13 Jan 2021

Egypt Reopens Airspace to Qatar Following Arab Quartet Reconciliation

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EgyptAir (courtesy of Airbus)

Egypt announced the reopening of its airspace to flights from Qatar on Tuesday, officially lifting travel restrictions imposed since mid-2017.

In exclusive statements to state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram's Arabic-language website, Ashraf Noweir, head of Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, said the decision allows national carrier EgyptAir, Qatar Airways and other Qatari airlines to resume air traffic between the two countries.

The decision comes nearly a week after Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain ended a three-and-a-half-year rift with Qatar, announcing a full restoration of ties with Doha after the signing of a Riyadh-based reconciliation declaration.

A boycott was imposed on Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain starting in mid-2017, on allegations of supporting terrorism, which were denied by Qatar.

Egypt is the latest to announce the resumption of flights following similar moves by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE in recent days.

Separately, EgyptAir said it plans to operate one daily flight to Qatar, according to an official statement.

EgyptAir Chairman and CEO Roshdy Zakaria said a second flight may be added "if there is a demand."

"The operation date will be announced as soon as the necessary procedures for operation between Egyptian and Qatari civil aviation authorities are completed and the flight operation schedule is being prepared to be announced," Zakaria said.

Stock Market

EGX30 Edges Up 0.54%

Egyptian stocks ended Tuesday's trading session in the green, continuing a streak of modest gains into a third day.

The EGX30 benchmark rose 0.54 percent to close at 11,339.75 points, amid a turnover of approximately EGP 734.2 million ($46.8 million).

Its market bellwether, Commercial International Bank (CIB), saw its share price up 1.79 percent to EGP 63.20 ($4.03).

Tuesday's trading saw mixed performances, with top performing stocks including Dice Sport and Casual Wear, which rose 4.29 percent to EGP 1.87 ($0.12), Oriental Weavers, up 3.13 percent to EGP 7.22, and Juhayna Food Industries, which gained 2.97 percent to EGP 6.74.

The worst performing stocks included Credit Agricole Egypt (CAE), which plunged 6.19 percent to EGP 27.55 ($1.76), Ezz Steel, which fell 3.08 percent to EGP 11.14, and Export Development Bank of Egypt (EDBE), which lost 2.97 percent to EGP 13.82.

The broader EGX70 EWI index rose 0.65 percent to close at 2,204.05 points, while the EGX100 EWI gained 0.39 percent, closing at 3,194.77 points.

Foreign and Arab investors were net buyers to the tune of EGP 204.3 million ($13 million) and EGP 7.7 million, respectively, while sales by Egyptian investors amounted to EGP 212.1 million.

EGX Suspends Trading on Hadisolb Shares After Liquidation

The Egyptian bourse has decided to suspend trading on Egyptian Iron and Steel Company (Hadisolb) shares starting Tuesday, one day after the steel company's extraordinary general meeting (EGM) approved the liquidation of its steel plant in Helwan.

The suspension was due to the company's failure to send a statement to the bourse on the liquidation move.

The bourse said it has also suspended any tender offers and requests on the company's shares.

Hadisolb's EGM has approved liquidating the company's factory in Helwan, Cairo, and demerging its mining unit. it attributed the liquidation to increasing losses and the company's inability to continue operating.

Hadisolb said that it incurred net losses of EGP 982.8 million ($62.8 million) between July 2019 and June 2020.

In December, the board of Hadisolb approved a horizontal demerger, where the demerging company will manage the company's factories, while a newly demerged entity will be in charge of its mining and quarrying activities.

Hadisolb was established in 1954.

Mubasher Trade Launches Du Investment Platform

Mubasher Trade has launched its Du platform, which offers various sub-platforms providing investment solutions, with a capital of EGP 360 million ($23 million).

The sub-platforms include Du Invest, for investing in fixed income and mutual funds, and Du Trade, for online trading in securities.

They also include Du Learn, which offers educational courses on stock market investments, and Du Play, a virtual simulation for trading in securities that prepares investors for real trading on the stock market. 

Mubasher Trade plans to launch other sub-platforms in the future.

