Thursday, 6 May 2021

New covid restrictions coming into effect, but at least we’ll get a five-day Eid

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Well, wonderful people, we’ve nearly made it through another workweek together. Just a few hours left.

THE BIG STORY here at home: We’re getting a five-day Eid break. Also, something about new restrictions. But did we mention the five-day break for Eid El-Fitr? The vacation begins on Wednesday, 12 May (likely to be the last day of Ramadan) and we’re due back at our desks on Monday, 17 May. We have the full rundown in this morning’s news well, below.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD on this final day of the workweek? There’s no contest: The Biden administration is backing plans to suspend patent protections for covid vaccines for the duration of the pandemic. The story leads front pages from the Financial Times and Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, by way of everything else in between. The hope is that doing so will let companies in countries including Egypt make vaccines at prices affordable to frontier emerging market countries — and increase supply in doing so.

FROM THE DUMPSTER FIRE that is our Twitter feed:

SIGN OF THE TIMES #1- Goldman Sachs recalling its US and UK bankers to the office in June, joining JPMorgan, where boss Jamie Dimon has made clear he really doesn’t care if you don’t like your commute, saying, “I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings. I’m done with it.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s PMI day: The PMI reading for April will be out this morning at 6:15 am CLT and you’ll find it here. Non-oil private sector conditions worsened for the fourth consecutive month in March, with the gauge dropping to 48 from 49.3 the month before, but optimism reached new highs as the vaccine rollout continues to pick up steam.

A first round of reconciliation talks between Egypt and Turkey will wrap up later today: A Turkish delegation led by Ankara’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal arrived in Cairo late Tuesday for two days of talks aimed at finally ending years of tensions between the two regional powers.

** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

**So, when do we eat? We sit down for iftar at 6:36pm this evening, and will have until 3:30am to wrap up our sohour.

MARKET WATCH-

Galaxy Digital is acquiring crypto wallets provider BitGo in a USD 1.2 bn transaction that marks the first acquisition worth north of USD 1 bn in the burgeoning crypto industry, reports the Wall Street Journal. An acquisition will give Galaxy, a BTC-focused financial services firm, over USD 40 bn in assets under custody and create a combined entity offering a wide variety of services from trading, investment banking, and prime lending to crypto mining operations.

Begad, it’s not a bubble #1: Ether has now rallied a whopping 1,500% in the past year, hitting a new peak of USD 3.45k earlier this week, according to Bloomberg. Crypto enthusiasts see a bright future for the second-largest cryptocurrency, which uses the Ethereum blockchain, with some penciling in a USD 5-10k price tag for the token by early next year and arguing that it is bound to follow in Bitcoin’s footsteps. Separately, Dogecoin — a cryptocurrency whose entire purpose when launched in 2013 was to ridicule the crypto frenzy at the time, has become the fourth-largest token after soaring yesterday to an all-time high that brought its cumulative market value to over USD 85 bn, Reuters reported. The cryptocurrency was worth nearly USD 70 bn just one day earlier — and about USD 7 bn in February.

Really, not a bubble: Hundreds of US banks will soon be permitting BTC exchange through their customers’ existing accounts, CNBC reports. The move by smaller institutions could spell the beginning of even broader adoption as larger institutions come under pressure to offer similar services, optimists say. For now, customers can expect to soon be getting things like BTC rewards debit cards and savings accounts that pay interest in BTC. It’s not the End Times, right?

SIGN OF THE TIMES #2- You can now bid on a trip to space: Jeff Bezos-backed space exploration company Blue Origin is offering civilians the chance to fly beyond the earth’s atmosphere for the first time on 20 July, launching an online auction for a seat aboard its commercial space shuttle the New Shepard, the company said in a statement.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Inflation: April inflation figures will be out next week.

The nation will get a five-day holiday in observance of Eid El Fitr from Wednesday, 12 May to Sunday, 16 May.

Further afield, the IMF will conduct on 1 June a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020.

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

enterprise

As part of the tourism sector initiative, and since our community’s well-being is our first priority, Somabay is vaccinated.

