What we’re tracking on 19 January 2021
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to hump day — and to one of the slowest news days we’ve had in months.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
The Financial Regulatory Authority’s annual conference on non-banking financial services (NBFS) will be held today. Look for discussion of upcoming regulatory and legislative changes relevant to the fast-growing industry.
Abu Dhabi’s Global Energy Forum kicks off today and runs until Friday. The Atlantic Council-organized event will focus on the post-pandemic energy system.
A webinar on the economic impact of covid-19 and policy responses in Africa is scheduled for today, organized by the Cairo Center for African Studies. Speaking at the event are World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti Marina Wes, IMF Senior Representative in Egypt Said Bakhache, and Institute of International Economic Finance Deputy Chief Economist Elina Ribakova. You can check out the flyer and register for the webinar here (pdf).
DATA POINT OF THE DAY- Agricultural exports to neighboring countries are booming, says our friend Mohamed El Ahwal, CEO of IACC Holdings, which bills itself as “a leading container shipping company-owned and operated exclusively by Egyptians.” The company’s Transmar subsidiary moved more than 75k TEUs last year and says it doubled the number of refrigerated containers it shipped, it said in a recent statement. Reefers are used to move food and other agricultural products.
THE FATHER OF PUNK ROCK WAS EGYPTIAN. Sylvain Sylvain was founding guitarist of the New York Dolls, “the influential though short-lived proto-punk band whose outrageous shows … paved the way for the era of the Ramones and the [redacted] Pistols,” the NY Times writes in an obituary. Born Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo on Valentine’s Day back in 1951, Sylvain’s family left Egypt in the wake of the Suez debacle, as did thousands of other Jews who had called Egypt home for generations. He passed away last week.
Don’t take our word for it: Soundgarden says so, too: “Forever peace to Sylvain Sylvain, founding guitarist of the New York Dolls. They were (incredibly) the stylistic progenitors of both punk, and hair metal. They were a direct musical influence on the [redacted] Pistols, and their visual style and attitude would influence Poison amongst many others in the genre. Their style and music imprinted significantly on megastars such as Kiss and Gun n’ Roses. Sylvain, you influenced the rock culture milieu of the 80’s Seattle scene and with it Soundgarden. Thank you always.” Give a listen here.
WHAT WE’RE READING TODAY- International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat’s blog on LinkedIn, which will focus on leadership insights, answer readers’ questions, and present news on Egypt and its path to sustainable development, according to a press release (pdf). You can check out the first post “On harmony and diversity: How can we harness every individual’s power in a collective spirit” which explores how diverse teams can foster a work environment of harmony and innovation.
Egypt suffered its first defeat of the 2021 Handball World Championships yesterday, narrowly losing 24:23 to Sweden in the final group game. Both teams have qualified for the next round, with Sweden topping the group and Egypt coming in second.
We’ll be facing Russia tomorrow at 7 pm CLT, and are scheduled to take on Belarus and Slovenia for the remaining games of the main round.
Cape Verde, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the championship after some of its squad members tested positive for covid-19, making it unable to field the minimum 10 players required, the IHF said in a statement.
A very dystopian changing of the guard takes place at the White House tomorrow. Phalanxes of troops will stand guard around a crowdless Mall when Joe Biden is sworn in to the presidency tomorrow. Bloomberg sets the scene.
US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram pages appear to be up and running again, after being suspended on 7 January after inciting his followers to riot at the US Congress. It isn’t clear though whether the president has access to his accounts, with his latest Facebook post dating from 6 January. His Twitter account remains suspended.
Is “no jab, no job” going to be the new normal? Employers in the US are offering their employees perks to tempt them into taking the vaccine, with some even saying vaccination will be mandatory for all new hires, the Financial Times reports. But hesitancy over the vaccines still remains widespread, signaling we may be working from home for some time to come.
Dubai is hoping the hesitation will dissipate soon so it can kick off its (already postponed) Expo 2020 event on 1 October. The event, a decade in the making, is supposed to be one of the largest in the world this year, and the UAE is steamrolling ahead with its vaccination program to keep it on track. The country aims to inoculate half of its population by March.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Amendments to the VAT Act are on tomorrow’s agenda for the House Budgeting and Planning Committee, which will discuss the bill with representatives from the Finance Ministry and Tax Authority, committee deputy chair Yasser Omar tells the local press. The proposed changes would, if passed in a general assembly vote, apply a 14% VAT to the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties, while the 5% schedule tax on crackers and sweet pastries would be replaced by the standard VAT rate.
More ministers to appear before parliament in the coming days: The information, education and higher education ministers will all deliver statements to MPs over the next two days, Head of the Local Administration Committee Ahmed El Sigini told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 7:37). We have the run-down of PM Moustafa Madbouly’s statement to the House, as well as the supply and local development ministers’ addresses, in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.
Uber is hosting a series of virtual panel discussions on urban challenges and tech-driven solutions in the MENA region, with the first event — Tech for Transport Safety — due to kick off the series on 26 January. The discussion will see representatives from Virgin Hyperloop, Derq, Trella, General Motors, and Ubers, according to a press release (pdf).
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.