What we’re tracking on 9 July 2020
A word of friendly advice? Don’t read our interview this morning with International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat. Listen to it instead. Trust us on this. You’ll get the gist from this morning’s story, but if you really want to get to know the woman leading Egypt’s program of economic diplomacy, you need to hear her tell the story in her own words, in her own voice. She’s smart, engaging and — as she’s proven at the central bank and as tourism minister — just the person you want in your corner in a crisis.
Listening is really easy: Just tap or click here (runtime: 41:05) to listen on our website. No special software required. Or if you’re a podcast nerd, head over to Apple Podcasts or listen to us on Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts, and will be on Google Podcasts soon.
Al-Mashat spoke with us for the first episode of Enterprise After Hours, our new podcast featuring business leaders, policymakers and cultural icons. Our aim is to have deeper, longer conversations on a wider range of issues than how to build a great business in Egypt — the subject of our entrepreneur-focused series Making It. Each episode of Enterprise After Hours will drop in its own feed in your podcatcher of choice, accompanied by a written excerpt in the Morning Edition you’re reading now.
Podcasts are the perfect way to kill your morning or afternoon commute. Or if you, like us, aren’t doing that while on WFH, they’re the perfect breakfast / morning routine companion and the ideal way to feed your brain while you do the dishes after dinner.
Want to suggest a guest for Enterprise After Hours or Making It? Email us at email@example.com — we would really love to hear from you. We’re already in production on season three of Making It, so email us today.
It’s officially FY2020-2021 for state coffers: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi approved yesterday the state budget for the new fiscal year, according to the Official Gazette. You can catch a refresher on highlights of the budget here and here. The Madbouly government said previously that it will review the budget when 1Q2020-2021 wraps on 30 September to tweak key assumptions as it gets more clarity on the road ahead.
Meanwhile: It’s looking more and more like schools are going to be embracing “blended learning” come fall, with students splitting their time each week between learning at home and learning on campus. That’s the word we’re getting from a number of top private schools in Egypt, and it’s what New York — the largest school district in the US — said yesterday it will be doing.
That’s going to put plenty of pressure on businesses to be flexible with working parents come fall — which, incidentally, is just weeks away. The notion that those of privileged to have jobs that can be done at home have weeks or months of WFH left ahead of us is the subject an on-point CNBC column by Wendy Pfeiffer, CIO of Google-owned cloud computing platform Nutanix.
COVID-19 IN EGYPT-
The Health Ministry confirmed 75 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 3,564. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 78,304 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 1,025 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of 22,241 cases who have fully recovered.
Around 1k tourism companies have obtained health and safety certificates to resume operations, 600 of which are in Cairo and Giza governorates.
EgyptAir is offering a 25% discount on flights from Cairo to Dubai booked before 20 July for travel until 20 September. A 20% discount is also available for flights to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah booked before 15 July for travel until 31 August.
ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-
The planet now has 12 mn confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s corona tracker.
The US has won the inglorious award of being the first country to surpass 3 mn cases, after California, Texas and Arizona all set new single-day records yesterday.
Dubai is expecting an “aggressive” rebound in tourism by the end of the year after the emirate opened its borders to foreign visitors yesterday, Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told Bloomberg (watch, runtime: 07:45).
European banks look to go green: Both the European Central Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have outlined plans to increase investment in green bonds as they look to step up involvement in the low-carbon economy. In an interview with the FT, ECB boss Christine Lagarde said that the bank could deploy some of its EUR 2.8 tn emergency asset-purchase program to buy green bonds, while the EBRD announced plans to commit half of its annual investments to green projects by 2025.
Party time for goldbugs: Gold prices surged past USD 1.8k / oz for the first time since 2011 yesterday, the Financial Times reports. Investors shovelled a record USD 40 bn of cash into gold-backed funds during the first half of the year as the pandemic caused chaos in global financial markets.
Naguib, the inveterate goldbug, expects Au to hit USD 2k: Gold futures could climb to USD 2k an ounce if investors can’t shake their anxiety about the direction of the global economy, celebrity b’naire and La Mancha Mining Chairman Naguib Sawiris told CNBC Arabia yesterday. Sawiris recently said he was interested in the government’s gold exploration tender in the Eastern Desert and getting close to wrapping up talks to acquire a 51% stake in state-owned Shalateen Mining.
AND THE REST OF THE WORLD-
There are now eight names competing to be the next boss of the World Trade Organization after Kenya, the UK and Saudi Arabia put forward candidates at the last minute yesterday. Kenya’s Amina Mohamed — former chair of the WTO’s general council — and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala — ex-finance minister and World Bank official — are the frontrunners for the position, the FT says. Egyptian-Swiss lawyer and trade negotiator Abdel Hamid Mamdouh is Egypt’s candidate.