Monday, 28 September 2015

El Sisi in New York, writes WSJ editorial on “Re-Engineering Egypt’s economy.”


We are doing away with the “clickable” version of the TL;DR and replacing it with manual cues to the sections in which the stories appear. More than 65% of our readers can’t use the clickable links them due to how the underlying ‘anchor points’ are handled by in iOS. Until we find a workaround, they’re adding overhead to our mornings before dispatch at low return.

We’re also eliminating this morning the stand-alone source and date lines that previously accompanied our industry news sections. We’re going to be working to raise the quality of the industry news over the coming weeks so that it matches the substance and tone of the Speed Round section. That will mean more stories written using more sources — and with more ‘recommended readings’ — thus making the single-source ‘sourceline’ less useful.


El Sisi makes a splash in New York: Pens WSJ op-ed and does AmCham meeting with senior U.S. business figures (Speed Round)

The Egyptian death toll in the Hajj stampede has risen to 55 and could still mount as an estimated 120 others are still missing. (What We’re Tracking Today)

Is Erdoğan signaling a policy shift on Egypt and Syria? (Speed Round)

Are global oil majors kicking themselves over a ‘missed’ Zohr opportunity? Reuters thinks so. (Speed Round)

Global asset managers are facing waves of Saudi redemptions, the FT says (Speed Round)

Generation capacity is nice, but the electricity distribution network is the next bottleneck (Energy)

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If you’re reading this before 7:22 am local Cairo time, you should still be reportedly be able to view the supermoon lunar eclipse, according to Ahram Online. It was visible in Egypt starting from 2:10 am CLT.

Today marks the last day of Hajj, Ahram notes this morning. The official number of Egyptians who died in Thursday’s stampede near Mecca rose on Sunday evening from 37 to 55,Ahram Online reports. The figure could rise as more bodies are identified: An estimated 120 Egyptians are currently missing and feared dead. For their part, the Saudis have denied statements attributed to Prince Khaled al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s head of the central hajj committee, who Al Arabiya TV had quoted as saying the stampede was caused by “some pilgrims with African nationalities,” as reported by the BBC. The stampede occurred when two groups of pilgrims converged and then were crushed by one another when meeting on one street coming from opposite directions.The tragedy is now becoming a foreign affairs issue: Iran has blamed the Saudi authorities for the deaths, with its Prosecutor General saying “this is not incompetence, it’s a crime … we will urge international courts and circles to start the trial of the Saudis for their crimes against haj pilgrims,”Reuters reported.

Classes begin today at state-run schools. Abandon all hope of a quiet commute for the next 8-9 months. Gridlock will last until the end of the school year next summer, with only a brief respite for the mid-year break.


We’re looking at a quiet week as we return from the Eid holiday, with the only notable events being:

  • The start of the official campaign period for the House of Representatives tomorrow;
  • The expected Wednesday cabinet meeting;
  • The release Wednesday of OS X El Capitan (for those of you who join us in Mac geekery…)

On the horizon: The Markit / Emirates NBD purchasing managers’ index for Egypt is due out a week from this morning (5 October); PMIs for KSA and the Emirates will drop the same day.The 6 October holiday falls on next Tuesday.


President El Sisi’s attendance at the 70th United Nations General Assembly and Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy’s release headlined an otherwise slow day for talk shows.

Sunday night’s episode of Hona El Assema began with coverage of President El-Sisi’s visit to the UN Headquarters in New York. Host Lamis El Hadidi spoke of the President’s visit in glowing terms: “President El Sisi’s visit has been a success so far. He met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, as well as with several heads of state today. … The American press has praised the president for his pardoning of political prisoners, particularly the Al Jazeera journalists. It was very intelligent of him to release the prisoners at this time, right before his visit. … The president explained to the world Egypt’s problem with the Ikhwan, stating that the people refuse to support an organization that supports terrorism and extremism.”

Yasser Rizk, chairman of the Akhbar El Yom organization, called in with color commentary, saying, “With this visit, the President has successfully returned Egypt to its natural role in the international community,” said Rizk.

