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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

What we’re tracking on 9 February 2021

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and congratulations for getting over the hump.

HAPPENING NOW- It is a legislation heavy news day as the House of Representatives appears to have made progress on getting some laws out the door. Most significant of which were the House Economics Committee’s amendments to the Sovereign Sukuks Act, which appear to be mostly mild and don’t seem like they will hold up the process.

THE BIG STORY in the global news so far: If you believe covid was lab-grown then you’re going to look like a conspiracy theorist by the WHO’s book. A mission by the World Health Organization to Wuhan investigating the origins of the virus said that the virus likely jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products, finding that it’s “extremely unlikely” it came from a laboratory leak, according to Bloomberg. No further research is needed to look into the theory about a leak, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO official, told reporters Tuesday.

CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from this morning’s EnterpriseAM:

  • We could all be signing up for covid-19 vaccinations as early as next week, according to an unconfirmed report in the local press. The news comes as the Health Ministry awaits another 300k doses of Sinopharm’s entry “soon.”
  • Egypt sold USD 3.75 bn in USD-denominated eurobonds on Monday at “significantly lower” yields than recent issuances.
  • And in M&A news, GSK has eyes only for Hikma, saying it won’t open talks on its assets in Egypt with rival bidders Rameda and Acdima.

*** You’re reading Issue #3 of EnterprisePM, our afternoon briefing on what’s going on in Egypt and emerging markets — and your guide to where you may want to spend your time and money tonight. You can subscribe to Enterprise by hitting the link in the nice green box below:


You (or your spawn) have until midnight to start applying to private domestic universities by uploading your educational certificates to the government’s new UCAS-style portal.

For photo nerds (like us): Cairo Photo Week is coming up next month, running 11-20 March across a bunch of awesome Downtown Cairo venues. Sign up for workshops and master classes on everything from analog photography (we love the smell of fixer in the morning) to sessions on portraiture, food photography, shooting for e-commerce, and fashion. We’re not cancelling covid like so many of y’all are, but this is nearly enough to lure us out of our lair. You can learn more on the IG or El Face.

Need a photo fix before then? The world’s oldest photo journal has just put 165 years of back issues online, spanning 1853 to 2018. All issues are available to read without charge — making the slightly clunky interface worth wrestling with until you get the hang of it.

It’s probably still too early to think about summer vacation if it involves travel outside our borders — there’s no clarity on which countries might let us in, let alone what the quarantine protocols in place might be.

BUT, but, but … it’s definitely time to start thinking about spring break, which takes place anywhere between mid-February and early April at most internationals schools in Egypt. Come to think of it, you might want to start thinking about your summer staycation, too: Act now before the best rental properties go. Are you looking at Sinai? El Gouna? Sahel? With the clock ticking down toward Ramadan, the early bird will get the worm on this one, folks. (It’s T-63 days until the Holy Month, nice people.)

Speaking of travel and, uhm … fantasies: The price of real estate and rentals in central Rome is falling. If only we were admissible — thanks, covid. Check out the FT’s market report and buying guude.

The Golden Globes are fast approaching, with the ceremony set to take place on 28 February. This year’s event will be held virtually (no surprise there) with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reprising their roles as hosts. You can check out the full list of nominees here.

Other award shows happening this year:

  • The Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards) will be handed out on Sunday, 4 April after being postponed from 14 March. The nominees were announced earlier this week.
  • The Oscars will take place on Sunday, 25 April and will honor the best films released between 1 January 2020, and 28 February 28 2021. You can check out 2021 Oscars predictions from Variety and Vogue.
  • News, daytime and primetime Emmy award nominations and ceremonies are more of a 2H2021 thing.

The BBC has gathered a list of the top 21 awards contenders for 2021 across all film ceremonies.


Has covid reset the rules for night owls — people whose chronotype means they’re more productive at 3am than at 3pm? Does this mean that as a nation of late-risers we get a pass? (Not that Enterprise readers are late risers — about 1/5th of our daily readership has opened and started reading Enterprise within 10 minutes of our hitting “send” at 6am…) Check out The new rules for night owl workers in the WSJ.

A word of very sage advice: What you do is not who you are. Even if you love it to pieces, like we do.

New EU legislation could force Big Tech companies to pay media outlets to display news, mimicking a similar bill in Australia that has Google and Facebook threatening to turn off access to their search engines in those jurisdictions, the Financial Times reports.

The Grandson of the dude who made Abu Dhabi rich plans a USD 135 mn “underwater international space station”: Fabien Cousteau — the grandson of marine conservation pioneer Jacques Cousteau — is planning to build the largest ever underwater habitat, reports Bloomberg. Blueprints show the so-called Project Proteus consisting of a giant steel starfish, surrounded with modular pods used as laboratories, sleeping quarters, and medical bays. Data captured from Proteus could improve scientists’ understanding of ocean salinity, acidity, temperature variations, and pollution while also benefiting pharma companies by gathering samples of algae, coral, and fish, Cousteau said. The project will opt out of federal funding, instead looking to philanthropists and private companies looking to profit from its discoveries.

Fun Fact: Grandpa Jacques was behind the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf and he said in a 1991 interview that “It was us who made the emirate of Abu Dhabi rich.

