11 Oct 2020


Egypt's Annual Urban CPI up to 3.7% in Sept; Talks with IMF on Monetary Policy Easing Expected

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Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation increased slightly in September to 3.7 percent, up from 3.4 percent in August, CAPMAS reported on Saturday, with talks expected to take place with the International Monetary Fund to ease the country's monetary policy.

As per the $5.2 billion one-year Stand-By Agreement (SBA) with the IMF -- which Egypt signed in June -- the country is required to consult the fund if annual headline inflation comes below 6 percent by the end of September.

Egypt received the first $2 billion tranche of the funding in July.

Ahmed El-Safty, head of Delta Research Center, told Delta Digest that IMF programs usually include requirements to implement a tight monetary policy; however, with inflation falling below 6 percent by end of September, which is the lower boundary of the Central Bank of Egypt's mid-term inflation objective, talks could take place with the fund to loosen restrictions on monetary policy easing.

The CBE is targeting an annual headline inflation of 9 percent (±3 percentage points) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In August, Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation hit its lowest since October 2019.

Head of Pharos Research Radwa El Swaify said that September's inflation rate was below what's normal for the back-to-school season, which usually sees an uptick of 1 percent month on month.

With the real interest rates currently at record-high levels in Egypt, the CBE has room to cut interest rates by 150 basis points (bps), El Swaify said. However, the central bank is leaning towards caution and the gradual easing of monetary policy in order to secure the stability of foreign currency inflows, she added.

Last month, the CBE cut interest rates by 50 basis points (bps), leaving the deposit rate at 8.75 percent and the lending rate at 9.75 percent, which marks the second cut in 2020 after it opted for an emergency 300 bps cut in March.

Backed by low inflation rates, the CBE's cut aimed at providing "appropriate support to economic activity, while remaining consistent with achieving price stability over the medium-term."

Annual nationwide inflation registered 3.3 percent in September, compared with 3.6 percent in August.


Economics

Egypt Leaves Fuel Prices Unchanged for Coming Three Months

Egypt's fuel pricing committee has decided to keep prices steady through the end of December, the petroleum ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The price of 95-octane fuel was kept at EGP 8.50 ($0.53) a liter, 92-octane fuel at EGP 7.50 a liter and 80-octane fuel at EGP 6.25 a liter.

The committee also decided to keep the selling price of mazut for non-electricity and bakeries usage at EGP 3,900 ($248) per ton.

It was decided in July last year to apply an automatic pricing mechanism to some fuel prices.

The mechanism aims to adjust the selling prices of some petroleum products in the local market every quarter.

The decision by the pricing committee to keep prices unchanged came after reviewing global Brent crude prices and currency exchange rates.

Egypt has increased fuel prices over the past three years as part of an economic reform program backed by the IMF, which included devaluing the currency, steep cuts to subsidies and a value-added tax (VAT).

Global Finance Magazine Includes Egypt's Tarek Amer on List of Top-Tier Governors

Tarek Amer, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, was chosen by Global Finance magazine to be listed among the second-tier of the world's top 20 central bank governors in 2020, for the second year in a row.

Central bank governors in Global Finance's second-tier earned an "A-" grade from the magazine. Besides Amer, the list included the central bank governors of the US, Honduras, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Georgia, Iceland, Russia, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The first-tier governors, who earned an "A" grade, included the governors of Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bulgaria, Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Kuwait and Morocco.

The magazine looked at how resilient the governors were in the face of crises like the coronavirus, and how they managed issues like currency, inflation and monetary policy.

Egyptian Exports Valued at $129.5 Bn Over Past Five Years

The value of Egyptian exports amounted to $129.5 billion over the past five years, according to state stats body CAPMAS.

CAPMAS said that exports were valued at $21.7 billion in 2016, a 1.2 percent decrease from 2015's exports at of $22 billion. 

Exports rose in 2017 to $26.3 billion, an increase of 21 percent. They then rose again to record $29.2 billion in 2018, and increased 3.7 percent to $30.3 billion in 2019.

CAPMAS said that the average value of Egypt's exports in 2019 amounted to a monthly $2.5 billion and a daily $3.5 million. 

