Morgan Freeman launches #ThisIsEgypt at Pyramids.
Morgan Freeman launches #ThisIsEgypt campaign at Pyramids. (Speed Round)
AbbVie confirms Hep-C cure Qurevo will hit the market this week. (Speed Round)
Cabinet, IDSC websites briefly hacked by “Anonymous Raba’a”. (Speed Round)
Giza launches it’s own version of “Big Dig” with Al-Gamaa Bridge tunnel (Infrastructure)
Downtown gets a facelift from Al Ismaelia Investment (Real Estate + Housing)
Made-in-Egypt Nissan Sentra launches (Automotive + Transport)
Fitch affirms ratings for CIB, NBE, Crédit Agricole (Banking + Finance)
It’s going to be “cold” today. And maybe a bit rainy all week. (What We’re Tracking Today)
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
The Egyptian Stock Exchange’s first sustainability conference will take place today, with registration starting at 8:30 am CLT at the Semiramis InterContinental, Cairo.
The two-day Marketing Kingdom Cairo event starts today, with registration at 8:30 am CLT at the InterContinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.
The Weather Authority is so cute sometimes: We’re told the Authority thinks you should wear “heavy clothes“ this morning because the temperature is going to drop into the 20s and we may see a thunderstorm in the capital city. (That’s 20s Celsius, not Fahrenheit.) Our various weather apps are split on chances of heavy rain today, though three of four show there being a chance of showers all week long in the Greater Cairo Area. We’ll have intermittent cloud most of the week, it seems, with a chance of rain until Thursday afternoon. High temps will be in the 26-27 ºC range, with overnight lows of 16-19 ºC.
** Did you catch our weekend edition? We’re piloting a weekend edition that appears each Friday morning at 8am, and thought this weekend’s was heading in the right edition. Check your mailbox for your copy, or tap here to read it online.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
It’s a week packed with conferences, starting with the investment conference in Marsa Matrouh and the president travelling to attend the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, to events in Cairo on housing, solar projects, and marketing.
The Matrouh: the Future of Investment Conference, began in Marsa Matrouh yesterday, with the overarching message from the government being that we will now prioritize investments in outlying governorates. Investment Minister Ashraf Salman and Local Development Minister Ahmed Badr both stated that outlying governorates will be at the core of the government’s development plan. Twenty-one tourism projects and eight industrial projects worth USD 14 bn and USD 12 bn, respectively, have been slated for development, said Matrouh Governor Gen. Alaa Abu Zeid. Investors including Hassan Sabbour, head of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, however, continue to bemoan stifling bureaucracy and protracted licensing times, especially in tourism and real estate. GAFI head Alaa Omar responded to these concerns by announcing that the one-stop shop window would be launched for Matrouh investors by year’s end.
The American Chamber of Commerce will host Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil on Monday for their monthly lunch event under the theme ‘Deepening Egyptian industry to meet global challenges,’ according to the Cairo Post.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will embark on a regional tour of the UAE, Bahrain and India on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef announced on Saturday (read in Arabic). President El Sisi will visit the UAE and Bahrain first before heading off to India to attend the third annual India-Africa Forum Summit.
Runoffs for the first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt will take place this week, with voters in Egypt casting their ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday and those abroad on Monday and Tuesday.
Also happening this week:
- The Solar Projects Egypt, on 27-28 October at the Fairmont Towers, Heliopolis.
- The Housing Egypt Summit, on 27-28 October at Novotel Cairo Airport.=
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
“Let us not call [outgoing central bank governor] Hisham Ramez a failure… He took charge of the country’s central bank at a very difficult time. He achieved many things that had a positive impact on Egypt’s economy. He paid back IOCs and, as such, was able to restart [hydrocarbon] exploration in Egypt. The Zohr discovery would not have been possible without Ramez’s expertise in meeting the financial demands of these companies,” said Lamis El Hadidy, host of CBC Egypt’s Hona El Assema, at the top of her program.
El Hadidy then transitioned to a discussion of Tarek Amer, the former National Bank of Egypt chief and one-time deputy governor of the CBE tapped to assume governorship of the central bank.