EFG Hermes Announces Issuance of 1st Tranche of Securitized Bonds for Amer Group, Qasatli

EFG Hermes has announced the issuance of the first tranche of securitized bonds worth a total of EGP 6.5 billion ($414.9 million) for four of Amer Group's subsidiaries and mortgage finance company Qasatli.

The Cairo-based investment bank acted as the financial advisor, arranger and promoter of the EGP 700 million ($44.6 million) tranche issuance, secured by receivables estimated at EGP 911 million.

The issuance of the securitized bonds will be executed in three tranches with maturities of 13, 36, and 60 months, rated respectively at AA+, AA, and A by Middle East Rating & Investors Service (MERIS).

Zoom Aims to Raise $1.5 Bn Through Stock Offering

Zoom Video Communications is aiming to raise $1.5 billion through a stock offering, taking advantage of increased demand for the platform during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zoom's stock was up 1.6 percent to record $342.99 yesterday, with people familiar with the matter saying that new shares will start trading on January 13.

In a statement, Zoom said that it expects to give its underwriter a 30-day option to buy up to $225 million of Class A stock.

In the past 12 months, Zoom has gained 362 percent as a result of the pandemic forcing people to work and learn remotely.


Investments in MENA Start-Ups Reached $1 Bn in 2020: MAGNiTT

The total investment in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region start-ups reached $1.03 billion in 2020, a 13 percent increase in comparison with the year before, according to start-up data platform for emerging venture markets MAGNiTT.

Despite the increase in investments, the number of deals concluded in 2020 was 496, a 13 percent decrease in comparison with the year before.

Among the firms that received the highest funding was Egypt's Vezeeta, a digital health care company that was the third-highest funded at $40 million, followed by Saudi company Jahez with funding of $36.5 million and the UAE-based sellanycar.com with $35 million.

Two other UAE-based companies occupied the first and second spots, with Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) receiving $150 million in funding and cloud kitchen company Kitopi obtaining $60 million. 

"The 'COVID-effect' was felt throughout the ecosystem, and is most clearly reflected when comparing H2 2020 with H2 2019. The second half of 2020 saw $306M (down by 13 percent) invested in 198 deals (down by 35 percent)," MAGNiTT said.

Unionaire to Establish Factory to Produce Electrical Goods for Export With $64 Mn Investments

Unionaire Group is planning to establish a factory dedicated to the production of electrical devices for export, with investments of EGP 1 billion ($63.8 million).

Unionaire Chairman Mohamed Osman said that the new factory is set to be completed by the end of 2022.

Osman added that the factory's production capacity will mostly be directed to goods for export, especially to European and Arab markets, with any surplus to go to the local market.

Unionaire has signed an exclusive contract for electronic devices with international company TCL, with the aim of manufacturing American TCL products and selling them in Egyptian and African markets.

The company will start manufacturing televisions and screens.

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Credit Agricole Egypt Appoints Jean-Pierre Trinelle as Managing Director

Credit Agricole Egypt (CAE) has appointed Jean-Pierre Trinelle to replace Pierre Francois Serge Finas as the bank's new managing director, according to a bourse disclosure yesterday.

The announcement came after the bank received approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), CAE said in the statement. 

The bank added that Trinelle will represent Credit Agricole France on CAE's board of directors as of January 11.

Trinelle has more than 15 years of experience at Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (Credit Agricole CIB). He served as a senior country officer for South Korea in 2014, and as a senior country officer for Taiwan in 2009. 

He also served as managing director and head of real estate and hotel finance for the Asia-Pacific region in 2005. 

Centamin Aims to Produce 430K Ounces of Gold From Sukari Mine in 2021

Mining company Centamin aims to produce up to 430,000 ounces of gold from Sukari mine, Egypt's only commercial gold mine, Centamin Egypt General Manager Yousef Al-Rajhi told Masrawy yesterday. 

Al-Rajhi said that he expects the mine's gold production to decline by 4.9-11.6 percent in 2021 compared with 2020.

Production at Sukari reached 452,300 ounces during 2020, compared with 480,500 ounces in 2019, a decrease of 5.9 percent.