Agricultural Exports Reach 4.3 Mn Tons in 9M 2020 Despite COVID-19

Egypt's agricultural exports amounted to 4,344,500 tons in the period from January 1 to October 5, despite the effects of the coronavirus on international trade, the agriculture ministry announced on Friday.

The country’s top export was citrus fruit at 1.397 million tons, followed by potatoes at 677,921 tons.

Onions ranked third with a total of 333,002 tons, while grapes were fourth at 138,566 tons.

Pomegranates ranked fifth, garlic sixth, mangoes seventh, strawberries eighth, green beans ninth and guava tenth.

Egypt exports around 305 agricultural products to 160 countries across the globe.

Officials predict the country's agricultural exports will exceed 5.5 million tons in total in 2020, up from around 5.4 million tons in 2019. 

FAO Food Price Index up 5% YoY in Sept

Global food prices increased 5 percent year on year in September, and 2.1 percent month on month, with a particularly strong increase in prices of cereals and vegetable oils, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO food price index averaged 97.9 points in September, compared with 93.3 points in the same month last year, and 95.9 points in August of this year.

The agency's cereal price index increased 13.6 percent year on year in September compared with the same month in 2019, and compared with the 5.1 percent rise in August.

"Higher wheat price quotations led to the increase, spurred by brisk trade activity amid concerns over production prospects in the southern hemisphere," the FAO said.

The vegetable oil price index rose 6 percent month on month due to higher prices for palm, sunflower seed and soy oil.

Average sugar prices dropped 2.6 percent from August in reaction to expectations of a global sugar production surplus in the new 2020/2021 season.

Global Extreme Poverty Expected to Rise 77% in 2020: World Bank

The number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty -- defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day -- is expected to increase by 76.5 percent this year for the first time in 20 years due to the coronavirus, according to the World Bank.

The pandemic is expected to raise the number of people in extreme poverty this year to 203 million, up from 115 million last year.

About 82 percent of those entering the category will be in middle-income countries.

Extreme poverty is likely to affect between 9.1 percent and 9.4 percent of the world's population in 2020, according to the biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report.

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, forecasts of the poverty rate estimated it would drop to 7.9 percent in 2020.

"The pandemic and global recession may cause over 1.4 percent of the world's population to fall into extreme poverty," said World Bank Group President David Malpass.

"In order to reverse this serious setback to development progress and poverty reduction, countries will need to prepare for a different economy post-COVID, by allowing capital, labor, skills, and innovation to move into new businesses and sectors," he added.

"World Bank Group support -- across IBRD, IDA, IFC and MIGA -- will help developing countries resume growth and respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 as they work toward a sustainable and inclusive recovery," he said.

EBRD Approves Five-Year Green Finance Strategy

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a new strategy that will see more than 50 percent of its annual investments dedicated to green finance by 2025, the bank announced on Wednesday.

"This year, the EBRD has swung all of its resources behind helping its 38 economies deal with the immediate impact of the pandemic, rolling out a €21 billion ($24.8 billion) support package primarily aimed at helping firms to meet liquidity needs and at keeping vital services flowing," read a bank statement.

The new five-year strategy looks beyond the coronavirus, the bank said.

"We need to preserve the progress made so far in our countries' transitions. We also have to move even faster towards a more resilient and more sustainable future," said Acting EBRD President Jürgen Rigterink as the strategy was put forward to the Governors, who represent the EBRD's 71 shareholders.

Under the new strategy, the EBRD aims to accelerate digital transition, provide equal opportunities through access to skills and employment, finance and entrepreneurship and support for women, young people and under-served communities.

The new Green Economy Transition (GET) 2021-25 will be the EBRD's new blueprint for supporting its countries of operation to move towards a green, inclusive and resilient recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

"Governors will consider an update on this issue in 2022, reflecting guidance from the 2021 Annual Meeting," the statement added.

The bank also aims to increase its annual financing to more than €10 billion ($11.8 billion) in the five-year period to 2025.

On Thursday, the bank's board of governors selected Odile Renaud-Basso of France as the bank's next president, replacing Suma Chakrabarti.

