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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Unearthed tomb in Luxor tops international coverage of Egypt

Topping coverage of Egypt this morning is the discovery of a 3,500-year-old tomb in Luxor belonging to a royal goldsmith and his wife. The tomb contained statues of the goldsmith, Amenemhat, his wife, and son, along with several artifacts from the 18th Dynasty, the period during which the family is believed to have lived, according to the National Geographic. The Associated Press has sent the story global.

As the US Senate moved to cut aid to Egypt on the pretext of human rights, anumber of publications are exploring whether the relationship has fundamentally changed. In their latest piece, Carnegie Middle East Center’s Diwan brought together contributors, some of whom say that seemingly warming ties under the Trump administration will not erase pre-existing tensions. Among those participating: Jon Alterman (Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC), gadfly and erstwhile politician Amr Hamzawy, and the Washington Institute’s David Schenker.

The Financial Times is throwing some shade at Egypt’s real estate market: While analysts continue to suggest that Egypt’s property market is holding strong, buoyed on an influx of second-home expat buyers following the EGP float, the Financial Times’ Heba Saleh says that there is more going on to dampen the market. On the one hand, the traditional notion that real estate is a safe investment is being challenged by rising interest rates. “High-interest deposit accounts that offer annual returns of 20% are competing with property as a haven for wealth and savings,” says Ali Rabie, chairman of Abraj Misr. On the other hand, rising inflation has been negatively impacting all but the high end developers. Developers are now being forced to delay some of their plans to take account of higher construction costs. These players are also now offering clients finance schemes with zero down payment instead of 15%, while extending instalment payments to seven years instead of five, adds Rabie.

In a separate piece, Burhan Wazir sees new urban developments such as the New Administrative Capital as telling of some of the wider problems with the sector. Namely, that while demand for medium-income housing is high, these new cities ultimately fail to address the needs of the majority of the population who cannot afford housing in the new capital. “The only people who can afford these new homes are those 3.5 mn Egyptians working in the Gulf,” says urban planner David Sims.

Banks should seize chase after business by shifting focus toward microfinance and SME funding, Arab African International Bank (AAIB) CEO Hassan Abdalla tells Banker Africa, noting that he also sees potential in financing clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

Oh, and the New York Times’ wedding page tries to tug at the heartstrings with its feature on erstwhile Islamist Mohamed Soltan, who has tied the knot in the US.

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