19 Oct 2020

Shortlist Made of Transport, Water Projects Eligible for Funds From Egypt's Green Bonds

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Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad (courtesy of Ministry of Environment website)

A shortlist has been prepared of five projects on sustainable transport and sustainable management of water and sanitation to be funded via $500 million from Egypt's sovereign green bonds, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has said.

The purpose of choosing these projects is to address the environmental challenges faced by these sectors, instead of the mere provision of funds to them, Fouad said.

The environment ministry is yet to select additional projects that are to be funded by an additional $250 million from the green bonds issuance.

Last month, Egypt sold $750 million in five-year sovereign green bonds, the first to be issued in the Middle East and North Africa region. The amount is larger than the size of the $500 million initial offering. The country increased the size after receiving bids more than seven times the initial offering.

The environment and finance ministries have cooperated with a number of related bodies on making a list of 41 green projects that could potentially be funded by green bonds, Fouad said.


Economics

Egypt Maintained GDP Growth Rate of 3.6% Amid COVID-19: Minister

Egypt maintained a GDP growth rate of 3.6 percent amid the coronavirus crisis while growth rates in the majority of countries globally decelerated, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Sunday. 

According to a statement, Maait reviewed economic performance indicators amid the crisis, adding that the country was able to reduce the overall deficit to 7.9 percent in the elapsed 2019/2020 fiscal year, down from 8.2 percent in 2018/2019. 

Egypt was also able to achieve a primary surplus amounting to 1.8 percent of GDP by the end of June 2020 despite the negative impact of the pandemic, Maait said, adding that the debt-to-GDP ratio fell to 87 percent by the end of the financial year, from 90.4 percent in June 2019. 

He said Egypt has been able to maintain a stability of basic commodities prices and achieve a record level for inflation at 4.2 percent by the end of June, compared with an inflation of eight percent in the same period last year. 

He said that Egypt was the only country in the Middle East and North Africa have tainted the confidence from the three main global ratings agencies, S&P Global, Moody's and Fitch during one of the most difficult periods seen by global economies amid the virus outbreak. 

Science and Technology

Agricultural Bank of Egypt's Portal for Agricultural Commodities to Be Launched Within Two Months

Alaa Farouk, chairman of the Agricultural Bank of Egypt (ABE Bank), has said that the bank plans to launch an electronic platform for agricultural commodities within two months, in cooperation with the e-finance company for e-payments technology.

Farouk said that this platform will help the ordinary farmer to promote his products more easily.

He said that the bank is working to expand the provision of digital services, especially after the support it received from the Central Bank of Egypt, to make ABE Bank the gateway to financial inclusion.

Farouk said that the bank also intends to open 800 new branches throughout the country, increasing the number of branches from 1,200 at present to 2,000 within five years.

Customers Using Banque Misr's Internet Banking Reach 550K

Banque Misr Vice Chairman Akef Al-Maghraby has said that the number of the bank's customers using internet banking customers has risen to 550,000, a 59.8 percent increase, during the previous six months, compared to a previous 221,000 customers.

He added that transactions via the bank's electronic wallet service increased five times within six months, and noted that financial inclusion reduces poverty and leads to increased economic development.

He explained that the central bank's initiatives have contributed to increasing the volume of customers within the banking sector, including the initiative to publish points of sale and quick response codes, adding that the number of points of sale at Banque Misr had reached 34,000.

Sharm to Host Union of Arab Banks' 2020 Fintech Conference in Nov

The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) will hold a conference on the banking industry and the future of financial services in Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh in November.

The conference will be held in cooperation with the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB) and with be sponsored by the Central Bank of Egypt.

Topics to be covered include the impact of digital banks and digital innovations on the future of financial services; the positive effects of the coronavirus pandemic in terms of boosting e-payments and financial inclusion; and the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.  

The conference will include an exhibition of the sponsoring institutions and companies.

Business

Prime FinTech Launches New Arm for Leasing, Factoring and Consumer Finance

Prime FinTech, a subsidiary of Prime Holding, has launched its first company, Endorse, to provide financial leasing and factoring activities to the business sector and consumer finance services to individuals, with capital of EGP 50 million ($3.1 million).

