What we’re tracking tonight on 22 March 2021
Good afternoon, nice people, and welcome to a reasonably calm news day. Perhaps the biggest stories of this unseasonably hot, dry afternoon: Bank of America thinks we’re looking at a recovery in tourism starting in 2022 — and EgyptAir is looking to expand to outside our nation’s borders.
No, the national flag carrier isn’t just adding routes — it’s mulling investment in Ghana and Africa at the same time as it may take over AirSinai’s route to Tel Aviv. Have we mentioned, lately, how much we miss flying EgyptAir?
THREE BIG STORIES ABROAD are vying for your attention this afternoon. The New York Times and Reuters are leading with news that US trials of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab showed it to be safe and have a 78% rate of effectiveness. The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are both leading with Leon Black deciding to step down from the chairmanship of Apollo Global Management after all. He’s been under fire for his ties to the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Of particular relevance to us here in Egypt: Turkish equities and bonds today saw one of their sharpest drops in years after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to fire his third central bank governor in under two years and install a more hawkish governor raised concerns the country could prematurely ease rates. The Borsa Istanbul Index triggered circuit breakers after losing 8% in early trading, and was down some 9.5% at the time of dispatch, while yields on local and USD Turkish bonds jumped as their prices fell. The TRY also continued to mount losses, weakening to 8.47 to the greenback in early Asian trading hours, as people rushed to sell following the currency’s 15% loss in value yesterday. The story leads on both Bloomberg and CNBC.
Why do we care about the market cratering in Turkey? It could be good for the Egypt carry trade, ensuring we remain attractive to foreign capital. A plummeting TRY could dethrone Turkey from its status as this year’s “best” carry trade, clearing a path for the EGP to take the title as the CBE leaves rates on hold and Egypt’s real interest rate remains among the highest in the world.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- Get a look at global emerging markets player Actis’ Egypt investment pipeline with partner and MENA chief Sherif El Kholy.
- Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em: The inside scoop on how the bid for a new cigarette manufacturing license will go down.
- CBE rate hold reflects Egypt’s strong portfolio flows + “manageable” inflation + –Jeffries.
A BIT MORE on that AstraZeneca story as we wait for the arrival of several mn doses before month’s end: The US trial found the vaccine was 79% effective in stopping symptomatic covid-19 cases and 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization, the company said in a statement after performing advanced clinical trials in the US. The 32k person trial found zero safety concerns. We’ve been deploying AstraZeneca shots in our local vaccine rollout, alongside China’s Sinopharm, and the Health Ministry is expecting a batch of the first 5 mn doses of an 8.6 mn shot order of AstraZeneca by March 30.
HAPPENING TOMORROW- Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly will be visiting Amman to attend a meeting of the Joint Jordanian-Egyptian Higher Committee, Jordan’s news agency Petra reported.
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The CIB PSA Black Ball Open 2021 men’s squash competition is running until Thursday, following the completion of the women’s round last Thursday. Some 48 men will compete for a USD 175k purse. You can stream the event live on SquashTV or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). You can also snag tickets online to attend in person at the Black Ball Sporting Club in New Cairo. The women’s league saw Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini take home the grand title.
The Real Gate real estate exhibition will kick off on Thursday and run until Saturday at the Egyptian International Exhibition Center.
Head to Sharm for a startup gathering: Investors, entrepreneurs and policymakers will gather in Sharm El Sheikh for Startup Festival on 28-29 March 2021. More than 80 startups will participate in the exhibition, which will feature panel discussions and workshops. The gathering will also unveil who is taking home hardware from the “Egypt Entrepreneurship Rally Competition.” The gathering is organized by the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, and companies that have graduated from AAST’s supply chain and logistics as well as youth incubators have the chance to pitch their ideas to investors.
The Spring Flowers Exhibit (Ma3rad El Zohoor) is currently taking place at Orman Botanical Garden in Giza. More than 200 exhibitors have set up shop to sell flowers, plants, agricultural products, and gardening equipment. The exhibit runs through 13 April.
The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization is set to open on 3 April in El Fustat. Local and international visitors alike will have pay less for admission for the first two weeks to explore the museum’s central hall, according to a cabinet statement. Meanwhile, the Royal Mummies Hall will be ready for visitors starting 18 April. The museum is designed as a celebration of Egyptian civilization from prehistory to the present day.
