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Thursday, 11 March 2021

What we’re tracking tonight on 11 March 2021

…and that’s another week in the books, wonderful people. We hope you all have plans to unwind and relax this weekend before we return on Sunday for week #11 of 2021 — and start the 30-day countdown to Ramadan. We hope you’ve enjoyed this M&A-heavy week as much as we have.

THE BIG STORY here at home: Nearly 5% of Egyptian adults may have been infected last year with the virus that causes covid-19. Baseera estimates 2.9 mn adults in Egypt were infected with covid-19 in 2020, according to a report (pdf) by the state-owned public opinion center. The conclusion is extrapolated from a telephone survey of just over 3k people. The highest incidence of cases occurred in November and December, Baseera says, with an estimated 864k people infected in those two months. Some 72% respondents said a physician had confirmed their diagnosis, 61% had blood tests, 56% underwent chest CTs, 23% took a PCR test, and 1.3% were diagnosed by other methods. Al Masry Al Youm has the story.

Officials have long said that the official case count under-represents the extent to which the virus has spread in Egypt. The Health Ministry’s official tally shows 188k cases reported through government labs as of yesterday. A similar Baseera poll in June 2020 found that 600k people had been infected with covid-19; the ministry’s official figure then stood at 57k. The June poll had put the number of people who had been hospitalized at roughly 74k individuals — a figure Baseera had said is within the same rough ballpark as the official case tally.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID STORY for the afternoon: Trials of Russia’s Sputnik V covid-19 vaccine in the UAE have completed the inoculation phase after 1k volunteers received the second dose of the vaccine, the Abu Dhabi Media Office announced on Twitter. Bloomberg also has the story. Sputnik has been reported to have a 91.6% effectiveness.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology’s antibody therapy reduces the risk of death by 85% in severe covid-19 cases, studies revealed, GSK said in a press release. The therapy has also proven effective against variants from Brazil, the UK and South Africa. The two companies will immediately seek emergency use authorization in the US and other countries.


HAPPENING NOW- The ban on new construction permits has *not* been extended for another six months, according to a cabinet statement issued in response to unconfirmed news reports out this morning. The Madbouly government imposed in May 2020 a six-month ban on construction permits in urban centers in response to ongoing building code violations. The restrictions were relaxed in September to allow for work to resume on buildings of four storeys or less, but the ban has remained in place for other permits. An industry lobby group said earlier this week that as many as 5 mn casual laborers have been impacted by the ban.

*** Expect workplace safety to be a big theme next week amid news just at dispatch time this afternoon that at least 20 workers were killed and 24 injured in a fire that broke out today at a garment factory in Obour. Youm7 has the still-developing story.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and a delegation of ministers arrived in Cairo today for a two-day visit, according to the Sudan News Agency. They’ll talk bilateral ties and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with their Egyptian counterparts, according to a cabinet statement. The visit comes after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Saturday visit to Khartoum and has already seen Hamdok meet with El Sisi, and a joint press conference is likely in the cards. Also on tap: a series of meetings with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, an unnamed Sudanese source told Al Shorouk. Hamdok also plans on meeting the Sudanese community in Egypt, the source added. Egypt and Sudan have previously agreed to cooperate in projects in fields such as electrical interconnection, infrastructure, water management, and transport.

The European Central Bank is expected to signal today at around 3:30 pm local time (1:30 pm GMT) whether it will act to slow or stop rising bond yields, which analysts fear could “harm the bloc’s economic outlook,” Reuters reports.


There’s no single news story dominating the news agenda in the global business press. The Financial Times is leading with what it says will likely be controversy over the European Union’s market access agreement with Beijing, while the Wall Street Journal reports that stock futures point to shares on Wall Street opening in the green a day after the Dow closed at another record high. Bloomberg, meanwhile, looks at who will benefit and who’s going to get squeezed by surging oil and commodity prices.

CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:

  • We have enough vaccines to inoculate everyone who has (so far) registered with the Health Ministry — and more on the way
  • Economic growth picked up in the second quarter of the state’s 2020-2021 fiscal year.
  • Hassan Allam Utilities is looking to expand into transport through a reverse merger with Egytrans.

