What we’re tracking on 22 October 2020
Good morning, friends, and happy Thursday. The big news of the day from where we sit is Moustafa Madbouly’s warning yesterday to take the second wave of covid-19 seriously.
Covid-19 cases are ticking up again, and the PM is not happy. Madbouly said at yesterday’s cabinet meeting that citizens need to continue to take precautionary measures in public places, and he has instructed officials to crack down on people in violation of rules. Soaring case numbers in neighboring countries are a cause of major concern for the government, Madbouly said at a post-meeting press conference (watch, runtime: 3:11).
The situation in Egypt is still “under control” as the rate of increase in the official case count isn’t as high as most other countries that are in the grips of a second wave, but the situation could change once the weather cools down, World Health Organization Regional Adviser Maha Talaat told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 3:58) last night. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is also taking into account the upcoming flu season in its treatment plan for new covid-19 cases, Assistant Minister Noha Assem told Sherdy (watch, runtime: 28:04).
Not the way we’d like to start the day, but there you go.
The antidote? Our popular WFH Routine / My Morning Routine column is back this week with our friend Omar Elsahy from Amazon / Souq. To his Prime Video, may we suggest Bosch and Jack Ryan (the latter with Muslim characters who are actual, three-dimensional human beings — baddies and goodies alike).
Got a suggestion for someone to feature in WFH / MMR? Hit us up on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voters here in Omm El Donia will head to polling stations to elect a new House of Representatives on Saturday after the multi-stage process began for expats yesterday.
Furniture expo Le Marché begins today and will run until Sunday, 25 October at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.
The Gouna Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and wraps at the end of the month.
PSA- The rain we were promised hit the North Coast yesterday, along with thunder and lightning, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority said. The storm has so far made an appearance as far east as Agamy and as far west as El Dabaa.
For those of us here in Cairo: Expect some light showers later today, the authority said. Our favorite weather app disagrees, showing clear skies and temps in the 28-32°C range for the next 10 days, so … hanshoof.
PSA- Have you made your long-weekend plans yet? We’re heading into a four-day workweek as banks and businesses close their doors next Thursday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.
This morning’s “holy [redacted]” story: Israel has had a secret embassy in Bahrain for the past 11 years, reports Axios. The Israeli government collaborated with the Bahrainis to establish a front company to conduct shadow diplomacy and spent the last decade hiring dual-national Israeli diplomats.
US ELECTION WATCH- It’s debate night in the US of A. US President Donald Trump and democratic contender Joe Biden will face off tonight for the final presidential debate ahead of the 3 November election. Trump’s advisors want him to present his “affirmative vision” for the US and attempt to sway undecided voters, says the New York Times. The Biden campaign is working to have the presidential hopeful maintain his composure and show that, unlike Trump, he can lead the nation out of covid-19. The debate comes just 12 days before election day and three weeks after last month’s debate was nothing short of a "spectacle" with little policy substance. Many Americans have already voted and Trump is trailing in national polls.
You can stream the debate live on YouTube at 9 pm ET (that’s 3 am CLT for those keeping track at home).
Former President Barack Obama yesterday blasted Trump in a speech at a campaign trail on behalf of Biden. We miss you, Barack.
Trump’s aides are racing to give his re-election bid a boost with a foreign policy win in the shape of another normalization pact between Israel and another Arab country, says Reuters. It appears that Sudan is a candidate for the pact, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday the White House is working “diligently” to make a normalization agreement between Khartoum and Tel Aviv happen after Washington began the process of removing Sudan from its list of terror sponsoring states.
The Health Ministry reported 178 new covid-19 infections yesterday, the highest daily count since 8 September. Yesterday’s tally was up from 158 on Tuesday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 105,883 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,155. We now have a total of 98,516 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.
We’re getting USD 9.5 mn from Japan to fund emergency medical equipment needed to fight covid-19 after International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and Japanese ambassador Masaaki Nuki yesterday put pen to paper to unlock the funding that will take Japan’s total support for Egyptian health and education programs to USD 54.5 mn.