COVID WATCH

Covid cancels Eid, but we’ll get an extra-long break

A semi-lockdown is coming into effect today after the country largely “canceled” covid-19 over the past several months, with cafes flouting a shisha ban and individuals no longer abiding by social distancing or wearing masks indoors, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 1:30) last night.

ICYMI: Al stores, malls, cafes, food carts, and restaurants and public gathering places will be shuttered at 9pm every night starting from today until Friday, 21 May. All conferences, concerts, and public events are canceled for the next two weeks.

There’s no restriction on movement after 9pm. Public transport will still be running and there’s no curfew going into effect, Saad told Moussa. Grocery stores and pharmacies will be exempt from the 9pm closing order, and all restaurants or cafes can continue delivery services or provide pick-up past 9pm.

Outdoor concerts are banned — but weddings are okay, provided there are no more than 300 people in total on site including guests, waiters, camera crew and the like, Saad noted. Wedding celebrations will need to wrap up by 9pm (watch, runtime: 29:34).

The penalties: Restaurants, cafes, shops, and other establishments that violate the restrictions will be shut down for a week, with owners facing an EGP 4k fine and / or imprisonment. Repeat offenders will be shut down for two weeks and will face the same fine and possible imprisonment (watch, runtime: 1:44).

What’s going to happen once the two-week period elapses? That depends on the situation at the time, Saad said. If the two-week clampdown proves effective and citizens take covid-19 more seriously, the restrictions could be lifted, but it’s also entirely possible that the same restrictions will be extended for another two weeks or that new restrictions will be introduced to get infections under control. “All options are on the table,” Saad said.

The new restrictions are getting coverage in the foreign press, with France24 and Reuters taking note.

THE UPSIDE: We’re getting a five-day break for Eid El-Fitr, with the holiday running Wednesday, 12 May to Sunday, 16 May, inclusive, as we reported in EnterprisePM yesterday.

The Health Ministry reported 1,102 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,090 the day before. The ministry also reported 64 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 13,655. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 232,905 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Foreign pilgrims may not be allowed to go on Hajj for a second straight year as Saudi Arabia mulls moving ahead with another “very limited” pilgrimage amid dramatic increases in new covid-19 cases globally and the emergence of highly-transmissible variants of the virus, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources in the know. The pilgrimage could be restricted to vaccinated nationals and non-Saudi residents. Local people who have recovered from the virus at least six months prior to attending might also be permitted to attend Hajj, sources said. A final decision is yet to be taken by authorities.

Traditional Eid prayers will be held this year only at “major” mosques, Awqaf Minister Mohamed Gomaa said, according to Youm7. Eid prayers at mosques other than those where Friday prayers are being held or at large public spaces are strictly prohibited, Gomaa added.

COVID AROUND THE WORLD-

  • India accounted for c. 46% of the world’s new covid-19 cases and a quarter of global deaths last week as the country’s epidemic spirals out of control, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly epidemiological update (pdf).
  • Covid breached a summit of G7 foreign ministers in London: Two Indian delegates tested positive for the virus, forcing the entire delegation to the G7 visiting London this week to self-isolate as a precautionary measure, Reuters reports.
  • The US expects to see a sharp decline in covid-19 cases by July thanks in large part to its high vaccination rates, according to data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality report.

FINTECH

Yes, yes, we all love digital payments…

The vast majority of Egyptians are open to using new payment methods, signaling that the pandemic has spurred a major shift in spending habits, according to a survey (pdf) by Mastercard. The poll of 1k Egyptians found that 94% of respondents are considering using new methods of payment such as cryptocurrency, biometrics, digital wallets, money transfers, contactless payments, and QR codes.

Fintech players have covid-19 to thank: Almost two-thirds of respondents said they have tried a new payment method they would not have used had it not been for the pandemic. “The pandemic has galvanized people to try flexible new payment options,” Mastercard said.

Businesses need to adapt: Over half of consumers would avoid businesses that don’t accept electronic payments, while 68% said they are more likely to stick with businesses that offer different payment options and 73% prefer to shop at places that have both an in-person and online presence. The survey suggests that it is becoming essential for businesses to start offering a broader range of payment options, said Khalid Elgibali, president of Mastercard’s MENA division.

