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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

TONIGHT: Second phase of economic reform; Biden gets good marks after 100 days; iSheep get more data privacy control

Good afternoon, nice people. We’re almost at the end of this abridged workweek, with just one day left to go before we slide into a well-earned long weekend.

HAPPENING NOW- The second phase of Egypt’s economic reform program is now being made public as cabinet members hold a press conference to announce plans for nationwide “structural reform.” Structural reforms are the second phase of the IMF-supported economic reform program that began in 2016. We’ll have the full story in tomorrow morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM.

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

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY is that banks’ losses from the Archegos Capital Management debacle have now surpassed the USD 10 bn mark, after Nomura Holdings and UBS Group reported bigger hits than previously expected. Nomura reported losses nearing USD 2.9 bn (and suspended its head of prime brokerage), while UBS said it lost USD 861 mn from the implosion. The story is on the front pages of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal this afternoon.

The majority of Americans are happy with US President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, with 55% of respondents in a Reuters / Ipsos poll saying they approve of the president’s performance so far. Biden fared best in his handling of the pandemic and the economy while in the White House, although the newswire notes that “circumstances beyond his control” played in his favor — including him inheriting the country as covid-19 vaccines were already rolling out, and his economy being compared to the meltdown seen in 2020. The president scored lowest on his immigration policies, earning a 49% disapproval rating.

Vaccinated Americans will finally be allowed into the EU again this summer — granted they have not taken a Chinese or Russian jab. US citizens who have taken one of the EU-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson) will be able to travel freely in the 27 member states, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times. Although von der Leyen did not single them out, China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm as well as Russia’s Sputnik V are currently not included in Europe’s vaccine passport system, meaning Americans who received any of these jabs are unlikely to be allowed into the bloc this summer.

What does that mean for Egypt when the EU expands its travel policies? It is unclear whether the same policy will be applied to other countries as well, and whether this policy could be amended. Aside from AstraZeneca, the Sinopharm vaccine is one of the main jabs being administered in Egypt’s vaccine rollout, with Sinovac — which we plan to manufacture domestically — also being approved for use in the country yesterday. The Health Ministry is also looking to get its hands on doses of Sputnik V. Minapharm is set to manufacture the vaccine locally, but it’s unclear whether any of the output will be earmarked for Egypt.

Saudi forces intercepted a remote-controlled boat full of explosives off Yanbu this morning, the kingdom’s defense ministry said. The announcement came after as-of-yet unconfirmed reports of an attack on a vessel near the Red Sea port city. Security firm Dryad Global said the vessel could have been oil tanker NCC Dammam, which is owned by Saudi’s national shipping carrier Bahri, but Bahri CEO Abdullah Aldubaikhi says none of the firm’s ships were hit. Ministry officials are still investigating the incident.

** So, when do we eat? We get to sit down for iftar at 6:29pm this evening, and will have until 3:42am to wrap up our sohour.

FOR TOMORROW-

The Central Bank of Egypt will meet tomorrow to review interest rates. The consensus among 14 analysts and economists we polled is that the Monetary Policy Committee will leave rates on hold again — and probably won’t enact any cuts until the back half of the year.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

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-

iSheep are getting a lot more control over the privacy of their data with the new iOS 14.5 update, which will let users opt out of apps collecting your data. Apple’s new feature is fueling the flames of the iPhone maker’s rift with ad revenue-reliant Facebook over the implications to the industry, the BBC reports. This rollout is hardly a new direction for Apple, which blocks third-party cookies by default in Safari, and last year forced app providers in iOS to spell out in their App Store listing what data they collect. The App Tracking Transparency feature will be on by default, meaning app developers will have to explicitly ask you for permission to use the IDFA identifier on your phone to collect your data.

Facebook thinks the world is ending, suggesting that 80% of people will opt out of sharing data and warning in December 2020 that the update could cut cashflow through its ad network by half. This change would likely hit small businesses the hardest, the Big Tech company claimed. Nonetheless, Facebook appears to have accepted the update in its blog post last week, where it promised “new experiences and measurement protocols,” and admitting that the ways digital advertisers collect and use information needed to evolve and rely on less data.

Apple’s iOS 14.5 update is available now: While on wifi, access it through your Settings, then tap General, followed by Software Update. The NYT has a solid review of the App Tracking Transparency feature.

Apple, meanwhile, still has antitrust issues: The company could face charges from the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager later this week over concerns that its App Store rules for developers break EU law, sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times. The probe was launched in June last year following an antitrust complaint by Spotify that Apple squeezes the music streaming service by changing the rules and charging large commissions on the App Store.