“Tarek Amer’s time at the helm of NBE witnessed a significant drop in the bank’s [bloated portfolio of non-performing loans] and a concomitant increase in its net profits. This man undoubtedly has the skills and experience required to succeeded as governor of the CBE. That said, Amer does not possess a magic wand. Any improvement to Egypt’s precarious position on the monetary policy front will be gradual. Additionally, other economic variables, namely FDI and Egypt’s trade balance, must improve for Amer to succeed.”
Saturday night’s episode of Al Qahera Al Youm focused squarely on the Nour Party’s role in Egypt’s in parliament. Host Amr Adeeb told viewers that “it would be impossible to remove the Nour Party from parliament due to their popularity across Egypt. Yasser Borhamy, head of the Salafi Call (the religious-outreach arm of party), called-in with additional commentary:
Borhamy: “Those who say that Egyptians do not want the Nour Party because of its religious leanings are lying… The state and the media have been trying to tarnish our image but they will not prevail.”
Osama Kamal, host of Al Kahera Wal Nas’ Cairo 360, lambasted Freedom House Program Officer Mohamed Abdelaziz for what the host called “unfair criticism” of the Egyptian media and the government.
“Mohamed Abdelaziz, a political activist who was ‘trained’ by Freedom House, recently published an article in Fikra Forum that claims Egyptian youth’s failure [to vote in the first round of parliamentary elections] was the result of the political oppression they suffered at the hands of the Egyptian state and its supporters in the media. This article is biased beyond measure and lacks any factual evidence. He [Abdelaziz] received financial support from foreign bodies without the approval of the Egyptian government,” said the host. He continued: “Why are you attacking Egyptian media? We [the media] did not accuse you of treason, the general prosecutor did. You put yourself in this situation by agreeing to receive funding from foreign organizations.”
Abdelaziz’s article, titled “Youth and Silent Protest,” is available here.
We won’t be using imported Sovaldi anymore, Health Minister says. AbbVie’s Hep-C drug will be on the Egyptian market within days: Egypt will stop relying on imported shipments of Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis-C cure Sovaldi, according to Health Minister Ahmed Emad, while Al Mal says hepatitis-C patients will have to rely on locally manufactured generics with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Daklinza. Emad said a shift to generics will save patients two thirds of the cost. In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Daklinza for use with sofosbuvir (the active ingredient in Sovaldi) to “treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 3 infections.” While Al Mal is talking about generics, Al Masry Al Youm quotes Emad as saying that one Hep-C cure will be approved for import: the AbbVie medication that local media is referring to as “Quervo.”
…Enterprise reached out to AbbVie on Saturday, and promptly received the following from AbbVie’s Director of Public Affairs for the Middle East, Africa & Pakistan in response to a set of emailed questions: “The drug Qurevo is being produced by AbbVie for the Egyptian market, and is not a version of Viekira Pak, but rather Technivie. “Technivie … is our 2D regimen (2 antiviral molecules) not 3D which is the 3 molecules regimen (Viekira Pak). The Virus C genotype found in Egypt is G4 [genotype 4] … [which] only needs the 2D” treatment, the statement read. The company declined to comment on whether it would be the only Hepatitis C treatment approved for import, as that was a statement attributed to the Ministry of Health. A shipment of Qurevo has arrived in Egypt and is waiting for normal customs procedures to be cleared, with the company expecting the product to be available within the coming few days at a price announced by the MoH.
…AbbVie’s genotype 4 clinical trials, one of the largest worldwide, resulted in a 100% cure rate. AbbVie is also currently conducting one of the biggest clinical trials in Egypt in six major liver centers across the country, the results of which should soon be available. AbbVie’s track record in Egypt includes its partnership with the MoH on a number of healthcare projects, including infection control in partnership with Claude Bernard University Lyon 1; donating fibro scan machines to Egyptian liver centers; providing continuous medical education for healthcare professionals and access programs for patients.