Renaud-Basso has previously served as vice-president of the European Economic and Financial Committee, deputy to the G7 and G20 groups and French governor or alternate governor of the World Bank, EBRD and African Development Bank. 

Egyptian International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat congratulated Renaud-Basso on becoming the first woman to head the EBRD.

The bank's investments rose to more than €5 billion ($5.9 billion) in the first six months of this year, compared with €3.7 billion a year earlier.

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Egypt's Foreign Reserves Edge Up $59 Mn MoM in Sept

Egypt's net foreign reserves gained 0.15 percent by the end of September, or $59 million, to reach $38.425 billion, up from $38.366 billion at the end of August, the Central Bank of Egypt said on Wednesday.

The gold composition of Egypt's net foreign reserves dropped 3.5 percent, or $159 million, from $4.52 billion at the end of August to $4.361 billion at the end of September, its first such decline in six months, coming on the back of the drop in global gold prices during September.

The country's foreign reserves began to rebound in June, after three consecutive months of decline on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rebound came after the country secured a $2.77 billion emergency loan from the IMF under its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), and sold $5 billion in Eurobonds in May.

In July, Egypt received $2 billion the IMF, the first tranche of a one-year, $5.2 billion Stand-By Agreement (SBA) loan.

At the end of February, the country's net foreign reserves stood at a record $45.51 billion.

Business

US to Impose Aluminum Tariffs on Egypt, 17 Other Countries

The Trump administration said on Friday that it would impose tariffs on nearly $2 billion of aluminum sheets imported from 18 countries after a preliminary investigation concluded they were being "dumped" in the US.

The affected countries are Bahrain, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Oman, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey. Collectively, they exported nearly $2 billion in aluminum to the US in 2019, according to the country's Commerce Department.

"The Department's aluminum sheet investigations constitute the broadest US trade enforcement action in two decades," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said Friday in a statement.

The move came ahead of the US International Trade Commission's official determination in the antidumping case in February 2021.

The final decision is scheduled for April 5, 2021.

"What's really been happening, actually, is Chinese excess capacity has been dumped into other markets. That, in turn, displaces production which gets dumped here," said Ross.

The US has already imposed tariffs on Chinese aluminum.

Ross said that the tariff rate will range from the single digits for Bahrain to anywhere from 52-132 percent for Germany.

Arafa Holding to Manufacture, Distribute Ted Baker Clothing

Arafa Holding has obtained the rights for one of its subsidiaries to design, manufacture, distribute and sell men's clothing from Ted Baker, the British luxury brand, for three years. 

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to help build and develop the Ted Baker formal wear business across the UK, Europe and other global markets by designing and manufacturing high quality, innovative and fashionable products at the highest quality level," said Mark Cotter, CEO of English Baird Group, which signed the deal with Arafa.

The company said that the deal comes as part of the British group's efforts to reconstruct in light of the challenges that have been facing the British market for several months.

Alaa Arafa, CEO of Arafa Holding, said that this is a significant achievement for the group as it gives the firm the chance to increase its exports.

EBRD Set to Approve $250 Mn Sovereign Loan to Alexandria Petroleum Company

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is set to approve a sovereign loan of up to $250 million for Egypt's Alexandria Petroleum Company (APC).

The bank estimated the approval date would be on December 16.

The loan will finance a package of energy and water efficiency investments to renovate and upgrade the refinery with processes capable of producing higher value added products, improving the energy efficiency and the overall performance, as well as reducing the environmental impacts.

The bank said that the project is part of a program of investments to improve the environmental performance of the Alexandria refinery and produce better quality (Euro 5) diesel. 

The project aims to improve the refinery's efficiency and reduce its energy consumption and overall environmental impact, while enhancing the plant's productivity. It will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by increasing the refinery's output of higher quality and lower sulfur fuels, in line with Euro 5 standards, in addition to installing a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS).

The bank said that the project will reduce fuel consumption by installing Energy Management System (EMS) and a Vapor Recovery Unit (VRU), among other energy efficiency investments. The installation of wastewater treatment using best available technology (BAT) will decrease the seawater pollution risk and water usage.

The total cost of the project amounts to about $647 million.

