18 Oct 2020

Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund Exploring Acquisition of Egyptian Drug-Maker Amoun: Report

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Egypt's drugmaker Amoun (courtesy of Amoun's official website)

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ is looking into a possible acquisition of Bausch Health Company's Egyptian drug unit, Bloomberg reported.

People with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that ADQ is evaluating Amoun Pharmaceutical Company as it aims to expand its health-care investments.

The sale could generate at least $700 million for Amoun, they said, adding that no final agreements have yet been reached.

The Egyptian drug-maker, which was acquired by North America based Bausch, formerly known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, for about $800 million in 2015, could also attract other investors, they said.

Valeant has been seeking a purchaser for Amoun in 2016, however the talks ended with no deal, people with knowledge to the matter told Bloomberg.


Jumia Partnering With Restaurants, Grocery Stores to Launch Meal Delivery Service

E-commerce platform Jumia has announced the launch of Jumia Food, an Egypt-based service that partners with restaurants, local commercial markets and large restaurant chains to deliver meals to homes.

Jumia Food will offer a variety of suppliers of ready-made meals from Egyptian restaurants, including grocery stores, bakeries and a large group of pharmacies, with services set to begin in Cairo governorate this month, and expansions planned thereafter.

The launch of the new service coincides with the celebration of World Food Day, which falls on October 16.

The company said the move reflects its confidence in the Egyptian market, as well as the digital transformation in the wake of the coronavirus. 

The platform has partnered with McDonald's, among other brands.

BLOM Bank Egypt Bidders to Submit Offers Soon: Report

Bidders for BLOM Bank Egypt are set to submit acquisition offers with a deal expected to go through in the near future, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported citing sources familiar with the deal. 

The due diligence conducted by Bahrain's Bank ABC will be wrapped up in a few days, according to the report. 

The sources added that First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), which is also interested in acquiring BLOM Bank Egypt, had finished its due diligence last week and plans to submit a purchasing offer in a few days.

The acquisition deal is expected to be finalized by November, the sources said.

BLOM Bank said in August that it had decided to sell its Egyptian unit due to the deteriorating economic condition in Lebanon. It has also cited the Lebanese central bank's decision last year that mandates banks to raise their capital.

Sarwa Capital Signs $159 Mn Agreement With Banque Misr, Misr Capital to Promote Sukuk

Sarwa Capital has signed a EGP 2.5 billion ($159 million) cooperation agreement with Banque Misr and Misr Capital Company to promote and ensure coverage of its sukuk, as part of the general strategy to diversify the sources of financing for the Sarwa group through the Egyptian capital market.

The agreement came as part of the cooperation strategy between Banque Misr and Misr Capital.

Ayman El-Sawy, head of the financial sector of Sarwa Capital Group, said that the group has received requests from many financial institutions to participate in the issuance and negotiations are underway with them. Credit classification of the issuance is being finalized and all documents have been delivered for approval by the Financial Supervisory Authority.

The company intends to offer sukuk worth EGP 2.5 billion with a maturity of seven years, and submitted the initial prospectus to the Financial Supervisory Authority in early July.

Proparco, EBRD, IFC Eye Participation in CIB's Green Bonds: Report

A number of international institutions are considering participating in the corporate green bonds that are set to be issued by Commercial International Bank (CIB), Al Mal reported on Thursday, including Proparco, the private sector financing arm of the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

CIB is currently studying the value of the issuance it will release, which will be tied to the number of green projects the lender plans to establish in in the future. The first tranche is expected to range between $50 million and $65 million and will mature in five years, the report added, citing anonymous sources.

In June, Al Borsa reported that the IFC is planning to purchase $65 million in the first tranche of CIB's green bonds.

Planning Minister Discusses Post-COVID Opportunities in Egypt With 70 French Companies

Egyptian Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed held a virtual meeting with representatives of 70 French companies to discuss the prospects and opportunities available in the Egyptian economy in the post-pandemic era.

Also in attendance was Yehia Zaki, chairman of the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), Ayman Soliman, CEO of Egypt's Sovereign Wealth Fund, and France's ambassador to Egypt, Stéphane Romatet.

Al-Saeed said that Egypt has opened the doors for various French companies to start making investments and to make use of the enormous resources in the country, including raw materials in various sectors such as agriculture and chemicals.