The websites of the Egyptian cabinet and the Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) were hacked on Thursday by a group calling itself “Anonymous Raba’a,” Al Masry Al Youm reported. The group said the targets will not be their last.
The CBE held the exchange rate unchanged at its FX auction on Thursday, the first after Governor Hisham Ramez submitted his resignation, at EGP 7.9301 per USD 1. Reuters quotes a trader who says the rate on the parallel market dropped from EGP 8.60 to EGP 8.50 per USD 1.
Morgan Freeman at the pyramids with Zaazou for the launch of #ThisIsEgypt: We don’t know whose idea it was — Zaazou, JWT, SIS or whomever — but launching the #ThisIsEgypt campaign with Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou posing for pictures with Morgan Freeman at the pyramids was pretty brilliant. (View tweet and see Ahram Online’s photo gallery of Freeman’s visit to the pyramids) Freeman’s visit to the pyramids on Friday was welcomed by the State Information Service (SIS), which noted that Freeman will also go on a Nile cruise during his stay.
…The PR victory was nearly torpedoed by the Film Censorship Authority, which caused a micro-flap late last week with its public claim that Freeman hadn’t secured the proper permits to film in Egypt. The SIS effectively struck back, stating that it is “the sole body in Egypt tasked with issuing permits for documentary films, while Egypt’s Censorship Authority is responsible for issuing permits to fiction films,” Ahram Online reports.
Whether you call it “mandatory attendance“ or a “new grading system,” the government’s bid to force thanaweya amma students to attend classes has apparently failed. The education minister backed down on Saturday from his predecessor’s attempt to force high school seniors to attend class rather than cramming with private tutors. The system would have seen 10% of a student’s final-year grade based on attendance. The move came just two days after the minister said there was no way the system would be scrapped and after “tens” of students protested in front of the Education Ministry for a second day.
Butane smart card system system postponed to May 2016: Implementation of the butane smart card system has been postponed to May 2016, reports Al-Ahram. In the interim, the government plans to accumulate additional data on citizens who qualify for the card. In related news, the supply and petroleum ministries committed to there being no shortage of butane gas cylinders during the winter season, when demand peaks.
Former agriculture minister Salah El Din Mahmoud Helal to stand trial on corruption charges -sources: “The supreme state security prosecutor decided to refer … the former minister of agriculture Salah Helal, several businessmen, and employees in the ministry, to criminal court for trial,” Egypt state-owned media reported on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Fikra Forum poll of Egyptians on attitudes toward domestic and regional political players: In a national survey of 1,000 citizens, Fikra Forum engaged an unnamed polling company to gather Egyptian public opinion on a number of domestic and regional players. Among the results: 64% disapprove of the Muslim Brotherhood, a number which has not changed over the past year; 75% reject a re-interpretation of Islam “in a more moderate, tolerant, or modern way.” A majority of Egyptians ranked both Assad and Russian policy in the region as negative, and said that the top priority for the Egyptian government is to fight Daesh, ahead in importance in dealing with Syria, Iran, Yemen, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (Read)
Someone call Hisham Ramez and tell him to retract his resignation: The MOI have solved The Mystery of the USD Shortage, and the culprit was… Hassan Malek, all along. it turns out that Egypt’s FX crisis has simply been a Brotherhood scheme. According to a report published in Al Ahram on Friday, Brotherhood businessman Hassan Malek has been ordered detained for 15 days on charges that he and four other members of the Ikhwan conspired to use FX bureaux to smuggle hard currency out of the country. Ahram Online has the story in English. The suspects were allegedly apprehended with an instruction booklet on how to devalue and destabilize the Egyptian pound in several easy steps, along with incriminating “CDs,” which as data storage devices have become a hallowed mainstay of all Egyptian crime stories, as reported in the Ahram Arabic piece noted above. Egypt Independent already has some preliminary reactions from activists and economists rejecting the explanation that Malek and other Brotherhood members could be responsible for the USD shortage. Critics also include economic advisor for the Egyptian Union for Investors Associations Moatasem Rashed, who told Al Mal that blaming one person for the fate of an entire economy is an insult to the country and is a condemnation of its institutions. While we have consistently opposed the creation and dissemination of televised confessions, we are suspending that policy in light of the seriousness of the charges levelled (watch, running time: 30 seconds)
