Thursday, 30 September 2021

Everything you need to know about (what’s probably on) the House’s legislative agenda for 2021-2022



And that’s it, folks — another quarter wrapped up in a year that still feels like a 21-month (and counting) version of 2020. We hope you’re making solid progress drafting your 2022 budgets and plans — and that 3Q earnings season is kind to all of our friends at publicly traded companies.

THE BIG STORY here at home: The House of Representatives is back in session on Saturday and the Senate will follow suit next week. We had a chat with the folks shepherding legislation through the House to get a sense of what issues they’re considering as they set the agenda for parliament’s 2021-2022 session.

ALSO- Look for e-Finance to pull the trigger on its IPO on the Egyptian Exchange as early as October, the company told us yesterday. The state-owned fintech platform and e-payments infrastructure company is (virtually) on the road now as bankers build their books for the offering, e-Finance chief Ibrahim Sarhan told us.

^^ We have more on both stories in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

4Q2021 begins tomorrow. Here are some of the key dates coming up in October:

  • MPs and senators are returning from recess to start the new legislative session: The House of Representatives will reconvene on Saturday, 2 October and the Senate will be back in Session Tuesday, 5 October.
  • PMI: September’s purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Tuesday, 5 October.
  • Foreign reserves: September’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime during the first week of October.
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for September will be released on Sunday, 10 October.
  • IMF + World Bank meetings: The IMF and the World Bank will hold their annual meetings during the week beginning 11 October.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 28 October.
  • A little further out: The Middle East Angel Investment Network is hosting its Angel Oasis in El Gouna on 27-29 October, with separate pricing for in-person and virtual attendance.

PSA #1- Next week is a short work week. You can expect to have a three-day weekend 7-9 October in observance of Armed Forces Day, which is on 6 October. Expect confirmation from the Central Bank of Egypt and EGX early next week.

PSA #2- No stopping Nafeza: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has confirmed that there will be no further postponements as we reach the 1 October final deadline for the implementation of the Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) system. Finance Ministry customs advisor Magdy Abdel Aziz gave a rundown on the new customs system’s benefits on Al Hayah Al Youm last night (watch, runtime: 4:27).

PSA #3- Your commute is going to get worse at the end of next week. Public schools are back in session for the fall term on Saturday, 9 October.

PSA #4- We’re probably also looking at a long weekend starting Thursday, 21 October in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday, which is formally Monday, 18 October.

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


Winter trading hours in effect today: Shops and malls will close one hour earlier at 10pm (11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and national holidays) while cafes and restaurants will shutter at midnight rather than 1am. As during the summer, essential services such as grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies are exempt from the rules and can open and close their doors when they want.

The Cairo International Fair opens today at the Cairo International Conference Center, running through 8 October.

The Egypt Projects 2021 construction expo also starts today at the Egypt International Exhibition Center and wraps on Saturday, 2 October.

Dubai’s Expo 2020 starts tomorrow: The event, which takes place somewhere on the planet once every five years, runs for six months and will be open seven days a week. You can learn more here.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD on this fine Thursday morning: Things are getting really interesting in Washington, DC, as the Biden administration scrambles to both pass landmark infrastructure bills and avert a government shutdown. The big obstacle: Quarrels between factions in the president’s own party that are making it difficult to set up a final legislative showdown with rival Republicans. “Moderate” and “progressive” Dems are tangling over the scope of some USD 4 tn in infrastructure spending — and the moderates are unhappy the White House is looking to delay a USD 1 tn infrastructure bill ahead of a critical vote to avoid a government shutdown in October. The story leads the front pages of the global business press, from the Financial Times and Reuters to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Confused by the arcana of US legislative politics? We’ll have a concise explainer this afternoon that goes a bit deeper.

