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Tuesday, 24 August 2021

THIS EVENING: Uber raises prices in Egypt + Good vibes ahead of this year’s Jackson Hole meeting, where US Fed boss Jay Powell speaks on Friday

Good afternoon, nice people. We hope hump day has been kind to you all.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The Finance Ministry could take its first sovereign sukuk issuance to market as soon as January. With the ink still drying on the Sovereign Sukuk Act, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said his ministry will be on the road (virtually or otherwise) in the second half of the state’s current fiscal year. It’s an exciting development, and we have a look at what might be next in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.

HAPPENING NOW- Uber has again raised its fares in Egypt, according to a notice (jpg) it sent to clients. In Cairo, the base fare for an UberX ride will go to EGP 8 from EGP 7.50 (+6.7%), with the fare per kilometer going up 7.0% EGP 3.05 from EGP 2.85. The app last changed its fares in May. The rate hike comes one month to the day after the government’s fuel pricing committee kicked the price of 92- and 95-octane petrol up 2.8%.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s still all Afghanistan, all the time in the pages of the international press this afternoon ahead of today’s emergency (virtual) G7 summit, during which leaders will try to agree on a common approach to the Taliban as the 31 August withdrawal deadline nears. It’s front-page news everywhere from Reuters and the AP to the New York Times and the BBC.

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

  • EKH plans to invest big: Egypt Kuwait Holding is looking to invest USD 500 mn over the next five years across at least six verticals.
  • Heka raises pre-seed funding: Egyptian health startup Heka has raised a seven-figure USD pre-seed funding round led by angel investor Mohamed El Khamissy.
  • Majid Al Futtaim to partner on tech outsourcing center: Majid Al Futtaim and ITIDA will construct a tech outsourcing center that will employ more than 600 tech workers.


It’s Jackson Hole week: The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual gathering of central bankers and policy makers at Jackson Hole will take place on Friday, 27 August. This is the second year in a row that the gathering will take place online. Look for signals coming out of the gathering that the Fed may start tapering off stimulus this fall.

Good vibes ahead of the gathering: Sentiment among traders was buoyed by good news on the US vaccination drive, a rebound in Chinese tech stocks, and hopes that the US Fed may think twice before starting to slow down on stimulus. Global oil prices, bond yields and equities were all up today, with all the major benchmark stock indices showing slight gains, while the USD was down against a basket of currencies, reflecting greater risk-on sentiment. Brent crude rose 1.2% to USD 69.50 a barrel after jumping 5% on Monday.

When will we hear something out of Jackson Hole? Fed boss Jay Powell is expected to speak on Friday afternoon our time.

In a strange reversal on recent trends, concerns about the delta variant may be bolstering markets this week, according to one analyst: “The rising covid cases and the soft data can only keep the Fed alert and reluctant to act prematurely. And that's all the market wants to hear.” That should also signal a warning about just how tricky it could be for markets to wean themselves off the massive US stimulus measures when tapering becomes unavoidable.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will run through 5 September, with Egypt sending a 49-athlete-strong team to the games.


When taxis fly: investors enticed by promises of the “next Tesla” have poured more than USD 4.3 bn into electric air taxi start-ups so far this year, the FT reports citing figures from McKinsey. SPACs, the new-ish investment vehicle making a splash in clean transport this year (including here in Egypt), joined VCs to build the hype. The catch: They still don’t have any actual flying taxis to show for it. “We are in a white-heat situation where you can float almost anything for bns. We have companies that don’t yet have a product selling the dream and raising bns,” one tech consultant told the salmon-colored paper. Things now seem to be calming down after an underwhelming New York listing for one firm and a valuation cut for another. But while some are cynical, others expect the low-flying taxis to course-correct. “You are getting a correction, but I am still optimistic this industry is something really different,” says the CEO of one small electric aviation start-up.