Not the Onion- Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill: Talk of self-driving cars are all the rage at the moment, especially following the announcement that Tesla’s autopilot function is being rolled out nearly everywhere as a software update. There are reports that the feature is already producing some erratic output, including one video titled ‘Tesla Autopilot tried to kill me,’ (Watch, running time: 14 seconds) showing the autopilot function attempt to steer the car into oncoming traffic. Beyond unintentionally trying to kill you, MIT Technology Review asks consumers how comfortable they are with the idea that driverless cars may eventually be programmed to kill their occupants by crashing into a barrier if the only other option were to plow through a crowd of pedestrians? (Read)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
The top story on Egypt in the foreign press this morning is news of the shooting and killing by suspected militants of a Salafist Nour Party official in the North Sinai town of Arish, as reported by Reuters and the AFP. “Two gunmen riding a motorcycle shot and killed Mostafa Abdelrahman, the secretary of the Nour party in Arish, just outside his home on Saturday morning, security sources said.” Abdelrahman was also reportedly a parliamentary candidate.
Egypt locks up lawyers in Islamist fight: Reuters has a special report quoting attorneys, activists and rights groups that claim that the crackdown on Islamists has also targeted the lawyers who choose to defend them. The piece also quotes lawyer Mohamed Hassan, who has been “on the run since police showed up at a relative’s house in Cairo looking for him four months ago. Hassan, who has defended Islamists in several cases, said police accused him of using force during protests. He denies that. ‘The authorities are after us and making accusations because they know we expose the flawed, unfair justice system … I can’t turn myself in because the legal system is not based on any justice. I can’t prove my innocence.’” (Read)
The Economist gives a basic overview of Egypt’s FX shortage and the devaluation of the pound, placing the blame squarely on Egypt’s widening trade deficit. The piece ends on a cautiously optimistic note, saying, “If Egypt can muddle through the crisis, there is some cause for optimism. The government has invested in manufacturing in the hope of boosting exports. More importantly ENI, an Italian oil firm, has discovered a vast gasfield off the Egyptian coast. According to some estimates, the Zohr field could turn Egypt from an importer to an exporter of gas by 2020.” (Read)
Egypt’s escalating Islamist insurgency, Mokhtar Awad and Mostafa Hashem, Carnegie Middle East Center, October 2015. Based on interviews from 2013 to 2015 with “Brotherhood members and leaders, other Islamists, and Egyptian government officials,” Awad and Hashem present the results of their findings on the terrorist insurgency facing Egypt, providing policy recommendations directed mostly to the Egyptian government:
“The government needs to address the role it has played in the ongoing radicalization by fixing the deplorable prison conditions, releasing those in detention who have not committed criminal acts, and stopping practices such as forced disappearance, alleged extrajudicial killing, and … abuse that provide jihadists a prime recruitment tool. It must also address the shortcoming in the threat analysis that lumps young Brothers together with hardened Salafi jihadists: this one-size-fits-all approach is destined to fail in combating extremism primarily because it does not exploit possible differences that may allow the government to divide and conquer this complex amalgam of violent actors.” (Read, pdf)
IMAGE OF THE DAY
The Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza lit-up blue to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, among 300 of such sites around the world. (Photo credit: Mohamed Maher, Al Ahram, via UN News Centre.)
Sweat the small stuff: Rory Sutherland, TED Talk, 2010. Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy Group UK Rory Sutherland uses behavioral economics to address the failings of organizations when it comes to problem-solving: “Our own sense of self-aggrandizement feels that big important problems need to have big important, and most of all, expensive solutions attached to them … So what happens in an institution is the very person who has the power to solve the problem also has a very, very large budget. And once you have a very, very large budget, you actually look for expensive things to spend it on.” (Watch, running time: 12:37)
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will meet with Saab Erekat, General Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, on Sunday, an unnamed Egyptian diplomatic source told Palestinian news agency Ma’an. Both sides will discuss international mobilization efforts in the upcoming hours to put a halt on violence and find solutions for the deteriorating security conditions.