Mervat Erian, CEO of FinTech and Endorse, said that the three different services are being provided in the Egyptian market through one company for the first time in Egypt.

Endorse completed its registration and obtained all the required licenses from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) in September.

Erian added that it was necessary to expand the company's provision of financial technological services, one of the most important elements of business and investment success, given the state's push for technology and digitalization in establishing and managing businesses.

The financial arm's capital is expected to reach EGP 100 million ($6.3 million) by the end of the year.

valU to Provide Consumer Finance Services for EGIS Tuition Fees

EFG Hermes' installment sales service valU has partnered with El Gouna International School (EGIS), to provide financing services for tuition fees for all educational stages of primary and pre-university education at the school, starting next year.

valU CEO Mohamed El-Feky said that the educational sector is one of the most vital sectors in Egypt and the most prominent strategic expansion that the company has undertaken, as it is the largest educational sector in the Middle East and North Africa due to the country’s large population and big youth demographic.

He added, in a press release yesterday, that that high tuition fees for private schools represent a great burden on many parents amid the ongoing financial pressures due to the coronavirus.

The new agreement with EGIS represents an extension of the company's strategy to enter into partnerships with the most prominent entities operating in various vital sectors in Egypt, El-Feky said.

In August, valU entered into a strategic partnership with GEMS Egypt for Educational Services to provide installment payment services for tuition fees, for the first time in Egypt.

TMG Says Capital Gardens City Project Still Under Study

Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), one of the largest real estate companies in Egypt, has said that a potential Capital Gardens city project is still under study, and developments will be disclosed in due course.

The developer sent a statement sent to the bourse in response to its inquiries regarding reports of the group's negotiation with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to develop an area of 5,000 feddans (5,189 acres) in the newly established Capital Gardens.

Capital Gardens will include proper housing units for all those who will work in the New Administrative Capital at lower prices, Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar has said previously.

It will also include logistics areas, tourism projects and green areas.

The construction of about 30,000 housing units has already begun and they will be ready by mid-2021, Al-Gazzar added.

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Oriental Weavers Non-Executive Chairman Yasmine Khamis

Oriental Weavers Appoints Yasmine Farid Khamis as Chairman Following Her Father's Death

The board of directors of Oriental Weavers has approved the appointment of Yasmine Mohamed Farid Khamis as non-executive chairman, succeeding Salah Abdel Aziz Abdel Motalab, according to a bourse disclosure on Sunday.

Her father Mohamed Farid Khamis, chairman and founder of Oriental Weavers, passed away last month at the age of 80.

The board also approved the appointment of Salah Abdel Aziz Abdel Motalab as managing director and CEO, replacing Medhat Hussein, who will remain as a board member.

In March, Khamis had donated EGP 5 million ($318,000) to the Long Live Egypt Fund to help deal with the coronavirus.

500 Startups Hires SHUAA Capital as Adviser to Its MENA Fund

Global venture capital company 500 Startups has appointed SHUAA Capital, an asset management and investment banking platform, as adviser to its Falcons 1 Fund in the Middle East and North Africa region.

SHUAA will be represented by its CEO, Jassim Alseddiqi.

SHUAA will advise 500 Start-ups portfolio companies on financing and exit strategies, as the fund nears the end of its deployment.

"500 Startups is a powerhouse in MENA with a unique global platform that has contributed significantly to the start-up ecosystem. Having built a deep network of investors and investments across MENA with SHUAA, I look forward to guiding and collaborating with founders to take their businesses to the next level, whether through further development or exit strategies," said Alseddiqi.

Founded in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has invested in more than 2,300 companies through its five global funds and 15 thematic funds.

SOKNA Launches Egypt's First Funeral Services Website

SOKNA has launched the first Egyptian website specializing in funeral services, with the aim of providing professional expertise that takes care of all logistics after a death. 

The service options available on the website include finalizing the burial permit procedures and other official procedures, the washing and preparation of the body, the preparation of cemeteries, transportation, reservation of funerals and memorial halls, the publishing of obituaries in newspapers and digitally, the distribution of alms in the deceased's name, and many other post-mortem support services.

