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Thursday, 12 July 2018

What we’re tracking on 12 July 2018

It’s a slow news day in Cairo as many of us scurry to the coast to squeeze in a long weekend as we approach “peak summer.” For new readers, peak summer is our shorthand for the long weekend many take some time around the 23 July holiday, propelling us into August when Sahel booms. It’s among the quietest months of the year, particularly after the 2Q / 1H earnings season ends in mid-month.

Be prepared for grumbling: Cigarette prices go up today. The non-smokers among us are crowing. (Yes, there’s nothing more pious or self-righteous than reformed smokers.) We have the rundown in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

Happy World Population Day. We’re at 7.5 bn people and counting, according to the US Census Bureau. Projections see the world’s population growing to 9.9 bn individuals by 2050. Here at home, we hit 96.3 mn citizens at the start of 2018, according to a CAPMAS report. Cairo was still the country’s most populous city with 9.9 mn residents at the start of the year, followed by Giza with 8.8 mn, making the Greater Cairo Area some 18.7 mn. One-third of the population was under 15 years and only 3.9% were over 65 years of age, according to the report, which adds that life expectancy has improved for men (to 71.2 years from 66.5 in 2006) and women (to 73 years from 69.1 in 2006). We city dwellers represented 42.6% of the population as of January.

Are the two biggest economies in Africa joining the continent’s freetrade zone? Nigeria plans to sign up to the African Continental Freetrade Zone “soon,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday following a meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The latter had also said that South Africa saw huge benefits from the continental free trade deal and that a draft agreement relating to the movement of people was being reviewed, Reuters said. The two biggest economies had refused to join the other 44 countries, including Egypt, who signed on to the agreement when it was inked in March.

The price of oil sank nearly 7% yesterday as the US-China trade war continued to unfold. The fall in Brent, coupled with a sell-off in metals from copper to zinc and agricultural commodities, underscores “widespread weakness” in commodities markets, the Financial Times writes.

Turkey is getting it behind the ear from global markets after Erdogan predicted interest rates would fall, prompting investors to “fret over the health of the economy,” the Financial Times reports. “Investors fear that Mr. Erdogan will have a greater say in monetary and economic policy” under the country’s new presidential system and after appointing his son-in-law in charge of the economy. Bloomberg Opinion takes it further, bluntly declaring “Erdogan’s new dynasty makes Turkey uninvestable. The president has given investors every reason to turn away.”

Worth a moment of your time if you’re looking for something to fill your commute or to read while you scarf down lunch at your desk:

Go behind the scenes of one of the world’s most dramatic rescue operations ever. Published the same day as the first pictures of the Thai boys’ football team were made public, the Wall Street Journal has great look at how they were brought to safety from deep inside a flooded cave network. “One of the world’s most dramatic rescue missions appeared to take place like clockwork. It narrowly skirted disaster many times. Divers nearly missed finding the trapped soccer team. Thai Navy SEALs had no cave diving experience. A critical pump broke. ‘I didn’t think anyone would be so crazy as to do this.’” Replete with great color, detail and behind-the-scenes photos, the piece is a must-read if you were as transfixed by the rescue as we were. (And it was hard not to be, if you’re a parent and imagined for half an instant that yours was one of the kids.) Or check out the video of the boys carried by Reuters if you’re not up for a long read.

Looking for a series on which to binge on an upcoming flight? The starting point in your quest should be Vanity Fair’s “predictions for every major category” of the 2018 Emmy nominations.

It’s Croatia and France in the World Cup final. Croatia beat England 2–1 yesterday as Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time goal sent them into their first World Cup final ever, Reuters reports. The New York Times has great color commentary. England and Belgium’s third play place-off will be airing at 4pm on Saturday. France meets Croatia in the final at 5 pm on Sunday.

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