The minister explained that preserving natural resources is an important matter and the shift towards a green economy is a priority for the state.

Al-Saeed also said that, despite the negative impact of the coronavirus, Egypt achieved growth after the state intervened to support a number of sectors affected by the crisis.

She noted that the economic and social reform program that the government initiated during 2016 has contributed to Egypt's weathering of the negative consequences of the crisis.

There are currently more than 160 French companies operating in Egypt.

Siemens Inaugurates 'First-of-Its-Kind' Service Center, Training Academy in SCZone

Siemens Energy on Thursday opened a service center and training academy in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), which it described as the "first-of-its-kind" in the region.

The center, which spans 36,400 square meters, aims to be a one-stop shop for energy services, and houses a repair center, tooling center, training center and a warehouse.

The building includes the Egyptian German Technical Academy (EGT Academy), which offers training on automation, power plant control systems, gas turbine operation and maintenance and transformers.

It is established as part of a strategic alliance between Siemens and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German development agency, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The service center provides an industry-leading service to customers in Egypt by providing maintenance for all energy rotating equipment, instead of sending them overseas, to reduce service time, eliminate shipping costs and ensure a shortened delivery cycle.

On Wednesday, Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to discuss ways for the country to benefit from the German giant's expertise in the field of renewable energy and electrical interconnection projects.

Egypt Reduces Tariffs on Billet to $60 Per Ton

Egypt's trade ministry has reduced import fees on iron billets to $60 per ton for six months, according to media reports.

The tariffs were previously set at 16 percent, or $74, per ton.

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

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Talaat Moustafa Group in Talks With NUCA to Develop Plot in Capital Gardens

Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) is negotiating with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to develop an area of 5,000 feddans (5,189 acres) in the newly established Capital Gardens city, Al Borsa reported.

Egypt plans to establish Capital Gardens on an area of about 29,000 feddans (30,097 acres) as an extension of Badr City. It is located ten minutes away from the New Administrative Capital.

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 previously said.

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.

Amer Group Signs $29 Mn Loan with Ahli United Bank

Amer Group Holding has announced that its subsidiary, Delmar for Tourism Development Company, has signed a EGP 450 million ($28.6 million) loan deal with Ahli United Bank.

The loan will finance the Porto Heliopolis project, which is the first integrated residential compound in Cairo's Heliopolis district.

The project has a plot of 27,000 square meters and directly overlooks El-Thawra Street.

Amer Group is currently working on the development of an urban project in New Minya, having rejected a potential project in New Sohag after a financial and marketing study.

The company had entered into a negotiation process about a year ago with the New Urban Communities Authority to increase the area of a plot of land it had requested in New Sohag from 36 feddans (37.3 acres) to 50 feddans.

Female Founders Forum Kicks Off Today

StartEgypt, an incubation program funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), will hold the first edition of its Female Founders Forum virtually today.

The forum aims to support women entrepreneurs, and will host speakers from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and Dell Technologies.

In addition, directors from Google and YouTube who will provide training and discussion sessions aimed at improving the capabilities of women entrepreneurs in the areas of digital marketing and product management.

The forum will also host a group of inspiring women to share their experience, including Sabrine Assem, co-founder and CEO at UNTAP Technologies; Mai Abbas, education services manager for RSA Security by Dell Technologies; and moderator Mariam Farag, from MBC Hope, a member of MBC Group. 

The session will be followed by a panel discussion with Fatma Ghali, CEO of Azza Fahmy Jewellery, to discuss the essential ingredients needed to make a successful entrepreneur.

StartEgypt is powered by Flat6Labs.


G20 Agrees to Extend Debt Relief for Poor Nations Until June 2021

The Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers and central bankers have agreed to freeze debt service payments for the world's lowest-income countries by a further six months until June 2021, as part of efforts to bolster the global economy amid the coronavirus.

"In light of the continued liquidity pressure, while progressively addressing debt vulnerabilities, we agreed to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by six months," the G20 said in a statement after finance ministers held an online meeting on Wednesday.

The statement said that G20 nations "strongly encourage" the private sector to participate in the DSSI.