Ahmed Gaballah, founder and chairman of SOKNA, said that it is important to decrease some of the psychological burdens on those who have recently lost a loved one, who should have the opportunity to mourn without worrying about administrative procedures. 

The company has been operating since March 2019 and has signed cooperation protocol agreements with ten private hospitals. It seeks to cover all stages of the post-death process.

Reinvesting in Obsolete Oilfields Helps Face Market Fluctuations: Shell Egypt

Khaled Kassem, chairman and managing director of Shell Egypt, has said that reinvesting in aging Egyptian oilfields is one of the most important issues facing oil and gas companies.

There are still many opportunities and challenges that require putting in more efforts to develop and operate projects that can be used to contribute to facing market fluctuations, especially in light of the circumstances the industry is facing due to the coronavirus, he said.

He was speaking during a roundtable with Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla and a number of oil company representatives, to discuss the challenges facing the sector regarding the aging of some fields and the decline in production from them.

Kassem said that Shell had launched a research and exploration program to prepare the company for the future and improve business efficiency and to operate the oilfields in a safer, more efficient and reliable way, and at a lower cost.

General Authority for Land and Dry Ports to Execute 9 Projects Worth $56 Mn in FY2020/21

Egypt's General Authority for Land and Dry Ports plans to carry out nine projects with investments worth EGP 885.2 million ($56.4 million) in the current 2020/2021 fiscal year, according to Al Borsa.

The projects include bringing land ports of entry into the authority's surveillance network, revamping those of Taba, Rafah, Salloum, Awja, Argeen, Kostol, and Ras Hadraba, and establishing 6 October city dry port.

Tabarak Holding Launches Online Platform for E-Payment of Installments

Tabarak Holding has launched an electronic platform allowing its customers to be able to pay installments electronically, Economy Plus reported yesterday.

It is the first e-payment platform in the real estate sector that will collect installments, said CEO Ali El-Shorbany.

El-Shorbany added that the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted the great importance of the push towards digitalization.

The CEO explained that digital transformation will make Egypt a regional center for data and support economic development at the local and international levels, and it will also achieve the country's sustainable development strategy, Egypt Vision 2030.

Another real estate company, IGI Real Estate, has recently entered into a cooperation agreement with PayTabs, which specializes in electronic payment services, in order to provide an e-payment feature through the company's website.

This was the first time that an Egyptian real estate company has provided electronic payment methods to facilitate reservations of units.

Prime Holding Predicts Reduced Tariffs Will Have Limited Impact on Ezz Steel

Prime Holding for Financial Investments has predicted a limited impact on Egyptian steel giant Ezz Steel after a recent decision by the government to cut tariffs on iron billets.

According to a note reported by Al Mal on Sunday, Prime said that the steel firm has faced multiple challenges, including falling sales prices, high debt and inflated raw material prices.

The note comes days after the trade ministry reduced import fees on iron billets to $60 per ton for a period of six months. 

The tariffs were previously set at around $74 per ton.

The government plans to gradually phase out anti-dumping duties on iron ore imports in the upcoming three years.

The government imposed import tariffs on iron billets and steel rebar in October 2019, saying that a rise in imports was harming local industry.

Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Profits Decrease 34% YoY in Q1 FY2020/21

The Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Company's profits declined by 33.6 percent year on year during the first quarter of the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the firm said.

The company said that it achieved EGP 277.735 million ($17.6 million) in profits during the period from July to September, compared to EGP 418.2 million in the same period last year.

The company's revenues declined to EGP 547.87 million ($34.8 million), down from revenues of EGP 670.26 million in the same period of the previous fiscal year.

The company achieved net profits of EGP 1.48 billion ($94.2 million) in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, which ended in June, compared to EGP 1.83 billion during the previous fiscal year.

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt Reports 36% YoY Plunge in Net Profits in 9M 2020

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt saw a 35.7 percent drop in its net profits year on year during the first nine months of 2020, according to its consolidated financial statements.