The MFA has a new blog post out, this one on Implementing UN Security Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security: An Egyptian Perspective by Ambassador Moushira Khattab. The resolution in question calls on all UN members to “increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.” It’s an important resolution for Ambassador Khattab to draw attention to, but readers may have hoped for more specific recommendations on the national level, especially with respect to all aspects of Egypt’s terrorist insurgency, and including the treatment of prisoners.
The MFA was all about the ladies this weekend. The following press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads like it’s gone through a few rounds on the spin cycle of Google Translate from Arabic to English to Arabic and back again. Note for future reference: “Woman” is a perfectly acceptable stand-in for “lady.” The release reads, in part: “Foreign Ministry succeeds in rescuing an Egyptian lady from combat zones in Syria: … the Foreign Ministry has succeeded, through the Egyptian consulate in Damascus, in rescuing an Egyptian lady … from … one of the battle zones in Syria, where the lady was delivered to her family in Damascus. Noteworthy, the Egyptian consulate has offered her to return to her homeland, but she preferred to stay with her family in Damascus. The Spokesman added that the lady’s father expressed his sincere thanks and gratitude to the Ministry on the effort it exerted to save his daughter.” This may be the first MFA statement that needs its own soundtrack: (Watch in English, running time: 3:41)
Oil Ministry ready to supply new power stations with fuel, says El Molla
The Oil Ministry is ready to supply power stations, new and old, with fuel, Minister Tarek El Molla told Amwal Al Ghad. The Ministries of Electricity and Oil are in ongoing coordination to ensure consistent supplies of diesel and gas to the stations are made available. The ministry is now working on expanding the domestic energy production while also working in tandem to improve the storage and transport capacities to the new stations, El Molla added. Similarly, the Agriculture Ministry said it is coordinating with the Oil Ministry to make sure that fuel is made available to fertilizer producers in order to ensure that they meet their production quotas, Al Shorouk reported. (Read in Arabic)
Energean to conduct seismic survey in West Kom Ombo, appoints new country manager
Greet upstream company, Energean, said it hired AGS-Afro to conduct a 2D seismic survey in Energean’s West Kom Ombo concession area as part of its new USD 6 mn investment program in Egypt. “The survey will start in December and around 250 miles of 2D seismic will be acquired ahead of the drilling of two new wells which have been planned for the summer of 2016,” Rigzone reported. Energean also said it appointed Medhat Tarakhan as its new country general manager in Egypt. (Read)
Global LNG prices climb as Egypt award helps spur spot activity
A rise in Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices for December delivery is being attributed to filling in a recent Egypt tender, Reuters reports, with the price going up from USD 6.80 per mmBtu to USD 7.10 mmBtu in one week. “Egypt awarded a 55 cargo tender last week to companies including Trafigura, Vitol, Noble Group, Gas Natural, PetroChina and Shell for deliveries starting before the end of the year … Three sources said allocations from Egypt’s tender award included 16 cargoes for Trafigura, 13 for Gas Natural, between 5 and 7 for PetroChina, and one or two for Vitol,” Reuters reported. (Read)
AfDB approves USD 50 mn loan to NREA
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will provide the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) with a USD 50 mn loan to fund its 20-25% stake in a 200 MW wind power plant. The USD 250 mn project is an Egyptian-Emirati joint initiative and, according to Al Borsa, the first such partnership in this sector. The project is slated to begin operations in 2018. (Read in Arabic)
Electricity Ministry pitches feasibility study to connect Halayeb and Shalateen to the power grid
The Electricity Ministry has presented Cabinet a feasibility study on connecting the regions of Halayeb and Shalateen in southern Egypt to the national grid. The plan calls for the overhaul of the 220 KV power lines from Aswan to the two cities, building a coal power plant, and a number of renewable energy stations as well. This comes as the Ministry plans to build a 500 KV high tension transmission network along the Red Sea coast. Halayeb and Shalateen remains a disputed territory between Egypt and Sudan. President Bashir of Sudan and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi have agreed to resolve the dispute amicably, Undersecretary at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry Abdel Ghani Naeem said on Friday. Bashir had requested Saudi mediation in the dispute last week, Cairo Post reports.