“Transitory” has disappeared from the lexicon of central bankers, who are now warning of greater inflationary risk amid continued supply bottlenecks: The heads of the US Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan warned in unison of inflationary dangers as they shared a panel on Wednesday. The four said that prices are being driven up by the unexpected persistence of supply-side disruptions amid strong demand in sectors from fuel to tech — but the bigger worry is that economies enter a cycle of rising inflation and heightened wage demands. ECB chair Christine Lagarde was at pains to point out that there’s no sign as of yet of that fear becoming reality, while Fed head Jerome Powell said the bank is ready to tighten monetary policy if price hikes become more “substantial” than expected. The FT has more.

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT- Stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterpriseAM:

  • Health minister on a visit to Germany: Minister Hala Zayed was set to discuss cooperation in the health sector and talk with officials at Mercedes about the supply of 1k ambulances and some 1k medical mobile clinics.
  • Multigenerational workplaces are becoming commonplace: There are at least four generations now in the workplace: baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z, but each with different perspectives, experiences, values and goals.
  • No Time to Die opens in Egypt: So far, it’s getting excellent reviews with the industry rag going so far as to suggest (but not quite declare) that it’s the best Bond film ever.



MPs have a very busy season ahead, to say the least

MPs face a packed agenda when the House of Representatives reconvenes on Saturday, 2 October, as summer recess ends and the 2021-2022 legislative session kicks off. The House will set a full agenda and with clear priorities over the coming week, Ehab Al Tamawi, deputy chair of the House Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, tells us.

A sneak peek at the House’s priority list: We spoke with Al Tamawi and other MPs about what some of those priorities will be — and asked about a number of business-relevant bills that were shelved last session or that have come up in the news during summer break.


UNIFIED BUDGET ACT- The draft act proposes mering legislation governing the state’s annual budget and government accountability into an updated bill that accounts for modern budget preparation processes and erases overlap between different pieces of legislation. If passed, the bill would require the government to present a medium-term budgetary and fiscal strategy to the House of Representatives every year. The same policy strategy would also be a requirement for each new incoming government. The bill would also aim to impose a measure of fiscal discipline on the government through measures including a requirement that it set spending limits for each ministry, as well as new mechanisms to monitor budget performance. Expect graft and misuse of public funds to also be addressed.

Status: The bill earned preliminary approval from the Senate in July of this year after it was approved by the cabinet back in October 2020. The legislation will be high on the priority list due to interest from the IMFand the World Bank, who see that the bill would help streamline budget preparation and promote digitization and automation, Deputy Head of the House’s Planning and Budget Committee Yasser Omar told us. Still, it’s going to take some time to clear the House. It will be “months at least” before a final vote is held, Omar added.


FINTECH- The FRA has been busy drafting a bill that would establish a framework to regulate the fintech space. Details are few right now, but we know the bill would allow the FRA to license and regulate fintech platforms — and to introduce new penalties for regulatory breaches.

Status: The FRA approved the draft legislation in September and it is now with the House to start the review process.

LABOR ACT- An overhaul of the Labor Act will lay out new rules on how employees can be dismissed, making it harder for employers to fire staff for illnesses but allowing workers to lose their jobs if convicted of a felony, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The legislation also includes provisions intended to encourage youth employment and could create special courts to handle labor-related cases.

Status: The House voted on a draft of the proposed act back in February 2020, but the bill has been on the back burner since. Expect that changes could still be made to its current form.

FRA ACT- If passed, the legislation would grant the FRA operational autonomy and give the authority status as a separate legal entity with its own balance sheet. The FRA will be required to submit an annual report on its activities and the performance of the non-banking financial services industry to the president, prime minister, and House speaker. The authority’s head would be appointed by the president and would effectively have cabinet rank.

Status: Cabinet approved the bill in February 2019, but since the law has been repeatedly delayed to companies expressing concern that this would grant the FRA sweeping powers, a parliamentary source told us previously

ANTITRUST ACT AMENDMENTS- Under the changes to the Antitrust Act, the Egyptian Competition Authority would be granted the power to sign off on M&As before they are finalized, giving them more discretion over what it considers a threat to competition.

Status: The changes were approved by cabinet at the end of November and will now be sent to the House.

