Thursday, 2 September 2021

EnterpriseAM — It’s a super-packed issue this morning, so sit back and enjoy

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to the most wonderful morning of the week. We have a really packed issue for you on this final morning of the week — and we’re delighted that My Morning Routine, our popular Thursday column, is back from its traditional summer hiatus.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story dominates the news agenda in the international press this morning. The Financial Times is leading with the notion that with 50 mn paying subscribers, Youtube’s streaming music service is now a “genuine rival” to Spotify. The Wall Street Journal is giving ink to the latest from Afghanistan (“Taliban battle opposition militias, wield new power in Kabul”), as is Reuters (“Taliban wrestle with Afghan economy in chaos, humanitarian crisis.”) Bloomberg is leading with OPEC+’s decision to go ahead with its planned production hike, while CNBC is zeroing in on the WHO’s worries about a new covid-19 variant named “mu,” which “has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in town for three-way talks with Egypt and Jordan on how to revive peace talks between Palestine and Israel. Abbas arrived yesterday, Palestinian news agency Wafa reports. A senior Palestinian official told Bahrain state news agency BNA that Abbas would meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

It’s day two of Digi Sign Africa: The three-day advertising and digital printing exhibition continues at the Cairo International Convention Centre.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-

SMART POLICY- The Justice Ministry’s mobile app for registry / notary services is now active in (almost) every governorate, according to a statement. The app, which points users to the nearest registry office and allows them to use their national ID numbers to book appointments, is now available in North and South Sinai as well as Suez, expanding its footprint to 26 of Egypt’s 27 governorates. Marsa Matrouh will be the last governorate to be served by the app sometime this month. Download the app for Android or iOS if you want to give it a whirl.

Egyptian natgas could make electricity for Lebanon: Egypt is apparently in talks with the US and Jordan on a plan that could ease Lebanon’s electricity crisis, Reuters reports. The agreement would see Egyptian natural gas shipped to Jordan, where it could be used to generate electricity that would be fed into Lebanon’s grid via Syria. Lebanon has been suffering crippling electricity shortages as the country grapples with an economic crisis and lifted fuel subsidies last month.

MARKET WATCH-

Sustainable footwear brand Allbirds is working towards an IPO … sustainably? The company is aiming to become the first company to SPO (Sustainable Public Equity Offering), which would require it to meet environmental, social and governance criteria, but other than that the company’s public listing and securities structure will remain traditional. And with the current trend favoring sustainability and ethicality, it is safe to assume that others will shortly follow.

Instagram is forcing users to share their birthdays — but this isn’t just another breach of privacy by social media platforms. The company shared a statement explaining that it is hoping to protect minors with this new rule, which will enable it to apply its recently imposed rule that protects those under 18 from receiving messages from adults. The app is also working on developing new systems that will help it identify those sharing fake birthdays.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Cypriot prez visiting this week: President Nicos Anastasiades arrives in Cairo on Saturday, 4 September for a joint Egypt-Cyprus summit.

Here are the key news triggers for the first two weeks of September:

  • PMI: August’s PMI figures for Egypt, KSA and the UAE will land on Sunday, 5 September.
  • Foreign reserves: The central bank will release foreign reserves figures for August sometime next week.
  • Inflation: Inflation data for August will drop next week.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 16 September.

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

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ECONOMY

We smashed growth expectations in 4Q2020-2021

Egypt’s economy grew at a 7.7% clip in 4Q2020-2021, accelerating from a contraction of 1.7% during the final quarter of the previous fiscal year — and up from the 2.9% growth recorded in 3Q2020-2021 quarter, Planning Minister Hala El Said said during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. Reuters also has the story.

The figure significantly exceeds the government’s quarterly target: The Planning Ministry had penciled in a 5.2-5.5% growth rate for the quarter, which wrapped up on 31 June. Growth in the sectors most affected by covid-19 — including hospitality, restaurants, construction, natural gas, and electricity — drove the rebound, the minister said.