BP pushes forward first phase development of North Alexandria Gasfield
The Petroleum Ministry has reached an agreement with BP to move forward with the first phase of production in the North Alexandria gas fields in 1Q2017 instead of the end of 2017. The second phase of the project will be connected to the national gas grid by 2019, bringing output of the field to 1.2 bn cubic feet per day, said Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. Nine wells have already been completed at the field by BP, which has invested USD 10-12 bn in the project, reports Al Borsa. (Read in Arabic)
Giza governorate to start construction of its largest traffic congestion alleviation project yet
In a matter of days, the Giza governorate will commence on its Al-Gamaa Bridge tunnel project in hopes of alleviating traffic from Morad St. to the Sheraton Hotel in Giza, according to Al Mal. The project targets traffic congestion reduction around the Nile Corniche as well, which has had traffic spillover effects in the past. Khaled Al Adly, Giza governor, said that Al-Gamaa Bridge tunnel is the largest project the governorate has seen to date and is part of several other tunnel projects in Al Dokki, Abdel Moneim Riad, Nahdat Masr and Tharwat areas. EGP 800 mn have been allocated from the Greater Cairo Development Authority for project implementation, with approximately EGP 200 mn specifically allocated for the Al-Gamaa Bridge tunnel construction. (Read in Arabic)
BASIC MATERIALS + COMMODITIES
150k tonnes of steel held at Port Said because of USD shortage
150k tonnes of steel is being held at the port of Port Said due to the shortage of FX domestically, according to the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce’s Ahmed El Zeiny. The currency shortage is not allowing importers to pay for their shipments fully. Importers are being exposed to severe penalties as the port charges them EGP 2 per tonne per each day the shipments are held for, and after 60 days, the port will auction off the shipment entirely. (Read in Arabic)
Industry Ministry considering protectionist tariffs on raw sugar imports
The Industry & Trade Ministry is in talks with domestic sugar producers to explore imposing tariffs on raw sugar. At the request of industry players, the Ministry is considering tariffs of 20% on raw sugar, the same as is already in place on processed white sugar imports. (Read in Arabic)
15% of the 1,000 factories project operational -Kabil
15% of the factories that fall under the umbrella of the 1,000 factories project are operational, said Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil, who said the ministry will fat-track the licensing process for the remaining factories. (Read in Arabic)
HEALTH + EDUCATION
Porto Group to build five hospitals
Porto Group are planning on breaking into the health sector by building five hospitals at an estimated total cost of EGP 2.5 bn, says Mansour Amer, Chairman of Porto Group. The hospitals will be built at Porto New Cairo, Porto Marina, Porto Heliopolis, Porto October, and Porto Ain El Sokhna with a combined total capacity of 270 beds. Porto Group are in the process of obtaining licensing for a project in Port Said, and another in Agadir, Morocco, alongside completing the first phase of Porto Matrouh, added Amer. (Read in Arabic)