UNIFIED INS. ACT- The draft bill has been at least three years in the making and aims to grant the FRA broad new powers to regulate the sector, make ins. compulsory for SMEs and freelancers, and set up new economic courts to mediate disputes.

Status: The Unified Ins. Act is now with the House Economic Committee after receiving cabinet approval in November 2020.

TOURISM + HOTELS LAW- A law simplifying licensing procedures for hotels and tourism companies is in the works. The government says it will “improve the business climate and enhance competitiveness” of the tourism sector, but little is known about its provisions.

Status: The cabinet approved the draft law yesterday.


VAT AMENDMENTS- Separate parcels of amendments to the 2016 Value Added Tax Act will change the list of goods and services on which VAT is remitted and imposed. The government plans to impose a 14% VAT on the sale of non-residential property, most commercial advertising, and to hike the 5% rate on many forms of snack foods. Other amendments include removing VAT paid on freight costs for strategic goods including legumes, grains, table salt, and spices. Real estate developers and food producers have both lobbied to roll back the tax over concern on how it would affect their sectors, however, their efforts have been fruitless until now. Neither office nor commercial rents will be subject to 14% VAT, the Tax Authority has previously said, but could be hit by a 1% schedule tax under the act.

Status: The amendments are moving through the government at different speeds. Scrapping the VAT from strategic goods was approved by the House Planning and Budgeting Committee back in January, while the rest of the amendments received cabinet approval in October 2020.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX- The debate about whether to introduce capital gains tax on EGX transactions may return to the House next month as some MPs push back against the Finance Ministry’s decision to reintroduce the tax on local investors next year. As of now, Egypt-domiciled investors will face an annual 10% capital gains tax on their net portfolio earnings from 1 January, which investors and the securities industry claim will hurt EGX trading volumes. A group of MPs said it will will call next week on Finance Minister Mohamed Maait to delay the tax or replace it with a development levy.


PPP ACT- The bill aims to streamline public-private partnership (PPP) contracts in fields including transport, energy, communications, and healthcare. It would also add provisions meant to ensure higher quality standards and cut the time to issue tenders by introducing new mechanisms for how the government contracts with private businesses. Private-sector players will be able submit unsolicited proposals, while the government would also be allowed to negotiate directly with a sole bidder without needing to take the project through the competitive bidding process.

Status: The House Planning Committee approved amendments to the PPP Act early this year. The changes will now make their way to the House general assembly for a final vote, before being handed over to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to be signed into law.

UNIFIED PLANNING ACT- The bill will dictate how governorate-level economic, social, and urban development plans are implemented. Last year, the government said it would set up a planning committee headed by the president under the legislation.

Status: Last we heard, the bill was with the House Planning and Budget Committee.

UNIFIED BUILDING CODE- The long-awaited piece of legislation gives the government sharper teeth to clamp down on illegal construction by imposing harsher penalties on violators and state officials found guilty of not acting to penalize building code violations, especially for building on agricultural land. Otherwise, the bill will streamline procedures and cut red tape to obtain building permits, and would make permits valid for three years instead of one. It also requires developers putting up buildings taller than five storeys or valued at over EGP 3 mn to buy ins. against construction-related damage to cover for any damages during construction and the guarantee period.

Status: The House of Representatives passed the Unified Building Code in March 2020. Last we heard, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly presented the proposed building and planning criteria to the House Local Administration and House Housing committees.


PERSONAL STATUS ACT AMENDMENTS- The bill has come under fire for attempting to take away women’s rights and legal protections. Some of the amendments could prevent women from travelling abroad without a male guardian's consent and could bar mothers from registering a child's birth certificate or passport.

Status: The amendments were proposed earlier this year, but were shelved after backlash

VOCATIONAL SCHOOLSSeveral ministries are working together on a bill that would set up a new public authority responsible for accrediting institutions offering technical learning and training programs. Government schools and private institutions, which will both be under the authority’s oversight, will have no more than five years to meet the authority’s quality standards and obtain accreditation once the bill makes it through the House.