Cryptocurrency to make headway but… Almost 50% of respondents plan to use cryptocurrency in the next year, while 62% are more open to using it compared to a year ago. Policymakers in Egypt have come out strongly against the use of cryptocurrencies, banning their use without a license in the recent Banking Act.

Digital wallets, money transfers + QR codes becoming more popular: Two-thirds of respondents will use digital wallets next year, 65% would opt for digital money transfer and more than half will use QR codes.

Biometrics are less common, but more trusted: Some 62% of respondents said they feel safer using biometrics to verify a purchase than entering a pin, and 41% plan to use verification methods such as gait and fingerprint authorization.

DEBT WATCH

EFG’s leasing and factoring ambitions

EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions plans to grow its leasing and factoring portfolio by EGP 3 bn in 2021, CEO Talal Elayat told Al Mal, according to a report in the newspaper’s print edition this morning. The company signed leasing and factoring agreements worth EGP 1 bn in 1Q2021, bringing its total portfolio to EGP 6.1 bn as of March, Elayat said.

The firm plans to get in on margin lending and has been contacting its network of brokerages to get a leg up in the industry as soon as the Financial Regulatory Authority issues further regulations expounding on how NBFS players will be allowed to finance margin trades.

What is factoring, you say? Check out our handy explainer.

Want more? We sat down with Elayat in February to discuss debt market conditions, the state of the NBFS sector, and EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions’ plans for the future.

REGULATION WATCH

El shabaka zeft? Pay up.

Telecom operators to face higher fines for poor service quality: The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) will double fines for telecom companies that offer poor quality of service starting 2H2021, saying the move is designed to protect consumers, the regulator said in a statement.

And more fines: New penalties will be imposed on operators if they take too long resolving user complaints, the regulator said.

Standards aren’t high enough: The NTRA said that mobile network services offered by all four operators performed poorly in some areas of the country during 1Q2021 after conducting tests across the country.

Should TE be worried? Telecom Egypt was found by the regulator to perform the worst in the country, providing poor quality voice and data services in 54 of the 81 cities surveyed. Vodafone Egypt was below quality in 21 cities, Orange in 31 and Etisalat in 37.

How much can the NTRA actually fine companies? Under the 2003 Telecom Regulation Act (pdf), companies that violate “technical quality controls or the standard measures of performance quality” can face fines between EGP 20k-200k. According to the 2017 executive regulations (pdf) companies that fail to comply with the law could see their penalties deducted from their ins. payments, and could see their assets placed under administrative hold. Companies could also be forced to address the violation within a set time period and be barred from marketing their products or services, changing their prices, or otherwise offering promotional offers until they make good on their fines.

Fines haven’t yet worked: Vodafone Egypt in 2019 became the first operator to receive a fine, worth EGP 10 mn, for service interruption. At the time the NTRA warned other operators of imposing further fines to maintain the quality of service. Later the same year, WE was fined EGP 12 mn for the same reason.

ECONOMY

Foreign reserves essentially flat in April

Egypt’s FX reserves held steady at USD 40.3 bn in April, according to Central Bank of Egypt figures. Foreign reserves had risen by USD 140 mn in March after shooting up almost USD 800 mn in December 2020 to their highest level since last April, following a drop during the height of the covid-19 pandemic from their February 2020 peak.

DIPLOMACY

He said, she said

Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia are rising: Ethiopia has accused Sudan of mounting a “provocative and last bellicose propaganda campaign” against it and slammed a Sudanese statement this week which seemed to threaten the seizure of the west Ethiopian region of Benishangul where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built.

It all began last week: In a strongly-worded statement, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said a move by Ethiopia to continue filling the GERD’s reservoir this summer could force it to reconsider its sovereignty over the Benishangul region. The region was formerly a Sudanese province which the British colonial administration ceded to Ethiopia at the turn of the 20th century.

Ethiopia evidently interpreted this as a threat, calling Sudan’s reference to the region “utterly ridiculous” and accusing it of military aggression in reference to recent border clashes between the two countries.

Sudan is now looking to dial back tensions: A spokesperson for its foreign ministry told Asharq News that the statement was not an attempt to threaten the country but an expression of alarm at the government’s determination to continue filling the dam in a few months’ time. He reiterated Sudan’s frustration at Ethiopia’s “intransigence” during the stalled GERD talks and called on Addis Ababa to abide by international water-sharing agreements.