El Hadidy then introduced her only in-studio guest for the night: recently released Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who opened by expressing his satisfaction after being released, stating that he felt as if he “were born again” after hearing of the presidential pardon. Fahmy went on to provide viewers with details on a recent lawsuit he filed against Al Jazeera for allegedly endangering his life and those of his colleagues. “We filed the lawsuit against Al Jazeera on 15 May 2015. I started preparing my case against the network during my time in prison.”

Gary Caroline (Twitter handle), Mohamed Fahmy’s Canadian lawyer on the case against Al Jazeera, called-in via Skype with additional details . “There was a great injustice carried out by Al Jazeera against it employers… Qatar was using this well-known media network to pursue its own political objectives. What it [Al Jazeera] does for the Muslim Brotherhood, should never be done by a network that calls itself independent… We have spoken to former Al Jazeera employees in Egypt and around the world. They have all told us the same thing: that Al Jazeera was used as the political arm of the Qatari government… We have a very detailed lawsuit filed against Al Jazeera in Vancouver. What it comes to down to is that Al Jazeera betrayed the employees who were working in the English channel in the Cairo office”

The interview with Gary Caroline is available on Youtube. (Watch primarily in English, running time 16:06)

Youssef El Housseiny, Magdy El Galad, and the Al Qahera Al Youm crew were all off on Sunday.


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The Wall Street Journal carries an op-ed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in which the president highlights the political and economic milestones that Egypt has achieved over the past two years. El Sisi reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to implementation of a value-added tax, writing: “The planned reform will move Egypt toward a value-added tax regime that will—alongside a simplified tax regime for small and medium-size enterprises—raise revenues and bolster investment incentives by boosting growth, creating jobs and improving firms’ cash flow. Transition is never easy. Creating a new model of economic growth inevitably generates resistance from some groups. Nonetheless, detours do not deter us from our determination to continue with the reforms.” (Read Re-engineering Egypt’s economy, paywall)

Among the other business highlights from El Sisi’s visit to New York for the 70th United Nations General Assembly: The president held two meetings on Saturday with senior U.S. business leaders, including one set up by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and the U.S. Egypt Business Council. El Sisi specifically acknowledged the need to make life easier for small businesses while thanking major U.S. investors working on the crash power generation plan and the national grain silos project, as well as projects in the energy and petroleum sectors, according to a meeting readout provided by Ittihadiya. El Sisi pledged to press forward with efforts to improve the climate for FDI and to widen the tax base. Investment Minister Ashraf Salman was among the cabinet members traveling with the president. At the AmCham / Business Council gathering, he forecast a 5-6% uptick in GDP for the 2015-16 fiscal year and noted rising FDI, narrowing of the budget deficit (to 10.5% from “15.5-16%”) and a decline in the unemployment rate to 12.5% from 13.6%. For more on El Sisi in New York, see our Spotlight in Diplomacy, below.

Is Erdoğan signaling a foreign policy shift on Egypt and Syria? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly held a closed-door meeting with 40 of the 70 co-founders of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) at his presidential palace on 8 September at which he allegedly complained of a number of foreign policy “mistakes,” including policy toward Egypt, Hurriyet reports. Naturally enough, Erdoğan eschewed any responsibility for any “mistakes,” saying he was not involved in making them. If the remarks are accurately reported, they could signal a shift is already be underway: Erdoğan was quoted as saying for the first time that a transition in Syria may involve Bashar Al Assad. His remarks were made after the Eid al Adha prayer in Ankara. Journalist Emre Kızılkaya speculates that if a foreign policy shift is set to occur, Erdoğan is likely to throw Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu under the bus and blame him for the decisions made. The date to watch, Kızılkaya says, is 1 November: Any change is most likely to come after the country holds parliamentary elections.

The Russian defense ministry said it is conducting “drills involving a guided missile cruiser in the eastern Mediterranean, which could be near the Syrian coast,” according toThe Telegraph. The Russians deny they are stepping up their regional presence to increase protection of the Assad regime, saying they’re in the neighborhood to help out in the war against Daesh. Nevertheless, the speculation that “Moscow could be preparing for a unilateral strike” against Daesh is, according the Moscow’s presidential spokesperson, “speculation that has nothing to do with reality.”