Status: Lawmakers are a little behind on this one. The cabinet green-lit the proposals in September 2020, but there has been no mention of it since then.

DISABILITIES ACT AMENDMENTS- The amendments will toughen penalties for those convicted of bullying persons with disabilities, increasing the minimum sentence to two years from one, and to three years if the perpetrator is the guardian of the bullied person. The bill would also impose fines.

Status: The amendments were approved by the Senate in May.

SENIOR CARE ACT- The draft bill would outlaw age discrimination against people aged 65 and above and legislate rights and benefits for senior citizens. Not much else is known about the proposal.

Status: It is unclear where the Senior Care Act now stands. Last we heard, it was heading to the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) before going up for discussion and a final vote in the House.


E-Finance IPO could go ahead next month

E-Finance IPO could wrap up next month: The IPO of state-owned e-payments and fintech platform E-Finance could take place at the end of October or early November, Chairman Ibrahim Sarhan confirmed to Enterprise. The company earlier this month announced its intention to debut on the Egyptian bourse in the fourth quarter, making it the second firm to IPO on the EGX this year.

The company is busy drumming up institutional interest: E-Finance is (virtually) on the road now, holding eight or nine meetings a day with foreign investors from Europe, the US, Asia and the Arab world, Sarhan said. The company intends to offer a 14.5% stake to the public in a sale that will see it sell 258 mn shares, 80 mn of which will be sold by existing shareholders and 177.8 mn being new shares offered as part of a capital increase. You can check out the intention to float for the transaction here (pdf).

No news on the institutional / retail split: Sarhan said that the split between the institutional and retail offering would be announced after the roadshow. Al Borsa (pdf) reported last week that the company could allocate 90-95% of the shares to institutional investors, citing unnamed government sources.

Regulatory approval is in the works: The company on Tuesday submitted a formal request to list (xls) the offering on the Egyptian bourse. The documents are currently under review for submission to the EGX’s listing committee. Final regulatory clearance from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) should be in hand soon.

Post-IPO, expansion is a priority: Using the proceeds of the offering to finance the company’s expansion will be a priority, Sarhan said, adding that e-Finance will look to expand its local investments including E-Tax, an EGP 100 mn tax-services JV in the works with the Finance Ministry, and E-Health, a newly formed digital health services firm that will provide tech solutions for the state’s universal healthcare system. He said that the company was also eyeing investments in infrastructure and financial services companies, adding that there were no plans as of yet for a significant entry into Africa.

The E-Finance IPO has been in the works since 2019. If all goes well, the offering could pave the way for a number of similarly long-planned listings (think Ebtikar and Macro Group). EGX boss Mohamed Farid had expected 5-6 IPOs this year, after delays in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.

This will be the EGX’s second IPO of 2021, following higher education outfit Taaleem’s debut in April. LSE-listed healthcare player IDH also completed a technical listing, transferring 5% of its shares from London to the EGX in May.

ADVISORS: Renaissance Capital, CI Capital and Al Ahly Pharos are quarterbacking the transaction as co-lead managers. NI Capital is acting as the IPO advisor for the listing. Zaki Hashem & Partners has been appointed as counsel to e-Finance, while Norton Rose Fulbright is acting as US counsel to the co-lead managers. Inktank is the investor relations advisor.


List, pretty please? The Egyptian Businessmen Association will try to coax its members to go public on the EGX under an agreement signed yesterday with the Egyptian bourse, according to an EGX statement (pdf).

Ten SMEs have already expressed their interest to offer shares, EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid said, who shared a plan to help small firms list, 65-70% of which will be funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The EGX has been stepping up efforts to get larger companies to list on the bourse, recently amending listing rules to make it easier for larger firms to go public in Egypt.


Another shipment of Chinese vaccines has landed

Egypt received 5.4 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines from China this week, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Some 4.4 mn doses of Sinopharm’s jab arrived in Cairo yesterday, and 1 mn doses of Sinovac vaccines landed on Tuesday, alongside raw materials for the local production of 4.6 mn Sinovac shots, as part of the agreement between Sinovac and state-owned vaccine maker Vacsera. Vacsera is set to open the second production line at its Agouza facility in the coming 5-6 weeks, which will double its daily production capacity to 1 mn doses.