Preliminary indicators put our growth for the 2020-2021 (the state’s last fiscal year) at 3.3%, a drop from the 3.6% recorded in FY2019-2020 and the 5.6% growth recorded in FY2018-2019, thanks to the covid-19 induced economic slowdown.

But q-o-q growth is looking strong: Egypt has seen steady gains in its quarterly growth figures, from 0.7% in 1Q2020-2021, to 2% and 2.9% in the second and third quarters respectively, the minister said.

Growth during the first half of the fiscal year clocked in at 1.35%, a significant y-o-y drop from the pre-covid 5.6% growth rate recorded in 1H2019-2020, the minister previously said. Logistics, agriculture, education and healthcare led the rebound throughout the fiscal year, and are expected to continue to do so further into FY2021-2022.

The outlook for the state’s current fiscal year looks pretty good: The Finance Ministry expects the Egyptian economy will return to near pre-pandemic growth levels in FY2021-2022, expanding at a 5.4% clip. Revised forecasts from the IMF put growth for the current 2021-2022 fiscal year at 5.7%, just slightly lower than the 5.8% pre-covid target the government was hoping to achieve in FY2019-2020. The African Development Bank sang a similarly upbeat tune, expecting GDP growth of 4.9% in 2022.

TRANSPORT

From Sokhna to Alexandria in a jiffy

Moving between the Red Sea and the Med will soon be easier and faster after the government signed yesterday a USD 4.5 bn contract to build Egypt’s first high-speed rail line. A consortium including Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors agreed with the state-owned National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) to design, install and maintain the line, which will run 660 km between Ain Sokhna, Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh, Siemens, Orascom (pdf) and the Transport Ministry said following the signing yesterday.

This is just the first leg of a USD 23 bn project that will stretch for some 1.8k km across Egypt, linking Cairo, Aswan, the North Coast and the Red Sea. The Sokhna-Matrouh connection will feature a passenger line able to carry more than 30 mn people a year as well as a freight line that the German conglomerate referred to as a “Suez Canal on tracks.” The passenger trains will travel at up to 250 km/hour, reducing travel time by up to 50%. This is at least double the speed of the current network, which offers speeds of between 90 and 120km/hour.

Siemens’ share of the contract is worth around USD 3 bn, the company said. Under the contract, it will provide high-speed and regional trains, locomotives, rail infrastructure, system integration among other services.

Orascom’s role: The Egyptian construction giant will be responsible for laying the track and installing the signalling system, an Orascom source told us.

Work is expected to commence next year when financial close takes place, the source said. The project is being undertaken on an EPC-plus-finance basis, meaning the contractors will arrange the financing.

The first line should be complete within two years after the contracts have been signed, the government said in January, setting up a completion date sometime in 2023.

What’s next: The next two lines will connect Sixth of October to Aswan, and Luxor to Hurghada via Safaga. The consortium and the NAT have agreed to start negotiating contracts for the next lines in the coming months.

The new line comes during what has been a bad year for Egypt’s state-run rail network, which has seen a number of major incidents that prompted questions about the state of the country’s infrastructure. In March, a collision in Sohag took the lives of 19 people and injured almost 200, while crashes in Qalyubia and Sharqia in April hospitalized more than 100 and killed 15.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Speed Medical secures nearly USD 100 mn in financing from Luxembourg-based EM investor

Speed Medical has landed some EGP 1.57 bn in financing from EM-focused alternative investment outfit Global Emerging Markets (GEM) in an agreement inked between the two firms yesterday, according to a joint press release. Neither party was immediately available to answer questions.

The funds will be extended under a “share subscription facility” on a 36-month term. Our take is that this is effectively a convertible debt-for-equity arrangement: Speed can draw down funds on an as-needed basis, with GEM getting shares in Speed for every EGP Speed draws. This type of financing is “potentially lower cost and less dilutive … as the company controls the timing and amount of each drawdown,” Speed Chairman Mahmoud Lasheen said in the statement.