KUDOS- Members of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council contributed to the purchase of medical supplies for 300 hospitals, 1k primary health care units, and 50 quarantine hospitals across the country, according to a council report released yesterday. The report focuses on social impact projects of 14 US companies including Apache, Citi, and ExxonMobil, to alleviate economic, educational, health, social and environmental challenges.

STUFF TO DO THIS WEEKEND-

Le Marché, the anchor of the annual expo scene, is on today through Sunday at the Egypt International Convention Centre, with over 300 local and international brands set to showcase their wares. Full details and digital catalogue on the show’s website.

Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 is kicking off today and will run through 20 March. The photo festival will feature over 100 activities including workshops, panels, photo challenges, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and photo walks throughout the week, all led by more than 80 local and international photographers. Genres including fashion, food, portraits, documentary and photojournalism are all in the spotlight. You can check out the event program on Photopia’s website, there’s plenty to look at on the group’s Instagram feed @cairophotoweek, and both physical and virtual tickets are available here.

The Cairo Fashion & Textile Expo trade show opened its doors today at the Cairo International Convention Center tomorrow and runs until Saturday.

The handicraft and home decor show Al Bazaar kicks off at the Cairo International Conference Centre today and will run until 20 March.

The Marketers League runs this Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 March, at Kundalini Grand Pyramids Hotel in Giza. This year’s theme is Beyond the Pandemic with panelists and speakers including our friend Tarek Nour (founder of Tarek Nour Communications), Ayman Hegazi (CEO of Allianz), Sherine Zaklama (CEO, Rada Research and Public Relations), and Walid Hassouna (CEO, EFG Hermes Finance).

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Life coach Arfeen Khan is giving a talk at a virtual AmCham event on Monday, 15 March.

Talking sustainable manufacturing with BEBA: The British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) will host a virtual conference on how Egyptian and UK firms can work together on sustainable manufacturing projects in Africa in the post-Brexit environment on Tuesday, 23 March. Check out the agenda here (pdf).

AUC Press’s Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Egyptologists are using Assassin’s Creed: Origins to teach history in a six-part Twitch series titled Playing in the Past that uses digitally recreated worlds to explore history, The Gamer reports. Set in Ptolemaic Egypt, the 10th installment of video game publisher Ubisoft’s franchise features a “Discovery Tour” mode that can be purchased separately, and lets visitors freely roam Ancient Egypt to learn more about its history and daily life with built in tours. Egyptologist Chris Naunton, who leads the show, touted the video game as “the best visualization of Ancient Egypt.” Also worth noting: the 11th installment of the franchise, Odyssey, features a discovery tour mode for Ancient Greece.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

(All times in CLT)

Back to old school comfort TV: Dream Home Makeover on Netflix is a pause-able continuation of what many over-40s experienced staring at the TV set late at night — and if you’re younger, we’re thinking odds are good you sat through some of it with your parents. Drawing from ‘classics’ such as Extreme Home Makeover, the show takes on a new project every episode from kitchens to movie rooms to entire condos.

Singer Sherine has made it to Netflix, with her 2015 series My Way (Tareeky) recently added to the streaming platform’s roster. Set in the 1970s, Sherine plays Dalila, whose dream is to become a famous singer — to the dismay and fury of her aristocratic mother.

A film about an innocent man held at Guantánamo — The Mauritanian — is in cinemas nationwide. The flick is based on the experience of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian man who was held without charge for 14 years at Guantánamo and repeatedly tortured. Slahi was arrested during the 9/11 attacks because of alleged connections to Al Qaeda. BBC hails the piece as shedding light on the realities of the US military prison, while The New York Times is too stressed to enjoy the film, saying “After weathering almost five years of rolling political scandals, American audiences could be less than eager to be reminded of one more.”

Zamalek is playing Ceramica Cleopatra tonight at 7:30pm in the Egyptian Premier League. Smouha will face off against Aswan tomorrow at 3pm, while Saturday will see Al Mokawloon play versus Ghazl El Mahalla at 3pm and Enppi taking on Al Masry at 7pm.