"Our collective efforts to maximize international assistance to countries in need is further complemented by multilateral development banks' commitment of 75 billion US dollars to DSSI-eligible countries, part of their 230 billion US dollars' commitment to emerging and low-income countries, as a response to the pandemic," Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at a press conference after the meeting.

The statement added that the period could be further extended until the end of 2021 based on what the International Monetary Fund and World Bank agree on next year.

In April, G20 agreed to freeze debt service payments for the world's lowest-income countries from May 1 until the end of the year.

Oil Prices Drop on Friday Over Spike in Coronavirus Cases

Oil prices fell on Friday over a surge in coronavirus cases in Europe and a cut in demand in the United States.

Brent crude futures for December fell 0.9 percent to $42.78 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for delivery in November slipped 35 cents to $40.61 per barrel.

The drop comes as some areas in Europe began reinstating coronavirus restrictions, including curfews and lockdowns, to overcome the surge in cases.

Crude also dropped as the US greenback was headed for its best week of the month on Friday, as investors turned to safe assets amid the spike in cases and the hampered progress toward a stimulus package in the US.

On Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and oil producers, also known as OPEC+, expressed worries about the growing oil supply as restrictions restrict fuel consumption.

OPEC+ is expected to reduce its current supply cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2 million bpd in January.

They are set to meet from November 30 to December 1 to set policy.

Egypt's Non-Petroleum Exports Down 3.5% YoY in 9M 2020

Egypt's non-petroleum exports retreated 3.5 percent year on year to $18.1 billion in the first nine months of 2020, down from $18.8 billion in the same period last year, the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC) said in a report on Thursday.

In the month of September, Egypt's non-petroleum exports increased by 4 percent to reach $2.149 million, up from $2.058 million in September 2019.

The Egyptian export council for printing, packaging, paper, literary and artistic works topped the list of non-petroleum exports, with a 69 percent increase to reach $87 million in September 2020, up from $52 million in September last year.

The export council for the building, refractory, and metallurgical industries saw exports up 34 percent to record $559 million in September 2020, up from $417 million in the same month last year.

The furniture export council's exports increased 28 percent year on year to $24 million in September 2020, up from $19 million last year.

Egypt's Budget Deficit Hits 1.4% of GDP in July-August

Egypt’s budget deficit edged up to 1.4 percent of GDP in the period July-August, compared year on year with 1.3 percent of GDP, the finance ministry said in its monthly report, released on Thursday.

Both the country's revenues and its expenditures increased 17.6 percent in July-August, to EGP 126 billion ($8.0 billion) and EGP 218 billion respectively.

Tax revenues, which comprised 73.4 percent of total revenues, rose by 14.6 percent year on year from EGP 80.6 billion ($5.1 billion) to EGP 92.4 billion, while non-tax revenues, which comprised 26.6 percent of the total, increased by 26.7 percent from EGP 26.5 billion to EGP 33.6 billion.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has asked the finance ministry to allocate a special budget for dealing with a potential second wave of coronavirus cases, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Thursday in a phone call with "Yahdoth Fi Masr" program on MBC Masr, without revealing the value of the allocation.

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Finance Minister Mohamed Maait

Egypt Lists $750 Mn Sovereign Green Bonds on London Stock Exchange

Egypt listed its five-year $750 million sovereign green bonds on London Stock Exchange in a virtual event on Thursday, marking a cooperation with the UK that promotes a green economic recovery from the coronavirus.

"The bond will be admitted to the Sustainable Bond Market of London Stock Exchange, with the use of proceeds to be deployed across renewable energy, clean transport, sustainable water and wastewater management, and pollution reduction and control," a statement by London Stock Exchange read.

In September, Egypt sold $750 million in five-year sovereign green bonds, the first to be issued in the Middle East and North Africa.

The bids for the bonds totaled $3.7 billion, around five times the size of the final issuance of $750 million, and more than seven times the size of the initial offering of $500 million, which allowed the finance ministry to lower the offered yield from an opening target of 5.75 percent to 5.25 percent, Finance Ministry Mohamed Maait said last month.

"The UK and Egypt are setting the agenda for partnership on climate issues, working together in the UN to promote adaptability, resilience and a green and resilient recovery from COVID-19 … we need to see more examples like this of ambitious and forward-thinking action," said James Cleverly, the UK's minister for the Middle East and North Africa.

