Tuesday, 4 May 2021

THIS EVENING: Egyptians banned from Oman; ADQ spending spree; European econmists call for gender equity in central banking.

First things first: May the Fourth be with you happy Star Wars Day to our fellow geeks.

THE BIG STORY TODAY is how covid-19 could still mess with your summer travel plans despite progress on vaccines and reopening in many destinations popular with Egyptians. Canada has shown no signs that it plans to soon ease restrictions on foreign visitors, and Oman has banned entry of travelers from Egypt and the Philippines starting 9 May, state Oman News Agency reports. The report did not say how long the ban would remain in effect.

Vaccinated travelers from “countries with a good health situation” could be allowed to return to Europe this summer under a new European Commission proposal that would see visitors return to the bloc after a near yearlong ban, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter. The new rules would however include an “emergency brake” that would allow countries to reinstate travel bans on certain locations in the event of a rise in infections or the emergence of new variants.

But don’t pack your bags just yet if you’ve taken a Russian or Chinese jab. The EU’s list of approved vaccines doesn’t yet include Russia’s Sputnik V or China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac shots — three of the jabs Egypt is relying on in its vaccination program or manufacturing domestically. US citizens could be among the first to be allowed to travel to the bloc, von der Leyen said last week.

Could we get our hands on some mRNA goodness from Moderna? The company will contribute 500 mn doses of its covid-19 vaccine to the Covax program after receiving emergency clearance from the World Health Organization last week, Bloomberg reports. Some 34 mn doses are expected to be available in 2021, with deliveries expected in 4Q202 and the rest scheduled for 2022 delivery. Egypt has signed on to receive 40 mn doses of the AstraZeneca jab from Covax this year; it’s unclear whether we’ll have a chance to put in an order for Moderna’s vaccine through the program.

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

  • Sputnik and J&J jabs are coming to Egypt as the third wave washes over the nation: Egypt’s covid-19 case tally from last week is five times the number of cases recorded during the same week last year at the peak of the first wave, and more than 500 physicians have now died of covid-19.
  • We’re still tops: The central bank left rates on hold for a fourth consecutive meeting last Wednesday, leaving Egypt’s carry trade the most lucrative in the world.
  • Direct flights between Russia and Egypt are set to resume in June, Russian ambassador to Egypt Georgiy Borisenko said yesterday. The start date could still be pushed back on account of covid.

HAPPENING NOW- The G7 Foreign Ministers are meeting in London today for a three-day summit. Rising threats to human rights challenges from Russia, Iran, and China are on the agenda for the face-to-face meetings, according to CNBC. The foreign ministers of Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa have also been invited. The summit will also be used as a chance to agree on a USD 15 bn initiative to help 40 mn girls in developing countries go to school over the next five years, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC. The talks come ahead of a high profile G7 leaders summit from 11-13 June with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to gather leaders of member nations, EU countries, and other invited guests.

US futures have just fallen sharply with European shares, Bloomberg reports, noting that traders aren’t quite sure of the reasons behind the move. S&P 500 contracts fell 0.5% and Nasdaq futures dropped 0.8% in just minutes earlier this afternoon, a turn that some have speculated is being fuelled by rising tensions between China and Taiwan and a stricter lockdown in Singapore.

MARKET WATCH-

GOOD NEWS FOR EGYPT- Abu Dhabi’s newest sovereign fund, ADQ, is on an expansion spree, CEO Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi in a rare interview with Bloomberg, saying he was worried the fund wasn’t moving “fast enough.” ADQ is looking to make significant new investments this year — and in the next five years — Alsuwaidi added. The fund has amassed an estimated USD 110 bn in assets since its founding in 2018, with its holdings including Egyptian or Egypt-based companies such as Amoun Pharma, and Lulu Hypermarket. It’s also said to be looking at investments in Atyab and Wataniya. ADQ is, however, primarily focused on UAE companies as it aims to help the Gulf country to build out its non-oil economy.

EFG Hermes topped the EGX’s brokerage league table in April with a market share of 40.1%, according to the EGX’s April brokerage firm rankings (pdf). EFG returned to the top of the league table after a spell in which brokerages catering to retail investors gobbled up market share after international institutional investors sold out of emerging markets at the start of the pandemic. Rounding out the top five: CI Capital (9.8%) Beltone (3.9%) Pharos (3.8%) and Mubasher (3.7%).

**So, when do we eat? We sit down for iftar at 6:34pm this evening, and will have until 3:33am to wrap up our sohour.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

PMI figures for April will land on Thursday, 6 May at 6:15 am CLT. Non-oil private sector conditions worsened for the fourth consecutive month in March, with the gauge dropping to 48 from 49.3 the month before, but optimism reached new highs as the vaccine rollout continues to pick up steam.

The PMI for the UAE and Saudi Arabia was out this morning, and conditions have held up well in both countries amid an ongoing recovery from covid. The UAE’s PMI gauge (pdf) was falt at 52.7 against 52.6 the month before, remaining firmly in expansion territory, while Saudi’s PMI (pdf) jumped to a three-month high of 55.2 in April.

Eid El Fitr looks likely to begin on Thursday, 13 May and end on Saturday, 15 May. Watch this space to find out about our Eid vacation.