The bank reported a net profit of EGP 1.3 billion ($82.7 million) during January-September of this year, down from EGP 2.05 billion during the same period last year.

The bank's revenues were EGP 6.89 billion ($438.6 million) during the first nine months of the year, a slight decline from the EGP 6.9 billion generated in the same period of 2019.

Faisal previously recorded a 9 percent year on year increase in its business volume to reach EGP 112.8 billion ($7.1 billion) in the first eight months of 2020.

Stock Market

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Egypt's Indices End Trading in Red; EGX30 Down 1.21%

Egypt's main stock indices ended Sunday's trading session in the red, reversing minor gains posted in most trading days last week due to the impact of the pandemic.

The EGX30 benchmark fell 1.21 percent to close at 11,185.15 points amid a turnover of approximately EGP 314.5 million ($20.0 million).

The market bellwether, Commercial International Bank, saw its share price down 0.99 percent to EGP 6.60 ($0.42).

Most index companies ended the day in losses, with the worst performing stocks including Six of October Development & Investment (SODIC), down 4.01 percent to EGP 12.81 ($0.82); EFG Hermes, which lost 3.34 percent to EGP 13.12; and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals, which shed 3.26 percent to reach EGP 8.06.

Other index companies seeing losses included Orascom Development Egypt, which plunged 2.97 percent to EGP 3.90 ($0.25); Elsewedy Electric, which fell 2.85 percent to EGP 7.85; and Ezz Steel, down 2.59 percent to EGP 7.45.

Top performing stocks were limited to GB Auto, up 0.67 percent to EGP 3.05 ($0.19) and Edita Food Industries and Cairo for Investment and Real Estate Development, which both gained 0.22 percent to reach EGP 9.26 and EGP 13.95 respectively.

Both the broader EGX70 EWI index and the EGX100 EWI lost 1.62 percent to close at 1,951.62 points and 2,869.45 points respectively.

Egyptian investors were net buyers to the tune of EGP 10.2 million (approximately $649,418), while sales by Arab and foreign investors amounted to EGP 9.2 million and EGP 968,084 respectively.

Sherif Nabawy, director of international markets at NAEEM Holding, told the Delta Digest that the drop during yesterday’s trading came under normal profit-taking activities due to the latest spike in coronavirus cases globally. 

"I hope we continue the same performance, especially amid a second wave of the pandemic in Europe. I hope it doesn’t affect the Egyptian market this time," he said. 

Nabawy said the market's performance in the upcoming period is tied to the possibility of reinstated lockdown rules internationally.

"The most important factor is that lockdowns are not reimposed worldwide as we are going anyway to see a big volatility ahead of the US presidential elections on the global markets," he added. 

Egypt News

Head of Mostaqbal Watan Party Elected Senate Speaker

Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, head of the Mostaqbal Watan party and former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, won the position of speaker of the Senate during the opening session yesterday.

He ran solo for the position and received 287 votes in support and 12 against. 

Bahaa Abu Shaqa was elected first deputy and Phoebe Fawzi second deputy. 

The newly formed upper house of parliament is made up of 300 members, a hundred of which are selected by the president and the rest are elected.

Egypt Launches First Phase of New Project Allowing Judges to Renew Pre-Trial Detentions by Video Link

Egypt's Justice Minister Omar Marwan and ICT Minister Amr Talaat witnessed the launch of the first phase of a new project to allow remote renewal of pre-trial detention for defendants via video.

The first phase connects New Cairo Court to Tora, 15 May, and Renaissance prisons, allowing judges to contact defendants and their attorneys remotely.

The project is set to be expanded to cover all courts and prisons in Egypt.

Marwan said that the project will facilitate judicial proceedings, in addition to curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Sisi Orders Community Universities Be Increased to 15

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi yesterday directed the number of community universities be increased to 15 nationwide, according to his spokesman, Bassam Rady.

El-Sisi's directions came during a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar and Major-General Ehab El-Far, head of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority.

El-Sisi stressed the need to focus academic studies on modern sciences and advanced scientific disciplines that qualify young people for the current job market, whether inside or outside Egypt.