Denzil Jenkins, interim CEO of London Stock Exchange, said that Egypt's success in launching the green bonds paves the way for other issuers in the region to take the same path.

Maait said in a phone call with "Yahdoth Fi Masr" program on MBC Masr that Egypt is among only 20 countries worldwide that issue sovereign green bonds.

In related news, Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed said during a virtual conference on Saturday that the government plans to raise the percentage of green investments in the state budget.

In July, Al-Saeed said that a total of 691 green projects, with investments worth EGP 447.3 billion ($28.5 billion), were listed in the draft state budget for the current 2020/2021 fiscal year.

While Egypt allocated EGP 36.7 billion ($2.3 billion) for these projects, which account for 14 percent of public investments planned by the government in the current fiscal year, it aims to increase the percentage to 30 percent in the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

Science and Technology

Egyptian Start-Up O7 Therapy Uses AI to Provide Psychological Treatment

Egyptian start-up O7 Therapy uses artificial intelligence in part of its counseling and remote psychotherapy service in Arabic, which is provided in Egypt and the Middle East. 

O7 Therapy launched in July and allows its clients to have counseling and treatment sessions with more than 70 doctors and therapists, most of whom are Egyptian.

The service is accessible through a mobile app and the cost ranges between EGP 400-900 ($26-57) ) a session.

The telemedicine market is expected to grow in the Middle East from $3.48 billion in 2020 to $5.22 billion by 2025, according to Market Data Forecast, a market research firm.

Stock Market

Global Stocks Gain After Pfizer Signals COVID-19 Vaccine Could Be Ready by End 2020

The majority of global stocks saw gains on Friday after US drug-maker Pfizer announced that it could file for a US authorization of the coronavirus vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech by late November, a signal the vaccine could be ready by the end of 2020.

The S&P 500 inched up 0.01 percent to close at 3,483.81 points on Friday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.39 percent to 28,606.31, while the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.36 percent to 11,671.56.

Pfizer shares climbed 3.83 percent to settle at $37.95.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.26 percent to close at 367.48 points.

In Egypt, the benchmark EGX30 index edged up 0.1 percent on Thursday to settle at 11,322.71 points, hitting a turnover of EGP 588.51 million ($37.5 million).

The broader EGX70 EWI rose 0.56 percent to close at 1,983.72 points.

Net sales by Egyptian investors totaled EGP 66.64 million ($4.2 million), while net purchases by foreign and Arab investors stood at EGP 36.58 million and EGP 30.06 million respectively.

Odin for Financial Investments Announces Exit of EHDR

Odin for Financial Investments announced the exit of Egyptians for Housing and Development Company (EHDR) from the company in a disclosure to the bourse on Thursday. 

Odin said that EHDR sold its entire stake of 21.28 percent at a total value of EGP 74.8 million ($4.7 million). 

Another disclosure to the bourse by Odin said that Odin Capital Group (OCG) has acquired EHDR's stake, increasing OCG's stake from 26.48 percent to 47.77 percent. 

The news come nearly a month after Amwaj for Touristic and Real Estate Investment acquired a 10.53 percent stake in Odin Investments at a total cost of EGP 49.3 million ($3.1 million). 

Sigma Securities Brokerage acted as a broker in the transactions.

In September, the listing committee of the EGX approved a request submitted by Odin to increase its issued and paid-up capital to EGP 260 million ($16.5 million) from EGP 248.8 million.  

Egypt News

Egypt to Be Among Leading Countries in Nuclear Energy: Rosatom

Egypt will become one of the leading countries in the field of nuclear energy over the next few years, the had of Rosatom Middle East and North, Alexander Voronkov, said yesterday.

In an interview with state agency MENA, Voronkov said that Egypt's El Dabaa nuclear power plant is one of the main projects implemented by Rosatom in Africa, and it will constitute in a major shift for the country in terms of electricity generation.

The CEO also praised the great efforts made by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to implement many successful major national projects, including gas projects, which will make Egypt a regional center for gas.

Voronkov noted that there is ongoing joint research by Egypt and Russia in the field of peaceful nuclear energy, which will extend over the next few years.

He also said that more than 60 Egyptian students are studying nuclear energy at Russian universities.