Eni’s gas discovery at Zohr, its fifth in the last three years, has left the competition “chafing,” Reuters suggests, as rivals including BP, BG, and Shell regret “they missed a golden opportunity.” Zohr, in particular, left some “majors with a bitter taste” as “the field used to be part of a huge block where Shell sunk wells, all of which turned out dry or non-commercial.” It wasn’t just Shell: “BP, BG, Total and Edison all went into the data room but made no offer because they simply didn’t believe in it” as none were willing to take the risk, sources told Reuters. According to Davide Tabarelli, head of energy think tank Nomisma Energie, “Zohr is top quality clean gas that can be gotten to market fast. It costs one third that of the Arctic and a fifth that of fracking.”

Eni’s development timetable for the Zohr field was released by EGAS officials today. Under an agreement with EGAS, the plan will seek to connect 700 mn cubic feet of gas per day to the national grid by January 2017. The company will complete three wells by January 2016 and plans to boost production capacity by 2.4 bn cubic feet per day by early 2018, a figure that could swell to 5.1 bcfd by early 2019.

Consumer watchdog wants assessment of all 2015 VW diesel vehicles models in Egypt:The head of Egypt’s Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has asked tasked the Customs Authority to make a list with all 2015 Volkswagen diesel-fuelled vehicles that have entered Egypt, Al Masry Al Youmreported. The move follows an international scandal in which VW has been caught tampering with American air pollution tests, for which it could be facing a fine of up to USD 18 bn The CPA wants to assess if VW’s actions had any impact on the Egyptian market. Egypt’s Automotive Union is not particularly concerned as VW’s impact on the domestic market is limited and, according to its head, has a market share capped at 6%. We’d say the figure is even lower: The last AMIC report we saw (for June 2015) didn’t break out VW sales, meaning the manufacturer falls in the “Other” category in passenger vehicles and so has a share less than BMW, Skoda and Speranza (all in the 2% range). Its share of the commercial vehicles and truck markets similarly fails to move AMIC’s needle.

El Sisi delegates some presidential powers to the PMO: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a decree delegating some presidential responsibilities to the prime minister’s office. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail now speaks with presidential authority on issues including the use and disposition of state-owned buildings and antiquities. He is also allowed to issue decisions on pensions, bonuses, and compensation for state employees. Procedurally, the decree also allows Ismail to decide on who from within the Council of Ministers subs-in for a minister unable to discharge his or her duties for any given reason. (Read in Arabic)

The Cairo Metro could be in the market for 13 air-conditioned trains for Lines 1 and 2 if the EBRD decides to move forward with an 18-year sovereign loan to finance the purchase. The sovereign loan has a preliminary value of EUR 100 mn; the transaction is set to be co-financed with another international financial institution. If co-financing cannot be secured, the EBRD’s loan could be increased to EUR 175 mn, the bank said.

The government could be asking Egyptians to dig further into their pockets to finance the country’s economic recovery, Bloomberg’s Ahmed Feteha and Tarek El Tablawy write. Funding is currently a problem, Edward Coughlan, the head of Middle East and North Africa analysis at BMI Research said, and “Egypt’s dire fiscal position does not allow for much more debt — either domestic or international.” The capacity of acquiring funding from the GCC is also hindered with the plunge in oil prices. The government could resort to issuing more certificates, similar to the Suez Canal expansion, to fund new projects. This drives people to “use the money from under their mattresses,” an HSBC economist said and provides other advantages including not showing up on the official state budget – avoiding making “bad metrics look worse,” Coughlan added.