How much of Speed could GEM get if Speed calls the full facility? It’s really not clear — the press release does not specify a pricing mechanism for the equity, so it’s not clear whether the price at which the drawn equity would convert into newly issued shares is at yesterday’s price, a future price, a trailing average…

Speed said it would use the financing for its “aggressive expansion plans,” including for acquisitions and new ventures, as well as to consolidate its existing bank debt, with a separate disclosure (pdf) saying the funding will help Speed “pay off the banks’ loans in full.” Lasheen added that the facility should allow Speed to start issuing dividends “commencing in the coming year.”

But not for the now dead-in-the-water Prime Speed acquisition: In an unusually frank regulatory filing in late August, Speed Medical announced it was backing away from its potential 100% acquisition of Prime Speed.

Speed Medical will still need to secure the approval of the company’s board of directors and general assembly before the GEM transaction is finalized.

GEM is a Luxembourg-based private investment group worth USD 3.4 bn that specializes in emerging-markets and has made transactions in over 70 countries.

E-COMMERCE

Amazon.eg is officially a thing now

Amazon.eg today replaced Souq.com as Amazon’s selling platform in Egypt, according to a statement (pdf) from the e-commerce giant.

So long, Souq: The rebrand means that Amazon has now retired the Souq.com brand everywhere. After acquiring the Dubai-based e-commerce platform in 2017, Amazon replaced the site with Amazon.ae in the UAE in 2019, and did the same in Saudi Arabia with the launch of Amazon.sa in 2020. Egypt was the last to retire the Souq.com storefront.

“The Amazon.eg launch reaffirms our commitment to customers across Egypt,” said Amazon Egypt Country Manager Omar Elsahy, adding that “as we launch today, thousands of Egyptian businesses use Amazon.eg to reach their customers, and we look forward to growing this number further in the coming years.”

Amazon has been talking about stepping up its Egyptian operations in recent years, last year suggesting the country could become a regional manufacturing and export hub for the multinational’s own-brand products. Those plans now seem to be picking up pace, with plans to invest EGP 1 bn in Egypt and on Tuesday opening its mega-logistics facility in Tenth of Ramadan City, the first of its kind in Africa.

Existing Souq.com customers will see all their data migrated onto the new platform, including their addresses, previous purchase history and payment details, the statement read.

PSA- If you were using the Souq app, you’ll need to download to the Amazon app instead.

CABINET WATCH

Parked your old beater for more than six months? The state’s gonna sell it.

Abandoned or unlicensed vehicles parked on Egyptian streets for more than six months will become property of the state under amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code greenlit by the Cabinet during its weekly meeting yesterday that allow authorities to seize the vehicle without need for a court order. The amendments aim to minimize congestion and regulate parking on streets nationwide, especially those with heavy traffic flow in urban centers, the statement said. Previously the law stipulated that vehicles left unattended could be seized following a period of three years.

Wrecked or dilapidated vehicles will immediately be impounded and shipped to designated disposal sites under amendments to the Traffic Act, approved by the Cabinet yesterday. Registered owners will be informed of the seizure within 48 hours and can elect to donate the car to the state within a two month window, in which case they are exempt from covering relocation fees and fines. The state can then sell the car, and deposit proceeds into the state treasury.

Owners will have up to two months to reclaim their vehicles, after which they will become state property.

The government is already taking solid steps to regulate street parking: A newly-implemented bill regulating street parking has been in effect starting this month across six neighborhoods in Cairo, as well as in Dokki in Giza. It will roll out to other areas and governorates at a later stage. Committees in governorates will be set up to organize street parking, determine ticket pricing based on the income levels in each area, as well as choose the streets where parking is allowed, and the car count, Local Development Ministry spokesperson Khaled Kassem said last week, noting that a company dedicated to hiring parking attendants would also be established.

