What we’re tracking tonight on 15 February 2021
Good afternoon, nice people, and welcome to the tail end of the workday. We hope the end is in sight for you on this (relatively) quiet news day in which the biggest news if from the taxman:
THE BIG STORY AT HOME- The second phase of the Tax Authority’s new e-invoicing system went live this morning, with 347 companies added to the list of companies that must now log their invoices electronically to the Finance Ministry’s platform, the ministry said. The companies, all of whom are large taxpayers, will be joined by other players gradually through 30 June. The program launched last November. Any company that falls under the jurisdiction of the Tax Authority’s large taxpayer office will face sanctions if they don’t sign up for e-invoicing by 1 July 2021.
What is this e-invoicing system, you ask? We have a primer on the system, including its purpose, the timeline for implementation and a list of phase one companies here.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD? No single story is driving the global business news agenda with US and Canadian markets in the midst of national holidays. The FT is leading with news that Apple had approached Nissan to work together on its super-secretive self-driving car project, while the Wall Street Journal is worked up about risky corporate debt. On the wires, Reuters is following developments in Myanmar, while Bloomberg frets that the GCC could see an exodus of expats.
** CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- What next term looks like for the nation’s students — from K-12 through university, including international, private and public schools. (Read)
- CTP Invest commits USD 600 mn to build business parks. (Read)
- Daily covid cases inched up again and deaths surged after weekend respite. (Read)
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID UPDATE: Vitamin D looks like it is protective against covid-19 to some extent, but whether supplementation is a good idea? That’s still a very open question, says one expert, poking holes in an aggressively pushed study that claims taking the supplement can result in “an 80% reduction in need for ICU and a 60% reduction in deaths.”
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
PSA- A reminder you have until 31 March to get that RFID sticker installed on your windshield or run afoul of the Traffic Police. We’ve had plenty of deadline extensions on this one, folks — we’re not expecting another.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Can the World Trade Organization help us lead better lives when covid is in the rearview mirror? That’s what new WTO boss Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala thinks, according to the Financial Times in a Valentine’s Day love letter that opens with the words, “Taking on apparently insurmountable challenges is something of a habit for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.” The former World Bank VP and one-time finance minister of Nigeria “wants the trade body to focus on raising living standards in the wake of the pandemic.”
You know how the USSR had this great tradition of public art? And we … don’t? Well, the Tourism Ministry is setting out to “upgrade all decorative statues in public squares nationwide to elevate aesthetic standards in public spaces.” Is there hope still? Probably not unless you agree that Tahrir Square is now on par with some of the most attractive public squares in the world.
Hey, you know what would be great this evening? To have to worry about the prospects of a new epidemic (not a pandemic, an epidemic): Four people are dead after contracting the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea, AFP writes, prompting the country’s health minister to call the outbreak an “epidemic situation” after saying there are seven confirmed cases of infection. Meanwhile, two people have died in Democratic Republic of Congo in what could be another wave just three months after Congo weathered what US public radio outfit NPR is calling “the virus's second-worst outbreak in history.”
The Egyptian Connection- US foreign policy hawks don’t approve of Joe Biden’s choice to head up his administration’s negotiations with Iran. Robert Malley, son of an Egypt-born leftist, Jewish journalist, is simultaneously being accused of not being pro-Israeli enough and being too accommodating towards Tehran, according to the New York Times. The appointment of Malley, one of the architects of the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear accord, has raised fears among Republicans that the Biden White House will reverse Trump’s hawkish posture towards the Islamic Republic and look for a new agreement.
As if we needed more reason to be worried about how remote learning is affecting our kids: Pediatricians are now warning of an uptick in weight gain among children, who are facing the twin threat of lower activity levels and increased snacking, the Wall Street Journal says. “They miss their friends. A lot of them aren’t doing as well academically. With depression also comes weight gain. They’re bored, and I think they’re comfort-eating,” one physician assistant says.
The phenomenon already existed before the pandemic — just during summer vacation. Studies previously showed that kids had a tendency to gain more weight during the break, when they didn’t necessarily get the same level of activity they would during the school year — and find the kitchen within easy reach. While the weight gain decelerated once classes were back in session, the kids were unlikely to shed the extra weight.