Alaa El-Khishen Appointed Webhelp's CEO in Egypt

Outsourcing firm Webhelp has said that Alaa El-Khishen will become its new Egypt CEO.

Webhelp is one of the largest outsourcing and call center companies in the world, present in more than 35 countries and with a total of 70,000 employees.

El-Khishen said that the company aims to provide services to international companies at its centers in Egypt, through an ambitious plan to reach 5,000 employees during the next five years.

The company also aims to open many customer service centers in new locations such as Port Said, Mansoura and Hurghada, in addition to its centers in Cairo and Alexandria.

Madinet Nasr Housing Has Offers for Plots From Arab, Foreign Investors

Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) has received offers from consortiums of Arab and foreign investors to buy parcels of land totaling 1.9 million square meters, it said.

The company said in a bourse disclosure that Emaar Misr for Development (EMFD) is not on the list of companies applying to buy the plots.

The developer said that the offers are still under negotiation and details will be disclosed once a final agreement is reached.

MNHD is targeting EGP 7.5 billion ($477.5 million) in sales in 2020, CEO Ahmed El Hitamy previously said.

The company's sales contract with Minka Investment, for a 114,537 square-meter plot at a cost of EGP 1.15 billion ($73.2 million), took place in March and would be included in the target.

Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development's land portfolio includes 3.5 million square meters near Cairo International Airport and 5.5 million square meters on the Cairo-Suez road.

Sisi Inaugurates Egyptian Handicrafts Exhibition

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi yesterday inaugurated the Our Heritage exhibition of handicrafts.

The exhibition is organized by the state's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA).

The establishment of the exhibition is within the framework of El-Sisi's directives to provide all means of support for the heritage industries and the handicrafts sector, presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said previously.

The move also aims to encourage these ancient Egyptian arts and to make the resulting products available at commercial prices through the exhibition, he added.

More than 600 exhibitors from different governorates participated in the fair.

CBE Committed to Upholding Rights of BLOM Egypt Employees

The Central Bank of Egypt is fully committed to safeguarding the rights of workers in banks subject to mergers, CBE Governor Tarek Amer has said, after Lebanon's BLOM Bank said it would sell its unit in Egypt.

The statement comes after a number of BLOM Bank Egypt's employees applied to have their rights safeguarded and not prejudiced after the completion of the sale.

A number of potential bidders, including Emirates NBD and Bahrain's Bank ABC, are considering acquiring BLOM Bank's Egyptian unit.

A sale would be tied to final approval from both BLOM Bank and the CBE, the former has said.

In August, BLOM Bank acquired the Central Bank of Egypt's (CBE) approval to carry out due diligence on its unit in Egypt.

BLOM Bank said that the decision came on the back of current conditions in Beirut and the Lebanese central bank's decision last year that mandates banks to raise their capital.

Lebanon is currently facing its worst financial crisis since the civil war.

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CBE Establishes Money Transfer Company EgyCash

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has established a new company, EgyCash Technology Solutions for Cash Transactions, which will transfer funds and provide technology-based solutions for cash transactions. 

The CBE will contribute to the capital of the new company with a share of up to 35 percent, while the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr and Banque du Caire will own the remaining portion, along with other unnamed shareholders. 

Last week, the company signed a contract on transferring money with the National Bank of Egypt, in the presence of Yahya Abul-Fotouh, vice president of the bank, Hussam Al-Hajjar, head of the technical and administrative support group at the bank, Hani Omar, the chairman of EgyCash's board of directors, and Gamal Abu Ismail, executive director of the company.

The company is expected to sign a contract with Banque Misr next week.

EBE Bank Managing $41 Mn Joint Loan for Vetopharm

The Export Development Bank of Egypt (EBE Bank) is managing and marketing a EGP 650 million ($41.3 million) joint loan for Vetopharm Nerhadou International, sources told Shorouk News.

The sources said that the medium-term loan is directed towards financing the operating expenses of the pharmaceutical factory owned by the company in Burg Al-Arab in Alexandria. 

The bank formed an alliance with several other banks to contribute to providing the loan. 

The company owns four different drug production lines and intends to launch four other lines. 