Egypt's Grain Production Rose 5.4% YoY in FY2018/19

Egypt's production of grains rose 5.4 percent year on year in the 2018/2019 fiscal year to reach 21.8 million tons, compared with 20.7 million tons in 2017/2018, the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said on Thursday.

The country's production of rice surged 53.8 percent, from 3.1 million tons in 2017/2018 to 4.8 million tons in 2018/2019, due to an increase in cultivated areas, while wheat production increased 2.5 percent from 8.3 million tons to 8.6 million tons.

Production of vegetables rose 3.1 percent in 2018/2019 to 20.5 million tons, compared with 19.8 million tons in the previous fiscal year, while production of fruit fell 2.3 percent to 11.7 million tons, compared with 11.9 million tons previously.

In a separate report released on Saturday, CAPMAS said that the food subsidy system in Egypt covers 88.5 percent of households nationwide via ration cards, with 95.5 percent of households in the countryside covered, compared to 80.2 percent of households in urban areas.

Egypt has allocated EGP 84.5 billion ($5.4 billion) for subsidized commodities and bread in the current 2020/2021 fiscal year, including EGP 36.5 billion for subsidized commodities available via ration cards to 63.5 million citizens and EGP 42.6 billion allocated for subsidized bread to 65.3 million citizens, CAPMAS said.

EgyptAir Offers Discounts to New Destinations

EgyptAir is offering further discounts to new destinations in a move to encourage bookings, according to a Friday statement.

Among the offerings is a 50 percent discount on flights from Cairo to the capital of Ghana, Accra, for both economy and business class tickets. 

The national airline is also offering a 30 percent discount on flights from Cairo to Johannesburg in South Africa for both economy and business class. Tickets may be purchased until November 6 for flights until December 10.

There is a 25 percent discount available on flights from Cairo to Bahrain for both economy and business class. Tickets are available until October 30 for flights until December 1.

A 20 percent discount is being offered on flights from Cairo to Muscat, capital of Oman, for both economy and business class. Tickets are available until November 15 for travel until December 1.

There is a 35 percent discount on economy class and 10 percent on business class tickets from Cairo to Paris, with tickets available for booking until November 15 and travel until December 10.

The company is also offering a 15 percent discount on flights from Cairo to Brussels in economy class only, with booking until November 15 and travel until December 24.

Egypt Condemns Israel's Approval of Settlement Expansion

Egypt condemned yesterday Israel's approval of the construction of more than 5,000 units in the occupied West Bank settlements, describing it as a "violation of international legitimacy and resolutions by the UN Security Council."

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said that Israeli policies have resulted in lack of trust between the concerned parties and undermined chances of launching a constructive dialogue with the Palestinian side.

He said that Israel's approval to build new settler homes is a serious threat to the two-state solution.

Hafez also called for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, according to which Israel would return to its pre-1967 boarders.

The Israeli Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria held its first meeting in eight months on Wednesday and Thursday, during which it approved the construction of around 5,000 homes in the West Bank.

UN Conference Adopts Egyptian Proposal on Stolen Antiquities

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime's conference adopted a proposal of the Egyptian public prosecutor's office regarding international cooperation in the field of the recovery of stolen archaeological cultural property and the confiscation of funds obtained from such sources.

Mohamed Khalaf, director of the International Cooperation Department at the Office of the Public Prosecutor, delivered a statement at the tenth session of the conference, which was held in Vienna.

He referred to the Egyptian public prosecution presenting a draft proposal, after it was noticed that the mechanisms of international cooperation in this field lack an international legal framework to regulate it and to combat the crimes of looting and smuggling of these properties across national borders, and laundering the proceeds.

The proposed draft resolution was approved and issued by the conference.

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Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad (courtesy of the ministry's Facebook page)

Egypt's First Waste Management Law Ratified

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ratified law 202 of 2020, the country's first law organizing waste management, and it has been published in the official state gazette.

The law establishes a system for organizing and managing waste and following up and monitoring all processes related to waste management, in order to achieve the environmentally safe management of all kinds of waste.

The law also aims to attract and encourage investments in the field of collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of waste.

In March, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad instructed the relevant authorities to intensify efforts for the safe disposal of solid waste, and to train workers on how to apply precautionary measures to confront the coronavirus.

Egypt, Spain Foreign Ministers Discuss Regional Issues, Boosting Relations

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held talks yesterday with his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez Laya on bilateral relations and regional issues, and the pair signed a memorandum of understanding.