SOUND SMART- Clubhouse: The exclusive invitation-only social networking app taking the internet by storm: Clubhouse is a social networking app based on audio-chat where users can meet up to host, listen to, and in some cases, join conversations within the app's community. Clubhouse is invite only — you can’t just download it off the app store and create an account, instead you have to be invited to join by an existing member (who will only have two invites available). While the app launched in March 2020, Clubhouse gained popularity recently after Elon Musk held a conversation with Robinhood Markets CEO Vladimir Tenev on the platform. Clubhouse currently has 2 mn users and a valuation of USD 1 bn, with plans to introduce features such as tipping, tickets, and subscriptions to directly pay creators on the app. The Guardian and Business Insider have more.
KUDOS- Both the Egyptian National Rugby Team for men and for women have won the Arab Rugby Federation Sevens Tournament and are hoping to make it to the World Cup, according to Sports News Egypt and Extra News. This year’s tournament was held in Alexandria.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
We’re a bit late to the show, but WandaVision on Disney+ looks promising. The Marvel Studio's series follows the comics characters Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and Vision. You can check out the trailer here. We’d also like to remind you that OSN in Egypt gives you access to Disney+ shows under certain plans.
Chappelle’s Show has returned to Netflix after standup comedian Dave Chappelle gave permission for the show to be aired following a dispute over his Comedy Central contract, writes Pitchfork.
Your daily dose of football: West Ham and Sheffield United will be playing today at 8pm CLT in the Premier League while Chelsea and Newcastle will compete at 10pm CLT. Cádiz will face off against Athletic Club at 10pm CLT in tonight’s sole La Liga match. Serie A also has a single match today between Parma and Verona at 9:45pm CLT.
EAT THIS TONIGHT-
🍮 SAHEL TO CAIRO #3- The latest in our series on Sahel food startups that have gone on to make it big in Cairo is Keki, the Japanese Cheesecake shop. If you’ve never tried Japanese cheesecake, you have no idea what you are missing. This light and fluffy dessert bears little resemblance to the traditional cheesecake that we know and love. Think more souffle than cheesecake. Cakes come in original and chocolate flavors and they are best eaten hot from the oven, so home delivery is your second-best option. Oh, and their coffee isn’t bad either. Keki opened its first Cairo pop-up in 2020 at Galleria 40 in Zayed.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
📷 Some of us are corporate types by day, artists by night. One such person is CIB’s Romany Hafez (Instagram), whose latest photography exhibition To Be Present opened on Saturday at Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek (Google Maps). Hafez’s work explores how “all subjects exist in a dichotomy of absence and presence alike,” leaving viewers to “never know if the moment is in the past, present or future.” Hours: To Be Present runs through 28 February. The gallery is open 11am-9pm CLT daily, except for Sundays.
Also worth exploring: Ubuntu Gallery (Google Maps) has opened a new exhibition by Nagi Farid titled “Silent Conversations.” Farid is an internationally renowned Egyptian sculptor and his work has traveled abroad for both the National International Biennials for Ceramics and the Venice Biennial. The gallery suggests you make a reservation before visiting as to avoid overcrowding in light of the pandemic.
Poet Hazem Wefi is holding six-session song and poetry writing workshops at Place Des Arts (Google Maps) on Mondays and Wednesdays. Wefi has written songs for Cairokee, Wust el Balad Band, and Hamza Namira. Place Des Arts also has a handful of other workshops coming, among them photography, mixed media arts, and oud and guitar. You can check out their full schedule and register by clicking or tapping here.
A play is on at El Sawy Culturewheel today at 6pm CLT by the Ebdaat Troup titled El Defeara (The Braid). The play is written and directed by Tarek Abdelazez.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
A reminder to add time for fun to your calendar: Why fun is important and how to experience it more often is the main focus of That Sounds Fun: The Joys of Being an Amateur, the Power of Falling in Love, and Why You Need a Hobby by podcaster and bestselling author Annie F. Downs.
Can’t commit to a full-length book at the moment? Maybe a collection of short stories will do the trick: We’re looking at A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. The book explores what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves — and our world today.
🌦 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- A cold front is set to move in tonight, blanketing Cairo and Alexandria with cold temperatures and likely some rain for the next several days. Our favourite weather app warns us to expect a low of 14°C tomorrow and 12°C on Wednesday in the capital city. Cairo could see showers both days, but Alex is facing the prospect of nearly 30 mm of rain on Tuesday and as much as 15 mm on Wednesday. The long-range forecast shows next week also looking cold — think of it as winter’s last gasp after an unseasonably warm season.