** Further reading in Health + Education: Syrian classes ease pain of exile for refugees in Egypt, by the AP.
REAL ESTATE + HOUSING
Al Zahraa Contracting Co. to build 850 homes
The Al Zahraa Contracting and Construction Company has won a tender issued by the Damietta Governorate to build 850 houses as part of the social housing project at a total cost of EGP 144 mn in four cities in the governorate. Al Zahraa beat out 12 other competing companies including the Arab Contractors and Atlas, according to Essam Shakir, head of the Housing Directorate at the Damietta Governorate. The 850 are the first of 3,100 houses the governorate intended to be built as part of the social housing project and should be built in 18 months’ time. (Read in Arabic)
** Further reading in Real Estate & Housing: Downtown Gets a Facelift: Interview with Karim El-Shafei of Al-Ismaelia Investment. “Q: What is the government’s plan for downtown? A: So far, the government does not have a plan.” (Read)
Nile Ritz-Carlton begins operations in Cairo
The Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo opened has opened its doors to the public, according to a press release. The hotel has 331 rooms with “ultramodern facilities including a spectacular Olympic-size pool as well as meeting rooms, ballrooms and business facilities.” Herve Humler, President and COO of The Ritz-Carlton said “With millennial travelers seeking luxury as part of their travel experience, the Nile Ritz-Carlton Cairo marries this ‘bucket-list’ city with world-class services. This has not only made Cairo more appealing but has also given us the opportunity to raise our first Ritz-Carlton flag in on the banks of the Nile.” We noted earlier this month that the hotel had received its operating license from Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou. (Read)
Use of radar to search for hidden chamber at Tut’s tomb approved
The use of ground-penetrating radar at the tomb of King Tutankhamun was approved on Thursday, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves had requested the usage of radar in the tomb as he believes it could hold secret chambers that might be holding the tomb of Queen Nefertiti. All of the necessary approvals were granted, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El Damaty said. (Read in Arabic)
AUTOMOTIVE + TRANSPORTATION
Nissan launches new ‘made-in-Egypt’ Sentra
Nissan launched its new, locally assembled Sentra in Egypt, after having begun production at its 6 October city facility earlier this month, the Cairo Post reports. The new Sentra starts at EGP 139K. (Read)
Marsa Matrouh Port to be issued as BOT project
Following approval from authorities, the Marsa Matrouh commercial port project in Negila will be issued as B.O.T project, with the Egyptian government owning 51%, and the partner 49% as a first phase with an investment value of USD 10 bn, said Marsa Matrouh Governor Alaa Abou Zeid. The contracts for the project will receive the go-ahead for implementation in an announcement at the “Matrouh Future of Investment” conference taking place today. The first phase of the project will involve building a container dock, a passenger terminal, and administrative buildings, and has an expected duration of two years. (Read in Arabic)
Agreement to import 850 gates for first, second metro lines
The National Authority for Tunnels inked an agreement with the France’s Thales Communications and Security to import 850 electronic gates for the first and second Metro lines at a total cost of EGP 160 mn. The move is meant to develop the efficiency of the ticket system on the two lines, says Transportation Minister Saad El Geyoushi, noting that magnetic tickets will be used for one-time tickets, and smart cards for subscriptions. The expected duration of the project is 18 months. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING + FINANCE
Fitch affirms ratings of Egyptian banks, outlook stable
Fitch affirmed its Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of National Bank of Egypt and CIB at ‘B’. “Fitch has also affirmed Credit Agricole Egypt’s (CAE) Support Rating at ‘4’ and its National Long- and Short-Term Ratings at ‘AA+(egy)’ and ‘F1+(egy)’, respectively.” The ratings agency said the outlook on the banks is stable but said the ratings reflect the view that “the correlation between bank risk and sovereign risk will remain strong over the outlook horizon given exposure to domestic assets, including a sizeable proportion of Egyptian government debt.” Fitch raised concerns over the banks’ asset quality and the sector’s capitalisation “particularly in light of the zero percent risk-weighting of Egyptian government exposure.” CIB received particular praise from Fitch, which viewed “financial metrics stronger and less volatile than those of its domestic peers” with better capitalisation and profitability. (Read)
EGP 2.5 bn loan to Food Industries Holding Company
Banque du Caire recently joined five other banks in a consortium to loan the Food Industries Holding Company (FIHC) EGP 2.5 bn to buy and supply basic commodities to supply complexes. The funding will be in the form of revolving credit, and the consortium includes Banque Misr, QNB, AAIB, and the Bank of Alexandria. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Nour Party decides to stay in electoral race
Despite earlier reports stating that Salafist Al Nour Party was considering withdrawing from ongoing parliamentary elections and perhaps from political life altogether (read in Arabic or in Egypt Independent), the party issued a statement on Thursday confirming it would stay in the race. The same statement confirmed that: “There were two views, the first one was to continue in the elections despite the current lack of justice, integrity, and neutrality, while the second one was to withdraw.” The head of the party, Younis Makhyoun, had previously said that the Nour Party is being attacked in the media and that the current parliamentary elections lacked basic fairness and justice.
