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Thursday, 4 February 2021

What we’re tracking on 3 February 2021

Good morning, everyone — we made it through another week together, and our just reward is … rainapocalypse?

Today would be a great day to WFH: Expect rain with intermittent thunder and lightning in Cairo and Alexandria, the national weather service says. Rain is also forecast to sweep the Delta, there’s a chance of snow on St. Catherine in Sinai, while parts of the peninsula could see flash floods. As of dispatch time this morning, our favorite weather app shows rain hitting Cairo around noon, with as much as 10 mm falling this afternoon and overnight tonight. Look for a daytime high of 21°C in the capital city today.

Your weekend forecast: Sunny skies with intermittent clouds and the mercury at about 21°C during the day both Friday and Saturday.

THIS MORNING’S BIG NEWS: A USD 100 mn investment in Alfa Labs is the latest signal that investor interest in the country’s red-hot healthcare sector isn’t flagging. We also have confirmation that Ebtikar is heading for IPO in the back half of the year lead the domestic business. Both stories are in the news well this morning, below.

Further afield: One of our most important trade, investment and tourism partners is getting a new government after “Super” Mario Draghi, the well-respected former European Central Bank boss, was tapped to form a new government in Italy. And in the GCC, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are apparently giving Turkey the Qatar treatment as they look to bring Istanbul back in from the cold.

It’s interest rate day: The Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet today to review interest rates in its first policy meeting of 2021. Eleven of the 12 analysts and economists we polled expect rates to be left unchanged, while 10 of the 14 of those surveyed by Reuters said the same.

Where do rates currently stand? The CBE’s overnight deposit rate is at 8.25% and the lending rate 9.25%. The main operation and disc. rates are 8.75%.

PSA #1- It’s still probably too early to make plans to travel outside Egypt this summer. Like many of you, we’d love to schedule a summer break abroad to spend time with family and friends we haven’t seen in more than a year. Why are we bringing this up now? We’re at the time of year when folks typically plan trips, and not even the airlines are sure what flights they should be running this summer, between the closure of airspace (including, most recently, KSA), a slow vaccine rollout, and uncertainty about the global patchwork of admission and quarantine requirements.

The latest wrinkle: That covid vaccination passport looks like it’s going to be a thing. The most recent sign: Denmark is launching coronavirus “passports” by the end of this month and expects to have a fully digital document ready to go within three months.

iSheep, your pandemic prayers are being answered: Apple could roll out a new option that allows users to unlock their iPhones using Face ID while wearing a mask, but only if they are also wearing an Apple Watch, according to Pocket Lint. The option is part of the iOS 14.5 software, which is currently out as a developer beta, and is expected to be rolled out to the masses “over the coming weeks.”

The Golden Globe nominations are out, and Netflix-produced films and series are dominating the list. Egyptian-American actor Ramy Youssef — the writer behind the hit Hulu series Ramy — snagged a Globe nomination for best actor in a TV series, and has also been nominated for Best Actor in a comedy series in this year’s Critics' Choice Awards.

PSA #2- Applications are now open for Qalaa Holdings’ scholarship program for Egyptians looking to pursue graduate studies abroad, according to a statement (pdf). The largest private-sector scholarship program in Egypt will accept applications until 15 April.


Al-Ahly faces Qatar’s Al Duhail at the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar today at 7pm CLT.

The African Union’s annual summit is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (6 and 7 February). The summit, which will be held virtually, will mark the official end of South Africa’s chairmanship of the AU. The Democratic Republic of the Congo will take over the position for one year.

FLIGHTS- Jordan Aviation is increasing the frequency of Cairo-Amman flights starting Saturday to three per week. Meanwhile, budget airline WizzAir will launch a new flight route from Abu Dhabi to Alexandria’s Borg El Arab airport this month, with two weekly scheduled flights, according to Al Mal.

Inflation figures for January will be released on 10 February.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

CORRECTION- Yesterday we incorrectly attributed a statement saying that Egypt could lose 130k hectares of cultivated land for every 1 bcm used by Ethiopia for the GERD to the US embassy in Cairo, rather than the Egyptian embassy in the US. The story has since been updated on our website.

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