Sudan appeals to the US: Washington is ready to play “an active role” in resolving the GERD impasse and reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties in terms of the dam’s filling and operation, a US delegation to Sudan reportedly told Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas during talks yesterday, Sudanese state news agency SUNA reported. During the meeting, Abbas reiterated Sudan’s keenness to continue trilateral talks under the auspices of the African Union and support the AU’s efforts to find an agreement.

And the US is ready to intervene if called upon: The US is serious about facilitating a comprehensive agreement on GERD, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said in a meeting yesterday with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo, according to an official statement. The US can play a central role in the African Union brokered negotiations said El Sisi, attributing the stalled progress to “a lack of political will” on the part of Ethiopia. Feltman met with the president to kick off a 10-day tour of the region that will also take him to Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan — suggesting the GERD impasse will be a top agenda item during his travels.

AU Chairman Félix Tshisekedi in town soon? Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Mahdi said earlier this week that Tshisekedi could be paying Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa a visit “soon” to push for a resolution.

IN OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS NEWS- Egypt wants to collaborate more closely with Mali on infrastructure, pharma and fighting terrorism, El Sisi told Malian Foreign Minister Zeini Moulaye during talks yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also met with Moulaye to discuss cooperation on combatting terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

KUDOS

Egypt sent 30 tonnes of medical aid to India, including 300 oxygen cylinders and 100 hospital beds, to help the country contend with a devastating surge in covid-19 cases, according to a statement. India’s health system and cremation services have been overrun with an unprecedented surge in covid cases, with over 357.2k cases being added to the count yesterday bringing the total to over 20.3 mn, reports CNBC.

The Dutch embassy in Egypt and AlexBank are setting up two business incubation programs, called Orange Corners, to train 15-25 entrepreneurs in Cairo and Assiut, according to a statement. While putting a special emphasis on startups focused on agriculture and innovation, at least half of the initiative’s participants will be women entrepreneurs.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was covid-19 as far as our eyes could see and our ears could hear on the airwaves last night, especially after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly announced yesterday a new set of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s news well, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a quiet morning for Egypt in the foreign press. Among the stories making the rounds are Egypt’s Christian community and activists criticizing the government for not declaring Easter a national holiday (Al Monitor) and pundits suggesting that aligning regional interests and US pressure are behind Egypt and Turkey’s move to reduce tensions, but “full normalization” could take time (France24).

Meanwhile, Canada’s CBC notes that “A curriculum developed by Baseball Canada is being used to help teach the game to Egypt's first youth baseball league.”

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The share transfer process in First Abu Dhabi Bank’s (FAB) acquisition of Bank Audi’s Egypt unit has been completed, sell-side advisor EFG Hermes said in a statement (pdf). The transaction gives FAB 100% ownership of Bank Audi’s assets in Egypt — worth EGP 85.6 bn — with both banks expected to merge their assets and operations and become fully integrated by 2022.

Non-essential exams for non Edadiya / Thanaweya Amma students will be administered from home, the Education Ministry said in a statement. This applies to subjects that won’t count toward the final grades of students attending grades 4-8 and 10-11 and currently wrapping up the academic year.

Egypt is displaying a real royal ancient Egyptian mummy and a number of replicas at Dubai’s 2020 Expo, Egypt’s Commissioner General at the Expo 2020 Ahmed Maghawry Diab told Russian news agency TASS. The real mummy could be one of the 22 that were transported to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the “Golden Parade” last month. The expo — which will be the first to be held in the Middle East — had been postponed due to covid-19 and will take place in October 2021.

ALSO: Aluminum producers and industry figures are calling on the Trade Ministry to review the decision to impose tariffs on aluminum imports, saying the duties are negatively impacting Egyptian producers.

PLANET FINANCE

That commodities supercycle could be putting a damper on the global energy transition: Rising demand for raw materials used in clean energy technologies, including lithium and cobalt, are pushing up commodity prices and threatening to stall the transition to green energy, the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director Fatih Birol tells the Financial Times. The soaring costs, which come as governments launch green stimulus packages and look to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, could ironically slow down the energy transition, Birol says. Investors need to begin developing new mines now to keep up with an anticipated jump in demand for these raw materials, particularly as a mining project takes some 16 years on average “to go from discovery to first production.”