USD 300 mn in loans from Arab Fund by end of year -Sources
The Ismail government will receive USD 300 mn in loans from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to finance three electricity projects, sources told Al Mal. The Arab Fund’s board has approved the three loans, USD 100 mn each, and is scheduled before the year is over. Meanwhile, the Ministry of International Cooperation is negotiating with the World Bank and African Development Bank over USD 3.5 bn in loans to address the budget deficit, but the lenders are pushing for a reform program that includes energy subsidy cuts and implementation of a value-added tax. (Read in Arabic)
‘Brotherhood member’ accused of threatening judge is court employee: The Interior Ministry on Wednesday said that the individual who sent threatening text messages to judges supervising the elections was an employee of a court in Kafr Al-Sheikh, Daily News Egypt reports. The accused, Ayman Al Adly, is alleged to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and stands accused of having used his position in the court to collect information and contact details of the threatened judges.
Four injured in bomb blast outside Meridien Hotel near the Pyramids: Four people, including two police officers, were injured in a bomb blast while EOD technicians worked to defuse an improvised explosive device, Egypt Independent reports. The Telegraph notes that the bomb was found at 6 am during a morning security check.
North Sinai bomb kills lieutenant, two soldiers on Saturday; police officer killed on Friday: “An Egyptian first lieutenant and two soldiers were killed in an explosion which targeted a police armored vehicle in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish Saturday, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said,” as reported by the AP. On Friday, a roadside bomb claimed the life of a police officer in Arish.
Sudan removed from list of countries weak on combating money laundering and financing terrorism by international body
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international intergovernmental organization, has removed Sudan from its list of countries with weak systems against money laundering and terrorism financing at its meeting on Friday, said Hazem Abdel Qader, the spokesperson for the Central Bank of Sudan. The move would facilitate the transfer of funds to and from the country. Sudan’s efforts to be removed from the list included enacting anti-money laundering and terrorism financing legislation in 2014. (Read in Arabic or the original release from the FATF) Country-level sanctions, such as those maintained by the US Treasury (pdf) by executive order, are not affected by the FATF order.
Al Ahly Club signs EGP 231 mn sponsorship agreement with Saudi Sela Sport
Al Ahly Club signed an EGP 231 mn three-year agreement with Saudi Arabian agency Sela Sport, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Sela outbid Al Ahram and presented an offer that was the largest in the history of Egyptian sports. The agreement was signed on Thursday. (Read in Arabic)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
The German Embassy in Cairo has categorically denied statements attributed to the German Ambassador in Cairo that claims that Egyptians no longer need to obtain visas to travel to Germany, spokesman Carsten Wieland said yesterday. Rumors on Egyptian social media surfaced last week claiming that Egyptians no longer need visas to travel to Germany. In a statement to MENA on Saturday, Wieland said that rules and regulation for obtaining a visa to Germany remains unchanged. (Read in Arabic) Enterprise’s advice to our readers: Unfriend anyone in your social networks who was gullible enough to post the original rumor; you don’t need that kind of deadweight in your life.
Here come the Men in Black: Alexandria University cancelled a lecture on the planet Mars by Essam Heggy, formerly a science advisor to then-president Adly Mansour and NASA scientist, due to national security concerns, Heggy wrote in a Facebook post, (Read in Arabic or in Ahram Online). Heggy was vilified as a traitor by some of the more unsavory elements of Egyptian media for speaking out against AIDSkoftagate.
Government closes Al Hussein shrine to avoid Ashura rituals: The Religious Endowments Authority of Cairo decided to shut down the shrine of Imam Al Hussein at the Al Hussein Mosque temporarily over the weekend. The authority said it was trying prevent problems that could arise from Shiites performing any Day of Ashura rituals onsite. (Read in Arabic)
This is Spinal Tap: Stonehenge. (Watch, running time: 1:44).