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-

Two European female central bankers are calling for reforms to redress gender imbalances within their institutions, reports the Financial Times. Isabel Schnabel, an executive board member of the European Central Bank (ECB), told the FT that there are many “hidden barriers” to women’s careers in the male-dominated industry, citing her own experience of often being the only female in a meeting. Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain Margarita Delgado pushed for institutional quotas and more objective recruitment to increase the number of women in top positions. Discussions about gender equality at the ECB were sparked on social media recently after President Christine Lagarde posted a picture on Twitter of the bank’s governing council: She was the only woman in the photo (and they’re all awfully melanin-challenged).

Future covid-19 vaccines could be as simple as taking a pill: US companies are developing a new generation of covid-19 vaccines in the form of pills and nasal sprays, making them easier to transport and store, the Wall Street Journal reports. Of the 227 covid-19 vaccines currently in development globally, two are administered orally and seven are nasal sprays, according to the World Health Organisation. Don’t expect them until late this year at the absolute earliest as many of the next-generation vaccines are still in the early stages of human testing.

Apple took flack for the commission it charges on App Store purchases on the first day of a three-week antitrust case brought by Epic Games yesterday, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple earns more money “from selling developer apps in the App Store than developers,” alleged bombastic Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. The gaming network is behind the global hit Fortnite which was taken off the app store in August after the company inserted its own, unauthorized payment system into the Fortnite app to sidestep the 30% fee Apple and Google collect from in-app purchases.

The global chip shortage might be with us for a few more years, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger suggests in an interview with CBS News’ 60 Minutes. Gelsinger explained that even as Intel and other firms ramp up production of semiconductors it will take time to meet the surging demand.

CAF is mulling its own Super League: The governing body of African football is considering creating a new league that would see the continent’s top 20 clubs go head to head, unnamed sources at CAF told FilGoal. The idea was floated by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and is favored by the newly elected CAF president Patrice Motsepe, the sources added. How teams will qualify and what the format is are still undecided, the source added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has until midnight tonight to form a new coalition government or risk having an opponent invited to give it a try, the Associated Press reports. President Reuven Rivlin could give Netanyahu a two-week extension if he misses the deadline and then allow other parties to submit alternative proposals for a governing coalition.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

May looks like it might be a month for throwbacks on Netflix, with the streaming site adding classics to its roster in the past few days including the three Back to The Future films. If you don’t want to cozy up with Marty McFly, go hard core with Scarface, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Resident Evil: Extinction. Looking for something with little less gore? Try rom-com Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. (Why don’t they make rom-coms anymore?)

Manchester City and PSG will go head-to-head tonight in the Champions League at 9pm.

Sunday’s Man United vs. Liverpool match was postponed after fans stormed the field to protest the Glazer family’s ownership of the club and their push for a separate Super League, reports BBC. The date for the match is still to be decided.

The Egyptian Premier League will see El Entag El Harby play against National Bank at 9:30pm.

🥐 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

At this point in Ramadan, you’re probably fed up with cooking everyday. Well, here’s a solution for you before you decide to go the takeout route: ParCooked. Featuring “ready to cook” meals that you just have to put on the stove or in the oven, cooking has never been simpler. ParCooked offers delicious and fresh international dishes with the meals currently available including breaded veal schnitzel, chimichurri beef fillet, wild mushroom chicken, and oyster cream South African beef fillet. The business has also introduced Ramadan boxes that include entire meals for you and your family as well as weekly or monthly subscriptions for daily deliveries.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

May Al Abrashy from Athar Lina will talk about heritage conservation in a discussion tonight at the French Institute in Cairo at 9pm. Athar Lina led the recent reopening of the Mausoleum of Al Imam Al Shafei, and it is stunning.

Tunisian singer Ghalia Benali is performing today at the Cairo Opera House at 9:30 at the Fountain Theatre.

It’s open mic night at The Room New Cairo where attendees can get on stage and recite stand-up comedy, poetry, or sing. The event starts at 9pm, but if you’re meaning to perform get there a bit earlier to fill out a form.

Oud duo Ghassan Al Youssef and Dina Abdel Hamid will take to the stage at El Sawy Culturewheel tonight at 8:30pm.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

It’s New Book Day for four of our favourite authors, each of whom has a fresh title available for purchase on Kindle (if you’re here in Omm El Donia) or in fine bookstores worldwide. Two are fiction, two non-fiction, depending on your mood:

Big Food and Big Pharma are slowly killing us all — and our planet, argues physician and Fat Chance author Robert H. Lustig in Metabolical, which documents how “processed food has … ruined our health, economy and environment over the past 50 years.”

The Big Short and Fifth Risk author Michael Lewis is back with The Premonition: A pandemic story, a “sweeping indictment” of the CDC that looks at how the pandemic swept in from China to blanket the United States.

Imagine you’re the sole survivor of a “desperate, last-chance mission to save the earth” — except that you just woke up on a spaceship, mns of miles from home, with amnesia. And two corpses for company. That’s the starting point for science-based sci-fi guru Any Weir’s Project Hail Mary.

None other than Stephen King loves three master Linwood Barclay’s Find You First, his really inventive new novel. Need we say more?


🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The heat wave continues: The mercury will stay at 42°C tomorrow before peaking at 45°C on Sunday, according to our favourite weather app. Expect temperatures to fall to a more seasonally appropriate 32°C on the first day of Eid El Fitr.

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