In December, Centamin unveiled a three-year plan to boost efficiency and cash flow at the mine after years of operational difficulties and underfunding.

Centamin previously announced that it expected gold production at Sukari to decrease by about 42 percent during the fourth quarter of 2020, after the company halted operations on the back of the pandemic.

STC Appoints Olayan Alwetaid as CEO

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has appointed Olayan Alwetaid as the group's new CEO, effective March 28.

Alwetaid will succeed Nasser Sulaiman Al-Nasser, who has held the position since February 2018 and resigned for unknown reasons.

Alwetaid has over 20 years of experience. He worked at Saudi Aramco before moving to STC, where he was made senior vice president of the consumer business unit.

He also participates as a member and vice-chairman of the board of directors of digital payment service stc pay, and chairs several committees of the boards of directors of the group's subsidiaries.

Science and Technology

Bitcoin Rebounds Following Monday's Slide

The price of bitcoin rose 4.9 percent to $35,616 as of 11:30am in London, after Monday’s 13-percent slide.

On Monday, bitcoin witnessed a 13-percent decrease to reach $35,600. 

"We think a pullback is healthy," said David Grider, lead digital strategist with Fundstrat Global Advisors LLC, who added that he does not believe the recent price action indicates that bitcoin has already topped out.

The cryptocurrency gained over 300 percent in 2020, and 50 percent in the last month.

Twitter Suspends Over 70K Accounts for Sharing QAnon Content

Twitter has announced that it has permanently suspended over 70,000 accounts that were mainly in operation to share QAnon content since Friday, as part of safety measures the company has implemented in the wake of last week's riot at the US Capitol.

"Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon," Twitter said in a blog late on Monday.

"These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service," the company said.

Twitter's stock went down about 6.41 percent on Monday, a few days after it "permanently suspended" US President Donald Trump's account.

Even after Monday's drop, the social media platform's stock has shot up about 45 percent over the past 12 months.

Twitter's shares reached $48.18 on Monday.


Oil Prices Hit 11-Month High as Saudi Arabia Pledges Voluntary Output Cut

Oil prices hit an 11-month high on Tuesday, backed by Saudi Arabia’s plans to limit supply.

International benchmark Brent oil gained 80 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $56.44 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled 96 cents, or 1.8 percent, higher at $53.21 per barrel.

Riyadh previously announced that it will make additional oil cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, as part of a deal to convince OPEC+ producers to hold output steady amid concerns that demand will be affected by fresh pandemic lockdowns.

Global Sukuk Market Expected to Remain 'Buoyant' in 2021: S&P Global

S&P Global Ratings yesterday released in a report in which it said that the global sukuk (Islamic bonds) market is expected to remain "buoyant" throughout the year, with low interest rates and abundant liquidity, if the coronavirus pandemic is contained.

S&P Global expects total sukuk issuances to increase to about $140-155 billion in 2021, up from the $139.8 billion issued in sukuk during 2020.

It added that part of the $65 billion in sukuk that will mature during the year is likely to be refinanced on the sukuk market.

"However, downside risks for the core Islamic finance countries remain significant. Chief of these is whether the COVID-19 pandemic can be brought under control," the report read.

"Even if a vaccine is widely available by mid-year … Until then, the main risk is that further waves of COVID-19 and the requisite containment measures may harm the countries' fragile economic recovery," it added.

The report also expects that some sukuk issuances may aim to tackle social problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic or support the energy transition, yet these are expected to "remain small, due to their additional complexity and the core Islamic finance countries' slow implementation of policies to manage the energy transition."

CI Capital Foresees Consumption Boost in Egypt This Year

CI Capital Research expected a boost in consumption in Egypt this year, citing a potential improvement in the tourism sector as well as structural reforms aimed at encouraging the private sector under the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Stand-By Arrangement (SBA).

On stock market trading, CI Capital favors financial, real estate and tourism securities in 2021, saying that the participation of foreign institutions, which is expected to increase this year, bodes well for the stock markets in Egypt and the UAE.

The investment bank said that the outlook for emerging markets in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to vary from one country to another.