Accusations some candidates have already broken campaign regulations: A number of complaints have been filed against candidates for launching ad campaigns before the designated start date of 29 September, and are being investigated by the election monitoring committees, according to the Supreme Elections Committee spokesperson Omar Marwan. A special committee to monitor election-related media coverage has put a number of television channels on notice for violating media regulations. While Ahram did not mention specific cases, general media violations include campaigning outside the designated period, spreading “hateful messages,” harassing other candidates, campaigning under a religious banner, and using public resources for campaigning. As we reported in our weekend edition, while campaigning is supposed to begin on Tuesday, 29 September, our readers in Egypt can observe for themselves that campaign posters have already been up for some time in public spaces.

Don’t count on Saudi funds buying-in after your next round of investor meetings: Global asset managers have recently been hit by waves of redemptions from Saudi clients, with SAMA leading the way: The FT estimates that the Saudi Monetary Agency has withdrawn more than USD 70 bn from asset managers this year. The salmon-colored paper’s Simeon Kerr, reporting from Dubai, makes specific mention of leading managers facing the loss of KSA money

Want to fight terrorism more effectively? Reform the Arab banking sector, Jean Aziz writes for Al-Monitor. The issue was discussed at the Union of Arab Banks conference held in Sharm El Sheikh on 17-19 September. “The major obstacle standing in the way of having a large enough database on the movement of funds in Arab countries is that many Arab citizens still do not … [interact] with banks … this means that a large number of the Arab population is not monitored by the banking system.” Thus, an Egyptian official said that the government is “seeking to introduce the largest number of Egyptians and people living in Egypt possible to the banking system, to more easily monitor and keep tabs on their incomes, expenses and their money’s activity.” To achieve this, the government is urged to back the banking sector to decrease its cost; relax banking procedures to attract citizens; and develop the banking sector to reach rural areas.

Oscar bait: The film adaptation of bestselling book on hedge fund managers who bet against the subprime mortgage industry to see December release: Based on the nonfiction book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine”, which spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, the film focuses on some of the hedge fund managers who bet against the subprime mortgage industry and resulting financial fallout. The Big Short stars Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Marisa Tomei, and is scheduled for release in the United States on 11 December. There is no word yet on its international release date. The movie definitely qualifies as “Oscar bait,” as defined here: “… gather together a large group of talented actors, most of whom have already won or been nominated for Oscars, put them in a film that is either based on a true story and … just wait for the nominations to roll in.” (Watch the trailer, running time: 2:33)


President Abdel Fattah El Sisi sat down for an interview with the AP on the sidelines of the UNGA, speaking on a number of topics but mainly focused on the growing global threat of terrorism. “Asked how extremists could be neutralized, he offered no immediate solution: ‘This is exactly the dilemma we are talking about.’” With regard to the Palestinian issue, El Sisi reiterated that a resolution to the deadlocked peace process could “change the face of the region and … bring about enormous improvement to the situation. … I’m optimistic by nature and I say that there is a great opportunity.”

In response to El Sisi’s comments, The Times of Israel reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that “hailed the Egyptian president’s remarks on Arab-Israeli peace. ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu urges PA President Mahmoud Abbas once again to return immediately to the negotiating table to advance the diplomatic process,’ the statement said. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who has been calling for a regional peace initiative, also welcomed Sissi’s remarks.”

A USD 40 mn state-funded Iranian movie titled “Muhammad: The Messenger of God” could be the next movie banned by Egypt after Al Azhar objected to its screening, Al-Monitorwrites. The movie focuses on the childhood of Prophet Muhammad and “controversy surrounding it has been stirred by its alleged physical representations of the prophet.” The film is Iran’s submission for the Academy Award for best Foreign Film, and is the first installment of a planned trilogy. The reviews thus far are not flattering.

The Economist has a piece on private equity in Africa with a special focus on Qalaa Holdings’ Rift Valley Railways, which runs between Kenya and Uganda. The Economist notes that since Qalaa Holdings acquired the concession and invested c.USD200 mn in the line, “for the first time in decades, the trains are running on time. Now, as much as 10% of the traffic out of Mombasa is carried by rail—double the share of a few years ago—and new wagons and locomotives may double that share again.” (Read Climbing aboard the Africa train)

Tweet of the Day: @salamamoussa: “Western press is too easy on Saudi Arabia. Imagine the reporting & editorials if a 1000 foreigners were stampeded to death in #Egypt.”


