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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

What we’re tracking on 20 February

It’s a (not-unpleasantly) slow news morning as we head into the final couple days of the week.

The Solar Show MENA 2019, which kicked off yesterday, will wrap up today at the Nile Ritz Carlton in Cairo. Tap or click here for the official website or here for the agenda.

Flights to Bahrain will be packed with fintech types today as the Middle East & Africa FinTech Forum gets underway. A delegation from the Central Bank of Egypt will be among the attendees chewing over financial inclusion, innovation and how artificial intelligence will impact the financial industry.

Speaking of which: Robots are going to take over jobs in banking, part XXIII: The chief executive of America’s fourth-largest bank by assets says many call centers jobs are going to be taken over by robots: “Citigroup chief executive Mike Corbat has suggested that ‘tens of thousands’ of people working in the US bank’s call centres are likely to be replaced by machines that can ‘radically change or improve’ customers’ experience while cutting costs,” the Financial Times reports.

Around the region:

2019 is looking like a really good time to buy that hideaway in Dubai: Bad news for developers is good news for homebuyers: S&P says home prices in Dubai, already at levels unseen since the financial crisis a decade ago, are set to “fall a further 5-10% in 2019 before a gradual stabilization in 2020, though without a meaningful recovery in 2021.” Bloomberg has chapter and verse.

The UAE has a lesson for Saudi on privatization: BlackRock and KKR are reportedly in advanced talks to acquire a stake worth up to USD 5 bn in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)’s pipeline infrastructure.

Arab NATO? Not so likely, as it turns out. Remember The Donald’s proposal to create a “new alliance of Middle East nations to counter Iran”? The so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance is not exactly coming together, regional and US officials tell the Wall Street Journal.

Across the pond: US Senator Bernie Sanders has entered the 2020 presidential race and will bid for the Democratic nomination, the New York Times reports. Supporters raised USD 1 mn just hours after his announcement. The question, as the NYT puts it, is whether “the 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist agenda has helped push the party to the left … retains his anti-establishment appeal or loses ground to newer faces who have adopted many of his ideas.”

Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld died yesterday in Paris. The eccentric designer was also the most prolific of the 20th and 21st centuries, transforming luxury fashion at Chanel and inventing the Fendi brand as it is known today. The New York Times has a great obit, fashion lovers will want to head to Vogue, and industry nerds will need to head to the Business of Fashion.

Walking meetings are now a thing in the US of A: The ‘pediconferences’ made famous by Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing TV show (watch, runtime: 7:05) are now officially a ‘thing’ in corporate America, rising to the attention of the WSJ. They are not proving popular.

For coffee nerds, the Journal offers a package with over a dozen very short stories, tips and other recommendations on the beverage that powers the people who bring you Enterprise every morning.

Wait? (Beef) bacon is really going to kill us? So will an endless list of processed meats including turkey bacon, ham, pepperoni, salami, smoked turkey, hot dogs, and sausages. An NYT Well column looks at why MDs now think you really need to limit your exposure to processed meat.

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