Meanwhile, the UAE is approaching Mars as we speak, marking the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, reports The Associated Press. The orbiter, called Amal, made a nearly seven month trip and is expected to perform an intricate, high-stakes series of turns and engine firings to maneuver into Mars's orbit. Around 60% of all Mars missions have ended in failure, with the UAE hoping that their USD 200 mn aircraft is successful, providing a tremendous boost to the Arab country’s space ambitions.

How to ditch “working-mothers guilt”: Many power moms feel guilty when work cuts into time with their children, however, many argue that the feeling is merely a social contrivance that is best left behind, writes Joann S. Lublin for The Wall Street Journal. Lublin is the author of “Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life” which will be out on 16 February. She talked to successful female executives who introduce ways to keep children involved and understanding of work needs, while also having some me-time.

Yesterday, we encouraged you to learn how to do something new — play the piano, pick up tennis, whatever. Enter the (still fairly svelte) Jonah Hill learning Brazilian jiu jitsu at age 35 (Instagram). It really never is to late to learn a new skill.


Here’s a movie a week to keep you in a good mood: The Guardian is out with a (surprisingly meaty) listicle of 52 “perfect comfort films” to watch again and again. With The Devil Wears Prada, Ms. Doubtfire, Ratatouille, Die Hard, Madagascar and Trading Places on the list? They [redacted] nailed it.

La Liga for football fans tonight: Real Madrid will be playing against Getafe at 10pm CLT in the Spanish La Liga.

What to look out for on the beloved streaming sites: If you’re in the mood for a light, feel-good comedy, check out season one of Firefly Lane (trailer) that recently landed on Netflix featuring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke. For Amazon Prime subscribers, check out Bliss (trailer), a flick starring Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek whose characters discover they’re living in a simulated reality. Egyptian streaming site Watch iT is out with an original TV series titled ‘Es3af Younis’ (trailer) starring Mohamed Anwar and Sara Salama.


FOR CARNIVORES- How to get a “steakhouse style crust” on your steak with ingredients you can buy here in Cairo or Alex — and no fancy technique in sight. There’s no BBQ to set up, no heating the oven up so you can do a reverse sear, no sous vide followed by a blowtorch. Instead, the secret to a thick, restaurant-worthy crust is to *reverse* the usual order of operations found in staples such as this piece in the Wall Street Journal.

It doesn’t matter how dumb you are in the kitchen, this is a snap:

  1. Let your steak (ribeye or sirloin) come to room temperature.
  2. Liberally salt a heavy-bottomed frying pan with coarse salt (Maldon sea salt is available at Gourmet).
  3. Preheat the salted pan with your gas burner on medium- to medium-high.
  4. Hit each side of the steak with freshly ground coarse black pepper and some extra virgin olive oil — that’s right, fat on the steak, not in the pan.
  5. Drop the steak into the hot pan. Let it cook for three minutes. Flip, Cook for three minutes (for the average thickness of a Gourmet steak). That should get you to about medium. A minute on each side will take you up to medium-well if you insist.

While the steak rests on the plate, deglaze your pan with a knob of butter and a liberal dash of Nomu Beef rub, then dump the butter and spices onto the steak. Done.


The AUC’s Arts Department is celebrating Black History Month with an exhibition at the Tahrir Cultural Center (Google Maps). The exhibition titled “Robert Colescott – The Cairo Years'' commemorates African-American modernist painter Robert Colescott who was AUC’s first visiting art professor and curated the university’s first exhibit at the first art gallery. The exhibit opens today and will run until 31 March.

Traditional Arabic-style music band El Khan are performing at Sakia Culture Wheel tonight at 7pm CLT (Google Maps). Never heard of them? Here’s a clip of them performing that managed to impress us (watch, runtime: 10:03).

Valentine’s Day at the Opera anybody? The Alexandria Opera House (Google Maps) will hold a Valentine’s Day celebration concert tomorrow, with a string orchestra set to play at 8pm CLT in the Sayed Darwish hall. Meanwhile, the Cairo Opera House (Google Maps) will commence a series of ‘day of love’ celebrations on Thursday and hold concerts at their main hall daily at 8pm CLT until 15 February.


BOOK RECOMMENDATION by a Twitter person we don’t know, but think is cool: Patrick Skinner has had a crazy career as a CIA officer before he left counterterrorism behind to become a beat cop in his hometown. He’s become a staple of our Twitter feed with his chronicles of MeanCat, Drunk Uncle Orangey and the “Invading Agitator Orangeys” who have invaded his law-and-order (and dog-) loving home. One part meditation on the joy of pet ownership, one part cry for social justice reform, he’s a great Twitter follow. Follow him here, read this New Yorker profile (The Spy Who Came Home).

His book tip? Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich. The kicker, he says: No myth about Hitler’s rise to power is more unconvincing than the narrative of the “unpolitical German.”

The most borrowed books in the history of the New York Public Library include childhood favorites such as The Cat in The Hat by Dr. Seuss and Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak’s. A few classroom-assigned readings also made their way onto the list, predictably To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. But what’s the most checked out book in the entire 125-year history of the library? Check out the list in this New York Public Library press release or go a bit deeper with Reader’s Digest.

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