Tuesday, 17 August 2021

TONIGHT- Bid for an upgrade from EgyptAir + You need to come back to the office because you can’t cut a deal on Zoom

Good morning, friends — we hope hump day has been kind to you. The news day has been reasonably kind to us all, as what little news there is to report is just about entirely “good.”

REASON TO SMILE as the workday comes to an end: Remittances from Egyptians living aborad are up — and so are corporate earnings, with Elsewedy being the latest to report strong numbers, with the perennial dividend payer reporting a more than 70% rise in net income to just under EGP 1 bn.

HAPPENING NOW- New Zealand is locking down the entire country — over a single case of covid, CNN reports.

IN OTHER COVID NEWS- The Biden administration is expected to start giving out coronavirus booster shots as soon as September, recommending the boosters to “most” Americans eight months after they were first vaccinated, the New York Times reports. The news comes as the US, Canada and Western Europe remain under pressure for “hoarding” vaccines at the same time as developing economies may not make a significant dent in their vaccination targets before 2023. It’s still unclear what the booster shot news means to Biden’s pledge to donate 500 mn doses of vaccines. Bloomberg reported that Biden’s administration is sending more than 488k doses of Pfizer’s jab to Rwanda.

STILL FEEL LIKE TRAVELING? EgyptAir passengers can now bid online to upgrade from to business class economy with the national flag carrier’s e-upgrade service, according to a company statement. The service, which allows customers to bid for an upgrade between 10 days and 48 hours before take-off, has been made available for EgyptAir flights to and from Dubai, London and Milan in a first phase.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD? It’s all Afghanistan, all the time. The latest:

The Feminist Emirate of Afghanistan? Not quite, but at least women will be allowed to have a job — under certain conditions. Bloomberg quotes a Taliban official as saying that the nascent Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will allow women to work “where they so choose.” A separate official earlier told the Associated Press that the group “doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore,” and said women would be allowed to work, earn a living and join the government, provided they adhere to (the Taliban’s interpretation of) Islamic law. The Taliban’s takeover of the country has provoked fears for the rights of Afghani women, who were largely confined to their houses under hardline rules enforced by the group prior to its removal from power in 2001.

The latest from the Great Capitalist Smackdown in China: Beijing is banning internet platforms from a range of behavior “deemed to harm market competition.” Analysts expect the crackdown to zero in on “false advertising, fraudulent online reviews, unfair competition, interoperability issues, data protection and consumer privacy issues,” the Financial Times reports. Reuters adds that another set of forthcoming regulations will aim to protect “critical information infrastructure.”

PSA- Google will fund 7k scholarships for MENA job seekers in cooperation with local organizations, according to an emailed press release (pdf). Here in Egypt, that includes the Egyptian Banking Institution and the University Center for Career Development. The tech giant said it will fund online certificates in IT support, project management, UX design and data analytics, all of them offered through Coursera. You can apply here and get more information here. Google is also offering new courses via its digital skills training program, “Maharat mn Google,” which pushes the adoption of Google services. The number of slots that would go to Egyptian applicants will largely be a function of how many people from here apply, a company representative suggested.

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

  • Being on the UK’s “red list” costs a lot: We could be losing as much as EGP 31 mn per day as long as we remain on the UK’s red list for international travel, which has all but closed Egypt to British tourists.
  • Y’all need a PCR test to come to Egypt: ID Now rapid covid tests alone are not accepted, and are used alongside PCR tests for people coming from countries where variants have been identified.
  • QNB lands European loan to finance green projects: QNB Al Ahli will receive a USD 50 mn loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Green Climate Fund, and the EU to help Egypt transition into a green economy.


Appearing over and over on our social media feeds: ​​The delta variant and beyond: Learning to live with covid, by former CDC director Tom Frieden for the Wall Street Journal. With much of the world set to remain unvaccinated until 2023, Frieden’s piece is real “thought leadership” (dear God, how we’ve come to loathe that term) on everything from vaccine hesitancy to what schools, corporations and we as individuals might do to move on with life as we battle what will likely be recurrent flareups of covid-19 for years to come.

FOR FINANCE NERDS- If you’re at all on the fence about going back to the office next month, read this piece: My years on Wall Street showed me why you can’t make a [transaction] on Zoom, says investment banker turned author William D. Cohan. We know, we know: AI can do a junior banker’s job. And there’s no excuse for the despicable working conditions most analysts suffer through. But Cohan has it right: Finance is an apprenticeship, and you learn far more face-to-face than you will ever pick up remotely — particularly if you want to move into more senior gigs where human intelligence, creativity and empathy matter.

No, your metabolism isn’t “slowing down” in middle age. Not enough to make you gain serious weight, at least — your diet and changes in hormone balance in your body (particularly during middle age, and even more so for women) have a heck of a lot more to do with it. “Everyone knows conventional wisdom about metabolism: People put pounds on year after year from their 20s onward because their metabolisms slow down, especially around middle age. Women have slower metabolisms than men. That’s why they have a harder time controlling their weight. Menopause only makes things worse, slowing women’s metabolisms even more.” That was the conventional wisdom up until last week, when a new paper in Science stood it all on its head.

