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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

What we’re tracking on 14 July 2020

It’s a busy but unremarkable morning for news here in Omm El Donia, with no single story dominating the front pages as corporate Egypt looks ahead to two long weekends starting next week and MPs pine for summer vacation. (It doesn’t hurt that lots of you nice people out there appear to be WFH from … Sahel and Sokhna and, even in this heat, Gouna. Good on you. We’ll hold down the concrete jungle in your absence.)

It’s set to be an action-packed week in the House next week with several pieces of major legislation up for a final vote in the general assembly. The Banking Act, amendments to the Public Enterprises Act, temporary legislation to apply the 1% ‘corona tax’ on salaries, the new Customs Act, the Unified Tax Act, and the temporary tax settlement legislation are among the bills up for a final vote, according to Al Mal.

Feeling like easing into the workday? Start with It’s 2022. What does life look like? by David Leonhardt for the New York Times. It’s an NYC-centric piece, but the questions he asks / predictions he makes have global resonance.

Thinking about how to make remote work … work until fall? Or year’s end? Go read this interview with Matt Mullenweg, whose company built WordPress, the software that runs an ungodly chunk of the interwebs: An evangelist for remote work sees the rest of the world catch on.

Do you hate your day job? Or have you just outgrown it? Find inspiration here: Career Reboot: How an architect ended up directing at Nickelodeon. Job switching isn’t just for 30-year-olds: Maybe you need to take a midlife gap year to sort things out? Because it really never is too late to start a brilliant career.

Setting out as an entrepreneur is fundamentally an act of optimism — and nowhere is that clearer than news yesterday that GAFI registered 15% more companies in June 2020 than in the same month last year, the agency said in a statement (pdf).


The Health Ministry confirmed 77 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 3,935. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 83,001 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 931 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of 24,975 cases who have fully recovered.

How much do the Ruskies want a beach vacation (including in Egypt)? Enough to go through a 14-hour detour through Belarus, which gives them a loophole through the Russian government’s ban on foreign travel, Bloomberg reports. Belarus’ restrictions are far more relaxed than are Russia’s, pushing droves of Russians to drive 715 km from Moscow to Minsk, where they can then fly out to any destination. Egypt and Turkey have proved particularly popular for package holiday bookings, with one Minsk-based tour operator saying that all flights to the two countries out of Belarus “are booked solid beyond mid-July.” Charter flights have been allowed to land in the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Matrouh since 1 July.

Wizz Air will operate three flights per week starting between Alexandria and Milan from 17 September, said Seif Bahgat, CEO of New Star Aviation Services, the local agent for the airline.

Some more emergency covid-19 funding might be heading our way from Europe: The National Bank of Egypt is seeking an EUR 800 mn loan from the European Investment Bank for on-lending to SMEs and midcaps, to provide them with support during the covid-19 crisis, according to the bank’s website.


Sunday was the worst day of the global crisis yet: More than 230k fresh cases of covid-19 were reported globally on Sunday, surpassing the previous record of 228k cases set last Friday, according to the World Health Organization. Global cases have now surpassed 13 mn, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s corona tracker.

California has performed a screeching U-turn on its reopening plans as new cases and deaths continue to surge. The governor yesterday ordered bars and indoor operations of restaurants and theaters to close just a few weeks after they had begun reopening their doors, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Unsurprisingly, the WHO is hardly a ray of sunshine right now: “Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said at a briefing yesterday. “If the basics are not followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go — it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

BAD NEWS? Recovered covid-19 patients may start to lose virus immunity in a matter of months making them susceptible to infection once again, a new King’s College study suggests, according to the Guardian.

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The Fed’s blowing bubbles to save the US from corona calamity: The Federal Reserve’s injection of USD 3 tn into the markets is fuelling speculative bubbles in stocks, bonds and IPO valuations, Reuters reports.

Coinbase could become first US crypto IPO: Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is preparing to go public in the US, in the process becoming the first US crypto firm to IPO, Reuters reports, citing three sources familiar with the matter. The listing could come as soon as this year, the sources said, adding that the company has not yet told regulators of its intention to go public.

Bankers have taken nearly USD 6 bn out of Lebanon, circumventing capital controls put in place by the government last year to protect the financial system, Alain Bifani, former head of the Finance Ministry, told the Financial Times.

UAE will launch a spacecraft named Hope Probe to Mars tomorrow that will travel 60 mn kms across space to arrive at its destination next year, the National reports.

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