In general, however, CI Capital said that the emerging economies are set to benefit from low interest rates, a potential decline in the value of the US dollar and an anticipated gradual improvement in international trade. The optimistic forecast is backed by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the first quarter of 2021.

For Egypt, CI Capital said that the yields on government debt instruments are expected to match the interest rates set by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) in the first half of this year, a move which will ease pressures on the Egyptian economy.

The CBE has been maintaining high yields on government debt instruments despite the cuts it carried out last year.

The CBE has slashed interest rates in 2020 by a total of 400 basis points (bps), leaving the overnight deposit rate at 8.25 percent and the overnight lending rate at 9.25 percent.

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CBE Governor Tarek Amer

CBE Orders Banks Not to Pay Annual Dividends to Shareholders Due to COVID-19

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has ordered banks not to pay annual dividends or retained earnings to their shareholders, citing uncertainty over outlooks due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a circular released by the central bank late on Monday.

The move aims to protect the lenders' capital from risk amid the pandemic, the CBE said.

Bank employees will, however, be paid their share of dividends, and boards will get bonuses for 2020, the CBE added.

One banker told Delta Digest that, per law, employees are entitled to 10 percent of annual profits; meanwhile, banks have the option to either distribute the remaining profits to shareholders or retain them to cover future expenses or liabilities.

He added that the move aims to keep the liquidity of banks intact, as many companies are expected not to be able to pay all liabilities of the credit facilities they have borrowed from banks.

Echoing a similar view, NAEEM Brokerage Head of Research Allen Sandeep told Reuters that the CBE wanted to boost banks' liquidity, especially as the initiative to delay loan repayments -- which was launched in March -- ended in September.

Meanwhile, Pharos Research Head Radwa El Swaify told local news outlets that the move also aims to help banks meet the new minimum capital requirement set in the new banking law that was published in the official gazette last September.

Under the new banking law, local banks need to have a minimum capital of EGP 5 billion ($319.3 million) and foreign banks' capital needs to be at least $150 million.

In related news, the CBE expects Egypt's growth rate to gradually recover as the rollout of vaccines diminishes uncertainty related to the coronavirus.

The central bank said that monetary policy committee (MPC) decisions on interest rates are tied to inflation rates expected in the medium-term, not current rates.

Egypt's annual urban headline inflation declined to 5.4 percent in December, down from 5.7 percent in November.

Egypt's Food Exports Increase 1% YoY in 11M 2020

Egyptian food exports were worth $3.2 billion in the first 11 months of 2020, representing a 1 percent year-on-year increase, the Food Export Council (FEC) has announced. 

According to the council's statement, food exports make up 13.2 percent of total Egyptian non-oil exports, ranking third on the list of the most important Egyptian export sectors between January and November 2020.

The council said that food exports fell to $246 million in November, an 8 percent year-on-year decrease compared with the same month in 2019.

Exports amounted to about $270 million in October 2020, a 12 percent year-on-year decrease.

Egypt News

Egypt Cancels Int'l Wheat Tender

Egypt canceled an international tender to buy wheat without making a purchase on Tuesday, state grain buyer General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) has announced.

Bloomberg reported, citing traders, that only one offer of Russian wheat was submitted in the tender, at prices higher than Romanian and French alternatives.

Russia is one of Egypt's biggest wheat suppliers but its wheat exports are expected to shrink after the country introduced a tax on them last month, which will go into effect in mid-February, in an attempt to regulate domestic prices of the grain.

Russia's economy minister yesterday said that the country will consider changes to its wheat export tax by the end of this week, amid rumors a day earlier of plans to hike the tax.

European wheat futures yesterday rose to their highest in 7.5 years on the back of Egypt's move to cancel the tender.

An official at Egypt's supply ministry told Shorouk yesterday that Russia's decision to impose a tax on wheat exports will not have an impact on the production of bread or its price, citing the fact that Egypt deals with many importers to secure its annual wheat needs, estimated at 9 million tons.

They said that Egypt purchases wheat from 15 different countries, including France, Romania, Ukraine, the US and Kazakhstan.

Moreover, Egypt currently has strategic reserves of wheat to cover the next 5.6 months, the source added.