Vetopharm Nerhadou International is one HO Group's companies, the largest drug distributor in Africa.

Speed Medical Company, Prime Speed Medical Establish New Company With Eye on Larger Market Share

Speed Medical Company and Prime Speed Medical -- which was founded via a partnership between the former and Prime Investment Group -- announced that they have established a new company under the name of Masr Labs.

Mahmoud Lasheen, chairman of Speed Medical Company, stated that 200 labs are planned to be established nationwide over the course of two years under the new entity.

He told Al Borsa that the first 100 branches are estimated to cost EGP 150 million ($9.5 million) over one year.

Speed Medical Company also plans to reach 200 branches over the next two years, Lasheen said.

The aim behind Masr Labs is to control a larger market share and serve more customers by operating two sets of clinical laboratories at the same time alongside Speed Medical Company.

Speed Medical Company and Prime Speed Medical own 30 percent each in Masr Labs.

Stock Market

Cooperation Agreement to Be Signed Between Bourse, 4 Ministries to Promote Awareness towards Investing, Stock Markets

The Egyptian stock market invited Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed, Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, Education Minister Tarek Shawki and Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar to inaugurate Sunday's trading session, amid expectations that a cooperation agreement will be signed with their ministries to promote awareness of investing and stock markets, Al-Wafd reported on Thursday.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly also received an invitation but is expected not to attend due to his busy schedule, Al-Wafd added.

Egypt's stock market was closed on Thursday due to the Armed Forced Day holiday.

In February, the Egyptian bourse launched a marketing campaign called "Buy a Stock, Become a Shareholder" that included TV commercials targeting small investors.

The campaign attracted 1,434 new investors, mostly Egyptians, within a fortnight, according to Egyptian bourse Chairman Mohamed Farid.

Global Stocks Jumps as Trump Calls for Bigger Stimulus

Global stocks rose on Friday after President Donald Trump announced that he wanted a big economic stimulus package for the US.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.57 percent to settle at 28,586.9 points, the S&P 500 rose 0.88 percent to 3,477.13, and the Nasdaq Composite increased 1.39 percent to 11,579.94.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.55 percent to close at 370.35 points.

Although US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not manage to reach an agreement over the stimulus package over the week, Trump said in an interview aired on Rush Limbaugh's radio program that he "would like to see a bigger stimulus package frankly than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering."

"Aside from the market just liking more free money it feeds the belief that stimulus will re-energize US and world economies," Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth, told Reuters.

"The question then becomes if the market's pricing in the stimulus, what kind of letdown will occur if it fails to materialize?" he added.

In Egypt, the EGX30 benchmark gained 1.62 percent on Wednesday to close at 11,326.98 points, amid a turnover of EGP 890.9 million ($56.73 million).

The broader EGX70 EWI went up 0.67 percent to close at 2,006.1 points.

Net purchases by Arab investors hit EGP 56.69 million ($3.61 million), while net sales by Egyptian and foreign investors reached EGP 53.66 million and EGP 3.02 million respectively.

Egypt News

Sisi Ratifies Egypt-Greece Maritime Demarcation Agreement

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ratified an agreement to designate an economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, which was signed by the governments of Egypt and Greece on August 6.

El-Sisi issued decree no. 444 of 2020 approving the agreement, designating the maritime area for the exploitation of marine resources.

The president's approval of the demarcation agreement comes during tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region.

The agreement, approved by the Greek parliament on August 27, angered Turkey, and Ankara has deployed ships to drill for energy in areas close to the borders of Cyprus and Greece.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the agreement as null and worthless, stressing that his country will continue to firmly adhere to its agreement with Libya.

USAID Provides Egypt With $23 Mn to Support Economic Growth, Empower Women

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is set to provide Egypt with an additional $22.8 million to support economic growth in the country and empower women, said the head of the body said on Thursday.

"We are pleased to announce that the United States is contributing an additional $22.8 million to support economic growth in Egypt and empower women, as part of a five-year agreement to advance economic growth that benefits the nation," Barsa said.