Abu Borges El Masri, by Maged Atiya. Someone penned a satirical letter pretending to be Mexico’s President apologizing to Egypt for the accidental killing of Mexican tourists by the Egyptian Army. Many Egyptian media outlets reported it as genuine. This event is remarkable only for its quotidian nature. It is in line with the behavior of many in the country, including its officials.” (Read)


Wired magazine has a slideshow featuring elements of the global internet infrastructure that passes through Egypt, along with some other images that are vaguely internet-related, such as t-shirts being sold in Egypt featuring famous memes. (View slideshow and read This Is What the Internet Looks Like IRL)


The largest Yakuza organized-crime group in Japan, the Yamaguchi-gumi, is estimated to have generated USD 80 bn in revenues in 2014. Anton Kusters, a Belgian photographer, was allowed entry into one of Japan’s Yakuza families over the period from 2009 to 2011. “The structure I could see within this Yakuza family … there is an extremely strict hierarchy … everything is set out basically in stone.” The photographer documented his experience using his camera and The Economist presented his pictures in a short video, with narration from Kusters (running time 6:19).


Spotlight on El Sisi in New York

By 2030 Egypt aims to reduce poverty, eradicate hunger, achieve sustainable development, and the right to education for all, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said in a speech to the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in New York (Watch in Arabic, running time 07:41). El Sisi “urged all segments of society to take part in the desired development process ‘to achieve fair and balanced development’ for all peoples, especially women, who play a pivotal role in various walks of life,” Aswat Masriya reported.

El Sisi also chaired the meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) on Friday, as Egypt is assuming the chairmanship of both the committee and the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, AMCEN.

On the sidelines of the summit, he met a number of world leaders, including Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, SIS said. El Sisi also met with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and discussed bilateral relations and the international migrant and refugee crisis. According to statements released by Ittihadiya, President El Sisi also met with the Prime Minister of India and the Presidents of Turkmenistan, Mali, Uruguay and Serbia.

Terrorism and the Middle East peace process dominated El Sisi’s sit-down with former US President Bill Clinton. El Sisi met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the peace front and later had a cuppa with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, with El Sisi stressing the need to implement joint projects as swiftly as possible, as well as discussing other national projects which the World Bank may potentially contribute, including agricultural and industrial development, according to a statement from Ittihadiya.


Eni interested in Cypriot blocks, says geological model could lead to more gas finds
Eni is interesting in drilling in Cyprus blocks 10 and 11, confident that the new geological model it is using could lead to more gas finds. Eni is particularly interested in the two blocks that are only a few kilometers away from Zohr and in blocks that have not been made available yet, a source said. The Italian company, along with its partner Kogas, had twice failed to find any exploitable hydrocarbons in Cypriot block 9. Block 11’s license, which is held by Total, expires in February 2016 and block 10 is unlicensed currently. (Read)

Negotiations with Rosatom over three contract articles before finalizing nuclear agreement, sources say
The Egyptian government is in talks with Russia’s Rosatom over three contract articles before finalizing the agreement to build nuclear power plants in Daba’a. The issues still be negotiated concern the payment terms, the timeline of the project, and some technical specifications, the spokesperson of the Egyptian nuclear power programme. Egypt is still reiterating its willingness to cooperate with any country as long as the project is in its best interest and allows it to train local staff on running the necessary technologies. (Read in Arabic)

Dea to invest USD 165 mn to develop Dessouk fields
Dea’s JVs in Egypt, SUCO and DSUKO are investing USD 165 mn to continue the development of the Dessouk fields, Al Mal was informed. The investments will be made to facilitate receiving and processing natural gas produced from the Dessouk oil field. The project is set to increase natural gas production from the field by 170 mcf per day to reach 300 mcf per day. The first two phases of development have been completed already at a cost of USD 275 mn. (Read in Arabic)