Local Development Ministry Cancels Road Use Fee for Quarrying, Mining Trucks

The Ministry of Local Development has abolished fees for trucks using governorate roads to travel to and from quarries and mines.

Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawy said the fees, which were aimed at improving roads but affected materials prices and led to investors second-guessing investing in quarries, were discontinued after negatively impacting the Egyptian Company for Mining, Management and Exploitation of Quarries and Salines.

The decision will abolish fees paid on the roads leading to and from quarries.

It was not specified when the decision will be implemented.

Egypt Condemns Israel's Plan to Establish 800 Settlement Units in West Bank

Egypt yesterday condemned a plan approved by the Israeli government on Monday to establish about 800 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, according to a statement released by Egypt's foreign ministry. 

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez expressed his concern over the "undermining of the chances of a two-state solution." 

He added that international parties are exerting "relentless efforts" to revive negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli authorities.

Hafez stressed that the Israeli plan will have negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region.

Egypt previously condemned Israel's plan to establish over 8,000 settlement units in Jerusalem, with Hafez describing it as a "new violation to international legitimacy and relevant [UN] Security Council resolutions." 

Sisi Directs Contact Between National Project to Develop 1.5K Villages, Beneficiaries

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi yesterday directed administrators of the national project to develop 1,500 villages nationwide to contact citizens targeted in its first phase directly, "to find out the actual requirements of citizens and listen to their opinions regarding the development of their regions."

Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in a statement that the project comes within the framework of the "Decent Life" initiative.

Rady added that El-Sisi also directed that the project organize government services administration within the targeted villages, to be linked electronically to the central ministries of the New Administrative Capital.

This comes "in order for these villages to benefit from the latest mechanization, digitization and modernization that will be applied in the state's government apparatus," the statement read.

TMG, Tahya Misr Fund, Health Ministry Sign Vaccine Protocol to Support Provision of 4 Mn Doses

Egypt's Ministry of Health yesterday signed a cooperation protocol with the state-run Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) fund and Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), to support providing four million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, enough to inoculate two million citizens, according to a statement released by the ministry.

Tamer Abdel-Fatah, executive director of the fund, said that it had received donations of about EGP 160 million ($10.2 million) to date from businesspeople and investors to help low-income groups obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.

Abdel-Fattah added that an account has been designated in all Egyptian banks under the account number 037037 to receive donations to deal with disasters and crises, while the fund is also receiving contributions from outside Egypt through its website, tahyamisrfund.org.

Health minister Hala Zayed previously said that AstraZeneca will start supplying Egypt with COVID-19 vaccine doses in the third or fourth week of January.

Egypt has secured 20 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

The minister said on Monday that Egypt will also negotiate with various other companies, adding that negotiations are currently underway with Pfizer to obtain its COVID-19 vaccine.

She previously said that the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) has cleared Chinese Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. 

Earlier this month, Qalaa Holdings Chairman Ahmed Heikal and Egyptian Cement Group CEO Ahmed Abou Hashima announced the donation of EGP 30 million ($1.9 million) and EGP 2 million ($127,660) respectively to the Tahya Misr fund, to help distribute coronavirus vaccines to the most vulnerable. 

Similarly, in April, TMG donated EGP 25 million ($1.5 million) to the fund, to reduce harm caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

Around EGP 1 Mn in Coins Produced Daily to Meet Market Needs: Finance Ministry

Around EGP 1 million ($63,838) in coins are produced daily to meet the market's need, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the ministry said that around EGP 30 million ($1.9 million) in coins are delivered nationwide each month, to meet the needs of government bodies and the private sector, including supermarkets and retail chains.

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has ordered a sustained supply of coin reserves, especially during peak season -- including holidays -- to avoid a bottleneck in demand.

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Egypt's House of Representatives New Speaker Hanafy El-Gebaly

Judge Hanafy El-Gebaly Elected Egypt's Parliament Speaker

Egypt's House of Representatives elected Judge Hanafy Ali El-Gebaly by majority as its speaker during its opening session on Tuesday.

El-Gebaly won over MPs Mohamed Salah Abu Hemela, Ahmed Abdel-Hakim Youssef and Mohamed Madina, who had also nominated themselves for the speaker position.