The MOU aims to bolster Spain's economic and strategic relationship with Egypt against the backdrop of a complex situation in the Middle East.

"We have been able to examine the state of relations between Spain and Egypt, relations that are good, but we want them to be excellent," Gonzalez Laya said during a joint press conference with Shoukry.

The two ministers also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian and the Libyan crises, and other regional issues of mutual concern.

Shoukry reiterated Egypt's position in support of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of their independent state based on the UN-proposed two-state solution.

The ministers also decided to cooperate on investment and trade. 

Gonzalez Laya suggested holding a joint trade conference next year.

Al-Azhar Condemns Paris Terrorism Incident

Al-Azhar has condemned the terrorist incident that occurred in Paris on Friday in which an extremist beheaded a teacher.

Al-Azhar affirmed its rejection of all terrorist acts, stressing that murder is a crime that cannot be justified in any way.

Egypt's top Islamic authority also called for the enactment of global legislation criminalizing the insulting of religion and of sacred symbols.

The suspect, an 18-year-old Chechen, was shot dead by the police. He was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun. 

The victim was a 47-year-old history teacher who had reportedly shown drawings of Prophet Muhammad in his class.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" and said that the attack should not divide France.

"One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught ... the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe," Macron said.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident.

France has offered asylum to many Chechens since the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Earlier this month, Macron unveiled plans to defend France’s secular values against radical Islam, describing Islam as a religion "in crisis" worldwide. 

Macron also warned against the creation of a "counter-society" obeying its own laws among France's Muslims.

Anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said that the attacker had approached pupils in the street and asked them to point out his victim.

The attacker also posted a photograph of the teacher’s body on Twitter, accompanied by a message saying he had carried out the killing, Ricard added.

El-Sisi Appoints New Al-Azhar Representative

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has appointed a new representative for Al-Azhar at the request of Sheikh Ahmed El Tayyeb, the grand imam of the Sunni institution. 

The president issued a decree appointing Muhammad Abdul-Rahman Muhammad Al-Dawaini as Al-Azhar representative for a year-long period.

Al-Dawaini is currently secretary-general of the Council of Senior Scholars, a body which is affiliated with Al-Azhar.

He will receive the same treatment as a minister in terms of rank, salary, allowances and pension.

In addition, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly issued a decree appointing Sheikh Saleh Abbas, the former deputy of Al-Azhar, as head of the Al-Azhar institutes department until he reaches pensionable age.

Abbas was previously undersecretary of the department.

New School Year Kicks Off Amid Strict Preventive Measures

Egypt's new school year has begun amid strict preventive measures against the coronavirus, with the education ministry setting up a central operations room to follow up on the process.

According to press statements, Education Minister Tarek Shawki said around 53,000 isolation rooms have been set up in schools for suspected coronavirus cases among students.

He said that the head of each school has the freedom to set the number of school days for each school grade and their attendance.

Classes provided to students by television are being reviewed by the ministry, stressing the ministry's efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

Books will also be provided as PDF files on electronic teaching platforms, Shawki said.

National Election Authority Establishes 20,432 Polling Stations Nationwide for Upcoming Vote

Egypt's National Election Authority (NEA) has determined 20,432 polling stations nationwide for the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will kick off this month.

Around 10,140 polling stations will be open for voters in the first stage, when Egyptian expats vote from October 21 to 23 and domestic voters from October 24 to 25.

The second stage will see 10,292 polling stations open for domestic voting on November 7 to 8. Egyptian expats can vote from November 4 to 6 in the second phase.

The final results of the elections will be officially announced by the NEA on December 14.

Egypt last held elections for the House of Representatives in 2015. According to Article 106 of the constitution, the House of Representatives sits for five calendar years, commencing from the date of its first session.

In August, Egypt held elections for the Senate, a new upper parliamentary chamber. Pro-government coalition Mostaqbal Watan secured a majority of seats in the new body.

125K Housing Units to Be Provided for Low, Middle-Income Buyers in 14 New Cities

Around 125,000 fully finished housing units for low and middle-income citizens are set to be delivered within 36 months in 14 new cities, Egyptian Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar has said.