Poland has dispatched a shipment of more than 100k vaccines to Egypt, which are being donated “in an expression of solidarity with an important Polish partner in North Africa,” the Polish foreign ministry said yesterday. Reuters reported last night that the vaccines are AstraZeneca, but we were unable to confirm this.

The Health Ministry reported 738 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 718 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 303,783 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 31 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 17,294.


Cutting red tape for hotels, tourism outfits

Licensing rules for hotels and tourism companies may soon be simplified after the cabinet approved a draft law that it says will “improve the business climate and enhance competitiveness” of the tourism sector. The statement didn’t provide further details on the bill.

ALSO: Teenagers as young as 16 years old could soon be allowed to acquire licenses to drive electric bikes after the cabinet signed off on amendments to the Traffic Act in its weekly meeting yesterday.

The cabinet also approved:

  • A draft presidential decree which would allow the Austrian UniCredit to provide banking services to companies and banking institutions and provide the Egyptian National Railways with an EUR 8.5 mn credit facility to purchase machinery.
  • Extending the exemption of foreign airlines from paying annual fees until 30 April 2022 in efforts to support the tourism sector.


Libya, the GERD dispute, the Israel-Palestine peace process, and human rights were all on the agenda yesterday during talks in Cairo between White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Regional issues: The two discussed the dispute with Ethiopia over the GERD, with El Sisi reiterating calls for more international engagement and Sullivan affirming the US’ commitment to Egypt’s water security, according to an Ittihadiya readout. On the Israel-Palestine peace process, Sullivan expressed the US’ appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to negotiate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel earlier this year and the two talked about pathways to revive negotiations between the two sides. The pair also agreed to step up international efforts on the upcoming Libyan elections.

Human rights: The two sides also discussed making "tangible and lasting improvements" to Egypt’s human rights record, Reuters reports, citing a senior US official. The Biden administration earlier this month said it would suspend USD 130 mn Egypt’s annual military aid until Egypt met several conditions regarding rights, which the official said Sullivan discussed with El Sisi yesterday.


The American University in Cairo appointed two new deans: Lotfi Gaafar (bio) will lead the School of Sciences and Engineering, and John Meloy (bio) will head the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, according to a press release (pdf).

OG tech startup BasharSoft has appointed Sherif Hashem (LinkedIn) as CEO, it said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. Former CEO and founder Amir Sherif will become non-executive chairman after leading the company for more than 12 years. BasharSoft owns the popular employment websites Wuzzuf (targeting white collar professionals) and Forasna (targeting blue-collar workers and people who are more comfortable communicating in Arabic only).


Egyptian women’s empowerment project attracts USD 8 mn in US funding: USAID has invested USD 8 mn over the past eight years in the Safe Cities project, which aims to prevent violence against women and girls, US Chargé D’Affaires Nicole Shampaine announced during an event to celebrate the completion of the project. The agency “laid the foundation for policy reforms, service provision, and national advocacy efforts to criminalize harassment for the first time in Egypt’s history,” she said.

Twenty-one Egyptian banks rank in African Business’ Africa’s Top 100 Banks in 2021, which ranks financial institutions by Tier 1 capital. The National Bank of Egypt comes second in the list, Banque Misr in eighth, and CIB climbing to the 11th slot. New entrants are Egypt’s Emirates National Bank of Dubai at 61 and Egyptian Gulf Bank at 78.

Mohamed Abo-Elgheit received the Excellence in Journalism award presented by the Heikal Foundation for Arab Journalism. Abo-Elgheit was recognized for his investigative reporting on Syria. Abo-Elgheit thanked the foundation’s board members and expressed his appreciation for receiving the award in a tweet. The awards are held annually on 23 September, the anniversary of the late Mohamed Hassanein Heikal’s birth.

