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Sunday, 25 April 2021

TONIGHT: Osama Heikal resigns, Joe Biden recognizes Armenian genocide, Malaria vaccine has been found, the Oscars are upon us.

Good evening, everyone, and we hope you all have had a chance to recover from the epic disappointment that is today being a work day. On the bright side, this Thursday is a day off for the private sector in observance of Sinai Liberation Day. As such, Enterprise will not be publishing on that day.

HAPPENING NOW- Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is giving MPs a rundown of the FY2021-22 budget. Key highlights of what was said so far: The budget expects Egypt’s financing needs to grow 7.1% y-o-y to EGP 1.06 tn. The Finance Minister expects to fill that gap with some EGP 66 bn in eurobonds, EGP 123.8 bn in loans from international lenders, and EGP 990 bn from local debt. The Finance Ministry nonetheless sees its revenue streams growing, including a healthier tax collection target, which will help narrow the budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year to 6.7% of GDP from 7.7% currently. The single largest item in the budget remains our debt service payments, which are expected to account for nearly a third of overall spending. We have the breakdown on all these figures and more in tomorrow morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM.

THE BIG STORY AT HOME- While this is an unusually active Ramadan Sunday for business news, the most widely discussed story in the local press has to be the resignation of Minister of State for Information Osama Heikal, after months of controversy and political backlash for the House of Representatives. We have more details in the Speed Round below.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • The Central Bank of Egypt will keep interest rates on hold at its upcoming meeting, our Enterprise poll says.
  • Egypt’s economy is expected to grow 2.9% this fiscal year.
  • Russian tourists are coming back to Egypt (including Sharm and Hurghada) next month.

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If it’s good enough for the President … : President Abdel Fattah El Sisi got his vaccination today, according to a statement from Ittihadiya. This very public, presidential jab is part of the government’s push to roll out vaccinations in the country.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Joe Biden became the first US president to formally recognize the WWI-era mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey as a genocide, using the term in an annual message yesterday. The historic declaration — which could potentially further fracture ties between the two NATO allies — is not meant to “cast the blame” on Ankara, but to signal a commitment to global human rights, the statement said. The move fulfills Biden’s campaign pledge to use such a term to dub the systematic killing and deportation of mns of Armenians more than a century ago. It raised the ire of Ankara, which denounced “in the strongest terms” Biden's designation before summoning US Envoy David Satterfield, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

Also vying for top global story is a fire that broke out in a covid hospital in Baghdad, which resulted in at least 82 deaths and 110 injuries after an oxygen tank exploded at Ibn al-Khatib Hospital, according to CNN. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry reached out with condolences and reiterated its solidarity with the Arab country.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED afternoon covid update: There’s still no consensus on what to do with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine: The UK’s under-40 population could be getting an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab after new figures showed a higher incidence of serious blood clots forming after receiving the jab, according to the Financial Times. And while the UK is considering rolling back the vaccine, Canada is now expanding its use to individuals aged 30 and above, after having previously said only those aged 40 or above would be offered AZ, CTV News reports.

A single dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines provides a similar immunity to being infected with the virus, drastically reducing the risk of infection in adults of all ages, a surveillance study found, according to Oxford University. The British researchers found that 21 days after a single dose of either vaccine, new Covid infections — both symptomatic and asymptomatic — had fallen by 65%. Meanwhile, a second vaccine dose reduced the overall infection rate by 70%, with symptomatic Covid infections down by 90%. That isn’t to say one jab is enough, with vaccinated individuals still subject to being infected with the virus again and the second dose offering additional protection.

And speaking of vaccines, we might finally have one with a huge public health impact for malaria: Trials on an Oxford University-developed vaccine showed that it is 77% effective with high-level efficacy over a 12-month period, the university said in Lancet Journal. The trials were conducted on 450 children in Burkina Faso and will now be expanded across four African countries, covering nearly 5k children between the ages of five months and three years. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria kills more than 400k people every year, most of whom are children.

** So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:28pm in the capital city today. You’ll have until 3:44am to finish up sohour.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is addressing AmCham’s Pre-Annual General Meeting on Tuesday to discuss Egypt’s economic reform beyond the pandemic. The event will be held virtually at 2pm CLT. Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend. Register here.

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir will address the House of Representatives on Tuesday to discuss his ministry’s plan to overhaul the country’s transportation system, according to the House agenda. El Wazir’s planned appearance in parliament comes after multiple calls from MPs to question the minister or otherwise hold him accountable for the recent streak of railway accidents, including the Qalyubia train crash, which left 23 dead and another 139 injured.

Next Sunday is Coptic Easter Sunday and Sham El Nessim will fall on Monday. It’s still unclear whether either will be a banking holiday, so watch this space for updates.