Dual-fuel vehicles aren’t just a thing in Egypt — Maersk is planning to do it on the high seas as part of its “decarbonization” drive: The world’s biggest container liner has ordered eight hybrid mega vessels that can run on either traditional fuel or “green” methanol. Each of the new ships costs USD 175 mn — 10-15% more than your standard massive tanker. The dual-fuel tankers are set to replace existing ships in Maersk’s fleet rather than build capacity, but they won’t be delivered by Hyundai Heavy Industries until 2024. With a 20-25 year life cycle, each of the new ships is key to the company’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050. But while Maersk’s “clear ambition” is to run the dual-fuel vessels only on carbon-neutral methanol, the company’s head of fleet told the FT that “we don’t yet know what will be the winning technology.” The new fuel has its downsides: It entails double the usual costs, and while Maersk is betting that traders will pay a premium for “green” transport, some critics have cast doubt on methanol’s environmental credentials.

Visa jumps on the NFT bandwagon: Visa has purchased “cryptopunk,” a digital avatar that works via non-fungible token (NFTs), for USD 150k in ethereum. NFTs let you have ownership of an “original” virtual items, without giving you copyright or other intellectual property rights to the artwork itself. (Think of an NFT like an old-school print from a classic film negative.) That means you cannot distribute or commercialize NFT-based items. According to CNBC, a number of big firms and media publications have been joining the NFT craze, including CNN, New York Times and Fortune magazine, as NFTs are becoming seen (in some quarters, if you squint really hard) as an integral part of the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce.

(all times CLT)

Zamalek could be crowned champions of the Egyptian Premier League tonight: The White Knights need a victory against relegation-threatened El Entag El Harby (kick off: at 9pm) to claim the trophy. Second-placed Al Ahly are still able to claim a 43rd league title, but with only two games remaining and a four-point gap to close, they’ll need to make sure they beat El Gouna tonight (kick off: also at 9pm) and hope that Zamalek drop points. Wadi Degla plays Ceramica Cleopatra in the early kick-off at 5:30pm.

Marlon mixes family-friendly comedy with relevant social commentary: The all-black-cast TV show follows internet personality Marlon, who is co-parenting his two young children with his ex-wife Ashley, who proves to be a saint as she puts up with his antics. Yvette, Ashley’s best friend, isn’t as understanding and is in a constant rivalry with Marlon and his bff, Stevie. The show depicts family, struggles, and growing up as Marlon often falls into stand-up comedy-like monologues. The show also explores racism, discrimination, and the black experience in the US in a way that keeps the show socially relevant.


Another hidden gem in Maadi: Zulu Restobar. Located not far from El Maadi Metro station, Zulu is well hidden — an unimposing sign is the only indication that this South African joint exists. Take a few steps down and you’ll find a restobar in the heart of Maadi that offers all the drinks you could ask for as well as a great selection of food options. Every wall at Zulu is covered with graffiti and paintings (we particularly appreciate the zebras). They also hold a ton of events every week such as karaoke nights, acoustic live music, and DJs. Go for their steaks, burgers or chicken strips, or just wind down with a beverage and enjoy the atmosphere.

(all times CLT)

Mohasseb / Heavy Pins is playing at Cairo Jazz Club 610 in Sheikh Zayed at 8pm: DJ Mohasseb and Heavy Pins will both be spinning their deep house and electronic music at CJC’s Tuesday Midweek Party.


The author of The Girl on the Train is back at it again: Paula Hawkins’ new thriller A Slow Fire Burning explores the themes of resentment and revenge and how good people are capable of both. When 23-year-old Daniel is found dead on a houseboat, three women are narrowed down as suspects by the police. Laura is a girl he briefly dated who suffers from mental and physical disabilities, Carla is his seemingly grief-stricken aunt, and Miriam is the nosy neighbor who is hiding something from the police. The novel explores the lives and experiences of the three women and how they could be involved in the murder as well as Daniel’s history and how it led him to his demise. A fitting title, the novel is a slow burn that leads to an ending that is nothing short of shocking.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Folks in Cairo can expect a high of 39°C during the day and 25°C at night, while Sahel is on course to see a daytime high of 32°C and 23°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us.

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