Investors are protecting their portfolios against rising inflation in the US as they’re growing more concerned that price growth will overshoot in the coming years, even after bond yields fell in recent weeks, says the Financial Times. An uptick in the demand for inflation-protected treasuries is signaling that the urge to shore up defenses is high, especially as uncertainty still looms over markets. While the Fed targets inflation of around 2%, a measure recently calculated by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve shows a one-in-three chance that consumer price growth could rise above 3% in the next five years.

BTC bounces back from last week’s slump: The price of BTC surged as much as 10% yesterday as the crypto market recovered from a sell-off last week partly caused by the Biden administration’s plans to up capital gains tax, CNBC reports. The currency hit a high of USD 54,338 a coin during trading yesterday after plummeting below USD 50k for the first time since March on Friday.

GLOBAL IPO WATCH- Nassef Sawiris-backed chemical producer OCI and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) have hired four international banks to advise on the potential USD 1 bn IPO of their fertilizer JV in Abu Dhabi, Bloomberg reports. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, HSBC and First Abu Dhabi Bank will advise on the Fertiglobe’s listing, which would be one of the UAE’s largest offerings in years and could value the company at USD 7 bn. The Abu Dhabi-based company is the region’s largest fertilizer producer and was formed in 2019 via a merger of OCI and Adnoc’s fertilizer businesses. OCI owns 58% of the JV and Adnoc the remaining 42%.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

David Attenborough is out with new nature documentaries on Netflix and Apple TV. The 94-year-old presenter, who has become an ubiquitous presence in nature docs, explored how animals perceive color in Netflix’s Life in Colour. Animals use color to mate, raise their young, hide from predators, and even maintain territory. As if the information itself weren’t interesting enough, Attenborough’s narrative style and the note of awe in his tone makes viewers join in on the sensation of wonder, writes The Hindu. New cameras and imaging technologies were created especially for the series to help humans see beyond their visible spectrum and experience a world from a different perspective.

Meanwhile, Apple TV+’s The Year Earth Changed debut on 16 April did so well that it topped charts for unscripted programs in countries all over the world — surpassing programs such as The Oprah Conversation. The Attenborough-narrated documentary looks at how the pandemic and lockdowns gave the world a much-needed break, filming on five different continents and portraying the effects on animals, plants, and air quality, according to Apple Insider. The documentary poses the important question of whether we will undo all the positive impacts on the environment after lockdowns are lifted.

Al Ahly is going up against Al Masry tonight at 9:30pm in the Egyptian Premier League.

The Champions League is coming back strong tonight, with Real Madrid playing against Chelsea at 9pm.

🍡 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

Batates and Zalabya are trying to up their game with new creations that would shock old-school customers Teta and Gedo. Their famous zalabya now comes in flavors including cotton candy, caramel, lotus, hazelnut chocolate, and dark chocolate. The shop’s presentation has also changed from the classic rectangular boat-like paper dishes to large boxes with plastic compartments for each zalabya. For Ramadan, Batates and Zalabya have introduced a kunafa topped with zalabya that you can customize from all their available flavors. If you decide to head out and try the new innovations, we can personally recommend the corn dog pops that we’ve enjoyed since childhood.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

The French Institute in Cairo is hosting another literary event today, throwing it back to an initiative by Mada Masr and the French Institute that prompted writers to send in a piece of work with the prompt “the day when…” jotting down an imaginary day when the world or their life would be transformed. The contributing writers and the winner of the competition will present their stories at 9pm in the Downtown Cairo branch.

Multiple daily events are going on at Sheikh Zayed’s Galleria 40 during Ramadan. Today’s schedule features a Raya and Sakina skit, an Abd El Halim Hafez cover, and a Wael El Fashny performance.

Singer Ali El Haggar is performing at Zamalek Theater tomorrow at 9:30pm as part of their Ramadan Nights events.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Film buffs, you’ll enjoy this one: Billy Wilder is famously known as the director of major black and white movies including Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, but before he made a name for himself in the film biz, Wilder was a journalist reporting out of Vienna and Berlin during and between the world wars. Billy Wilder on Assignment: Dispatches from Weimar Berlin and Interwar Vienna contains Wilder’s early writings including cultural essays, interviews, and reviews, all written with the same wit and intelligence as his later Hollywood screenplays. The collection of writings takes on many roles: A look inside the head of a man who would later become an auteur, a look at the historic entertainment industry, and a feel for what the countries felt like in the early to mid-1900s.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Tomorrow might be the last day of this great weather. The mercury will rise to 34°C during the day and 18°C at night before gradually inching up to the 40s, according to our favorite weather app.

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