Monday, 22 February 2021

What we’re tracking on 22 February 2021

Good afternoon, everyone — we hope your Monday was as chill and uneventful as the news today.

BIGGEST LOCAL STORY OF THE DAY- Egypt will be receiving 300k doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine tonight as a gift from Beijing to Cairo, Assistant Health Minister Khaled Megahed told Youm7 in an exclusive. We’re also expecting 8.6 mn doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by next week, Health Minister Hala Zayed in her press conference yesterday. Egyptians can register to take a covid-19 vaccine starting next week.

YOUR MANDATORY COVID STORY- South African vaccine manufacturer The Biovac Institute aims to fill in Africa’s vaccine gap and is currently in talks to produce a covid-19 vaccine at its facilities, reports Bloomberg. The Cape Town-based pharma company will begin producing the vaccine within 12 months of signing an agreement, said CEO Morena Makhoana, without disclosing which vaccine developer Biovac is negotiating with. While Biovac has previously produced bacterial vaccines, the company needs to expand to “build capability of developing viral vaccines, that will give South Africa a solid footing to deal with future pandemics,” said Makhoana. Currently, Africa only has shot-making facilities in South Africa, Senegal and Egypt.

Masks may be here to stay for longer than we thought, with US’s Chief Medical Adviser for covid-19 Response Dr. Anthony Fauci saying on CNN that it’s possible that Americans will still need to wear masks in 2022 to protect against covid-19.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD TODAY- Boeing recommended the suspension of its 777 jets with PW4000 engines, following United Airlines 777 landing safely in Denver on Saturday after its right engine failed. Boeing recommended airlines suspend operations until US regulators identified the appropriate inspection protocol. United and airlines in Japan and Korea are apparently the only airlines that meet the specs, Reuters reports. The move raises the specter of the 737 Max grounding last year after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in 2019.


Check out the rare solar alignment that caused the sun to shine on the face of King Ramses II in Abu Simbel Temple today, captured by Extra News (watch, runtime: 13:43). Ramses II feels the sun on his face twice a year — once in October to mark the king’s birthday and the beginning of the growing season and again in February to celebrate his coronation and the start of harvest season. You can read more about the phenomenon here.


Russian state nuclear energy giant Rosatom is hosting a Science Festival Week in Egypt that will run until Thursday. The science festival will take place at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in both Cairo and Alexandria. The aim of the event is to introduce students to the fundamentals of nuclear science, its various applications, and the role of nuclear technology in a nation’s development, said Rosatom regional VP Alexander Voronkov.

Will we get an update on Dabaa? Rosatom is building the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plant after all. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground.

The Afro Future Summit is coming up this Friday — bringing together African futurists, investors, tech entrepreneurs, celebrities, politicians and business moguls in a virtual event that aims to introduce the potential and tackle the challenges of people with African descent worldwide. The event is organized in partnership with companies such as Microsoft, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud, with high-profile speakers including Procter & Gamble CCO Damon Jones, Softbank Partner Shu Nyatta, AT&T Senior Vice President Corey Anthony, and Twitter Director Alexandra Kennedy. You can purchase tickets for the event here.


Travellers are looking at Africa for post-covid vacations: As travel to Europe and the US seems dicey as lockdowns and high case counts continue, people itching to wipe the dust on their suitcases are looking at wide-open, remote places to place their travel bets, reports Bloomberg. Africa is getting a lot of love with the promise of wide open spaces during a fun safari and privacy at small boutique camps, says operator Abercrombie & Kent Spokesperson Pamela Lassers. That interest extends to Egypt which has “the world’s largest open-air museum,” Lassers says.

Who says you can’t find a silver lining with global warming: Meanwhile, Antarctica has charted the most significant growth in interest from American travelers, with travel group White Desert already sold out of two trips for late 2021 (even with prices of USD 100k per person). Other destinations garnering interest are Maldives, The Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic.

Apple is back to dominating the global smartphone market after five-years of losing out to brands such as Samsung and Huawei, according to IT research firm Gartner. The introduction of a 5G variant of the iPhone (the iPhone 12), helped propel the company’s sales 14.9% y-o-y in 4Q2020, with Apple recording a 20.8% global market share during the quarter. The uptrend in sales is expected to continue in 1Q2021 and further into the year as Apple’s sales grow in line with a recovering market, said Annette Zimmerman, the lead analyst for Apple at Gartner.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s sales fell 11.8% y-o-y putting it at second place with a market share of 16.2%, followed by Xiomi with a market share of 11.3%, Oppo (8.9%), and Huawei (8.9%). The previous no.2 smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, suffered the sharpest slide, with smartphone sales falling 41% y-o-y in 4Q2020 due to sanctions imposed by the US government.


