What we’re tracking tonight on 14 February 2021
Hello, friends. We hope the day has treated you well — and that you’ve consumed plenty of chocolate in honour of Valentine’s Day.
THE BIG STORY AT HOME- There are two of them, actually. Egypt needs to push ahead with “deep” reforms after skating through covid-19 as the only Arab country to post real economic growth, the Institute for International Finance writes in a new report. Meanwhile, Information Minister Osama Heikal is under fire after being censured by a House committee. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD is unchanged from this morning: Agent Orange avoided conviction at his second impeachment trial. (Our sleep-deprived brains wrote in EnterpriseAM that he escaped impeachment for the second time, not that he avoided conviction again, prompting a reader to question our general intelligence. We hope he rests soundly tonight knowing that the guilty among us have been repeatedly flogged with spaghetti for our transgression. The story has been corrected on our website.)
** CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories in this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- New daily cases of covid-19 could peak in April, Health Minister Hala Zayed said, suggesting we could be in or heading toward a third wave.
- We had a ton of commodities news just days after JPMorgan suggested that we’re entering a new super-cycle some 12 years after the last one ended.
- Green car program incentives in phase one could cost state coffers a bit more than EGP 7 bn.
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID UPDATE: You can stop washing your [redacted] groceries now before putting them away. Don’t believe us? Read Hygiene theater is still a huge waste of time in the Atlantic. Then get into the habit of wearing two masks whenever you leave the house — a surgical one underneath, then a cloth one on top to hold the bottom mask nice and tight. Like Anthony Fauci did on NBC’s Today.
ALSO- New Zealand’s Auckland has been ordered to impose a three-day lockdown starting today after three covid-19 cases emerged in the country’s largest city, reports Barrons. NZ had previously “cancelled” covid for real.
PSA- No bank in Egypt is going to ring you up and ask you for your personal information, KYC or no KYC. If a bank needs you to update your personal information, you’ll get a call or an SMS asking you to stop into your nearest branch (or call your banker) to do what needs doing. Nobody legit is going to ask you for your national ID number or anything else after ringing you up and introducing themselves as calling from a bank.
Still not convinced? Hang up on them. Grab your credit card or your bank card. Flip it over and look at the fine print. You should see a telephone number — call it. Or head to your bank’s website and get your branch’s telephone number (or a call-center number) there.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR- Students have until tomorrow to apply for placement at private universities on the Higher Education Ministry’s online application portal. We covered the site in detail and got first impressions of the new mechanism in a three part series on our vertical Blackboard (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3).
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
For the iSheep, tech and business nerds among us: Go read Apple is the USD 2.3 tn fortress that Tim Cook built, a cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek. It’s a solid read about how Cook built Steve Jobs’ baby into the giant it is today. It’s also proving (a little bit) divisive in the community of Apple watchers. Daring Fireball’s inimitable John Gruber recommends the piece, saying it is “very fair and rings true,” while Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart took issue with it on Twitter, writing that he “didn’t find it worth [his] time,” in part because it has “numerous inaccuracies throughout.”
Speaking of Apple: That grudge match with Facebook? It’s nastier and more personal than previously reported, the WSJ writes in an exclusive that quotes Zuck as saying, “We need to inflict pain” on Apple for putting human privacy ahead of Facebook’s business model. On that note, Zuck probably doesn’t want you to read Why don’t we just ban targeted advertising? in Wired magazine. (Benedict Evans has thoughts on the Tweeter as to why that might not be practical.)
And on the subject of tech: Your new car may be a bit more expensive than you had planned if you’re in the market these days. Remember that chip shortage we mentioned on Thursday? Well, it’s going to hit cars, too after major industry players including VW, Ford and Honda “misjudged supply lines of semiconductors that control engines, airbags, touchscreens.” The result: Lower production and outright assembly stoppages at major automakers. And we all know what happens when there are fewer cars and more demand, right?
Remember the US government’s desire to (explore whether to) build killer robots, which we picked up last week? Well, the story is the tip of the iceberg. The Pentagon wants autonomous ships, helicopters and jets, imagining a future that includes “pilotless jets engaging in dogfights” and “huge undersea vessels ferrying troops.” Meanwhile, Boston Dynamics’ “quadruped” now has a commercially viable arm — as in a limb like we humans have. IEEE Spectrum writes. The four-legged robot’s arm can grab and pick up things (like laundry), open round door knobs, turn valves, hold on to ropes, drag concrete blocks, flip electrical switches and even dig holes. But Spot’s chief engineer warns: “Spot is not a cobot. You shouldn’t hug it.”
How could any of this ever go wrong? Once again, we suggest you take a few hours’ off to read Gregg Hurwitz’s novel Prodigal Son, which beneath its thriller exterior is a thoughtful exploration about what it means to separate moral responsibility from the use of violence.
Hoping for a more utopian future? The battery is ready to power the world, the Wall Street Journal writes, claiming that the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is poised to “disrupt” industries — and transform the way the world uses power.
Why should we pay attention? “The battery boom could erode demand for crude oil and byproducts such as gasoline—as well as for natural gas, which is primarily used in power plants.” Readers will recall we have rather a lot of that natural gas stuff kicking about — and abundant sunshine powering the world’s largest solar parks down in Benban. Want to know what the future looks like? This is the story you never knew you needed.