He won 508 of the 587 votes cast, of which 576 votes were valid and 11 invalid.

El-Gebaly has been serving as the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court since 2018.

MPs also elected Mohamed Aboul Enein and Ahmed Saad Eddine as deputies to the speaker.

The new parliament’s speaker was born in 1949 in Cairo, and graduated from Cairo University's faculty of law in 1975.

El-Gebaly earned his master's degree and PhD in law from Ain Shams University.

The new Egyptian parliament yesterday witnessed its first legislative session of the year by decree of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The outgoing parliament's five-year term ended on Saturday.

The legislative session was headed by prominent writer Farida El-Shobashy, the eldest member of parliament. She was aided by two deputies, Fatma Ahmed and Abanoub Ezzat, the two youngest MPs.

The current parliament has achieved the highest ever rates of female representation, El-Shobashy said.

El-Shobashy is the second woman to head the parliament's legislative session, said Mahmoud Nafady, president of the parliament`s press division, in an interview with Al-Hayat channel's Al-Hayah Al-Youm program.

Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik yesterday informed El-Gebaly that three newly elected MPs have died.

El-Gebaly memorialized the deceased members and announced the availability of their posts.

Parliamentary elections were held between October and December, with pro-government Mostaqbal Watan sweeping both the party and individual lists.

10 Egyptian Doctors Die Due to COVID-19 Within Past 48 Hours

The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has announced the death of ten doctors due to the coronavirus in the past two days, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths among medical staff to 303.

Among the fatalities were Dr. Ahmed Rashed, gynecology consultant in Beheira, Dr. Ibrahim Yassin Ibrahim, plastic surgery and burns consultant and former deputy director of El-Sahel Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Hassanein, an internal medicine doctor, and Dr. Amjad Ragheb, consultant and head of the urology department at Sednawi Hospital in Cairo.

Earlier this week, the syndicate announced the death of Health Ministry Undersecretary Hamdy El-Tabbakh from the coronavirus.

Egypt Records 970 New Coronavirus Cases, 55 Fatalities

Egypt reported 970 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections since the outbreak of the virus in mid-February to 151,723.

The health ministry also reported 55 fatalities as the total death toll has reached 8,304.

The ministry added that 423 patients had been discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 119,635.

TikTok Personalities Haneen Hossam, Mawada Eladhm Acquitted of Violating Family Values

Cairo's economic appeals court has acquitted TikTok personalities Haneen Hossam and Mawada Eladhm of violating family values and inciting debauchery.

The two women were previously sentenced to two years in prison and fines of EGP 300,000 ($18,761). Hossam was arrested on April 21, and Eladhm on May 14.

In June, the public prosecution referred the defendants to the criminal court on charges of assaulting Egyptian family and societal values, inciting girls through direct broadcasting to commit human trafficking, posting immoral videos and encrypting their phones and social media accounts. 

Hossam has 1.2 million followers on TikTok, while Eladhm has 3.1 million followers on TikTok and 1.6 million followers on Instagram, making them two of the most popular Egyptian TikTok personalities.

Hossam angered Egyptians with a video posted on social media that called on girls to share their pictures on the short video sharing platform Likee and make friends in return for money.


Handball: Hosts Egypt Kick Off World Championship Against Chile

Hosts Egypt open today their World Championship campaign against Chile at Cairo's 30-year-old venue.

Egypt's group also includes Sweden and Macedonia, who replaced Czech Republic at the last minute after the latter withdrew due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The top three will advance to the main round.

The expanded 32-team tournament will be played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 concerns. Late yesterday, the United States also withdrew after 18 players were infected.

The World Championship will run from January 13-31. It will be played in four venues in Cairo, 6th of October city, the New Administrative Capital east of Cairo and the country's second biggest city of Alexandria.

Aston Villa's Egyptian Winger Trezeguet Contracts COVID-19

Aston Villa's Egyptian winger Mahmoud Trezeguet said he tested positive for COVID-19, which would delay his return to action after more than a month of absence.

