Wednesday, 3 March 2021

What we’re tracking on 3 March 2020

Good Afternoon, everyone. And welcome to an action-packed and diplomacy-heavy issue.

Key highlights on the diplo (which we cover in full in the Speed Round below), include:

  • Infrastructure diplomacy victory: Telecom Egypt is working on a sub-sea cable that could connect Africa with Europe.
  • Is Turkey walking back its aggressive stance on East Med relations with Egypt?
  • Will Egypt join other African countries in the WBG’s new vaccine financing initiative?
  • Tariffs, tariffs and more tariffs
  • Ethiopia reacts to Sudan and Egypt’s united front on GERD.

But first, it’s PMI Day, where we break down in the Speed Round below why non-oil business activity contracted for the third straight month. The good news: the contraction in February was at a slower pace.

COMING UP THIS WEEK- The House Economics Committee has a busy week with key legislation: The draft Unified Insurance Act has finally made it to the House Economic Committee, Al Mal reported today. The committee will discuss the bill, which has been in the making for at least three years, once it's done with ongoing discussions of the Sovereign Sukuk Act and changes to the Competition Act, committee head Ahmed Samir said. The proposed insurance legislation would raise the minimum capital requirement for life and property insurers and grant the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) sweeping new powers to oversee the sector.


AUC is holding Mad March this month, their biggest book sale of the year with up to 75% off on all books. The book sale is on everyday from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden and is open to the public.

Tough Mudder’s resilience-testing obstacle course will take place this weekend. You can learn more about Tough Mudder Egypt and register for the event on their website.

The IDC Future of Work conference is kicking off next Monday, 8 March, under the theme “The Path to Business Resiliency”.

The Cairo International Furniture Show, Le Marche, is set to take place from 11-14 March at the Egypt International International Convention Centre, with over 300 local and international brands to showcase their pieces.

The Cairo Fashion & Tex trade show will take place at Cairo International Convention Center from 11-13 March.


Biden’s SEC nominee wants to take on Bitcoin: Bitcoin took a 3% dip yesterday after a Senate confirmation hearing from SEC nominee Gary Gensler, who is less than enthusiastic about the cryptocurrency, reports Bloomberg. Gensler suggested that more government oversight of cryptocurrencies is a definite possibility to ensure “appropriate investor protection” amidst debate about whether the rapidly evolving market constitutes a legitimate new asset class or a bubble ripe for abuse, according to Quartz. Tuesday’s Bitcoin slide comes after a 65% rally since December.

You could attend your next event through a hologram: Microsoft has unveiled software tools to make it easier and cheaper to bring virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to the masses, reports Bloomberg.The company’s Mesh software will allow users to work and play together virtually by interacting with the same set of holograms through devices such as Microsoft’s USD 3.5k HoloLens AR goggles and Facebook’s USD 300 Oculus as well as other VR headsets while cell phones and computers will also enable users to get a 2D view. Mesh could pave the way to hold events such as concerts or company meetings where users can holoport in from anywhere.

Niantic Labs — the creators of Pokemon Go — has already jumped into the fold to collaborate with Microsoft to create more VR and AR-based games through Mesh, the company said on Twitter. The thread comes with a video showcasing some of the possibilities of the new games such as walking around in a world of Pokemon while feeding and interacting with them.



Guess who got his show back: We haven’t said this in a while, but Netflix came through with a pleasant surprise, dropping the ENTIRETY of Chappelle’s Show for Egypt audiences yesterday. For those born after 1995, Dave Chappelle is that old, buff, chain-smoking uncle that likes to give funny (or semi-funny, to be honest) lectures on politics and race relations. But to elder millennials, he was so much more. His brand of satirical standup on race hadn’t really been seen since the Richard Pryor days. He was also a mainstay of the stoner comedies (Half Baked). Oh, and he happened to create the greatest sketch comedy show ever made.

To say the show was revolutionary is an understatement (though very cliche). And coming at a time when Saturday Night Live was going stale, that was no easy feat. Everyone from Amy Schumer to Key and Peele, owe their success in some measure to Chappelle. The show also introduced many up and coming musical talents, including the now-former Mr Kardashian, and inventor of the iPlane One, Kanye West. And reintroduced some old ones: if you went to college in the mid-2000s, you certainly knew who Rick James was.