💖 OUT AND ABOUT-
Haven’t made plans yet? We’ve got you:
- Sheraton Cairo is offering a Valentine’s Day room and dinner package.
- Kempinski Royal Maxim is hosting romantic dinners for two at all their restaurants.
- Hilton Zamalek will offer a four course candlelight dinner overlooking the Nile.
- JW Marriot’s Mandara Spa has a special Valentine’s day massage package.
Looking for something a little less… bouji? The Cairo Opera is holding Valentine’s Day concert today at 8pm CLT while Flow Cycle Egypt is holding a yoga session entitled “Heart Opening Workshop” tomorrow at 7pm CLT.
Single, but ready to mingle? Urban Crossings is holding a “speed meeting and slow dining” night for singles today at 7pm CLT. The gathering will be in a cozy “private setting” that will only be disclosed to folks who register. You can sign up here.
More love in the air: The New York Times thinks Dahab is a great place to fall in love, featuring in its Pandemic Love series the story of a couple who met in a taxi cab in the Red Sea destination. They married in December after a romantic proposal in — you guessed it — Dahab.
Egypt’s three favourite love songs, according to a statement out by Spotify this afternoon on the tunes most popular among Egyptians creating their own V-Day playlists:
- Hussain Aljassmi — Bel Bont El3areed
- Sherine — حبه جنة
- Hassan Shakoush, Omar Kamal — Mahragan Bent El Geran
^^ Although anything by Hassan Shakoush being called a “love song” calls into question the accuracy of, well, everything?
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
If you haven’t already, it’s a great time to get caught up on season one of the AppleTV+ drama For All Mankind, which is back for season two on Friday, 19 February, with new episodes following every Friday. Season two takes the space race to the next level with armed soldiers on the moon, nuclear weapons, and Ronald Reagan in the White House. Catch the trailer (watch, runtime: 2:42) — it looks awesome.
Are you an Apple nerd and a space nerd at the same time? Go download the For All Mankind app: Time Capsule, which bills itself as “a story between seasons one and two” — but which is really just a cool use of AR through which you can use iPhone 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max or iPad Pro with a Lidar scanner to explore artifacts from the series’ world. Get a preview here (watch, runtime: 0:40), read more about it here or download the app here.
The first season of the French Netflix Original series Lupin is worth a watch, with the second season to be out soon. Inspired by gentleman thief and master of disguise Arsène Lupin, the series follows Assane Diop (played by Omar Sy) as he sets out to avenge his father. Maybe this will sell you on the show: a Sherlock Holmes crossover is being considered, Lupin’s creator confirmed last week.
The leagues are all going strong today: In the English Premier League, Southampton and Wolves are finishing up their match as we dispatch this issue, but you can hurry to catch the fixture between West Brom and Manchester United at 4pm CLT. Meanwhile, Arsenal faces off against Leeds at 6:30pm CLT and Everton takes on Fulham at 9pm CLT.
La Liga’s Getafe and Real Sociedad are currently on the field, with their match having started at 3pm CLT. Real Madrid will play Valencia at 5:15pm CLT while Levante and Osasuna take to the field at 7:30pm CLT. Villarreal will face off against Real Betis at 10pm CLT.
Roma and Udinese kicked off the first of five Serie A matches earlier today. Sampdoria will be playing against Fiorentina and Cagliari plays Atalanta, both at 4pm CLT. Later on in the day, we’ve got Crotone facing off against Sassuolo at 7pm CLT and Inter Milan meeting Lazio at 9:45pm CLT.
🍔 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
SAHEL TO CAIRO #2- A growing number of Sahel foot startups are making it big in Cairo. The now-iconic BRGR (The Burger Truck) kicked off the trend after developing a cult following when it first launched in Sahel in 2015. It now has 4 permanent Cairo locations, including Zayed (SODIC West), Six of October (Mall of Arabia Extension), Cairo-Alex Desert Road (New Giza), and New Cairo (The Waterway 2). Feeling indulgent? Try their double cheeseburger J-Bomb with cheese fries. It’s reminiscent of Shake Shack and arguably the best burger in Cairo.
💡UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is out with a new book on climate change. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The solutions we have and the breakthroughs we need sets out a plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. The Guardian and The Times are both out with reviews, and we’re sure more will be quick to follow.
Oddly enough, microchipping us all doesn’t appear to be on his list of solutions…
Wondering what Gates reads in his spare time? The New York Times asked him for his 2021 book recommendations.
An Arab, Muslim woman versus Trump’s USA: Love is an Ex-Country is the latest from Randa Jarrar, a Muslim American born of Egyptian and Palestinian parents. The novel is written as a memoir as the performer recalls events that happened on tour. Jarrar’s 2008 book A Map of Home won her the Hopwood Award and an Arab-American Book Award.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Look for sunny skies and a high of 22°C before the weather turns cold on Tuesday. The nadir will be a daytime high of 12°C on Wednesday with the possibility of a sprinkle. The mercury will stay in the teens through Saturday. The long-range forecast shows next week also looking cold — think of it as winter’s last gasp after an unseasonably warm season.