"The United States looks forward to continuing our partnership to support effective and transparent public institutions, empower women and youth, encourage cooperation between different religious communities, and ensure all Egyptians benefit from basic services," said John Barsa, who said the money was part of a five-year agreement to advance economic growth in Egypt.

Barsa and Egyptian International Cooperation Minister Rania Al-Mashat discussed the next steps related to activating seven agreements worth $112 million, which were signed during this year.

The event was held in the presence of the US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen, the USAID Egypt Director Leslie Reed and Senior Adviser at the US National Security Council Sarah McCain.

Al-Mashat said that cooperation with the USAID reflects the strategic partnership between Egypt and the US, and comes within the framework of the ministry's efforts to enhance economic diplomacy.

Egypt First in Middle East for Supporting Women Amid Coronavirus: UN Report

Egypt ranked first in the Middle East in a new report by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regarding the measures taken by nations worldwide to support women during the coronavirus pandemic.

Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed applauded the report's findings and said that Egypt had made the achievement within the framework of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, and as a positive result of the state's efforts towards women, stressing that women are featured in the national strategy for sustainable development. 

The report said that Egypt is the only country in the region to formulate a holistic response, with measures that span at least three dimensions -- women's economic protection, unpaid care and combating violence against women.

Ahmed El-Khouly Appointed Head of Investment at Egyptian National Postal Organization

Sherif Farouk, chairman of the Egyptian National Postal Organization (ENPO), has appointed Ahmed El-Khouly head of the Investment and Fund Management Department at the organization.

El-Khouly has over 35 years' experience in the banking, investment, and financial portfolio management fields, and has held positions including treasury dealer at the Arab International Bank (AIB) and head of treasury at the United Bank of Egypt (UBEG) and at the Housing and Development Bank.

He was also senior treasury manager at Ahli United Bank, chief dealer at the Egyptian British Bank HSBC, head of treasury at BNP Paribas Bank and chief financial officer at FinClear-Dubai.

His most recent position was head of treasury at Egypt Post.

Starting October 1, citizens will be able to pay government dues and fees at post offices and licensed banks without incurring additional costs.

On September 29, Egypt Post implemented a complete ban on the circulation of funds and checks in parcels and letters, following a decision by the finance ministry.

Spanish, Egyptian Navies Conduct Training in Mediterranean

The Egyptian and Spanish naval forces have carried out a training exercise within the range of the Northern Fleet in the Mediterranean, with the participation of Egyptian frigate Toshka and Spanish frigate Reina Sofia.

The exercise included a variety of activities, including an air defense exercise, as well as the implementation of sailing formations, which showcased the ability of the participating marine units to take up their positions accurately and quickly.

They also took part in transportation exercises and marine aviation exercises.

The training exercise is part of efforts to support joint cooperation between the Egyptian and Spanish armed forces.

Reham Saeed's Controversial Sabaya Al-Khair Returns to Screens

Al-Nahar TV channel has announced the return of Reham Saeed's program "Sabaya Al-Khair," which was suspended last year. 

The program was pulled in August by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation after an episode in which she insulted overweight people, describing them as a "burden" on the government. She went on to say that an overweight woman has lost her femininity and does not look appealing. 

"We will avoid controversial issues and we will present all that is useful and conscious," Saeed said regarding her show's return. 

Viewers were quick to criticize her on social media, and some important figures within Egyptian television voiced their disagreement with her comments. 

The show has a history of covering controversial topics.

In 2016, Saeed was sentenced to a year in jail and a EGP 10,000 ($637) fine for violating the privacy of a sexual harassment victim. 

Trial of Accused Sexual Harasser Ahmed Bassam Zaki Kicks Off

The trial of Egypt's accused sexual molster Ahmed Bassam Zaki got underway on Saturday on charges of sexual assault of three minors, infamous crimes that have landed the former American University in Cairo student in hot water over the past months.

Amid tight security, the trial kicked off at a criminal court in New Cairo, east of the capital. Zaki attended the opening session, which took place behind closed doors, before the trial was adjourned until November 7.

He is accused of attempting non-consensual sexual relationships with two women who were victims of his indecent assaults. He also allegedly approached another woman against her will using force and threats.

Zaki, who the general prosecutor had referred to the criminal court last month after conducting an investigation, has been detained since July 3.