And speaking of commodities and inflation: Consumer-facing firms are struggling to keep pace with the increasing consumer demand and limited stockpiles, with Nestlé and Colgate-Palmolive already flagging price hikes as manufacturers in Europe and the US grapple with soaring commodity prices, IHS Markit’s John Mothersole tells Bloomberg. The jump in commodity prices, coupled with tight inventories of materials and logistical bottlenecks, indicates an acceleration in inflation — however transient it may be. Some economists and central bankers assume the price gains will be transitory, as covid-19 concerns and unemployment will eventually curb inflation.

Saudi Arabia has cut oil prices for Asia as a covid-19 surge in India weighs on demand, reducing prices for the region between USD 0.10 and 0.30 / bbl, Bloomberg reports.

Inbound cross-border M&A in Europe worth more than USD 600 mn could soon be contingent on prior approval from the European Commission under a new proposal that seeks to clamp down on acquisitions of European companies by firms receiving subsidies from foreign governments, CNBC reports. Under the proposed rules, foreign companies looking to purchase European businesses would also be required to disclose the amount of funding they’ve received before moving forward with a transaction. The proposal comes after years of state-backed Chinese M&A activity in Europe — including the 2016 Tencent acquisition of Supercell — that has seen it snap up major tech companies in the trade bloc.

Up

EGX30

10,513

+0.5% (YTD: -3.1%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

10,252

-0.7% (YTD: +18.0%)

None

ADX

6,116

  • (YTD: +21.2%)

Up

DFM

2,650

+0.2% (YTD: +6.4%)

Up

S&P 500

4,168

+0.1% (YTD: +11.0%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,039

+1.7% (YTD: +9.0%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 68.91

-0.1%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.95

+0.3%

Up

Gold

USD 1,786.20

+0.1%

Up

BTC

USD 56,894.34

+4.0%

The EGX30 rose 0.5% yesterday on turnover of EGP 896 mn (29.1% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 3.1% YTD.

In the green: Pioneers (+3.3%), Orascom Development (+2.5%) and Oriental Weavers (+1.9%).

In the red: GB Auto (-2.4%), Credit Agricole (-1.6%) and Edita (-1.3%).

It’s largely clear skies for global markets this morning, with Asian indices uniformly in the green and futures suggesting shares in Europe, Wall Street and Bay Street are about to follow suit.

AROUND THE WORLD

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has been tasked with forming an Israeli coalition government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so in time for a May 4 deadline, Bloomberg reports. If the former finance minister succeeds, Netanyahu could be removed as Israeli PM. The mandate to form a new government follows the inconclusive results of an election in March, Israel’s fourth in the past two years.

Also worth knowing this morning: G7 nations rebuked China for its human rights abuses, its tensions with Taiwan, and other issues in a final statement following their meeting in London.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Mostafa Abdel Aziz, managing partner and co-founder of Act Financial: Each week, my Morning / WFH Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Mostafa Abdel Aziz, managing partner and co-founder of Act Financial (LinkedIn).

I’m Mostafa Abdel Aziz, and I’m one of the managing partners and co-founders of Act Financial. I was previously CEO of Beltone Brokerage and I've been working in capital markets for the past 18 years or so. There are three separate aspects to my role at Act: manager, partner and co-founder. As a co-founder there's a sense of belonging and passion for something you created; where you’ve helped to choose the name, the logo, the vision and mission for the company. The management side of things encompasses everything I do in my day to day job as an active executive. Being a partner in the company creates a sense of ownership that has been unique to my involvement with Act.

We established Act back in 2014 and have been active in the market for the past 6-7 years. We marked our first investment with the joint acquisition of Beltone Financial with Orascom (Orascom Telecom Media and Technology at the time) back in 2015 where we agreed to managing the subsidiary full-time for a four-year period. Afterwards, we went back to positioning Act Financial as an investment company and decided we would remain at the holding level.