Abdel Ghaffar presented the study plan for the current academic year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, including the precautionary measures that have been taken.

Last month, El-Sisi directed a redoubling of efforts to establish ten new community universities.

In August, three community universities began to receive applications.

Community universities, a new type of non-profit higher educational institution, are being launched this year under the supervision of the higher education ministry, in an attempt to boost opportunities and promote education in new cities like New Alamein and New Mansoura.

Fish Farming Project to Open in El-Diba Triangle Zone in Nov

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will inaugurate the El-Diba Triangle aquaculture project in mid-November.

A decision was issued in August 2016 to allocate an area of 1,075 feddans (1,115 acres) of state-owned land in El-Diba Triangle, in west Port Said, to be used in fish farming projects.

A total of 117,000 feddans (121,427 acres) were allocated in east Port Said to be used in marine fish farming.

The aquaculture project includes 41 ponds for raising marine fish with a production capacity of 250 tons, and 20 ponds with a production capacity of 100 tons on an area of 107 acres, a first stage with a total of 61 ponds at a cost of EGP 300 million ($19.1 million).

Egypt Allocates $10 Mn in FY2020/21 to 51 Projects for the Disabled

Egypt has allocated EGP 160 million ($10.2 million) to implement 51 projects for disabled people during the current 2020/2021 fiscal year, Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed said yesterday. 

The minister also said that Egypt had invested EGP 856 million ($54.5 million) during the 2019/2020 fiscal year to implement 45 projects for disabled people.

Al-Saeed added that the government is giving great attention to such projects, noting that people with special needs are a large proportion of Egyptian society.

The minister said that, during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 fiscal years, the number of care and rehabilitation institutions for people with special needs increased to 149.

She added that Egypt had also established 66 special education classes and trained 26,300 specialists and teachers to deal with people with special needs in the same time period.

Egypt to Invest $8.6 Bn in Water Desalination by 2030: PM

Egypt plans to invest EGP 135 billion ($8.6 billion) by 2030 in order to double the amount of desalinated water used for drinking, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said yesterday

Egypt is working on a plan to establish a large number of seawater desalination plants to fill the water deficit resulting from the increase in the population and also to face the potential water shortage resulting from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to previous statements by government officials.

Egypt spent EGP 124 billion ($7.9 billion) during the past six years on water and sanitation projects.

Drinking water coverage has reached 99 percent of Egypt and 100 percent of cities. The sanitation services cover 65 percent of the country.

The EU has provided about $500 million to strengthen Egypt's water strategy and sanitation program through projects, said Olivér Várhelyi, EU commissioner for the neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations.

Ethiopia's Stance on GERD 'Big Challenge' for Egypt: Irrigation Minister

Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty has said that the Ethiopian stance on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) represents a big challenge for Egypt and Sudan, in comments at the Cairo Water Week conference.

The main challenge lies in reaching an agreement that governs the filling and operation of the dam, although Egypt has addressed Ethiopia's concerns, he said.

While Egypt backs Ethiopia's rights for development and energy needs, Ethiopia has to take into consideration Egypt's water needs, he added.

Abdel Aty said that Egypt has been trying to reach a fair agreement that accounts for the benefit of the three parties since the 2015 Declaration of Principles, but Ethiopia's rigid stance and unilateral filling and operation of the dam has obstructed that attempt.

Ethiopia started filling the GERD's reservoir in July, despite failing to secure a trilateral agreement setting out the rules for the mega-dam's operation.

Abdel Aty added that Egypt is one of the countries in the world that suffers most from droughts, and that 97 percent of its water is supplied from outside of its borders, which makes balancing its water needs very difficult.

He said that Egypt cannot rely on groundwater as an alternative due to its unsustainability, saying that the increase in population has led to a reduction in the water share per capita.

The president of the World Water Council, Loïc Fauchon, who was also speaking during the conference, stressed the need to reach a fair agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the dam.

The conference began on Sunday and runs until Thursday. 