Eid is expected to fall on 13-15 May, but the dates are still to be confirmed.

The Gouna International Squash Open 2021, a PSA event, will run 20-28 May with 96 men and women competing. The event has the backing of our friends at CIB.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Apple and Spotify are battling it out for the title of podcast king: After podcasting exploded in popularity during covid-19 lockdowns, both Apple and Spotify have taken moves to try to get a leg up in the industry. Spotify partnered with Facebook to promote listening on the company’s platforms, while Apple is introducing paid subscriptions for the first time to try to capitalize on the podcast hype, the Wall Street Journal reports. With USD 1 bn in revenues expected for the podcast industry this year, and an estimated 41% of Americans over the age of 12 becoming podcast listeners, there is “massive” potential in audio, says Spotify’s Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff. But Spotify isn’t about to let Apple — which coined the term podcast as a portmanteau of the words “iPod” and “Broadcast” — get a bigger slice of the pie, with the company announcing plans to launch its own paid subscription service to compete with Apple’s next week.

The global chip shortage is now hitting washing machines and toasters as the production of the necessary chips is pushed to the back burner, with manufacturers opting instead to supply chips for high-margin products, according to The Financial Times. The chip shortage saw the makers of cars, smartphones, televisions, and other home appliances ring the warning bell months ago after lockdowns spiked demand for electronics worldwide.

Need a quick rundown on what’s going on? We delved into the global chip shortage a couple of months ago with this explainer.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

The Oscars are (almost) here: You can catch the Academy Awards after sohour at 4am on OSN Movies and OSN On Demand. To stream the award show on the OSN app, click the menu bar in the top left corner, then click on channels, then OSN Movies. Have time to binge a few nominees before the show? We’ve suggested a number of them, including best picture nominees Sound of Metal, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Mank, and The Father as well as Two Distant Strangers which is nominated for best live action short film and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a best adapted screenplay contender.

Head to the nearest TV because a ton of strong matches have already started.

Man United and Leeds are currently on the field in the Premier League and are nearing the end of the first half of the match. Later on in the day, Aston Villa and West Brom will play at 8pm.

Juventus vs Fiorentina, as well as Inter Milan vs Verona are also underway, having started at 3pm in Serie A. If you don’t catch those, you can still tune in to watch Cagliari playing against Roma at 6pm or the match between Atalanta and Bologna at 8:45pm.

Barcelona’s match against Villareal is also coming up soon, starting at 4:15pm on the latter’s home field. Later tonight, Athletic Club will play against Atletico Madrid at 9pm.

🥐 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

Hawawshi donut — two words we’d never think to put next to each other. BohoBun really put their thinking hat on when they came up with sohour items combining their famous donuts with common pre-fasting food. The burger joint is boasting hawawshi, beetroot, halloumi, and labneh donuts during Ramadan. On the sweet side, the donuts are fused with sahlab, rice pudding, kunafa, and the mixture of ingredients that make up Egyptians’ beloved sakalans. We’re a big fan of BohoBun on their normal no-hawawshi-donut days — if you’d like to stick to the basics, a burger and shake is sure to hit the spot for iftar or sohour. Find BohoBun at Point 90 and Galleria 40 or give them a call for delivery.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

International festival of electronic and new media Cairotronica is kicking off tomorrow and will run until 1 May. The six-day festival will see over 40 artists from 22 countries give talks, workshops, or set up exhibitions or installations at the Tahrir Culture Center or at the Factory. The festival aims to shed light on important global issues through creative art forms, looking at topics such as AI, data, climate change, and misinformation.

Beit El Comedy is performing at the Room New Cairo tonight at 9pm, featuring standup by Romaryo Anton, Kerolos Azer, Shehab El Ashry, Islam Amin, Abdelrahman Mohamed, and Gamal Ramzy.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Google and the Arab Scientific Publishers have teamed up to translate children’s book Lara The Star Engineer into Arabic, according to a press release (pdf). The book, written by Komal Singh, was released in celebration of the International Day for Girls in ICT last Thursday to inspire and represent the many faces of women engineers. Singh wrote the book when her daughter (four years old at the time) complained that “all engineers are boys,” leading her to introduce Lara, a girl who aims to show children that anyone can study science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). The book explores computing concepts in a whimsical manner and shows real-life role models from diverse backgrounds. You can purchase the book here or read more about it here.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- It’s time to pack away your winter clothes: Expect daytime highs of 28°C and nighttime lows of 15°C. We’re in for nice weather Monday through Wednesday, with daytime highs of 28-33°C, before a five-day heat wave hits just in time for the weekend, according to our favorite weather app.

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