Netflix has released a new original film I Care A Lot, starring Rosamund Pike. Pike’s character Marla Grayson owns a firm that places seniors in homes and assumes control of their assets when they’re deemed medically incapable of taking care of themselves. Grayson makes a fortune by taking advantage of her older clients, but one day, she picks the wrong mark: an elderly woman who has a mama-loving crime boss for a son. The film is described as highlighting another “systemic injustice the wider culture has decided it’s fine with.” Check out reviews in the New York Times and Polygon.

Apple TV has an array of docuseries for you to delve into: Becoming You follows the first 2000 days of 100 children who come from different cultures and walks of life. The show highlights how young people find their own way in the world, from their very first step. Looking for something more nature-oriented? Check out Earth At Night which follows animals when the sun goes down. The series uses cutting-edge camera equipment to give you amazing night footage in full color.

Speaking of which: The Apple TV application is now available for download on Google Chromecast, reports The Verge.

There’s a smattering of matches amongst the leagues today: You can still catch the second half of the match currently being played between Ceramica Cleopatra and Ghazl El Mahalla for the Egypt Cup, while Smouha and Al Masry will head to the field at 7:30pm CLT in the Egyptian Premier League. Osasuna and Sevilla will play for La Liga at 10pm CLT. Crotone will play against Juventus at 9:45pm CLT in Serie A and finally Brighton will face off against Crystal Palace 10pm CLT in the English Premier League.


A Texan barbeque restaurant has made its way to New Cairo: The meat lovers among you will find plenty to sink your teeth into at LongHorn Texas BBQ with their smoked meats, brisket, and huge platters of soul food. We recommend the brisket pastrami with loaded fries and don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with their pecan pie. The restaurant’s decor is also to be commended with Chuck the bull greeting guests at the door. Find them at O1 Mall in New Cairo (Google Maps). Cairo West and City Talks Magazine approve.

Want a taste, but still not dining out? Longhorn Texas BBQ is selling a limited batch of homemade beef jerky made using US prime beef as well as their signature BBQ sauces.


Rock band Wujood are playing at El Sawy Culture Wheel today at 7pm CLT. They play original songs with plenty of guitar solos.

Not enough guitar for you? You can now attend guitar classes at B-Hub in New Cairo (Google Maps), with three levels depending on your familiarity with the instrument. There’s the option of taking a group course or booking private lessons with instructor Hossam Fouad.

Music Zone club in Heliopolis is hosting a ladies-only dancing night today (Google Maps).

Handmade product exhibition Deyarna is still on at Cairo Festival City until Thursday. It’s a great way to support local artisans who like to work with their hands while also getting some unique pieces for your house.

Catch a screening of a Shadi Abdel Salam classic this Wednesday: The Mummy (The Night of Counting the Years) will be screened at the Cinematic Cultural Centre (Google Maps) on Wednesday at 6pm CLT, reports Ahram Online. The film was directed by the late Egyptian filmmaker Shadi Abdel Salam.


Your light read of the day: The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood follows two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016 in a comic depiction of what it means to be a Muslim immigrant in modern America.

Another climate change book: Under a White Sky written by Elizabeth Kolbert (who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book The Sixth Extinction) looks at how we can re-engineer the looming catastrophe of climate change. The book garnered applause from the renowned journal Nature, calling it an “outstanding reportage from the front lines of geoengineering”.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Say goodbye to the sun today… Our favorite weather app is forecasting a 40% chance of showers tomorrow in Cairo amidst cloudy skies. Look out for daytime highs of 18°C and lows of 11°C. The national weather service has warned people in Matrouh and Alexandria that a strong storm cloud is approaching and that it could hit Kafr El Sheikh later on in the day.

CORRECTION- We picked up a story from the local press yesterday that incorrectly said that Rameda Pharma saw a 20% increase in sales in 2020. The 20% growth actually came in the company’s private retail sales, company sources tell us.


CORRECTED ON 22 February 2021

We clearly had a few wires loose in the noggin as Hala Zayed is the Health Minister and not Hala El Saeed (the Planning Minister).

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