Also approved at yesterday’s meeting:

  • A draft presidential decree to adjust the terms of a cooperation agreement with Japan for the implementation of outpatient clinics at Cairo University Children’s Hospital.
  • An agreement with the African Union to host the African Space Agency’s headquarters in Egypt.

TRADE

Más pesos

Egyptian exports heading to South America will as of today be charged lower customs rates under a trade agreement signed in 2010, according to a ministry statement. Customs paid on some 6.9k goods heading to countries in the Mercosur trading bloc will be reduced by 10-12.5% in a move that will benefit exporters and make Egyptian products more competitive in Latin America.

This is an annual event: Under the agreement (pdf), both sides are working to gradually eliminate customs imposed on 90% of the goods by 2026. Customs are being phased out over varying timelines, with some goods seeing 12.5% reductions each year and becoming exempt by 2023 and others being cut by 10% a year, reaching 0% by 2026. Duties on other goods were made exempt when the agreement came into force in 2017 while for others the charges were fully phased out by 2020.

The latest reductions mean that customs have been slashed by 50-62.5% since the agreement came into force in 2017.

Annual trade between Egypt and Mercosur countries has more than doubled since the agreement came into effect in 201, notching USD 396 mn last year compared to USD 184 mn three years earlier.

LEGISLATION WATCH

Another landmark in the tax overhaul: FinMin issues official Customs Act exec regs

The final executive regulations of the Customs Act have been issued by the Finance Ministry and were published (pdf) in the Official Gazette on Tuesday. The exec regs’ arrival marks the latest landmark in implementing the recently-approved Customs Act, which came into effect late last year and aims to expedite customs clearance.

What do they say? The new regs lay out how Nafeza, the Customs Authority’s new Advance Cargo Information (ACI) pre-registration system, will work. They also outline instructions for businesses importing goods at ports on accessing and using the platform to file and pay all types of shipping dues, as well as filing shipping documents and cargo data digitally ahead of arrival. Elsewhere, the regs set down customs tax breaks for tourists and Egyptians coming from abroad.

The new system hasn’t been without controversy: The government tweaked the exec regs twice, in November and then in February, in response to complaints from exporters, shipping agencies and customs brokers after the Customs Act came into force. The business community hasn’t been an enthusiastic adopter of Nafeza so far either, with importers and exporters repeatedly lobbying for extensions to its implementation deadline. Nafeza goes online on 1 October — a deadline by which anyone who has not signed up for it will not be allowed to clear imported goods out of customs at seaports, Minister Mohamed Maait said during a roundtable last week.

Lost in transit? Learn more about the Customs Act here and Nafeza here.

KUDOS

Our friends at CIB and Elsewedy Electric topped the list of nominees at this year’s Institutional Investor Best Practice awards. The two are nominated for the grand prix (ie: regional award) as leading corporations for investor relations in the Middle East, according to a statement (pdf).

CIB CEO Hussein Abaza is once again a finalist for “best investor relations by a CEO” in the Middle East, according to the statement. No Egyptian CFO was nominated for best CFO for IR.

Nominees for best corporate for IR in Egypt include CIB, Edita, Elsewedy, Raya Contact Center and Telecom Egypt.

Nominees for best IR professional in Egypt include a number of our favourite people:

  • Haitham Abdel Moneim (EK Holding)
  • Menna Shams El Din (Edita)
  • Tarek Yehia (Elsewedy)
  • Sarah Shabayek (Telecom Egypt)
  • Ahmed Zayed (Telecom Egypt)
  • Jan Pawel Hasman (TMG)

We hope we see all of you on the road soon instead of in these horrible damn video calls.

Four Egyptian companies made it to Forbes’ list of Top 15 Fintech Apps In The Middle East, with online portal myFawry topping the list. It was followed by EFG Hermes’ buy-now-pay-later platform valU and digitized rotating savings and credit association, MoneyFellows. Raya Holding’s merchant financial services provider, Aman, rounded out list.