The minister said that the window for reservations, purchase of conditions booklets and payment of deposits will be from November 1 to 8 for people with special needs only, and from November 11 to December 7 for all citizens, including those with special needs.

The move is part of the country's social housing strategy, which seeks to provide suitable units at reasonable prices with extended repayment periods for low and middle-income groups and young people.

Al-Gazzar said that, for low-income units, the state covers indirect support estimated at EGP 210,000-280,000 ($13,370-$17,827) for each unit, in addition to direct cash support to the citizen estimated at EGP 50,000-60,000, which is deducted from the sale price of the unit.

For middle-income units, the state provides indirect support estimated at EGP 190,000-250,000 ($12,097-$15,971) for each housing unit.

May Abdel Hamid, CEO of the country's Social Housing and Mortgage Finance Fund, said that the conditions booklet, which includes the required housing unit reservation form, can be purchased through any post office in governorates in which the units are offered.

Alstom Puts Into Commercial Use SIL4 Electronic Interlocking System in Matai Section of Railway Line

French transport infrastructure company Alstom said it has put into commercial use its SIL4 Electronic Interlocking system solution Smartlock 400 GP after successful testing of the Matai section line connecting Egypt's Beni Suef to the Assiut railway line.

According to a statement, Alstom said it has also established new buildings, a power supply, telecoms and new SCADA subsystems to ensure powerful performance and safe operation of the railway traffic at train speeds reaching up to 160 kilometers per hour.

Matai extends over 18 kilometers and includes two stations, Matai and El-Kofor, with 116 track circuits, 10 Site Local Operation (SLO) cabinets, six level crossings, 36-point motors and 79 signals. 
It is the sixth section of the Beni Suef-Assiut line to enter commercial service with Alstom’s interlocking signaling system.

This brings the services provided by Alstom to over 80 kilometers of mainline railways nationwide.

Blogger Shady Abu Zeid Released From Custody

Shady Abu Zeid, Egyptian blogger and former correspondent for Abla Fahita TV program, was released from custody, his sister wrote on her Facebook account, showing a picture of him at home with his family.

Abu Zeid was detained in 2018 on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news about Egypt, before being ordered to be released in February 2020.

Within days after his first release order, however, his detention was renewed on charges of holding meetings on behalf of terrorist groups that seek a coup d'état.

Prosecution Detains Three in Connection With Deadly Mugging of Young Woman in Cairo

Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention of three people pending investigations into the killing of a young woman in Cairo's Maadi neighborhood during a violent robbery that has sent shockwaves across the country.

According to a statement on Saturday, the prosecution charged two of the men with manslaughter after they robbed the woman in a main road, bearing firearms and bladed weapons.

It charged the third defendant with helping in carrying out the attack.

The statement said that the first two defendants, who were driving a microbus owned by the third defendant, stole the woman's backpack while she was walking along a street in the district.

The woman lost her balance during the robbery and hit her head on a parked car, leading to her death, the statement said.

Egypt Registers 138 New Coronavirus Cases, Ten Deaths

Egypt registered 138 new coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 105,297.

The coronavirus death toll has reached a total of 6,109, with ten new fatalities reported yesterday.

Some 68 patients recovered from coronavirus and left hospitals yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 98,157.

The health ministry has affirmed its full readiness to deal with any possible second wave of the viral disease.


Ahly on Brink of Champions League Final After Impressive Win in Morocco

Egypt's Ahly claimed a superb 2-0 victory away to Moroccan side Wydad on Saturday to close in on a place in the African Champions League final as they target a record-extending ninth crown.

Playmaker Magdi Afsha opened the scoring after four minutes, dispossessing Wydad defender Yahya Jabrane to race clear and drill a low shot into the bottom corner.

Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul doubled the lead from the spot in the 62nd minute as Ahly proved efficient on the break, with Wydad looking shaky throughout.

The hosts barely threatened the Cairo giants, who will now have a straightforward task to reach their third final in four years when they host Wydad in the second leg at Cairo Stadium next week.

Today, Ahly's Cairo rivals Zamalek take on another Moroccan side in Raja in the other semi-final first leg at the same venue in Casablanca.

Salah Reaches Liverpool Milestone With 100 Goals

Mohamed Salah scored his 100th goal for Liverpool but they were denied victory by Merseyside rivals Everton in a thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw on Saturday.