5 MW solar plant in Farafra complete in two weeks
The Middle Egypt Electricity Distribution Company will complete construction works on a solar power plan in Farafra with a capacity of 5 MW in the coming two weeks as part of the Emirati grant to light up villages with no access to electricity. The project is built over 250k sqm, according to company president Medhat Fouda, and will operate using photovoltaic cells. The plant is only one of several being funded by a USD 140 mn UAE grant. The first plant built had a capacity of 10 MW and powered a whole city in Siwa that included 60 small villages. (Read in Arabic)

**Further reading in Energy: LeAnne Graves, The National’s renewable energy reporter, brings up a salient point with regard to Egypt’s renewable energy target: Egypt needs to invest in its transmission and distribution network. “The energy that is expected to be generated from these renewable projects could face … [a] bottleneck. ‘Egypt needs to expand by a further 2,000 megawatts at least – just for solar energy – and that means more high-voltage stations,’ said one renewable energy financier operating in Egypt. ‘What’s clear is that the investment required is in the bns of dollars,’ he said.” (ReadEven with more generation, Egypt suffers from power bottleneck)


Steel traders predict price fixing to take place in October
Plummeting prices of iron ore and a general drop in commodities prices has led steel traders to predict that prices will be fixed in October, said Chambers’ Construction Material Division head Ahmed El Zeeny. Prices of scrap metal and steel pellets fell to USD 180 and USD 320 respectively, which is causing panic to the sector necessitating price controls. El Zeeny also attributed the drop to a slowdown in construction of major projects. (Read in Arabic)

Fish farm production will rise to 2 mn tonnes in two years, says Agriculture Ministry
Egypt is building an EGP 275 mn fish farm near East Port Said, according to a source the General Authority for Fish Resources Development. The farm will be the largest in the Middle East in terms of depth and expansion. The Ministry of Agriculture is aiming to increase Egypt’s fish production from 1.5 mn tonnes to 2.1 mn tonnes in three years, eventually moving to exporting after meeting domestic market needs, where the average share per capita is 2 kgs higher than the international average. (Read in Arabic)


Trade and Industry Ministry sets industrial output growth target of 1.5% annually
The Trade and Industry Ministry is planning a five-year strategy to increase industrial output by 1.5%, Minister Tarek Kabil said. Daily News Egypt says “the strategy seeks to lessen the trade deficit and increase the foreign income resources. The plan will also include means to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and offer new job opportunities for youth.” Progress will be tracked on a monthly basis, according to the strategy, using specific indicators to evaluate the set accomplishments. (Read)


Alexandria University will link funding for scientific research to industrial application
Alexandria University’s 2020 scientific research plan will prioritize projects by their importance to the overall economy, said Dr. Sadek Abdel Salam, the University’s Vice President. The new strategy will focus on modernizing industry and sustainable development, ensuring that funding will be geared towards research that furthers national and economic goals. (Read in Arabic)

New health insurance law for everyone, says Health Minister
The Ministry of Health and Population is currently preparing a draft of a comprehensive health insurance law that can includes all social classes, according to Health Minister Ahmed Emad. The law will allow patients to be treated at any hospital, and in any governorate, even in private hospitalsthrough the issued health insurance cards. (Read in Arabic)

Governorates build 86 new schools ahead of the new school year
86 new schools have been built in the run-up to the new school year at a total cost of EGP 234 mn, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Minya is home to 32 of these new schools, followed by Cairo with 22, Aswan with 17, Giza with 8 and Sohag with 7. Funding for their construction came primarily from the state budget, with EGP 7 mn from an Emirati grant. Schools open today. (Read in Arabic)


NUCA lays out plan to develop new urban communities in Upper Egypt
NUCA’s new plan—which will begin with ‘New Aswan’ and ‘New Akhmim’—will see the development of social housing and services in addition to new investment opportunities. The New Aswan Authority issued tenders for a 175-bed hospital, recreation centers, agricultural projects, social welfare buildings, and roads and intersections. NUCA has agreed to take up developing the main road axis as well as facilities for the new university and high schools. (Read in Arabic)