A large number of Egyptian banks and financial services firms were recognized in the 2021 Global Banking and Finance Review Awards. The list includes Concord International Investments, QNB Alahli, ADIB Egypt, Credit Agricole Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, Servfund, and Arab Moltaqa Investments.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The two stories leading the conversation on the nation’s airwaves last night: The 2021 International Cycling Union (UCI) Junior Track Cycling World Championship, which is being staged in Cairo for the first time from 1 to 5 September, and the signing of a USD 4.5 bn contract between state-owned National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) and a consortium including Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors for the construction of the first phase of Egypt’s first high-speed rail line, which will connect the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. We have coverage of the latter in the news well, above.

For your viewing pleasure: Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 18:25) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 15:54) had coverage of the opening ceremony of the UCI’s Junior Track Cycling World Championship, while MBC Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 1:57) took note of yesterday’s transport agreement.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Saudi-based storage and delivery startup Diggipacks has acquired an undisclosed share in Egyptian e-commerce solutions provider Fwrun, in a move underpinning both companies’ expansion plans between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Wamda reports. The acquisition, the value of which is unknown, will see Diggipacks and Fwrun exchange resources and technology, as well as expertise in e-commerce, retail and digital transformation.

COVID WATCH

We’ve vaccinated 1.6 mn state employees so far

Egypt has vaccinated 1.6 mn state employees so far, including 44k last Tuesday alone, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during the cabinet meeting today, according to a statement.

All staff in the education sector are to have received at least one dose of a vaccine by 15 September, with everyone expected to have received a second dose by the end of October, Zayed said. Some 289 vaccination centers have been set up at 59 public and private universities nationwide, Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said, adding that 86.2k doses had been administered through these centers till 31 August.

The Health Ministry reported 291 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 279 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 288,732 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 7 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,743.

PLANET FINANCE

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Is a golden era for emerging market equities around the corner? Investors are banking on a rebound in EM stocks, with EM equity funds having seen USD 81 bn in inflows so far this year, despite market volatility caused by China’s regulatory crackdown on tech and education businesses last month, the Financial Times reports. “If concerns about the Delta variant moderate a little bit and we don’t get more significant anti-market interventions in China, I think there will be a reasonable rebound,” said one Goldman Sachs strategist. Though EM bonds have remained weak throughout the past year, Latin American government bonds and Asian equities are poised to benefit from rising global inflation, as investors turn to equities with a chance of outpacing price growth.

OPEC+ will continue with plans to hike output by 400k bpd next month, after members agreed in a virtual meeting yesterday to press ahead with plans to undo oil production cuts — imposed during covid-19 to protect prices from plummeting demand — as oil prices continue to recover, Bloomberg reports. The group had earlier this week revised upwards its demand forecast for 2022 to 4.2 mn bpd from 3.3 mn previously. OPEC+ had reached an agreement in July to gradually increase production through the end of 2022, extending the supply cuts to December 2022 instead of April. The group will next meet to consider oil supply on 4 October, according to Reuters.

Factory backlogs pile up: The pandemic has trampled on the delicate, interconnected web of supply-and-demand that is the global goods trade, Bloomberg reports. Repairing it is proving more difficult than thought: the rise of the delta variant in parts of Asia, raw materials and parts shortages, and low shipping capacity mean that orders are piling up at factories worldwide. Unfulfilled orders hit record highs in Europe in August, while manufacturing PMIs showed contraction in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia, with slowdowns also expected in the US. Meanwhile, foreign buyers are stressed that they won’t be able to fill the shelves in time for the end-of-year holiday season.

China’s manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in over a year in August, according to the Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI, which slipped to 49.2 from 50.3 in July. The Financial Times attributed the decline to the country’s strict response to its recent covid-19 outbreak.