With the score tied at 1-1, the Egyptian King blasted home a left-foot volley after a headed clearance fell to his path in the 72nd minute to give Liverpool the lead.

However, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home nine minutes later and Liverpool had a goal chalked off for marginal offside in stoppage time.

Salah reached the 100-goal milestone in just 159 appearances for Liverpool, continuing his impressive start to his third season with the Reds.

"Unfortunately, I hope you find something in your notes about how often I said how good Mo is and all these boys are great. The goal – sensational. But I am not in the mood to talk about that now," Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said after the game.

"Yes, it was a sensational goal and the numbers are incredible, it's really crazy. But not even Mo wants to talk about it in the moment."

Salah has now scored six goals in the Premier League so far this season, just one behind the competition's top scorer Calvert-Lewin.


US Study Finds Coronavirus Infection Risk on Flights Is Low

A recent US Department of Defense study suggests that the risk of coronavirus infection on flights is extremely low, in a positive sign for the airline industry which has been hit hard amid the pandemic.

An average of 0.003 percent of air particles within the breathing zone around a seated passenger who is wearing a mask are infectious, according to the study, which was released on Thursday.

The research, conducted on United Airlines' Boeing 777 and 767 aircraft, showed that about 99.99 percent of the particles were filtered outside of the cabin within six minutes due to rapid air circulation, downward ventilation and on-board filtration systems.

The study estimated that a passenger would need to fly for 54 hours on a plane with an infectious person to get infected.

"These results ... mean your chances of COVID exposure on a United aircraft are nearly non-existent, even if your flight is full," said United Airlines Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist.

The research, carried out over a period of six months, included 300 tests. Each test released 180 million particles the same size as the coronavirus across the entire cabin, each containing 42 sensors representing other passengers who could come into contact with the particles.

On October 8, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that there had been "44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers" since the start of 2020.

British Airways Fined $26 Mn After Data Breach

The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has fined British Airways $26 million over a data breach the impacted over 400,000 customers. 

The airline was fined for violating the EU General Data Protection Regulation after a security breach affected personal and credit card data. 

The $26 million fine is a 90 percent decrease from the initially proposed fine of $230 million, and is the largest fine issued by the ICO. 

The breach took place when an attacker was able to redirect customers' payment card data from the British airline's website to one controlled by the attacker.

UN Secretary-General Condemns Attacks on Blue Helmets in Mali

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned two attacks against the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, which killed one Egyptian peacekeeper and injured another.

An explosive device hit a vehicle belonging to the UN's Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) in the country's Kidan region on Thursday.

In addition, the mission's camp in Timbuktu received indirect fire, resulting in at least one Burkinabe peacekeeper being injured.

Three days previously, at least 12 civilians and 11 soldiers from the Malian Defence and Security Forces were killed in attacks in central Mali.

In a statement, Guterres expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and the governments of Egypt and Mali, and wished a swift recovery to those injured.

"The secretary-general … calls on the Malian authorities to take urgent steps to apprehend and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice," said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

Virus Roundup: Italy Could Up Nationwide Restrictions Over Surge in Cases

Italy could heighten nationwide restrictions over a surge in coronavirus cases, the chief of the north-western region of Liguria said on Saturday.

The head of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, said Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza met with local authorities to consider new restrictions.

"We are working on some measures," Toti said on Facebook, explaining that authorities would ask schools to shift between online and in-person classes and would urge companies to increase working from home.

Despite the discussed steps, Toti said officials are not considering imposing a nighttime curfew or restrictions on bars and restaurants.

The new measures could be approved by the government by Monday. Italy reported 10,010 new cases on Friday, a record high since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.

Meanwhile, Britain reported 16,171 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, up from 15,650 the previous day, as the country continues to see a rise in cases.

Separately, India's coronavirus cases jumped by 62,212 cases yesterday, as the government began selecting around 300 million people for a COVID-19 vaccine, when it is ready.

This brings the country's cumulative tally of coronavirus infections to 7.43 million on Saturday.

Priority for vaccinations will be given to frontline health and sanitation workers, police and elderly people.

The plan by authorities, set to be ready by the end of October or by November, aims to cover 23 percent of the population in the first phase, according to local media outlets.

Arab Markets
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