Chappelle vs The Man (Comedy Central): Netflix running the show follows a brief campaign started by the comedian to boycott watching the show. He revealed in an intensely dark standup act (watch, runtime: 18:33) how essentially Comedy Central took the rights of his show in perpetuity. And that’s all she wrote, apparently. We’re hoping this is a chance to get the band back together — minus the late, great Charlie Murphy, who passed away in 2017 — and get another season going. Ashy Larry really needs a gig.

A new independent streaming service for MENA cinema was launched this month: Shasha provides a platform to watch films and documentaries created by filmmakers in the region that wouldn’t normally get picked up by larger streaming sites like Netflix. Time Magazine was quick to pick up news of the new streaming service and talked to Founder and Iraqi-Irish curator Roisin Tapponi who brings up the problem that while many of these films are screened in Western film festivals, they often are never shown to “the people they’re made by and for and about”. Tapponi created Shasha after noticing this gap of showcasing films in the region, citing a lack of distribution and support as key factors that successful filmmakers remain unnoticed.

The English Premier League has had one hell of a gameweek, and fantasy PL players must be pleased. Today’s match itinerary includes Burnley versus Leicester City at 8pm CLT and Sheffield United versus Aston Villa also at 8pm CLT. The night will finish off with Crystal Palace playing against Man United at 10:15pm CLT.

Meanwhile, Serie A has a whopping total of seven matches on today and the matches to look out for are Milan against Udinese, Fiorentina against Roma, and Parma against Inter Milan, all at 9:45pm CLT.

A match to look out for tonight: Barcelona is playing against Sevilla today at 10pm CLT in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals. The competition has been stiff between the two teams, with Sevilla winning 2-0 against Barcelona in February, but made a comeback on Saturday winning Sevilla 2-0, reports SB Nation. The winner will go on to play in the Spanish cup’s final.


If you’ve been to France, you’ve probably seen a handful of Brioche Dorée kiosks and cafes all over, and after sitting in one of those cafes in Paris and coming back to Brioche Dorée Egypt, we can confidently say that the French vibes are very present. We were told that the ingredients they use for their croissants are imported from France (and are some of the best we’ve ever had). You’ll also never see a lovelier glass display filled with colorful and detailed pastries and tarts. We recommend going there for breakfast, because what’s better than coffee, eggs, a croissant, and a tart to start off your day. You can find Brioche Dorée at Cairo Festival City, Downtown Mall, Mall of Egypt, Dandy Mall, and Zamalek.


The French Institute in Cairo is kicking off their African Cinema Month today at 6pm CLT with the showing of Le Sapeur by David-Pierre Fila. African films will be screened every Wednesday throughout March to discover the contemporary creations of the continent including dance, performance, fashion, and music.

Magal Explore is holding a fundamentals of chess workshop starting Saturday, 6 March. We’ve heard a bunch of you tell us that you like playing chess, so this could be a good way to destress and hone your chess skills. Magal Explore also has other courses you could look into such as gardening, video production, or graphic design.

The Candy Gang are leaving Ibiza for Egypt this weekend and are set to perform tomorrow at Maadi’s Blue Nile Boat club Tempo (Google Maps). A surprise guest is also expected to hit the stage later on in the night.


Get a better feel for the rich history of our capital with Cairo since 1900, an architectural guide written by MIT’s Mohamed Elshahed that surveys the city’s eclectic modern constructions, turn-of-the-century revivalism and romanticism, concrete expressionism, and modernist designs. The guide includes entries for more than 220 buildings and sites of note, each entry consisting of concise, explanatory text describing the building and its significance accompanied by photographs, drawings, and maps.

You can get the book at AUC Press’s Mad March book sale, and the MIT Architecture department is holding an online lecture with Mohamed Elshahed on Friday at 1am CLT ([redacted] the time difference).

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Tomorrow is the last of cold days. Our favorite weather app anticipates highs of 21℃ and lows of 11℃ tomorrow, but the weather should pick up as we go into next week, reaching temperatures of 30℃ on Tuesday and 32℃ on Wednesday.

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