We believe in an active role for investors in unlocking value. We’re not an asset manager — we actually invest our own money in target companies and invite co-investors to create strategic consortiums. Our primary interest is in enhancing a company’s shareholder structure, its vision and its direction. Although we don’t have specific criteria — in terms of sector allocations — guiding our investments, capital markets have been especially interesting to us recently. Given that the market in Egypt is underperforming global equities and even the domestic private equity market, the pandemic has given us a great chance to take good companies at a significant discount for no reason other than market inefficiency.

The pandemic taught us to appreciate liquidity. Our assessment of companies and analysis of sectors has adjusted to appreciate liquidity and transaction structure over value. The pandemic has proven that things can dramatically change and get out of control pretty fast. A better liquidity position allows you to better adjust and restructure yourself according to those shocks, which is why we’re more appreciative of capital markets and stocks over private equity at this stage.

We already ran a very headcount-cautious and efficient investment setup so the pandemic didn’t really change our operations. We never actually applied a strict WFH model, especially since we have separate offices where we can maintain enough social distancing. I generally don’t really like the idea of WFH at all. It changes a very fundamental portion of the work environment. Getting out of the house and brainstorming with the rest of the team is what really helps get me in the zone. I used to work on a trading floor most of my life, where instant communication was crucial. In our industry it's very important for people to communicate and interact face to face, especially with partners.

Although I’m not really a morning person, I wake up at 6:30 am and make it into the office no later than 8:30 am. I start my day by reading Enterprise from bed and grab a coffee on my way to the office. From 8:30-10 am I interact with all the investment banks and continue consuming a lot of news. I’m extremely connected to the stock market, which is one of those habits you really never kick, even if you don't need to be. All that information helps me form my opinions. We scan prices when the market opens before meeting with senior staff to discuss the news and investment updates, but I always have one eye on the stock market screen at any given time. The rest of the day is usually spent brainstorming ideas for existing investments or discussing the planned pipeline of investments and typically ends at 4 or 5 pm. We all live pretty close by so we often have evening meetings or partner gatherings to continue brainstorming.

I make sure to spend time with my 11-year-old son every day. We either go for a walk or just sit and chat. He’s not 11 by my standards. When I was his age I was a kid, but he’s practically a man now — it’s like he’s my friend. Before the pandemic, I used to have a very packed calendar: Each month had at least one trip, but now I have a bit more time.

The secret to personal success throughout my life has been brainstorming. It's what creates everything. Talking and discussing with your close colleagues and the people outside your comfort zone is what gives light to new ideas and thinking outside of the box. It's crucial to our identity and DNA as Act.

I’ve been writing in my down time over the past year and I’m almost done with a novel called Euphoria. It's a new hobby I've picked up since the pandemic started which I try to make some time for every day. It sort of happened by coincidence. I had some ideas in my head for a story and realized that there isn't much stock market literature in Egypt so I started writing this story about the stock market and how it affects your psychology. It goes into the different psychological make up of investors and how that affects their investment decisions. I really enjoyed the experience, it was completely out of my comfort zone.

I've been writing way more than I've been reading these days but I guess I would recommend checking out my book when it comes out. I watch some episodes of Suits and How I Met Your Mother before I sleep, just to wind down. Suits is a nice workplace series which gives you an idea of corporate intelligence, and How I Met You Mother is just light.

Staying positive is really important for getting through a crisis as a team. I think the stock market teaches you that losses are a very normal part of life. You see it so often that it neutralizes negative feelings and can help you keep a positive outlook. I've seen many crises in my career and a lot of them turned out to be great chances to change or add something new to my life. Maintaining a positive attitude is key in the world of investment.

CALENDAR

12-16 May (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Fitr.

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) takes place in Dubai.

26 May (Wednesday): Final day for Africa-based startups to apply for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge (pdf).

27-29 May (Thursday-Saturday): Informa Markets’ Nextmove real estate exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City.

30 May (Sunday): Al Mal GTM is organizing the fifth edition of the Portfolio Egypt conference under the theme ‘Growth under the weight of the pandemic’.

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).

7-9 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

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

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday) : The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

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, Cairo, Egypt.

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

July + August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

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

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.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

17-20 August (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum annual meeting, Singapore.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

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

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The 54th session of the Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday) Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

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

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo

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.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**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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