He started to make the headlines for the wrong reasons after an Instagram account was created under the name "@assaultpolice", calling on women to share their stories in order to collect evidence against Zaki.

Within 24 hours, the account had received more than 150 messages, including some that contained apparent screenshots of messages and recordings of calls from the man. He was expelled from the EU Business School Barcelona as a result of the campaign against him and later on arrested in Egypt.

Egyptian MP Mona Mounir Dies

MP Mona Mounir, a member of the House of Representatives' African affairs committee, died on Thursday evening after a struggle with cancer, according to media reports.

Mounir, who was born in Giza, had been a member of parliament since the 2015 elections, securing a seat via the lists representing the northern, central and southern parts of Upper Egypt.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal issued a statement mourning her loss and offering his prayers, as did the first deputy of parliament, Al-Sayed Al-Sherif.

Nurseries Allowed to Open at Full Capacity

Social Solidarity Minister Niveen El-Qabbag said that nurseries are allowed to reopen at 100 percent capacity providing that they abide by preventive measures set by the health ministry.

She said that so far, 2,000 nurseries have applied the preventive measures, while four others were shut down due to violations.

Other nurseries chose not to reopen to avoid applying the costly measures.

Yesterday, Egypt reported 125 new coronavirus cases, bringing the overall number of infections to 10,4387.

New fatalities from the virus on Saturday amounted to 11, which saw the total death toll hit 6,040.

Some 51 patients recovered from coronavirus and left hospitals yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 97,643.

Film

El Gouna Film Festival Supports Tourism Sector, Says Founder Sawiris

The fourth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival will take place this year, founder Naguib Sawiris has said, arguing that touristic activity should continue despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"If we stop, we will stop the wheel of the festival, which all people are waiting for, and tourism must open and continue for Egypt, with attention to implementing precautionary measures in everything," Sawiris said at a press conference.

"Tourism has benefited from the festival because the foreign artists who visit Egypt go to see the different tourist attractions," he said.

"We should call it 'Challenge Festival' because this year it is taking place in very bad conditions," he added.

Sawiris also said that the numbers of coronavirus cases in Egypt are much lower now than previously, and that hotels hosting foreign visitors to the event will be sterilized.

The festival is set to take place on 23-31 October.

Its goal is to "connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange," according to a press release.

Sports

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Egypt's Bodybuilder 'Big Ramy' Tests Positive for COVID-19

Egypt's famous bodybuilder Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay said in the early hours of Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, ruling him out of the important Europe Pro Show in Alicante, Spain.

"I would like to make the official statement that I have tested POSITIVE for COVID-19. Therefore, I will not be able to compete this Sunday 11/10/20 at @npceuropean championships. I wanna wish good luck to the athletes and the promoter of the show my friends," Elssbiay said on Instagram.

"I have a little cough but nothing that bad but it would be irresponsible for me to risk older people life ... So I will fight this little virus and get back to doing what I love the most."

Elssbiay was due to take part in the Europe Pro Show this weekend as he sought to earn an automatic invitation to the 2020 Mr. Olympia, the prestigious bodybuilding contest.

The 36-year-old has been an IFBB professional bodybuilder since 2013, when he made his debut at the New York Pro.

World

World Food Programme Wins Nobel Peace Prize for Efforts Fighting Hunger

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to combat an increase in global hunger after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of prizes in different categories were also announced last week. On Thursday, American poet Louise Glück was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her unmistakable poetic voice that, with austere beauty, makes individual existence universal."

Two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for their work on the development of Crispr-Cas9, a method of genome editing.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astrophysicists on Tuesday for their work on black hole formation and the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

On Monday, three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus, which leads to hepatitis C liver disease.

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science is set to be announced on Monday.

Trump Resumes Campaigning; Second Presidential Debate Canceled

US President Donald Trump resumed his presidential campaign yesterday after taking a break due to his contracting COVID-19, but a planned second presidential debate has been canceled after he refused to participate.

Trump is expected to be in Florida on Monday to hold a campaign rally, which was originally scheduled for last Friday but was canceled after the president announced that he had contracted the coronavirus. 