Egypt to Dispatch 63 Free-of-Charge Medical Convoys Nationwide This Month

Egypt's health ministry has said it will dispatch 63 free-of-charge medical convoys nationwide until the end of October. 

According to an official statement, the medical convoys, which come under the "Decent Life" presidential initiative, aim to provide free medical services to citizens in remote areas lacking services. 

Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the convoys include all medical specialities, medical analyses and radiography services. 

It will also include a pharmacy with all medications, he said, adding that patients in need of surgical operations would be referred to affiliated hospitals. 

Egypt, Spain to Ink Extradition Deal Soon: Report

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said yesterday that Egypt and Spain are expected to sign an extradition deal in the near future, Youm7 reported.

Gonzalez Laya said that the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Egyptian counterpart have been in talks for some time on signing an agreement.

She also praised the bilateral relations between the two countries and said that they have agreed to confront human trafficking and terrorism, which threaten Egypt’s and Spain’s stability.

On Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held talks with Gonzalez Laya on bilateral relations and regional issues, and the pair signed an MoU to bolster economic and strategic cooperation.

The ministers also decided to cooperate on investment and trade. 

Gonzalez Laya suggested holding a joint trade conference next year.

Shoukry Attends Advisory Body Meeting on Drafting of First National Strategy on Human Rights

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who is also chairman of the Higher Permanent Committee for Human Rights, witnessed the meeting of the advisory body to prepare for the national strategy on human rights, which was held on Saturday at the headquarters of the ministry.

The advisory body is made up of 25 experts with various specializations.

The strategy aims at integrating human rights goals and principles into Egypt's comprehensive development project, Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights Ahmed Ihab Gamal El-Din said.

El-Din said that the preparatory stage for drafting the strategy included a comprehensive inventory and evaluation of the state's needs in the field of human rights implementation and a study of comparative international experiences.

Egypt submitted five national reports to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) committees last year: the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and others on women, people with disabilities, and children’s rights.

In 2018, Egypt's cabinet approved the formation of a permanent higher committee to handle and respond to any allegations against the country with respect to its human rights record.

Overseen by the foreign ministry, the committee aims to "monitor Egypt's implementation of its international human rights commitments and prepare periodical reports on this issue," according to a cabinet statement.

Egypt's Sustainable Agricultural Development Plan to Help in Eradicating Hunger: UN

The Egyptian sustainable agricultural development plan is expected to push work to eradicate hunger in the country, said the country's UN Resident Coordinator Richard Dictus.

Dictus said that UN agencies in Egypt have been working to intensify efforts to provide safe nutrition to all amid the coronavirus.

He said that the UN has been working with the Egyptian government, development partners, and the private sector to address the current problems of food security, obesity and malnutrition due to hunger.

Egyptian International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat met Dictus yesterday to push forward the UN's Partnership Development Framework (UNPDF).

Al-Mashat congratulated Dictus on the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) Nobel Peace Prize win. 

Egypt's Information Minister Under Fire for Saying Majority of Population Does Not Read Newspapers

Controversy has surrounded Egypt's information minister Osama Heikal after he said that the majority of the population under 35 do not read newspapers or watch television.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Heikal said that around 60 to 65 percent of literate people do not rely on traditional media, a statement that has stirred criticism, as the newspaper editors hastened to question his motives and even competence.

"I thought that Osama Heikal have learned some politics in the past years during his [tenure] in the parliament. However, this time he has ... echoed the same statements of the enemies of the country," Youm7 editor Khaled Salah said in an angry tweet shortly after Heikal's post.

Heikal described the feud later in a Facebook post as a "fresh campaign" launched against him.

“I say to those who claim that my statements will negatively affect advertisements in newspapers that the real distribution numbers are accessible … and your newspapers are empty [of ads] months before I was sworn into office [last December]," he said.

The statements have urged media syndicate head Tarek Seda to call for an emergency meeting, accusing Heikal of spreading inaccurate statistics.

"What Heikal is doing cannot be tolerated, especially that he continues to cause problems with several state institutions and doesn't focus on his responsibilities to develop media policies to promote the state's achievements," Seda said.

