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Monday, 28 June 2021

TONIGHT: Sovereign Sukuk Act gets House sign off. + US, Iran tensions heat up after airstrikes. ALSO: Catch Rania Al Mashat tomorrow in LSE virtual event.

It’s a light read today, ladies and gentlemen. And honestly, with this inferno and a short work week, we can all stand to enjoy a lighter day.

On that note, the central bank has confirmed that Thursday, 1 July will be a banking holiday in observance of 30 June. The Madbouly cabinet had already decreed Thursday a national holiday for the public and private sector.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The House has (finally) signed off on the Sovereign Sukuk Act: The dearth of business news stories was compensated by an active House of Representatives, which today gave the final sign off on the long-awaited Sovereign Sukuk Act. This paves the way for the government to come out with its maiden sukuk issuance, which could be as high as USD 2 bn, according to previous statements by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.

This wasn’t the only bill that got a sign off from the House: A bill to give new authority over international arbitration to the Supreme Constitutional Court was also approved today. We cover the votes chapter and verse in the Speed Round below.

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

  • RenCap being a Debbie Downer: Only 10 EGX-listed companies have the market cap and liquidity to be really attractive to foreign investors, Amr Helal, Renaissance Capital’s North Africa CEO, said at Portfolio Egypt 2021 conference yesterday.
  • Oil producers riding the wave: The spike we’ve seen in oil prices might be playing to oil producers’ advantage in the bond market, as even our own Arqaam Capital is favoring Bahraini bonds over Egypt’s.
  • Infrastructure diplomacy gets a shot in the arm, after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s historic summit in Baghdad yesterday.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The US carried out airstrikes on Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria yesterday, stoking tensions between the US and Iran a week after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected as Iran’s president and nuclear agreement talks continue. At least five Iraqi militiamen were killed, said The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The US said that the strikes came in response to drone attacks by the militias — Kata’ib Hizbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada — against US personnel and facilities in Iraq, according to a Pentagon statement. This is the second strike against Iranian backed militias during the Biden administration, after the US retaliated in response to a strike that killed an American contractor in February.

The news is getting attention far and wide: Bloomberg | Axios | Reuters | The Financial Times | CBS News | NBC News | The Guardian | The Associated Press | Deutsche Welle


International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat is heading a discussion called Policy Reform in the Making: Stakeholder Engagement through Economic Diplomacy that is being organized by The London School of Economics (LSE) tomorrow from 3pm-4:15pm. The event comes on the heels of the launch of the Minister’s new book Stakeholder Engagement through Economic Diplomacy and will discuss the multi-stakeholder approach to economic development. Other speakers include Carmen Reinhart, the vice president and chief economist of the World Bank Group, Minouche Shafik, Director of the LSE, and Erik Berglof, chief economist of the Asian Infrastructure and Development Bank and the LSE. You can register for the event through this link.

We had a conversation with Al Mashat about her new book and its motivations and intended impact last week that you can check out here. Meanwhile, the book is available to read online through the LSE.


It’s the third day of the Big 5 Construct Egypt at the Cairo International Convention Center.

The Cairo International Book Fair will open its doors at the Egypt International Exhibition Center on Wednesday, 30 June. The two-week event will run through to 15 July.

The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA are holding a webinar titled Energy Efficiency in the MENA region: Status and Outlook on 6 July at 3:30pm.

The British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) is organizing a virtual education week from 5-6 July with three seminars planned. The first, taking place at 10am on 5 July, will discuss skills-based learning while the future of investment in education will be the topic on the table at 12:30pm the same day. On 6 July, a talk on the digitalization of education in Egypt will be held at 12pm.


Saudi Aramco is looking to lead a future market for blue hydrogen, an alternative form of the zero-carbon fuel made using natural gas, according to a Bloomberg report quoting Aramco CTO Ahmad Al Khowaiter. Worldwide demand for the so-called fuel — which is made through a process that captures its own carbon emissions and is often processed into ammonia for easier transportation — is still in its infancy, and we’ll need to wait until the late 2020s, the business information service says. When Aramco eventually scales up, it could spend some USD 1 bn on carbon capturing for every 1 mn tonnes of blue ammonia produced.

Meanwhile, the neverending debate on the covid-19 virus’ origins may never reach a satisfying conclusion, with the Biden administration saying that the ongoing 90-day probe into the origins of the virus “may not produce a definitive explanation,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Instead, the review — which should be on President Biden’s desk in 45 days — might turn up clues that will aid future investigations. Further adding to the unlikeliness that the probe will finally solve the global controversy, China is refusing to allow further access to data and scientists from the Wuhan lab, leading investigators to instead look through vast stores of intercepted foreign electronic communications to find leads.

But that isn’t going to stop the 24-hour news cycle from overplaying it, with the latest he-said, she-said coming from Bloomberg. The newswire is out with a story on how Australian virologist, Danielle Anderson — the only foreign scientist to have ever worked in the Wuhan Institute of Virology — is casting doubt on the theory that the covid-19 virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan.


It’s another awesome adaptation from the King of Horror: Stephen King-penned Lisey’s Story is a miniseries adaptation of one of the author’s best novels by the same name. Lisey (played by Julianne Moore) begins to experience an increasingly terrifying series of events centered on the memory of her late husband who was a famous and wildly successful novelist. The story is brought off the ground when an unhinged and stalkerish fan comes after Lisey to release her husband’s unpublished works. As she goes through them herself, she realizes that he wrote about an alternate reality that comes alive.

The latest in Euro 2020: Croatia is going up against Spain at 6pm, while France will compete against Switzerland at 9pm. The victors of both of today’s matches will end up playing each other in the quarter finals on 2 July in Saint Petersburg.

Who's going to the quarter finals so far? Yesterday’s matches saw the Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 2-0, clearing the way for them to play against Denmark on 3 July for the quarter finals. Meanwhile, fan-favorite Portugal was taken out of the running after losing to Belgium yesterday in a 1-0 match. Belgium will proceed to go up against Italy on 2 July in Munich, also for the quarter finals.


Ubuntu Gallery has launched their annual summer exhibition, Ubuntu Revisited, that will run until 7 August.

Being more sustainable in choosing what you wear and how you purchase is the topic up for discussion in an RDNA Salon talk tomorrow at 6:30pm at Maadi’s KMT House.


A guide to navigate the twists and turns of a family business: We’ve talked to a lot of our readers over the years and many of you are budding entrepreneurs, owners of family businesses, or investors who seek successful businesses. Harvard Business Review released the Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful, Enduring Enterprise to help mitigate the challenges that come when you share DNA and the executive suite. Family business experts Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer offer ways to communicate effectively, manage conflict, and build the right governance structures.

Want to hear more about the experiences of local family businesses? Check out these episodes of Making It:

  • Surviving the end of a trend: going beyond cupcakes with NOLA (listen, runtime: 38:51).
  • One ring to rule them all: How the Azza Fahmy brand became a precious heirloom that was nourished into a global luxury powerhouse (listen, runtime: 29:27).
  • Mr and Mrs Claus: The couple behind the killer concierge app Elves (listen, runtime: 29:13).

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The inferno continues: Expect daytime highs of 41°C and nighttime lows of 24°C in the capital city tomorrow, according to our favorite weather app.

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