The Europa League is going strong with eight matches on tonight. Among the fixtures to look out for: Manchester United against Milan at 7:55pm. At 10pm we have three matches: Olympiacos versus Arsenal, Tottenham and Dinamo Zagreb, and Roma’s face off with Shakhtar Donetsk at 10pm.

Both The English Premier League and La Liga have one match on tomorrow and four on Saturday: Newcastle will go up against Aston Villa tomorrow at 10pm. Saturday will start off with Leeds United facing off with Chelsea at 2:30pm, while Crystal Palace and West Brom will play at 5pm, Everton and Burnley at 7:30pm, and Fulham and Manchester City at 10pm.

In La Liga, Levante will go head-to-head with Valencia tomorrow at 10pm, while Saturday will see Alaves play against Cadiz at 3pm, Real Madrid against Elche at 5:15pm, Osasuna against Valladolid at 7:30pm, and Getafe against Atletico Madrid at 10pm.

Finally, Serie A has two matches tomorrow and three on Saturday: Tomorrow, Lazio will play against Crotone at 4pm and Atalanta against Spezia at 9:45pm. Meanwhile on Saturday, Sassuolo will play against Verona at 4pm, Benevento will kick off against Fiorentina at 7pm, and Genoa will hit the field with Udinese at 9:45pm.

🥐EAT THIS OVER THE WEEKEND-

Artisanal food boutique Carmel has an open buffet brunch every Friday and Saturday boasting assorted sandwiches, salads, quiche, mini bagels, pizza, and desserts. The mouthwatering display of munchies is set out from 10am-4pm while breakfast is served all day at the New Cairo restaurant (Google Maps). Their dishes are all intricately put together such as their tarts, mille-feuille, and eclairs. We might be highlighting their breakfast dishes, but their all-day menu is also fantastic. We recommend their fish and chips and their salmon fillet. Not convinced yet? Check out their Instagram @carmel_egypt and thank us later.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

(All times in CLT)

The Cairo Opera is celebrating iconic singer Mohamed Abdelwahab’s birthday with a concert led by Selim Sehab while Safwan Bahlawan and Mai Farouk will be performing today at 8pm. Abdelwahab would have been 120 this Saturday, with his birthday reported to be 13 March 1901.

Sheikh Zayed’s Walk of Cairo has a lot going on tomorrow: Red Bull is hosting its dance battle Dance Your Style tomorrow where dancers can hop on the dancefloor and improvise their choreography with random music. The audience will act as judges. Meanwhile, the Cairo Flea market will be having a Mother’s Day Festival on tomorrow from 11am-10pm featuring local art, handmade bags, vintage treasures, and upcycled items.

New Cairo’s Point90 also has a Mother’s Day Bazar this weekend. If, like us, you had forgotten about Mother’s Day and are now panicking, there’s still time to treat your mama right: Egyptian Mother’s Day isn’t until 21 March.

A BlaBla language exchange meetup is taking place tonight at 7pm at Dawar in Downtown Cairo (Google Maps). Attendees can practice Italian, German, or French while meeting new people.

Visual arts competition and exhibition Roznama 8 is opening today at Medrar. The competition was set up by the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) who gathered a jury of artists who selected 34 artworks from over 500 applicants under the age of 35. The selected pieces range from photography, moving images, painting, graphic art, sculpture, to installations and mixed media creations by young Egyptian artists. From the 34 artworks, three will be named best of show on 25 March and the artists responsible for them will be able to pursue an art residency in the Netherlands, France, or Switzerland.

LIVE STREAMED- The Cairo Classical Ensemble will perform Spring Love Themes at 8pm in an event organized by the AUC Center for the Arts. The ensemble performs works by Mozart, Cimarosa and Piazzolla for oboe and string quartet. You can find the livestream link in the event details.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

The Hard Thing About Hard Things sees Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitz relating his personal experience to veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to create their own new ventures. The high-profile venture capitalist offers essential advice on building and running a startup — and the challenges you’ll face along the way. Bonus: He’s also an avid rap fan and he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs.


🌤 WEEKEND WEATHER- We’re in for another sunny day tomorrow, with daytime highs of 25°C and lows of 11°C, our favorite weather app tells us. Saturday will be the same, but the temperature will go up on Sunday to 28°C.

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