Egypt to See Wet, Unstable Weather From Tomorrow

Egypt is set to see a wave of unstable weather from Tuesday until Sunday, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) said yesterday.

According to the EMA, several regions in the country are expected to see a drop in temperatures and medium to heavy rainfall.

Medium levels of rain are expected on Tuesday in Salloum, Siwa, Matrouh and Dabaa, and light rainfall is forecast for the city of Alexandria.

Medium to heavy rainfall is expected in areas on the northern coast and in the Nile Delta's Beheira and Kafr El-Sheikh on Wednesday, with medium rainfall in the rest of the Delta governorates.

Rain will continue on Thursday, with floods expected in some parts of northern and central Sinai.

Greater Cairo will see light to medium rainfall on Wednesday, with the weather worsening starting Thursday to Sunday, accompanied with a drop in temperatures by 4-5 degrees Celsius.

Egypt Reports 127 New Coronavirus Cases, 11 Fatalities

Egypt detected 127 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases so far to 105,424.

The health ministry reported 11 new deaths from the virus, to give a total of 6,120 deaths.

Ninety patients have been discharged from hospitals nationwide in the past 24 hours, bringing total recoveries to 98,247.
 

Sports

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Bencharki (R) celebrates the winner (courtesy of CAF's official Facebook page)

Just Like Ahly, Zamalek Win in Casablanca to Close on Champions League Final

Zamalek followed in the footsteps of Cairo nemesis Ahly and secured a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory away to Morcco's Raja to take a big stride towards the African Champions League final.

A first-half header from Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki, who towered above his marker to head home at the far post following an inviting cross from Ahmed Zizo on 18 minutes, gave Zamalek a precious first-leg advantage in the last-four clash.

Zamalek survived a late Raja onslaught to emerge winners, with the Cairo duo now looking firm favorites to reach next month's final after Ahly also beat Wydad 2-0 on Saturday at the same Casablanca venue.

The semi-final second legs will be played next weekend, with the final taking place at Cairo's International Stadium, the traditional home of Ahly and Zamalek, on November 6.

World

Israel, Bahrain Formalize Diplomatic Relations Following US-Brokered Deal

An Israeli delegation, led by National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, arrived in Bahrain for a one-day trip that saw the two countries sign a joint communiqué to formalize nascent ties following a US-brokered agreement generated last month.

"It was indeed an historic visit, to start opening relations between both countries," Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani said after the signing ceremony.

Al-Zayani touched elbows with Ben-Shabbat, who described the step as a "promising beginning" and said the Israeli delegation was accepted "with open arms, with warmth and cordiality."

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump's special assistant for international negotiations, Avi Berkowitz, travelled to Tel Aviv before joining the Israeli delegation's flight to Manama.  

Berkowitz said Bahrain and Israel will be free to open embassies in each other's countries, and an Israeli embassy could open in Manama within months. 

The ceremony also saw the signing of several memoranda of understanding including on trade, air services, telecommunications, finance, banking and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Israel and the UAE agreed on a deal to give incentives and protection to investors from both countries, the countries’ finance ministries said on Sunday.

The deal will be signed in the near future by both finance ministers.

The UAE finance ministry said the agreement would protect investments from non-commercial risks such as "nationalization, confiscation, judicial seizures, freezing assets, establishing licensed investments, and transferring profits and revenues in convertible currencies."

The deal is one of the first between the UAE and Israel after they agreed to normalize ties in August. 

It is also the first such agreement Israel has forged with an Arab country.

There willl be direct passenger flights connecting Tel Aviv with Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Israeli transport ministry stated yesterday.

The ministry said that the flights are expected to begin operations within the coming weeks.

The UAE and Bahrain became only the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalize ties with Israel, following Israel's 1979 peace deal with Egypt and a 1994 pact with Jordan. 

Saudi Aramco, SABIC Re-evaluate $20 Bn Crude-Oil-To-Chemicals Project Amid Pandemic

Oil giant Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) said they will reassess their $20 billion crude-oil-to-chemicals project amid dire consequences over the coronavirus pandemic.