The second of three presidential debates between Trump and his opponent Joe Biden was scheduled for the coming week but following Trump's testing positive for the virus, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to switch it to a virtual debate, which Trump has refused to take part in.

The final debate on October 22 will still happen as scheduled.

Social media companies have said they are working on ensuring that their platforms are free of fake news ahead of the elections ahead of Election Day. 

Facebook and Twitter have been introducing new rules and regulations to their platforms to prevent the sharing of misinformation. 

Fuel Tank Blast Kills at Least 4 in Beirut

At least four people were killed and over 20 people were injured when an oil fuel tank in a bakery exploded in Beirut on Friday night, Lebanon's official news agency reported.

Lebanese local media reported that the owner of the tank was arrested while in hospital in the wake of the explosion.

On September 22, an arms depot belonging to Shia group Hezbollah exploded in southern Lebanon, with no injuries reported.

A huge blaze broke out at Beirut's port on September 10, with no injuries reported.

The incidents come in the wake of a devastating explosion at the capital’s port on August 4, which killed at least 190 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

Virus Roundup: France, Russia See Highest Daily Case Numbers

France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Russia and Morocco have witnessed their highest single daily rises in coronavirus cases in recent days.

France recorded 26,096 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, while Portugal reported 1,646 new infections.

The Netherlands' cases hit a record of 6,500, Russia reported 12,846 new cases and Morocco reported 3,445 new cases.

Australia, however, recorded zero deaths from the virus for a third consecutive day on Saturday.

Poland announced new measures on Saturday aiming to curb the spread of the disease, after reporting record infections for a fifth straight day.

New York city will begin imposing new shutdown rules on businesses and schools in coronavirus hotspots on Thursday.

Tunisia will impose a curfew in the capital Tunis after the governors of four provinces that make up greater Tunis called for action to halt a surge in coronavirus infections. 

Spain's Socialist-led government invoked a state of emergency on Friday to re-impose a partial lockdown on several million people in and around Madrid, one of Europe's worst COVID-19 hotspots.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin planned to hold talks later in the day amid ongoing negotiations for further COVID-19 federal aid.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits edged down last week, marking a significant headway in getting millions of people back on the job after being out of work due to COVID-19 disruptions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement to parliament on Monday about potential new lockdown restrictions, as the government seeks to contain an accelerating second wave of the pandemic.

Leaders of major cities in northern England on Saturday asked for more generous economic support for workers and businesses facing local lockdowns.

The US government has awarded $486 million to AstraZeneca to develop and secure supplies of up to 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 antibody treatment, a similar class of drug to that which was used to treat President Donald Trump during his time in hospital with the virus.

Web Summit, Europe's biggest technology conference, will be held entirely online in December due to the coronavirus outbreak, organizers said on Thursday. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 37,393,508, with more than 1,076,216 deaths.

Arab Markets
Egypt EGX30 11,326.98 +1.62%
KSA TASI 8,412.55 +0.64%
UAE ABU DHABI ADX 4,512.51 +0.40%
UAE DUBAI DFM 2,214.32 +0.07%
World Markets
US Dow Jones IA 28,586.90 +0.57%
NASDAQ-100 11,579.94 +1.39%
S&P 500 3,477.13 +0.88%
UK FTSE 100 6,016.65 +0.65%
Germany DAX 13,051.23 +0.07%
France CAC 40 4,946.81 +0.71%
Japan Nikkei 225 23,619.69 -0.12%
China HANG SENG INDEX 24,119.13 -0.31%
Currencies
US Dollar 15.66 15.76
Euro 18.44 18.56
Sterling 20.16 20.28
Saudi Riyal 4.18 4.20
UAE Dirham 4.26 4.29
Kuwaiti Dinar 51.10 51.49
Swiss Franc 17.09 17.20
Commodities
Oil Brent USD/bbl. 42.85 -1.13%
Wheat USD/bu.Mar 2020 593.75 -0.25%
Gold USD/t oz. 1,930.40 +1.93%
Gold Egypt LE/ oz. 1,930.33 +1.86%
Silver Egypt LE/ oz. 25.14 +5.32%

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