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Sunday, 22 August 2021

TONIGHT: Booster shots for travellers. + Investors can’t resist oil. ALSO: Krispy Kreme express lane.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and we hope today’s breezy drive to work continues all week long after the furnace-level weather of the past few days.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Another Egyptian startup eyeing a Nasdaq listing? After Swvl announced that it would be making its debut on the Nasdaq in 4Q2021 through a merger with blank-check firm Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, Egyptian automotive startup Odiggo appears to be following suit. Co-founder Ahmed Nasser tells Enterprise that its reported IPO plans will target the Nasdaq. We have more in the Speed Round below.

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

  • No carrots, no sticks: An Enterprise poll found that Egyptian companies have so far shied away from mandating their staff be vaccinated against covid-19 and are not yet offering incentives to their employees.
  • Covid-19 vaccinations are now mandatory in schools and universities: All students aged over 18, teachers and school staff must register for a vaccine, which will be administered on premises.
  • A new inflation target: The government is targeting average inflation of 6% through FY2021-2022, within the central bank’s 7% (±2%) target.

HAPPENING NOW- Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki is heading to Moscow to attend the joint Egyptian-Russian military committee to discuss bilateral military cooperation, the Armed Forces spokesperson said in a statement.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- You will need booster shots if you’re going to Austria, Croatia: In a sign that booster shots will become a mainstay, travellers heading to Austria and Croatia who have been double vaccinated will see more stringent entry requirements 270 days (or nine months) after receiving their second dose. If your nine months are up, Austria will want to see a PCR test and will require a 5-10 day quarantine period starting in October, while Croatia will require proof of a recent recovery but will accept travellers who recently received a single jab only. Both countries have been popular travel destinations since they’re on the UK’s “green list.”

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The fallout from the Taliban’s sudden victory in Afghanistan continues to dominate global headlines. A British defense ministry official today announced that seven Afghans died amid the chaos in Kabul airport yesterday. Among them was a two-year-old girl who was trampled by the surging crowd, the NYT reports; meanwhile, the US embassy has warned its citizens away from the airport due to “potential security threats outside the gates.” The Taliban’s takeover is also stoking fears of an impending economic collapse in the country—already one of the world’s poorest—with the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) Afghanistan director warning of “a complete humanitarian disaster” unless the international community steps in immediately to offer aid.

Other global headlines worth noting include:

  • Hurricane Henri is coming for the US northeast: Long Island and New England will experience their first hurricane in at least 30 years today, The National Hurricane Center said.
  • OnlyFans is going halal in October: It’s front-page news in both the Financial Times and Bloomberg.


The US Federal Reserve has at the last minute moved online its annual Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers and monetary policymakers this weekend over concerns about the delta variant. Powell and other Fed officials had previously tried to play down the impact on the US economy of the more virulent coronavirus strain. But they were forced to make a U-turn as the local case count climbed in Wyoming, returning the Jackson Hole meeting to an online-only format for a second consecutive year. The one-day event, which will focus on “Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy,” will take place on Friday, 27 August.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will begin on Tuesday 24 August and run through 5 September, with Egypt sending a 49-athlete-strong team to the games.

MEED will hold a webinar named Energy Transition in the Middle East, at 12pm CLT on Tuesday 24 August.


Staying with the Fed, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told senior White House advisers that she wants Jerome Powell reappointed as head of the Fed, one Bloomberg journalist has said on Twitter. Powell, who was somewhat controversially appointed by Donald Trump to replace Yellen as Fed chair in 2018, is now credited by supporters on both sides of the aisle with guiding the US economy safely through the pandemic and into recovery. Most Fed watchers expect him to be asked back for another four-year term, but the final decision rests with President Biden. He should make his view known sometime around Labor Day in early September, the reporter added. Powell’s term expires in February.

As SPACs raise the eyebrows of regulators, famed activist investor Bill Ackman is proposing SPARCs. An abbreviation for special purpose acquisition rights company, SPARCs differ from SPACs by not requiring investors to put up investments until a target company has been identified and a long-term operational strategy is set, according to the Financial Times.

Ackman’s proposal follows a lawsuit that alleges that the bn’aire’s SPAC should actually be registered as an investment company as it mainly invests in securities. Ackman called the lawsuit “meritless” in a letter to investors (pdf), but said that it would push back the timeline on specific agreements such as a planned stake purchase in Universal Music Group. The lawsuit is the most recent of attempts by lawmakers to regulate the broader SPAC market as they shy away from the risks of the financial vehicle. Ackman has pledged to give back USD 4 bn to investors who piled into his SPAC if the new SPARC is approved.