Schools may not be the super-spreaders experts first thought: Several European studies have indicated that the reopening of schools had limited impact on the spread of covid-19, boosting policymakers who worry that closing schools again during a second wave would further disrupt education and impact parents’ ability to work, reports the Financial Times.
Pfizer is looking to supply 100 mn doses of its covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year and another 1.3 bn by 2021, the Wall Street Journal reports. The pharma giant is currently laying the groundwork for its “biggest ever” vaccine supply chain network to be able to rapidly distribute the vaccine once it secures FDA approval. Pfizer is expected to apply for US regulatory approval during the third week of November.
The 2020 Somabay Golf Tournament last week brought together more than 100 golfers at the Cascades Golf Resort, according to a press release (pdf). Six players came out on top in the championship with Ahmed El Shalakany winning first place in division one, Mohamed Abou El Fadel finishing second, and Ghassan Kabbani taking third. In the second division, Hassan El Bustani came in first place, Angelina Gordienko was second and Nabil Harazi clenched third.
The value of global trade is set to fall by 7-9% in 2020 despite signs of recovery in the second half of the year, the United Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a report (pdf). Trade fell around 5% y-o-y during 3Q, an improvement on the disastrous 19% y-o-y decline in 2Q, while preliminary forecasts see it slipping 3% y-o-y in 4Q (covid dependent, of course). China is bucking the downward trend and is set to post an annual growth rate of almost 10% after trade accelerated in 3Q2020, UNCTAD said.
More GCC banks are likely to consolidate as the pandemic and low oil prices continue to cause pain for the sector, Dubai Islamic Bank Chairman Mohammed Ibraahim Al Shaibani said in a statement accompanying the bank’s 3Q2020 earnings, which showed a 22% fall in net profit. Egypt’s banking sector is the target for inbound M&A from Gulf banks looking for growth. The Egypt arms of Lebanese lenders Blom Bank and Bank Audi are being courted by Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Bank ABC.
EU sees crazy demand for negative-yielding “corona bonds”: The EU’s maiden corona bond issuance has been met with “outrageous demand” from investors, with bankers reporting the offering generated the largest ever order book in the global bond market, according to the Financial Times. The ten years notes carry a -0.26% interest rate.
Gulf bond issuances hit record highs at 102 bn, beating the annual record less than 10 months into the year, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, data provider Refinitiv expects sukuk issuances to grow to USD 174 bn in 2021, up from USD 162 bn this year as governments ramp up spending to soften the blow of covid, Zawya reports.
PayPal is taking crypto mainstream: PayPal will allow its US users the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum in the coming weeks, Reuters reports.
Ant Group is set to go ahead with its USD 35 bn IPO — which would eclipse Aramco’s as the world’s biggest IPO — within weeks after getting the final regulatory green light, reports Reuters. The Jack Ma-owned payment company is planning a dual-listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
If your business sells time, then this week’s episode of how to build a great business in Egypt is for you. Today’s episode features a lawyer — and an awfully nice one, at that — but think of him as a stand-in for every business in the service industry, from ad agencies to engineering consultants, PR types and accountants.
Bahaa Alieldean is managing partner at ALC Alieldean, Weshahi & Partners. He’s a professor of law and a practising lawyer specializing in capital markets, banking transactions and dispute resolution.
Providing counsel to captains of industry: Established in 2003, Bahaa’s firm provides counsel to major national and global corporations and institutions on large complex transactions.
From attracting and retaining talent, to creating culture and the challenges of selling a service business, Bahaa discusses the similarities and universal challenges facing all service providers. We explore creating corporate structure and how micromanagement prevents founders from transitioning away from day-to-day operations into traditionally accepted CEO responsibilities.
You already have a podcast player on your iPhone, or you can listen to the episode through our website (no download required). We’re also on Google Podcasts, Anghami, and Omny. Making It is on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts.