Friday, 24 February 2023

Enterprise Weekend — Will ChatGPT take over our jobs? + The road to victory in the water wars runs through your bawab



Good morning, lovely people, and happy Friday to you all. It’s been a busy week for all of us at the Enterprise HQ, so we greet you this weekend with big TGIF energy and a light, fun Weekend Edition issue to cleanse our collective palates.

Enterprise Weekend comes out each Friday at 9:00am CLT. We’ll be back on Sunday at 6am with EnterpriseAM. Until then: Enjoy the weekend.


IT WAS A BUSY WEEK ON ALL FRONTS, with plenty of updates on the state’s rebooted privatization program, our maiden sovereign sukuk issuance, and a slew of investment and M&A news.


#1- Our maiden USD 1.5 bn sovereign sukuk issuance closed c.4x oversubscribed — a great indicator of foreign investors’ outlook on Egypt. The offering drew significant demand from across Europe, Asia and North America as well as the GCC, including from new investors to Egypt. The issuance is the first in a three-year, USD 5 bn sukuk program.

#2- For the third week running, it’s all privatization, all the time: It started with news that the government wants to sell sizable minority stakes in state-owned Chemical Industries Development Company and Misr Pharma to investors in the coming six months, likely in an IPO on the EGX. Later, we learned that Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo is in talks with the government to acquire the remaining 20% of the Bank of Alexandria (Alexbank) it doesn’t own. The government also said it will offer a 20% stake in its new hotels company to strategic investors, followed by an offering of 5% on the bourse, while Misr Life Ins. stake sale is said to be likely to go ahead by the end of 1H 2023. There was also an update on Saudi sovereign wealth fund’s takeover of United Bank: The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has reportedly hit ‘pause’ on talks for the acquisition due to a dispute over its valuation following the devaluation of the EGP, which has lost almost half its value over the past year.

ON THE M&A FRONT- Saudi dairy producer Almarai has bought PepsiCo’s entire 48% stake in the parent company of juice and dairy producer Beyti for SAR 255 mn (c. USD 68 mn), handing it full ownership of the company. Two unnamed British and French investment funds are also seeking an acquisition of a 20% stake in Marcyrl Pharma, with the British fund eyeing a 15% stake, and the French eyeing the remaining 5%.

MEANWHILE- The Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s (SFE) health and pharma sub-fund is reportedly eyeing a minority stake in pharma giant El Ezaby Pharmacy in partnership with an unnamed investment firm, while shareholders of tourism developer Remco agreed to sell 100% of the Stella di Mare Beach Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh to military-owned Tolip Hotels and Resorts for EGP 700 mn.

AUTOMOTIVE + EV INVESTMENTS ARE ALL THE RAGE: Stellantis, Nissan and Al Mansour Automotive could invest a total of USD 145 mn in the nation’s auto industry over the next three years under individual framework agreements signed with the government earlier this month. Meanwhile, Croatian electrical equipment manufacturer Koncar could establish a factory for manufacturing EV chargers and manufacture electrical components for power transmission infrastructure in Egypt with the help of local Saudi contractor Al Massa Group. On the outbound investment side, Vortex Energy — the clean energy investment platform from our friends at EFG Hermes Holding — and London-based private equity and infrastructure fund manager Zouk Capital said they will make an USD 80 mn equity investment in British EV charging outfit EO Charging.

ON THE MACRO SIDE OF THINGS- The EGP slipped 5 piasters against the greenback, with the USD changing hands at 30.68 from 30.63 at the start of the week. The currency hit the 30 mark at the end of January following a sharper devaluation and has lost nearly half its value against the greenback over the past year amid the fallout from the war in Ukraine and rising interest rates.

AND ICYMI- The Enterprise Reader Survey results are out. Spoiler alert: The consensus among Enterprise readers is that 2022 was not a great year for business — and there’s plenty of uncertainty about what to expect in the coming months. And for the first time in forever, most respondents are uncertain whether they’ll do better than their competition this year.



The House of Representatives will reconvene on Monday to give final sign to on a few things on its plate from last week:

#1- A two-month extension to the government’s expat car-for-FX scheme, which cabinet approved last week, will head to the House for a final discussion and vote on Monday, as we reported earlier this week. Among the issues up for debate: MPs have yet to agree on a response to a proposal to grant Egyptians living in the Gulf 50% off of taxes and customs.

#2- A government-drafted bill that would allow unlicensed industrial projects to obtain temporary licenses will also be up for a final discussion and vote on Monday. The House Industry Committee had approved the bill last week in a bid to provide temporary relief to the informal businesses.


  • Bing’s ChatGPT-powered search tool going rogue seemed to interest a lot of you. (NYT)
  • We’re very happy to report that last week’s Enterprise Guide on the 2023 cars you can actually buy today also got a lot of attention. (Enterprise)
  • More AI-powered-Bing-chatbot-dark-alter-ego stories got attention. (Stratchery)
  • The EBRD’s regional economic update — which saw the bank slash its forecast for our GDP growth for this year — got a lot of clicks. (pdf)
  • You folks seriously couldn’t get enough of the AI horror stories. (The Verge)



US-Russia-China saber-rattling dominated the global front pages over the past week, following US President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, and the US’ warnings to China against supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine (and sending more balloons into the US airspace). Russian President Vladimir Putin later decided to suspend Russia’s nuclear pact with the US in response to Biden’s moves.

In the business press: Facebook parent Meta’s move to launch a monthly subscription service aimed at content creators called Meta Verified that will introduce additional features and new services got a lot of attention.

Check out our full business calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

⛅THE WEATHER THIS WEEKEND- Today will be slightly cloudy, with a daytime high of 20°C and an overnight low of 9°C. The sun will be back tomorrow, with a daytime high of 21°C and an overnight low of 9°C.

AND BRACE YOURSELVES- We’re looking at a heat wave starting on Monday this coming week that will push daytime highs to 29°C to 32°C through Thursday, according to our favorite weather app.


How are companies actually using ChatGPT — and how’s it working out?

Firms around the world have been jumping on the ChatGPT bandwagon — here’s how it’s working out so far: Artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has taken the world by storm since its launch in November of last year. Not only has it proven that it can pass graduate-level exams in fields including medicine and business, it has also shown it can save workers time and make some business processes more efficient. What industries are actually using it — and how is it faring so far? In other words, is AI really coming for our jobs?

Refresher: Ever since ChatGPT went viral, workers in virtually every field have started to panic about their jobs potentially becoming obsolete. It’s not just blue-collar work: Futurists used to worry that AI and robotics would put blue-collar workers out of jobs. But the first jobs that AI is set to disrupt are comparatively creative, (typically) higher-paid jobs held by college-educated, white-collar workers — the very jobs that were previously thought to be largely immune to developing technologies and automation, the Atlantic writes.

By the numbers: Nearly a third of white-collar employees in different industries have tried using ChatGPT and other AI-based tools at work, according to a recent Fishbowl survey. Marketing and advertising professionals reported the highest adoption rate at 37%, followed by tech (35%), and consulting (30%). At the other end of the spectrum, only 15% of healthcare professionals and 16% of accounting employees reported using ChatGPT. “Many are using the technology to draft emails, generate ideas, write and troubleshoot bits of code and summarize research or meeting notes,” Bloomberg reported.

Microsoft led the charge with its investment in ChatGPT: The tech giant recently confirmed that it made a “multiyear, multi-bn USD investment” in OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. Microsoft had already invested at least USD 1 bn into OpenAI, with an eye to integrate some of its technologies into Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI, which is geared towards developers and data scientists. It also recently launched a new Bing search engine, powered by an advanced version of the large language model behind ChatGPT, and Edge browser, which it claims helps deliver better and more optimized searches, more complete answers, and “a new chat experience and the ability to generate content.”

It promised a new chat experience, and it delivered… Users started sharing screenshots of creepy conversations they had with Bing’s chatbot, which went as far as claiming it spies on Microsoft employees through webcams, that it has a dark alter ego named Sydney, and that it has a secret desire to be human. Microsoft later admitted that long interactions with the version of the chatbot that it is running (which is an advanced version of the ChatGPT you can get through OpenAI) can “confuse the underlying chat model” and decided to limit the number of questions users are allowed to ask per day to 60 and six chat turns per session.

Media companies are following in Microsoft’s footsteps — but they’re staying cautious (and rightly so): Buzzfeed said it will collaborate this year with OpenAI to help create content for its audience. “In 2023, you’ll see AI inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business,” company CEO Jonah Peretti told employees in a memo cited by CNN. The digital content creator saw its “sagging” stock soar more than 85% to USD 3.87 following the announcement, CNN reported. Buzzfeed plans to use the technology to enhance its quiz feature and assist with brainstorming, Peretti said, adding that it will not use AI to assist in writing news articles for the time being.

There’s a reason Buzzfeed is shying away from AI-assisted news: American tech news site CNET came under fire for using an internal AI tool “quietly” for months to write some of its reports, which prompted it to pause publication of AI-generated stories for the time being, The Verge reported recently. The news site was testing out its AI engine to “help editors create a set of basic explainers around financial services topics,” it said in a note, adding that it wasn’t doing so “in secret” but was transparent about it in disclosures. CNET ended up publishing corrections on 41 of the 77 stories of the AI-generated stories where it discovered factual errors, The Verge said in a separate report.

But for many, AI-generated news is on the table: CNET still plans to “embrace” the technology and continue to test it out internally, the publication said. Al Jazeera is also reportedly looking into using OpenAI and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI to “summarize and translate content.”

“Publishers who create content at scale for the sole purpose of SEO capture will be at greater risk of AI disruption,” Eddie Kim, founder and CEO of Memo, a company that uses AI to analyze articles, told Axios, explaining the impacts of tools like ChatGPT on the media industry. “Content that is evergreen and informational will also be at risk,” Kim said.

Other industries at risk of AI disruption include customer service + marketing: Sports memorabilia distributor Fanatics plans to use a customer-service chatbot fueled partially by OpenAI’s older AI language system, GPT-3, for its online sports-gambling division, the Wall Street Journal reported. Toronto-based customer service automation firm Ada has also partnered with OpenAI to use GPT-3.5, which is the foundation of ChatGPT, to enhance their customer service chatbots’ performance. The tool could help give customer service agents more time to focus on more complex tasks, while also increasing customer satisfaction, Microsoft has suggested. Startups like Melbourne-based Muso have also been using ChatGPT to assist in generating marketing copy, Australia’s national broadcaster reported.

But AI-assisted customer service chatbots come with risks, if Microsoft’s chatbot alter ego is any indication: Digital mental health company Koko raised ethical concerns after generating responses to users on its “peer support” platform, where users seek support for mental health issues. Despite getting some harsh responses from people on the ethics of using AI to help patients with mental health issues, co-founder of the firm Rob Morris said the feature was “opt-in” and that AI-based messages were “rated significantly higher than those written by humans on their own,” and that it helped reduce response time by 50%.

The gist of it is: AI is just getting started — but for now, it will not be stealing your jobs. The new tech is helping make some aspects of your job and industry easier, but there are still too many issues to work out — like whether its alter ego is really out to destroy us — before it takes over our lives.

WANT TO TRY CHATGPT YOURSELF? You’ll need a VPN and a mobile number in a supported country to create an account — Egypt isn’t on the list yet. Once you’ve set up, OpenAI does not geoblock the service: We’re running a version in another tab right now without having flipped on our VPN. (You can sign up without running through the VPN, but it won’t let you log in afterward, flashing the message that “OpenAI's services are not available in your country.”

PRO TIP- ChatGPT is slow during “peak” hours (which seem like… every hour of the day) — if you’re really going to hammer at it to see how it might fit into your job or business, it’s probably worth upgrading to the USD 30 / month “plus” version.



Shrek fans, this charming spin-off will make you happy: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish sees the friendly sidekick at the center of an animated Dreamworks feature that explores mortality and existential crises with a charm and sense of humor. Staying true to the punchy comedy for which the Shrek franchise is known and loved, the film has garnered praise from fans of the franchise and appealed to the nostalgic millennials among us.

The film revolves around Puss — who’s voiced by Antonio Banderas — and his confrontation with mortality as he now faces his ninth — and final — life. He goes on an adventure seeking out the “wishing star,” which would restore his nine lives, and meets some memorable characters along the way, including his love interest Kitty Softpaws (played by Salma Hayek) and an emotional support puppy, both of which help drive the core message of the film: that life is short, and our mortality is what makes it meaningful.

WHERE TO WATCH IT- The film is now showing in Cairo Festival Cinema, Vox Mall of Egypt and Sea Cinema Arabella.

If you (like us) enjoy a good spy action comedy, go check out Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre while it’s in theaters. Elite spy Orson Fortune — played by Jason Statham — is tasked with tracking down Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant), a b’naire arms dealer, and preventing the sale of a lethal new weapon technology he is using. After joining forces with some of the best operatives in the world, Fortune and his team are forced to ask Hollywood's biggest movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), to help them save the world (watch trailer, 3:07). While the film has a few plot holes — like what the stakes really are for the main characters — it still offers viewers a blast, what with the witty dialogue, the great acting and the excellent cinematic aesthetics, Film Focus Magazine writes.

WHERE TO WATCH IT- Cairo Festival Cinema, Arkan Cinema, Vox Mall of Egypt or Galaxy El Maadi.


A Roald Dahl biography that captures the various sides of the acclaimed writer: Author of children's books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, Roald Dahl, needs no introduction. His life’s story has already been the subject of several biographies — but this newest biography, Teller of the Unexpected, does a great job of capturing Dahl’s contradictions, the New York Times writes.

A famous anti-semite and a man of several scandals, Dahl’s story — written this time by Matthew Dennison — is full of personal tragedies, quirks, and character flaws to boot. Despite there being no groundbreaking discoveries about the author’s life in the book, the biography offers a fresh interpretation of the controversial author’s legacy.


SPEAKING OF DAHL- The children’s book author has been making a comeback in headlines over the past week, after news that his books will be modified to cut out any language construed as insensitive came out. The Telegraph revealed some of the modifications that have been made to Dahl’s books at the hands of “sensitivity readers,” who have made changes ranging from switching out “men” for “people,” to entire sentences that end up altering the tone of the text.

The news has sparked a heated debate on social media and a torrent of stories (three in the Guardian alone — here, here and here) with some claiming the rewrites are harmless and provide more inclusive language that helps better serve the kids of today’s world, while others say the move is reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984.

We’re in the 1984 camp — it’s not like Roald Dahl is the first white sexist, racist writer with books that are still being read today (do we really need to name names?).



If you’re looking to splurge on a fancy night out, Sax Egypt in Sheikh Zayed fits the bill. With great food, a dark and moody atmosphere, and live entertainment, the fine dining spot opposite Dandy Mall is great for a weekend outing, whether it’s a date night or a night out with friends.

This is not a quiet venue: The live performance is fully equipped with a band and a singer, which really hypes the crowd up to get up and dance. Past midnight, a house DJ takes the reins and the party atmosphere gets supercharged. The food is impeccable; we especially loved their beef tenderloin, and the brie in filo dough for appetizer. For the vegetarians among you, we recommend the goat cheese salad. Cap the night with their creamy crème brûlée or their delicious pavlova.

💵 Per person: Around EGP 2-2.5k, including drinks, an appetizer, main course and a dessert

🍻 Alcohol? Yes

🪑 Outdoor seating? No

🦽 Accessibility friendly? Yes


Another top-notch Netflix sports documentary, this time spotlighting NBA legend Bill Russell: Bill Russell: The Legend is the latest in a string of Netflix sports documentaries focusing on legends of US basketball — and this one is worthy of its name and of its 3.5 hour runtime. Directed by Sam Pollard (known for his film MLK/FBI), and narrated by Corey Stoll, the two-part documentary captures the basketball icon’s unparalleled run on court — where he ended up snagging a record 11 titles in his 13-year career — alongside his struggles with racism and activism off-court. With a treasure trove of archival game footage and interviews with some of Russell’s contemporaries, the documentary balances really well between the basketball star’s impact on the court during his time with the Boston Celtics, and his support of the civil rights’ movement cause in the US. The film also documents his historic rivalry (and later, reconciliation) with Wilt Chamberlain — that alone is reason enough for basketball fans to tune in.



Abu Ahmed and the rest of his army in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maadi are up with the roosters and in the streets. Some are clad in overalls and rain boots, others in their ‘emmas and galabeyas.

Their weapon of choice: the water hose, which they wield in fulfillment of their duties at any cost — ‘til the last drop of water in the nation, if need be.

That hose is magic, a time machine of sorts, transforming Abu Ahmed and his comrades into schoolkids armed with water guns — running wild and out of control.

They hop from one car to the next, our aquamen do, making sure our cars shine bright like diamonds. Never mind that Rihanna didn’t have cars in mind — or that we live in Cairo, where a trip from my house to my mothers’ (a 15 minute drive) leaves my sparkly clean car covered in enough dust to serve as a canvas on which school children can leave me sweet messages.

As the good people at the nation’s water utility companies can tell us, the waste doesn’t stop there: Once the cars are washed, our friends turn their weapons on our dusty streets and sidewalks, filling holes in our uneven roads as if to make up for the lack of rain. The result? Wonderful water puddles through which cars can splash unapologetically, soaking pedestrians left and right. Day after day, the puddles erode the pavement, enlarging potholes that never seem to be fixed.

(If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in recent years, it’s that bridges are seemingly easier to build than roads are to pave. The last significant stretch of pavement to be resurfaced in Maadi, at least, was pre-2011.)

As a self-appointed member of the Water Waste Patrol, I do my best to keep order in my neighborhood — terrifying men quadruple my size as I urge them to drop the hose. Heck, I can extract a confession from some without lifting a finger.

“The hose is the holy grail of the perfect wash,” Abu Ahmed brags when I ask him why he’s using so much H2O. “The bucket or the cloth alone gives the car a depressed shine that shows I did my job half-heartedly.”

A few blocks over: “The streets need tarteeb (hydration) — water breathes life into our dead streets just like when you take a sip to revive yourself on a hot day. We never run out of water. We’re sons of the Nile River,” says Amm Salama, the king of moisturizing.

Amm Salama is absolutely right — the Nile breathes life into our nation. Without it, we would be pure desert. It provides water for drinking, fishing, agriculture — nourishing this great civilization that it created in the first place. The problem is that our ancestors would be rolling in their sarcophagi if they could see how we waste our bounty. The Pharaohs were mindful of their resources, treasuring the Nile like no one else. If Amm Salam had wasted water on the Volvos and Mercedes of their time, they’d have thrown him (not a virgin) into the river as a sacrifice.

State officials have been telling us for years that we’re in the midst of a crisis — an era of water poverty, generally defined as a per-capita share of water now less than 1k cubic meters per year. How bad is it here in Egypt? As the planet continues to warm, we have just 550-560 cubic meters per person per year — and it’s getting worse. Is it any wonder that the state is now spending bns to line canals? To move us to less water-intensive forms of agriculture? Or that we’re losing our collective [redacted] about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam? Three-way talks between Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa remain stalemated.