The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo) is taking place from 17-20 June at the Cairo International Conference Center. The second edition of the expo will feature 48 exhibitors and 172 brands from across the region.
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.
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We’re not the only country dealing with a rising number of covid cases. Egyptian policymakers have been warning for weeks that we’re starting down the barrel of a third wave of covid-19 cases, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi the latest to sound the alarm this week. We’re not alone: The Economist notes that covid cases are rising again in much of the world — and says it’s probably got more to do with more transmissible variants than it does with changes to behaviour.
Trumpbook? Trumpwitter? Donaldgram? After being suspended from Facebook, Twitter, and the like after the Capitol Hill riots, Agent Orange is planning to roll out his own social media platform in two to three months, one of his senior advisers, Jason Miller, told Fox News. Miller said he believes that the platform will be “the hottest ticket in social media, it’s going to completely redefine the game” as many companies approach Trump about the venture, he added without giving more detail.
Wall Street isn’t excited about a digital USD: US banks, credit card companies, and e-payment platforms see the push toward a digital USD (dubbed Fedcoin), and are increasingly lobbying against the move in congress and in the Federal Reserve, reports Bloomberg. These institutions see the Fedcoin as a threat to their bottom lines since virtual currency settlements don’t need a middle-man, says the business info service. Officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, along with MIT researchers, could announce results of their work on a prototype digital currency platform as early as July. Approval to roll out the currency is still years down the line and a policy debate on how it would be integrated into the existing payments system would be needed. Still, commitment shown by the US and other countries to digitize central bank-issued currency is making the finance industry anxious.
READ OUR EXPLAINER on why central banks are turning to digital currencies here.
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Marvel’s latest series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is out on Disney+ and OSN. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the other one) team up to mend the geopolitical turmoil post-Thanos. The always bickering duo explore themes such as race and patriotism as Falcon comes to terms with being Captain America’s successor, writes USA Today. The series will set the scene for multiple upcoming Marvel projects, Showrunner Malcolm Spellman told Entertainment Weekly. The same happened in Marvel’s WandaVision, with the show to have a direct impact on the events of the upcoming movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Speaking of Marvel, the entertainment group has launched the app Marvel Unlimited that has a collection of all Marvel comics available to read from your device. You can find the app on IOS’s App Store and Google Play.
⚽ No football for you folks today, with all leagues coming to a simultaneous standstill.
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You could hold a Guinness World Record with Dolato Gelateria. The gelato joint has announced an official attempt for the Guinness World Record for “Most flavors of ice cream identified in one minute blindfolded”. Participants will have to record themselves identifying the most flavors from the Dolato Dare Box (which has 24 flavors of ice cream) and then upload the video to your personal page and to an online application. You can read more about how to join here and compete for the Guinness World Record title live in the big official attempt event this Saturday, 27 March.
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(All times in CLT)
Classic ‘Tarab’ group El Khan Band is performing tonight at 7pm at Sawy Culture Wheel.
Another Paint ‘N Sip session is taking place tomorrow at Ora Restobar from 6-8pm by Brush It, with attendees to this time paint Van Gogh’s starry night. Novices welcome. The starry night session will also be taking place at Sofitel Hotel’s Nile front and in Gouna’s Smokery Beach, both on Saturday, March 27 from 2-4pm. You can sign up for any of the events using their website.
CluedUpp is holding another outdoor detective adventure this Saturday, 27 March. You and a team of up to six people will use your smartphones to find clues and hunt down ‘The Cairo Ripper’. You can get tickets using this link and you’re encouraged to don your best detective suit.
Happening this weekend in Dahab: Mountain Beats — a house and techno music festival up in the mountains and featuring a lineup of international DJs. Space Motion, Tebra, and Lena Nikitina are headlining the three-day festival that will run from Thursday to Saturday.
???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Tomorrow should be the last day of this dry, dusty, and [redacted] weather, according to the national weather service. Expect highs of 31℃ and nighttime lows of 14℃ tomorrow, before the meter falls all the way to 22℃ on Wednesday and stays in that range for the rest of the week, our favorite weather app tells us.