Eastern Company donated EGP 4 mn to the Tahya Misr Fund to provide covid-19 vaccines, the company announced in a statement (pdf).



It was another quiet night on the airwaves yesterday, with the talk shows focusing on US national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yesterday.

Sullivan’s visit gives a kind of reassurance, especially in light of the recent US decision to partially withhold military aid over Egypt’s human rights record, political analyst and Senate member Abdel-Moneim Said said in a call with Sherif Amer on Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 3:56 | 3:03). Said said that political dialogue between Egypt and the US is continually improving, suggesting that ongoing talks help Egypt clarify its efforts on the human rights front. Elsewhere, he said that the two countries shared similar views, particularly on the need for December elections in Libya and to a lesser extent on GERD. Assistant foreign minister Mohamed Hegazy was on Al Hayah Al Youm to discuss the implications of the meeting for the GERD dispute (watch, runtime: 5:24), and Ala Mas’ouleety had coverage of Sullivan’s visit (watch, runtime: 3:56 | 4:28).

Cabinet’s approval of amendments to the Traffic Act that would make it legal for 16-year-olds to ride e-bikes on city streets was covered by Rasha Magdy on Sada El Balad’s Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 6:01). All motorbikes will require license plates under the amendment, said Gen. Yahya Kadwani, a member of parliament’s defense and national security committee, adding that the bill will be discussed at the start of the next parliamentary session, which kicks off this coming Saturday.


Leading the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: The visit of White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan to Cairo yesterday (AP | AFP | Reuters). We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, above.

ALSO: Reuters looks at government plans to restore crumbling parts of historic Cairo to their former greatness. About 10% of the area will be refurbished in an initial phase lasting two years, Patrick Werr reports, which will also see some of its wikalas turned into boutique hotels.

AND: The Times reports that a US forensics company has digitally reconstructed the faces of three male Egyptian mummies, revealing what they looked like when they were 25 years-old.


Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) subsidiary Orascom Pyramids has signed an EGP 170 mn contract with Orascom Construction, which will see the latter carry out renovations and install infrastructure for the Giza pyramids sound and light show revamp, Hapi Journal reports. The company previously said it will invest EGP 200 mn in the project, which is expected to cost EGP 350 mn when completed and comes as part of Orascom’s larger development plan to revamp the area around the Giza Pyramids.


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There was less drama in the markets yesterday, following a volatile Tuesday that saw equities plummet while energy prices and bond yields soared. A pause in the financial doom-mongering and onslaught of Bad News (see: Evergrande crisis / China slowdown / rising inflation / a winter of hypothermia and starvation) saw dip-buyers start to rally the markets before fizzling out by close, with the S&P 500 ending up 0.2% and the Dow Jones rising 0.3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which has been most negatively impacted by rising US treasury yields, saw a third straight day of losses to close 0.1% down, while the MSCI World Index fell 0.3%. The USD continued its rally to rise to its highest level since November last year, while yields on US treasuries remained high at 1.53%.

More turbulence ahead: “Jitters surrounding elevated levels of inflation and slowing growth are likely to remain for some time,” one analyst told Bloomberg.

The next dark cloud on the horizon? A potential US government shutdown at the end of this week and the threat of a default next month if Congress can’t agree to raise the debt ceiling.




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The EGX30 fell 0.5% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 986 mn (37.8% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 4.2% YTD.

In the green: AMOC (+7.7%), Ezz Steel (+3.3%) and Fawry (+2.5%).

In the red: Eastern Company (-3.3%), Pioneers Holding (-2.7%) and Credit Agricole Egypt (-2.7%).

Asian shares are mixed this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng both in the red while the Kospi and Shanghai are both clinging to the green. Futures suggest Wall Street and most major European benchmarks will open in the green later today.


Tunisian president Kais Saied yesterday appointed a new prime minister as opposition mounts to his assumption of power, which last week saw him suspend most of the constitution and announce rule by decree, Reuters reports. Little-known geologist Najla Bouden will become the country’s first-ever female prime minister, but has little experience in politics and now has to form a government. Kais earlier this year suspended parliament and dismissed the prime minister.