Instead, humans likely have four “phases” of metabolism through which they pass from cradle to grave: Your metabolism races from birth through age one, slows about 3% per year from ages 1 through 20, then holds largely steady until your 60s, after which it slows again — but much more slowly than it did in your teenage years. Read all about it in the New York Times or dive deeper in Daily energy expenditure through the human life course

Oil is heading towards its longest losing streak since March as it fell for the fourth consecutive day. Analysts pin the dip on fears that the spread of the delta variant could impact demand in major economies — and oil producing countries agreed to increase production. “Signals point to a recovery. Demand is likely to rebound unless these new virus variants result in massive lockdowns,” one analyst told Bloomberg.

Tesla’s partially automated driving system is under formal investigation in the US after a string of crashes. The US auto safety regulator is examining 765k vehicles — almost everything that Tesla has sold in the US since the 2014 model year onward — which feature Tesla’s Autopilot, a system that automatically steers, brakes and accelerates the vehicle on most roads with lanes, the Wall Street Journal reports. The investigation could potentially lead to a mass recall, following a recall earlier this year of 135k Model S and Model X vehicles due to touch screen errors.

EV startups are trying to find cheaper ways to mass production: To overcome the challenges that Tesla previously faced, UK van company Arrival is seeking to build EV “microfactories” with less expensive equipment, Reuters reports. Big automotive companies usually spend USD 2 bn on a big factory with a capacity to manufacture up to 240k cars a year. However, Arrival’s microfactories are worth only USD 50 mn, and can hold 10k cars. The company had originally raised more than tenfold of that amount to build two plants. Another option could see companies outsourcing manufacturing to cut fixed costs.

(all times CLT)

French footballer Nicolas Anelka has a controversial legacy that is explored in Netflix’s Anelka: Misunderstood. Anelka is the kind of player who was always on your radar if you cared about football during the 2000s, hopping from one team to the next often over major disagreements with the coaches. Despite his bad boy ways, Anelka kept getting signed by names including Arsenal, Manchester City, PSG, and Liverpool as his scoring record kept coaches willing to subject themselves to his troublesome ways. The first half of the movie is a well structured self-portrait of Anelka the player and Anelka the man, while the second half is director Eric Hannezo’s efforts to show how he is truly “misunderstood” — a sentiment we didn’t always agree with.

Al Ahly and Zamalek are both in action in a busy evening in the Egyptian Premier League: The White Knights play Ceramica Cleopatra at 9pm while the Red Devils meet El Gaish at the same time. Enppi and Ismailiy also kick off at 9pm.

It’s a clash of the titans in Germany, when holders Bayern Munich meets Borussia Dortmund to decide who gets the Super Cup. The one-off game is played once a year and sees the Bundesliga champions meet the winners of the DFB-Pokal knockout competition.

The Champions League qualifying play-offs also get underway tonight: The headline fixture will see Monaco host Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg at 9pm.


Back in Cairo and need a pick-me-up? Maadi’s FengCha serves authentic bubble tea or ‘boba’ that is sweet, refreshing and super delicious with the little tasty bobas. If you haven’t had boba before, think tapioca in its consistency and texture. Their drinks are a great solution to the capital city’s heat and we recommend their brown sugar boba tea, dirty boba, or the purple-colored wolfberry bobbi tea. The joint also has some creative creations like a cheese tea (that we were too intimidated to try) and matcha boba, as well as food options such as boba cheesecake and boba-filled japanese mini pancakes.

(all times CLT)

For anyone wanting a high-energy evening, shaabi heavyweight Abdel Baset Hammouda is performing tomorrow at Cairo Jazz 610 out in Sheikh Zayed, starting 9pm. Reservations can be made through Facebook, from 12-8pm.

Dawar in Downtown Cairo is holding a hatha yoga workshop today (but only for women), running from 7-8pm and costing EGP 120 for walk-ins. All levels, including beginners, are welcome — but you need to register through the Facebook page.

And tonight at Room New Cairo, Gravy Train is holding a Pink Floyd tribute starting 9pm. Tickets cost EGP 150 and can be purchased online through the Facebook page.


A simple, effective and practical primer for budding entrepreneurs: Start-up Saboteurs is written by Ziad Abdelnour, a Lebanese-born American who is the president and CEO of New York-based PE firm Blackhawk Partners. The book looks at “how incompetence, ego, and small thinking prevent true wealth creation.” Abdelnour stresses that wealth isn’t about flaunting in front of family and friends, it’s about having the independence and financial security to do what you want. It’s an interesting read for all budding entrepreneurs to understand the personal and professional afflictions that sabotage growth for a business. The topics covered in the book range from the fundamentals of negotiation and the pros and cons of accepting venture capital funding all the way to the philosophy behind sound leadership.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER …is going to be just a fraction cooler than today’s. We can expect a daytime high of 38°C and a nighttime low of 23°C in Cairo tomorrow, according to our favorite weather app. Sahel should see a balmy daytime high of 30°C, followed by a overnight low of 24°C.

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