to the arrest of a woman, who security sources said had converted her Garden City flat to bake cakes for parties.

In less, uhm, insalubrious news: The first edition of Egypt’s new Aflemha Online Film Festival for female filmmakers will run between 28 January and 4 February, according to its official website. The Culture Ministry will award prizes between EGP 2-5k for best film, director, actress, actor, editing, photography, and screenplay, as well as an audience award and a special jury prize, during the closing ceremony. Actress Yousra, actor Mahmoud Hemeida, and screenwriter Abdel Rehim Kamal will be this year’s honored guests.

CALENDAR

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the New Capital.

19 January (Tuesday) Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) annual conference on non-banking financial services.

19-22 January (Tuesday-Friday) Global Energy Forum, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Atlantic Council-organized event will focus on the post-pandemic energy system.

25 January (Monday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

25-29 January (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” (virtual)

26 January (Tuesday): Uber will host a virtual panel discussion titled ‘Tech for Transport Safety’, which will be the inaugural panel in a MENA-wide series of events under the name Ignite.

26-28 January (Tuesday-Thursday): Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

28 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

31 January (Sunday): The deadline for businesses to electronically submit their annual tax return to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

4 February (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break (public schools — enjoy the break from bumper-to-bumper traffic).

18 March (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

8-10 April (Thursday-Saturday): The TriFactory’s Endurance Festival at Somabay.

13 April (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

29 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1 May (Saturday): Labour Day (national holiday)

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting “The Great Reset”

31 May-2 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

30 May-15 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Cairo International Book Fair.

1 June (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

17 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 June (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year (public schools).

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center

30 June (Wednesday): June 30 Revolution Day

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday)

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday)

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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