SABIC said in a statement yesterday that the two firms are considering the integration of existing facilities in Yanbu and rescind a 2017 preliminary agreement for the crude-oil-to-chemicals project.

"SABIC and Saudi Aramco remain committed to continue advancing crude to chemicals technologies through existing development programs with the goal to increase cost efficiency, competitiveness and value creation opportunities for petrochemicals," reads the statement.

The announcement comes as global oil companies continue to re-evaluate their energy projects to save liquidity amid a plunge in demand due to the pandemic.

Tunisia Looks to Boost State Firms With $1.5 Bn

Tunisia will inject $1.5 billion into ailing state companies in an effort to revitalize them, said Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

Part of the amount will be allocated for wage increases, according to the premier.

"The government allocated 4 billion dinars to public firms as one of the first steps to reform these companies and to give them a dose of oxygen," Mechichi said in a TV interview.

Amid an economic crisis, Tunisia is expected to see a state budget of 14 percent of GDP this year, the highest in almost 40 years.

Virus Roundup: More Countries Move Towards Easing Coronavirus Restrictions

More countries continued their gradual easing of coronavirus restrictive measures, hoping to push for an economic recovery.

Australia's state of Victoria, the hotspot of the country's coronavirus infections, eased some of its restrictions, allowing people to stay outdoors for an unlimited time -- after they were permitted two hours only -- starting yesterday, provided that they remain within 25-kilometer radius from their homes. Retail shops and restaurants will be allowed to reopen from November 1.

Saudi Arabia allowed prayers to be resumed in the Grand Mosque of Mecca, after seven months of prevention. It also expanded umrah pilgrimage accommodation to 15,000 pilgrims, which is part of its gradual easing plan.

In Israel, the government eased some of its restrictions as well, allowing the gathering of up to 20 people outdoors and ten people indoors. It has also reopened natural reserves and parks as well as religious shrines in Jerusalem's Old City.

On the other hand, Switzerland tightened its restrictive measures against the coronavirus, making facemasks mandatory in all indoor spaces. It has also prevented public gatherings that exceed 15 people.

Meanwhile, Italy approved a new stimulus package of €40 billion ($46.89 billion) for 2021 budget, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said.

The package includes €15 billion ($17.58 billion) grants from the European Union's Recovery Fund.

China's top legislative body, National People's Congress Standing Committee, passed a biosecurity law for boosting the management of infectious diseases and epidemics, state-run Xinhua reported late on Saturday.

The law -- which aims to monitor potential risk sources, share information and flag early warnings -- will be put into effect on April 15, 2021.

Also on Saturday, Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and his Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday in Luxembourg.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has reached over 39,845,600, with more than 8,142,900 cases in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.

The coronavirus global death toll has surpassed 1,111,900, with more than 219,600 deaths in the US.

Arab Markets
Egypt EGX30 11,185.15 -1.21%
KSA TASI 8,560.81 +0.08%
UAE ABU DHABI ADX 4,546.95 -0.16%
UAE DUBAI DFM 2,181.22 -0.61%
World Markets
US Dow Jones IA 28,606.31 +0.39%
NASDAQ-100 11,671.56 -0.36%
S&P 500 3,483.81 +0.01%
UK FTSE 100 5,919.58 +1.49%
Germany DAX 12,908.99 +1.62%
France CAC 40 4,935.86 +2.04%
Japan Nikkei 225 23,672.60 +1.12%
China HANG SENG INDEX 24,505.60 +0.49%
Currencies
US Dollar 15.64 15.74
Euro 18.32 18.45
Sterling 20.20 20.32
Saudi Riyal 4.17 4.20
UAE Dirham 4.26 4.28
Kuwaiti Dinar 51.10 51.45
Swiss Franc 17.09 17.21
Commodities
Oil Brent USD/bbl. 42.72 -0.49%
Wheat USD/bu.Mar 2020 632.50 +1.16%
Gold USD/t oz. 1,901.00 +0.09%
Gold Egypt LE/ oz. 1,900.90 +0.11%
Silver Egypt LE/ oz. 24.18 +0.18%

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