Air Cairo to fly Azerbaijan-Sharm El Sheikh route
Charter carrier Air Cairo announced it is adding a route connecting Sharm El Sheikh with Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, Al Mal reported. Air Cairo will begin flying the new route from mid-November, and the move comes as part of the Civil Aviation Ministry’s initiative to increase access to Egyptian destinations from European and Central Asian destinations. The carrier had already added four new routes last March, connecting countries including Denmark, Norway, and The Czech Republic to Egypt. (Read in Arabic)

Egypt guest of honor in Germany’s TC-Tourism Caravanning exhibit
Egypt has reportedly been selected to be the guest of honor at the TC-Tourism Caravanning exhibition, according to the Cairo Post, quoting Director of the Egyptian tourism office in Berlin Tamer Marzouk. The exhibition will be held from 18-22 November in Saxon, Germany. Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou says his ministry will participate in the 2016 International Tourism Bourse Berlin (ITB Berlin), the world’s largest tourism trade fair, from 9-13 March. (Read)


Telecom Egypt workers union demand senior official’s removal from TE’s board
The independent workers union at Telecom Egypt (TE) demanded that Communications Minister Yasser Al Qady dismiss Assistant Communications Minister Khaled Sherif from TE’s board of directors. Union workers claimed that the telecommunications sector suffered a “Pharaoh’s curse” since Sherif’s appointment as assistant minister in May 2015 by former telecommunications minister Khaled Negm. Union members added that Sherif was behind the idea of dissolving the former TE board of directors to push through a plan to cut internet infrastructure costs for TE Data, a subsidiary of the fixed-line monopoly. (Read in Arabic)

Mobinil to hire arbitrator to determine settlement with TE
Mobinil announced that it will seek a legal arbitrator next month to determine size of the compensation which it will demand of TE over their legal dispute of the pricing on their interconnection agreement. The Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) had ruled that Mobinil was entitled to compensation over changes TE had made in the interconnection rates between fixed and mobile phone networks leading to a dispute over some EGP 11 bn. Mobinil’s challenge to the interconnection agreements dates back to 2008, when TE filed a notice with the NTRA saying it would revise rates. TE’s CEO, Osama Yassin, stated that the two companies are seeking an amicable resolution through ongoing negotiations. (Read in Arabic)


Chinese company offers to build multipurpose facility in Alex, high speed train
Transportation Minister Saad El Geyoushi met with Chinese companies that expressed interest in building a multipurpose facility in the Port of Alexandria. The announcement, made at the Egyptian Economic Development Conference in March, has seen expressions of interest from companies including the Chinese Communication and Construction Company (CCCC) and China Harbour. The estimated cost of the project is USD 250 mn. El Geyoushi said he would hold a separate meeting with the companies interested in executing the high speed train between Cairo and Alexandria project. (Read in Arabic)

** Further reading in Automotive + Transportation: Where the Pavement Begins: Class, Lifestyle and Automobiles in Cairo. Maria Fernandez Vivancos Marquina writes about the history of Automobiles in Cairo urban life.


EFSA approves capital markets amendments to facilitate bond issuances
EFSA has approved amendments to the capital markets’ law to encourage more corporate bond issuance, EFSA’s head Sherif Samy said. The amendments include allowing the issuance of covered bonds and having unrated bonds issued. Samy said the aim is to allow corporations the means to different means of financing to finance business expansions. He added that those bonds will be marketed only to financial institutions and funds, not the general public who “are not able to assess the instruments’ risks.” (Read in Arabic)


President taps PM to draft exec regs for markets and securities law
Adding to the growing roster of duties of the Prime Minister, the president has now tasked him with drawing up the executive regulations for the the Financial Markets & Securities Supervisory Law. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has been given discretion to delegate the task to whomever he sees fit. According to EFSA chief Sherif Sami, the move does not dilute the EFSA’s power to enforce the law or its executive regulations, adding that it is standard protocol to appoint a “minister in charge” of drafting executive regulations for the law. (Read in Arabic)