Up

EGX30

11283.70

+1.26% (YTD: +4.04%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

11,310.54

-0.1% (YTD: +30.16%)

Down

ADX

7,649.31

-0.5% (YTD: +51.61%)

Up

DFM

2,916.60

+0.5% (YTD: +17.04%)

Up

S&P 500

4,530.28

+0.2% (YTD: +20.61%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,149.84

+0.4% (YTD: +10.67%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 71.44

-0.27%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 4.62

+5.6%

Down

Gold

USD 1,814.80

-0.2%

Up

BTC

USD 48,399.90

+2.8% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.5 bn (1% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 4% YTD.

In the green: Pioneers Holding (+4.3%), Fawry (+3.4%) and Rameda (+2.8%).

In the red: Heliopolis Housing (-0.9%), Raya (-0.7%) and Mopco (-0.7%).

DIPLOMACY

Ankara could hand over some 15 Ikhwan leaders to Cairo in a bid to pave the way for a rapprochement between the countries, unnamed sources allegedly in the know tell Al Ain. Egypt has made the handing over of Ikhwan figures a precondition for continuing bilateral talks with Turkey to reestablish diplomatic relations.

A breakthrough? Talks will resume next month when an Egyptian delegation travels to Ankara for a new round of discussions. Attempts by both sides to mend bilateral relations have been at a standstill since the two sides last met in Cairo in May. Ankara has made several other attempts to get into Egypt’s good books in past months, including telling Turkish media in March to tone down criticism of Egypt, and offering to negotiate a possible maritime pact with Egypt and dial back tensions in the EastMed.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Ramy Khorshed, co-founder and CEO of Sakneen: Each week, My Morning 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 Ramy Khorshed (LinkedIn), co-founder and CEO of Sakneen.

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Ramy Khorshed, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Sakneen. We’re a real estate technology company looking to bring transparency to one of the largest industries in Egypt. It was always a space I was very passionate about and had a lot of exposure to growing up. My father was in real estate development and construction and I came in with a degree in economics and information science so I was always thinking about ways to apply my knowledge to the industry. I became familiar with global tools like Zillow while I was studying in the US, which was the sort of thing that kicked my interest into gear. I wanted to build a product that brought transparency to the space, so it's really a dream to be working on this everyday.

We started Sakneen in 2019 and we’re now close to a 30-person team. It was just me and Hussein El Kheshen, my co-founder and CTO, when we got accepted into Y-combinator early in the company's history. We started without a team, a product or anything beyond a hunch that there was an opportunity in real estate. Things officially kicked off in 2019 and between January to June of 2020 was when we were testing out a bunch of different ideas, trying to figure out where we would find market fit.

It was only after that phase when we doubled down on the opportunity to build a transactional marketplace in Egypt with embedded financing and really started building our tech and product team. We moved into an office and started building out the more commercial side of the company at the start of this year.

The decision to build the company was inspired by my own experience trying to buy a house in 2014. As someone who wanted to make an educated decision, I was uncomfortable with making one while only having access to a small percentage of the inventory on the market. There was no single entity or place I could go to for a bird’s eye overview of what I wanted to know. I also didn't feel like the people I was speaking to in the industry were entirely objective either. At that point I decided to build a database out of months of personally-collected data from a bunch of developers and brokers.

I realized that democratizing access to this information could cause a lot of players in the market to act differently, both on the buy and sell side. So that was sort of the starting point: making sure we deliver on quality listings, and from the back-end, making sure we do a good job on tracking our analytics for our own decision-making.

In regards to financing, we have two things we’re very interested in at the moment: We launched our financing integration program with Contact, who are also investors in the company, which allows people to apply for financing online and find homes that have been pre-approved for financing. Typically this part of the process comprises more than half the time it takes to obtain a mortgage. So if you have that done ahead of time you can offer a much more seamless experience for home buyers. The second thing, which is happening right now on a national scale, is the CBE’s subsidized mortgage initiative for low and middle-income households. This is an initiative we’re very interested in.