Still unsure what a SPAC is? Check out our explainer on the topic.

It’s easy to claim the ESG flag when oil isn’t doing great: As oil prices recover in 2021 and oil and gas companies make a strong showing this earnings season, investors appear to have simply put their fans on their desks and gone right back into the arms of oil majors. European oil stocks are cheap, pay out big, and have strong earnings momentum, especially in a potentially overvalued broader market, Bloomberg reports citing several analysts. After a pandemic year that saw the sector lose a quarter of its value and slash dividends, investors are now betting on a recovery in Europe’s oil markets—and they’re not deterred by ESG concerns.

Oil majors feeding the addiction: Take BP, which recently announced earlier this month it will increase its dividend by 4% and buy back shares worth USD 1.4 bn in 3Q2021. Shares of the company rose 5.6% following the announcement. It isn’t the only one, with oil majors (barring ExxonMobil) promising something similar. All the while these companies continue to peddle the story that they are taking climate change seriously. One fund manager told Bloomberg that he expected fossil fuel companies to continue generating profits for the next 30 or 40 years amid that transition, adding that while “people tend to pick on Big Oil…What we do is say, actually, it’s really complex.”

And it doesn’t matter how many UN scientists tell us we need to put the emergency break on fossil fuels. UN chief Antonio Guterres said the body’s most recent climate change report “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”


Short and sweet sitcoms that make your day better wherever they fit in: This week we’ll be rounding up some of our favorite short-form sitcoms that guarantee a quick pick me up during the day. New Girl has been on Netflix for a while and is a show that we could watch endless times. Jess (played by Zoeey Deschanel) moves into a loft with three guys and all four of them couldn’t be more different. From the cute school teacher Jess to dopey Winston, workaholic and fancy pants Schmidt, and finally, self-declared “man of the people” Nick. The show follows the unique and hilarious characters traverse through life, relationships, growing together, and everything in between. Uncommon opinion: Schmidt is our favorite.

This afternoon in the English Premier League: Man Utd are aiming to make it two wins from two in their game against Southampton, which kicked off at 3pm. Kicking off at the same time are Tottenham and Wolves, with the new Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo facing his old club for the first time since making the move in the summer.

The headline fixture: Arsenal host Chelsea in the 5.30pm fixture, with the Blues hoping to pile more misery on the Gunners, who were easily beaten by crosstown minnows Brentford last week.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid plays Elche tonight at 7:30pm while Real Madrid will face Levante at 10pm.

Serie A has four matches tonight: Juventus against Udinese and Bologna against Salernitana, both at 6:30pm. At 8:45, Roma will hit the field alongside Fiorentina while Napoli is up against Venezia.

Reminder: You can stream certain Serie A games live on YouTube (at least until the league finally sorts out a rights package with a MENA broadcaster).


If you don’t know, now you know: Krispy Kreme is in Egypt and is unsurprisingly making a bang. Opening up shop at Arabella Plaza, close to GUC, the donut shop has seen formidable lines these past few days. They’ve since set up an express line for customers who want an assorted box or a box full of their signature glazed donuts. Those who want to choose their own selection of treats will have to wait in the queue. Before you head there, get prepped with these Krispy Kreme donut rankings by Delish and Spoon University. On another note, we can finally cross this off our bucket list of bad food decisions: the KFC/Krispy Kreme sandwich.


Find a new passion by starting a Salsa or Bachata dance course which are being offered at Forever Young studio in New Cairo.

The Sinatras and Leila Adham are taking the stage at The Room New Cairo tomorrow at 9pm.


Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson sets out to answer that question, attempting to explain why some countries are rich and others poor, divided by a gap in wealth, food security, and health. The authors look at nations from past and present history, bringing together evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the US, and Africa.

The conclusion was actually pretty simple: the quality and effectiveness of political and economic institutions determine economic success and standards of living. Although every nation is affected by their different cultures, economies and geographies, the authors argue that in all countries these institutions need to be effective, innovative, and durable if they are to succeed economically and raise the standard of living. You can find the book at Diwan Bookstore.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The weather will continue to be a bit more bearable tomorrow at 38°C in the capital city during the day and 24°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us. Meanwhile, Sahel will have daytime highs of 31°C and nighttime lows of 22°C.

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