Ivory Coast asks for Egypt’s PPP expertise, could eliminate double taxation
Egypt has agreed to help Ivory Coast develop expertise in PPP projects in the infrastructure segment following a request by the Ivorian Budget Minister, Abdourahmane Cissé, Al Mal reported. Cissé’s request came at a meeting with Finance Minister Hany Dimian, during which the two agreed to consider eliminating double taxation between their two countries. The Ivorian Budget Minister also said his country could be a gateway for Egyptian investments to West Africa as well as into the Francophone African countries. (Read in Arabic)


Russia will not attempt to block the sale of the Mistral-class ships to Egypt
“A source within Russia’s military and technological cooperation told RIA Novosti that Moscow is unlikely to interfere in the Paris-Cairo … [agreement],” Sputnik reported. As we previously noted, the two ships were built originally for Russia (with a fair bit of Russian tech apparently in place), but the agreement collapsed following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

Police kill suspects in Italian consulate bombings
“Egyptian security forces on Friday killed nine militants who took part in a bomb attack at the Italian consulate in Cairo in July, the Interior Ministry said,” according to Reuters. Three policemen were wounded during the raid, which targeted a Cairo-area home.


Tourist arrivals to Egypt grew by 8.2% y-o-y to 4.8 mn in 1H2015, CAPMAS said, as reported by Sky News Arabia. The total number of arrivals in 2014 was 9.9 mn tourists. Historically, the second half of the year usually experiences a larger number of tourist arrivals compared to the first six months of the year.

Petrol smart cards have been issued and are ready for collection at your local department of motor vehicles, according to Amr Badawy, head of Institutional Development at the Ministry of Finance, Al Borsa reported. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had ordered a temporary suspension on implementation of the program this past summer, just days ahead of the original deadline.

There is no intention to issue EGP 5 coins, Mohamed El Sobky, the head of the Egyptian Mint told Al Masry Al Youm. Even the though the mint has issued new EGP 1 coins commemorating the opening of the new Suez Canal, El Sobky said issuing EGP 5 coins has not even been considered.

Al Masry Al Youm is now banning all of its editors and administrative staff from engaging in extra paid or unpaid work outside of AMAY’s offices. According to Al Mal, AMAY staff is expected to sign a declaration accepting the new conditions of employment by 30 September.

Zamalek suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat against Tunisian Etoile De Sahel in the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup on Sunday, KingFut reports. Etoile scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game and finished the first half up 3-1. Ayman Hefni scored the only goal for Zamalek in the 25th minute. Zamalek face an uphill battle in the return leg on 3 October in Cairo, needing to score four goals to advance to the finals. Meanwhile, rivals Al Ahly lost the away leg in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates on Saturday 1-0. (See Zamalek game highlights here in Arabic, running time 3:04).

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QUICK FACT: There are currently 13 registered stock exchanges operating in the U.S.

USD CBE auction (Monday, 27 September): 7.7301 (unchanged since Sunday, 5 July)
USD parallel market (Monday, 27 September): 8.03 (-0.02 from Tuesday, 15 September, Reuters)

EGX30 (Tuesday): 7,346.5 (0.84%)
Turnover: EGP 293.7 mn
EGX 30 year-to-date: -17.7%

Foreigners: Net Long | + 43.4 mn EGP
Regional: Net Short | – 10.1 mn EGP
Local: Net Short | – 33.3 mn EGP

Retail: 65.4% of total trades | 61.5% of buyers | 69.3% of sellers
Institutions: 34.6% of total trades | 38.5% of buyers | 30.7% of sellers

Foreign: 20.4% of total | 27.9% of buyers | 13.1% of sellers
Regional: 7.6% of total | 5.8% of buyers | 9.3% of sellers
Domestic: 72.0% of total | 66.3% of buyers | 77.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 45.70 (1.76%)
Brent: USD 48.60 (0.89%)
Gold: USD 1,145.60 / troy ounce (-0.71%)

TASI: 7,442.7 (1%)
ADX: 4,494.9 (-0.4%)
DFM: 3,612.7 (-0.6%)
KSE Weighted Index: 387.7 (0.3%)
QE: 11,465.4 (1%)
MSM: 5,775.0 (0.2%)


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