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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

TONIGHT: The WHO could approve Made-in-Egypt Sinovac. + Israel-Palestine tensions rise again. ALSO: Biden and Putin meet in Geneva.

Good afternoon, friends, and happy almost-THURSDAY. It’s all about investment this afternoon, from a state-owned fund-of-funds (the first we remember hearing about) to startup accelerators and venture-backed companies looking to grow in Egypt. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Israel is back at it: Israel launched airstrikes against targets in Gaza after Hamas allegedly sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel, Bloomberg reports. The flaming balloons came prior to a nationalist march on Tuesday by thousands of Israeli far-right nationalists through Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, an annual event which Palestinians see as an assertion of control by Israelis over territory claimed by Palestinians. This is the first eruption of hostilities since the Israel-Hamas ceasefire brokered by Egypt took hold in late May after an 11-day conflict.

HAPPENING NOW- Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are sitting in a lakeside cottage in Geneva. The two began earlier this afternoon a meeting that handlers said could last as long as five hours. Aides to both presidents took great pains before the confab to downplay expectations that any concrete agreement would emerge. Look for the story to dominate the world’s front-pages tomorrow morning.

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

  • Arab League calls for UN action on GERD: Arab foreign ministers called on the UN Security Council to hold an “urgent session” to discuss the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during a meeting in Doha yesterday.
  • Vivo plans to invest USD 30 mn in Egypt over the next two years: The Chinese smartphone maker plans to establish five new customer services centers by the end of 2021, two of which are currently under construction.
  • CIRA will establish Egypt’s first applied tech university by September 2022: The university will be founded at CIRA’s Badr University and will initially offer diplomas and bachelor’s degrees in logistics, tourism, medical and industrial manufacturing.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID STORY- Egypt just got a boost for its plan to export surplus doses of Egypt-made Sinovac vaccines to Africa: Health Minister Hala Zayed pushed for World Health Organization approval of the locally manufactured jab in a meeting with the organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom, according to a cabinet statement. Vaccine manufacturer Vacsera could also potentially receive a WHO certification. The state-owned facility is expected to produce the first batch of the Chinese jab as early as this week. Zayed previously said that production will first need to cover local needs before exports begin to other African countries.


The EFG Hermes and Saudi Exchange Virtual Investor Conference will wrap up tomorrow, according to a press release (pdf). The event will see execs from 61 companies meet with more than 450 international investors from over 190 institutions.


Mediocre male managers are standing in the way of women in finance looking to advance their careers, according to a joint LSE and Women In Banking and Finance study. Drawing from 79 qualitative responses from women in London, researchers have found that it is “much more likely to be average men who ended up being the gatekeepers for the younger women who were coming through” because managers persistently tend to offer career support to those who more closely resemble them, the lead author told the Financial Times. Respondents indicated they needed to work harder than men — and that black women needed to work harder than white women — to secure the same kind of recognition at work.

Apple’s healthcare ambitions haven’t yet seen the light of day: Tech firms see the healthcare industry as a potential gold mine, and few have been as aggressive in moving into it as Apple, which has made health a centerpiece of both mobile and its push into wearables including Apple Watch. But its grander ambitions may have run into roadblocks: Apple has attempted to launch initiatives, including high-tech clinics, that have struggled to get off the ground, according to the Wall Street Journal. The clinics would use Apple health apps on users’ iPhones to help disrupt the “363” model that sees patients out of contact with their MDs for 363 days a year and only visit when something goes wrong. As much as CEO Tim Cook promises that Apple’s “ greatest contribution to mankind will be in health,” the company has often pushed its healthcare ambitions to the end of the to-do list to instead focus on what it does best: selling products, the Journal suggests.

The US is getting sharper elbowed when it comes to protecting Big (American) Tech: The US is calling on the European Union not to adopt what it claims are “protectionist” policies that target only the five biggest US firms, according to the Financial Times, citing an email from the National Security Council to staff at the EU’s delegation in the US. The exclusive targeting of FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), which was suggested by the European Parliament rapporteur for the Digital Markets Act, would “hinder our ability to work together to harmonize our regulatory systems” and make “co-operation between the US and Europe extremely difficult,” the email read.

China is sending a three-person crew into orbit tomorrow to help complete the country’s space station, according to Reuters. The high-stakes takeoff is the third of a series of eleven missions necessary for the development of China’s space station by the end of the year, with four more missions planned. The three astronauts will stay in space for three months, the longest for any Chinese astronaut. China is currently barred from the International Space Station and has sought to build its Tianhe space station as an alternative.

Is the world’s largest oil producer heading towards a net-zero emissions target by 2050? US climate envoy John Kerry thinks as much following a meeting with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, in which the minister expressed his “very real” clean energy ambitions, Bloomberg reports. The Biden administration has pledged USD 5.7 bn a year in climate finance for developing countries, including the kingdom, with a potential additional USD 1.2 bn injection to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. But OPEC+ have been scaling back supply cuts enacted during covid-19, as oil prices hit their highest level since October 2018, meaning a roadmap to net-zero emissions may be a while away.


Season two of critically-acclaimed TV show Lupin is out on Netflix. Picking up where the first season left off, gentleman thief Assane Diop has the police hot on his heels. His arch-enemy has it out for him too, as the character continues to try to avenge his father’s death. The first season of the French-language TV show was a smashing success, and the new episodes manage to surpass their predecessors. The show also gives Diop more leeway for character development this time around as he struggles with the ripple effect that his chosen life of crime has condemned him to. Check out the trailer if you aren’t yet convinced: (watch, runtime: 02:29).

Today’s itinerary in the Euro 2020 already has Russia and Finland on the pitch in Group B. Russia needs to pull its weight in today’s match after losing to Belgium, especially since Finland already snagged three points after the dramatic match with Denmark. Meanwhile, Wales (which tied with Switzerland in its last match) is going up against Turkey, which had previously lost to Italy. Rounding out Group A, Italy and Switzerland will hit the field at 9pm in the most-anticipated match of the day.

Last night’s fixtures: Portugal came out on top against Hungary with a score of 3-0, while France beat Germany 1-0, after having two of the three goals it got past Germany’s keep disqualified.


Art d'Égypte is organizing EX, an art display by the sea taking place in Almaza Bay in North Coast from 18 June to 22 August, featuring dozens of local artists.

More drummers are taking the stage at venues across Cairo at 8pm today as part of the eighth edition of the International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts. Today’s performances feature ensembles from South Sudan, Palestine, Yemen, Indonesia, and Sudan. The festival runs until Friday. You can check out the full schedule and locations for each show here.


Bill Clinton is milking his political career for some fiction inspiration: The former US President has teamed up with James Patterson to write The President's Daughter, a thriller that follows character Matthew Keating, a one-term president and former Navy SEAL whose daughter is kidnapped. In a one-man special-ops mission, Keating must find his daughter and resolve the matter of national security — all while the world watches. This is Patterson and Clinton’s second collaboration, following 2018’s The President is Missing (are you seeing the pattern here?). The Independent calls the book “Clinton’s male fantasy”, while the Washington Post’s review of the book includes the word “ridiculous.” The New York Times is out with a somewhat less scathing take.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- It’s getting hotter… Cairo will see daytime highs of 36°C and nighttime lows of 20°C before the mercury rises to 37°C and 38°C for the next few days according to our favorite weather app.

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