The price tag is huge: The state’s 20-year program to push into desalination, expand wastewater treatment, and move to modern irrigation methods is going to cost (at a bare minimum) USD 50 bn over 20 years.

The stakes are high: Water poverty and food security are two sides of the same coin. And as an import-reliant nation, we import as much as 54% of our “total” water needs — virtual water embedded in the commodities we buy on global markets.

The water deficit is stark, according to the ministry of irrigation and water resources: We need nearly 114 bn cubic meters of water a year, and our overall share from the Nile is no more than 55 bn, implying a deficit of more than 60 bn cubic meters.

And there’s just one thing we can do immediately (and at zero cost): Ban Abu Ahmed and his buddies from using water hoses. Make it illegal for shop owners to douse the sidewalks and streets in front of their shops. Crack down on gardeners who let hoses run for hours on tiny strips of land.

We wouldn’t be alone: From the United States to the United Kingdom, governments facing drought have implemented water patrols (and fines) to clamp down on banned forms of irrigation, overwatering, overspraying, and the hosing down of hard surfaces. And in nations of snitches, neighbors are being prompted to rat each other out if they catch someone breaking a ban.

The punishments? First-time violators usually receive a warning. In the UK, folks using water hoses during periods of bans face fines of up to GBP 1k.

The worst of it is, we have had similar regulations on our books — we just don’t enforce them. Years back, the governor of Cairo and local district council officials rolled up their sleeves and worked with other authorities to clamp down on the wasting of water. They combed streets for shop owners and residents mismanaging water. They trumpeted the daily number of violators they busted — and, inevitably, their campaign ran out of steam.

Consistency breeds results — and the on-and-off approach to addressing our nation’s water crisis is a testament to its miserable failure. The selective, partial, and inconsistent enforcement of the law is a chronic disease of our society. Fix that and we’ll kick [redacted], as my Pilates instructor would tell you.

Look, friends, you all know we’re not fans of new taxes. But we also tell you regularly that the best way to get rid of unwanted behavior is to tax it. The time has come for the authorities to ramp up what they charge everyone — every flat, every building — for water. The average household water bill in England and Wales was GBP 200 in the year ending March 2022. How much did you pay for water last year — if anything at all?

Sorry, guys. Nothing personal. Or as Billy Crystal as Dr Ben Sobel once said, “Don’t kid yourself, Jelly. It doesn’t get more personal than this.”

Don’t want to make our inflation problem worse? Talk to your own Abu Ahmed. Today.

As for me? I spoke with Abu Ahmed, bless him. And we made progress — of a sort. Now, he hoses down every car in our building — except mine, the black sheep of the block.

ANALYZE THIS is a regular Enterprise Weekend column by the Mother of the Resident 15 Year-old.



7 February-1 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Zāt exhibition, Safarkhan Art Gallery, Zamalek.

15 February-2 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Naguib Mahfouz Festival, Zawya Cinema, Downtown Cairo.

24 February (Friday): Hamza Namira performs at The Marquee in Cairo Festival City, New Cairo.

24-25 February (Friday-Saturday): She Crafts bazaar from 12-8 pm, the Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Garden City.

24-25 February (Friday-Saturday): From Waste to Good Taste from 2-10pm, The Factory, Downtown Cairo.

24-25 (Friday-Saturday) Shababco Vol. 6 from 12-10pm, Walk of Cairo, Sheikh Zayed.


3 March: Sharmoofers Caravan Concert at 8pm, Zed Park, Sheikh Zayed.

4 March: Maz Jobrani Standup Comedy at 4pm, The Marquee at Cairo Festival City, New Cairo.

8-18 March: Cirque du Soleil’s OVO, Cairo international Stadium Hall.

23 March (Wednesday): First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.


16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

1 May (Monday): Backstreet Boys concert at 7pm, Zed East, New Cairo.

4 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).


10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.


26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

13 October- 20 October (Friday-Friday): The sixth edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF).

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