Ahmed Hazem, CEO of Falak Startups: 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 Ahmed Hazem, CEO of Falak Startups (LinkedIn).

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Ahmed Hazem, I am the CEO of Falak Startups. I graduated in 2010 from the German University in Cairo (GUC), majoring in innovation technology management and strategic management. I'm really passionate about VC investments and the startup ecosystem in general.

I've recently become the CEO. It was just announced a couple of weeks ago, but I've been in the job for more than a month now. I'm the successor of Youssef El Sammaa, the previous CEO who had stepped down recently. We used to work closely all the time on the strategy for Falak. I was the head of investment, so the transition is actually quite interesting, even challenging at times. It's totally different for you to be focusing on one function of a business and then all of a sudden you're overlooking everything else and managing people. Nobody really teaches you that. It's very challenging to align everyone's efforts and values to reach the company's goals. But this becomes your main job.

I have a magnificent team that I've been working with and know quite well. When you know what moves your team and what motivates them, this makes things easier. But again, having worked with them and now I’m trying to manage them comes with a lot of the challenges as the dynamics somehow changed. Mostly what we do is a series of meetings where we ideate together and hear everyone's thoughts about how better we can do everything that we do. The best thing here is that everyone always has certain insights, certain things that they read about or got exposed to that they want to apply in Falak. And there's always room for everyone to put a little bit of themselves and their identity into this workplace.

Everyday in Falak is different than the other. There is no routine whatsoever. But there is somehow a structured framework of how we do things and how we structure our days. But then again, even in this framework, each and every time you do anything, you do it differently. At the end of the day, we are in the business of innovation so we keep innovating even the ways we operate.

I wake up at around 6 or 7 am. First thing I do is stretch and then I read Enterprise. I have my cup of green tea then I do another workout to move things around a bit and then I have breakfast. Afterwards, I like to plan out my day and have everything that needs to be prepared or aligned done. If there's any time left, I like to finish anything before I get to the office. It's always crazy there.

The pandemic was actually the time where we got our business booming and had the chance to expand. Before then, we always limited ourselves to the local ecosystem. Even though the technologies were there, we've never thought of venturing out to potential partners outside our reach. When that happened, it's as if all the borders immediately vanished. We'd find ourselves always talking to people from outside our local ecosystem and getting great partnerships. It was the peak when everyone was trying more innovative technological tools which is most of our portfolio solutions. So it was peak time for startups to do business. I think by now we're definitely covid proof.

My only two problems were to separate when and where to work and when not to work. We never stopped working, that was the problem. We were working all day without even realizing it; there's no hard stop; there's no where it starts and where it ends. You're always working. You're always getting calls. So you need to put this in a framework of things and be better at time management.

For me, it's not possible to switch off during the week, so what happens is that I could take every couple of weeks some time where I can have this getaway and go diving or do some other water sports. So you'd find me (or actually you won't) on a boat, diving in different spots in the Red Sea.

I think some things need to be normalized. We've all been exposed to certain situations where people get really uncomfortable with that particular situation, but I think that's just normal. This is life, and this is part of what's going on.

I'm sticking to diving as my favorite hobby; it's a very effective meditation practice. I've recently read Principles by Ray Dalio, and I love the podcast Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman. The best piece of advice that I’ve ever been given was by my father and it's also one of The 48 Laws of Power, which is to protect your reputation. I think so much depends on reputation when it comes to business partnerships.


14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

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 (Thursday): Winter opening hours for shops and restaurants begins.

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

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 September (Thursday): Direct flights between Egypt and three Libyan airports resume.

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): Deadline for state-owned companies and government agencies to sign up to e-invoicing platform.

2 October (Saturday): House returns from recess; new legislative session begins.

5 October (Tuesday): Senate returns from recess; new legislative session begins.

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.

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

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, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

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

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

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.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

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.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

**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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