There are huge strides being made in the direction of clarifying land ownership and making sure that buildings are registered with uniquely identifiable numbers and a clear ownership history. This is something that has really plagued the transactional side and the informational side for buyers. Clear ownership becomes even more important because you need a high threshold of proof to convince an institution to lend against a certain asset class.

I think transparency on tax disclosures would be huge. Right now real estate tax is collected on most assets in Egypt, but unlike lots of other countries, real estate tax revenues aren’t publicly accessible on any kind of database. I think there would be a lot of opportunity in being able to analyze and share that data with the public.

The dream day starts at around 6 or 7 am. It's still hit or miss but I try to head to the gym first thing in the morning because if I don’t make it there in that window right before work then I probably won’t end up going. I’ve never worked out in the evening and never will. After that, I try to beat traffic and make it to the office before 9 am. That’s when I get to plan out my day and everything I need to get done. There’s actually a piece of extremely helpful software my co-founder recommended called Sunama, which basically helps you plan your days and weeks by providing you with a full analytics report of how you spend your time.

Once people start coming into the office, it’s game time. It ends up being really fluid during prime work hours; I go over outstanding issues, field phone calls from various stakeholders and check in with the team on how everything is going. Planning or deep focus work usually takes place in the evening or early in the morning.

Typically I leave the office around 8 or 9 pm. That's when I got the chance to set up shop with my laptop and wrap up. It also allows me to sit out traffic. I try to optimize my morning and evening commutes that way. Midweek I go home and usually do some reading or catch a good movie or something.

I think a lot of the transactional components of buying or selling a house will remain offline. Whether it's going into a Real Estate Registry office or making payments, these processes still rely on paperwork, which isn’t exactly the best customer experience.

It's important to communicate to everyone that technology is here to assist with the transaction and not replace humans. I think any company globally that has tried to replace agents or cut them out of the transaction has failed. We think about ourselves as a tool for both sides of the market to have a better experience, not as a replacement for anyone.

I’ve been really big on non-fiction recently: Some of the most impactful books I’ve read over the past couple of years were from Nassim Taleb’s Incerto series. Black Swan and Antifragile provide an endless amount of insight into how to make decisions in the absence of a full picture or the requisite information. They were especially useful to me after reading books by the data analyst, Nate Silver, who had a very planned approach to decision-making that I found really inspiring but struggled to apply in real world situations where you usually don't have beautiful data sets. Narconomics by Tom Wainwright is also a super fun read about the drug trade and crime. It drives home the point that if you find behavior around you that looks irrational from the outside you probably just don't understand what’s really going on.

My father always instilled in me that life is about what you put into it not what you get out of it. That it is important to take pride in the process, the journey, and the consistent pursuit of excellence rather than an exclusive focus on outcomes. This resilience helped him become a 5 time Olympian and World Champion while building a business and raising a family.

CALENDAR

24 August-5 September (Tuesday-Sunday): Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

September: Delegation of Russian companies to visit Russian Industrial Zone.

1-3 September (Wednesday-Friday): Digi Sign Africa, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

4 September (Saturday): The first Egypt-Cyprus Intergovernmental Summit is taking place in Cairo.

5 September (Sunday): The updated date for EGX listed companies to institute the new mechanism for calculating closing share prices. The deadline was previously 2 September.

5-7 September (Sunday-Tuesday): The Arab Security Conference, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, Egypt.

7-8 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Conferences will host the GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum 2021, featuring Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

8-9 September (Wednesday-Thursday): Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF), Cairo

7-9 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Egy Health Expo, Al Manara International Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

9 September (Thursday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

11-12 September (Saturday-Sunday): International Conferences on Economics and Social Sciences, Cairo

12 September (Sunday): International schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

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

13-21 September (Monday-Tuesday): 76th session of the general assembly, New York

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

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

18 September (Saturday): Expiration of United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed 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.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

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.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

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

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

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

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

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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