"After needing 6 stitches due to a head injury, I suffered a [muscle] tear and a hamstring injury in quick succession and I was absent for a month," Trezeguet said on Twitter.

"And then after rehabilitation and after my return to training, I was infected with the coronavirus. Thanks God for everything."

Trezeguet is one nine first team players at Villa to test positive as the club were hit with an outbreak. Five staff members were also infected.

The club played with academy players in a 4-1 loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup last Friday and had their Premier League game against Tottenham, initially scheduled for today, postponed.

Trezeguet hasn't scored in ten appearances with Villa so far this season but has provided two assists.


Dhi Yazan bin Haitham Designated Oman's First Crown Prince

Dhi Yazan bin Haitham, the eldest son of Oman's ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, has been named the country's first crown prince per a law that was published in the official gazette yesterday.

The law aims to establish stability in the transition of power from one ruler to another.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq's predecessor, Sultan Qaboos, had no publicly designated successor, and secrecy over Sultan Haitham bin Tariq's succession drove uncertainty about the future of Omani politics.

Dhi Yazan, 30, was designated culture, sport and youth minister in August, becoming Oman's youngest minister.

Kuwaiti Cabinet Submits Resignation to PM

Kuwait's government ministers yesterday submitted their resignations en masse to Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, after MPs on January 5 submitted a motion to question the premier in the new assembly's first regular session next week, the country's Center for Government Communication (CGC) announced.

This comes "in light of the current developments in the relationship between the National Assembly and the government and what the national interest requires," the CGC said, without further elaboration.

Al-Sabah is expected to submit the ministers' resignations to the OPEC member state's ruler, Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, for approval, according to local media reports.

The premier is set to be questioned at a parliamentary session on January 19, over allegations that the government interfered in electing the speaker of parliament and its members, and formed a cabinet that does not reflect poll results, according to the motion seen by Reuters.

Ethiopia Warns Sudan Over Military Build-Up in Disputed Border Area

Ethiopia yesterday warned Sudan that it was running out of patience, as the latter continued its military build-up in a disputed border area despite Ethiopia's attempts to address years-long border tensions through diplomatic negotiations between the two countries.

"How long will Ethiopia continue to resolve the issue using diplomacy? Well, there is nothing that has no limit. Everything has a limit," Ethiopian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dina Mufti told reporters at a briefing in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, Sudanese Culture and Information Minister and Government Spokesman Feisal Mohamed Saleh denied allegations that his country wanted war with Ethiopia.

Feisal did, however, say that Sudan would respond to any aggression.

"We ask of Ethiopia to stop attacking Sudanese territory and Sudanese farmers," he told Reuters.

Disputes center on agricultural lands in the Al-Fashqa region, which falls within Sudan's international boundaries, yet has historically been settled and cultivated by Ethiopian farmers.

In December, Sudan said that it had taken control of all of Sudanese territory in the disputed region.

Word Bank to Invest $5 Bn in 11 African Countries

The World Bank will invest $5 billion across 11 African countries in the next five years, aiming to boost agricultural production and improve livelihoods as those countries work on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to World Bank Group President David Malpass, the investments will help countries deal with climate change and loss of biodiversity between now and 2025.

The 11 countries set to receive investments are Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

The investments will help fund agriculture, water, food security, landscape restoration and renewable energy.

Iran Is 'New Afghanistan' for Al-Qaeda: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Al-Qaeda has established a new home base in Iran, much like it did in Afghanistan, without providing hard evidence.

"Al-Qaeda has a new home base," Pompeo told a group of officials at the National Press Club. "It is the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a result, [Osama] bin Laden's wicked creation is poised to gain strength. We ignore this Iran-Al-Qaeda nexus at our own peril."

The New York Times last November reported that Al-Qaeda leader Abu Muhammad Al-Masri, who was accused of helping to bomb two American embassies in Africa in 1998, had been shot dead by Israeli operatives in Iran. Iran denied the report, saying that there were no "terrorists" from Al-Qaeda on its soil. 

Pompeo said at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington that he was publicly announcing for the first time that Al-Masri was killed on August 7, 2020.

He added that his presence in Iran was not surprising: "Al-Masri's presence inside Iran points to the reason that we’re here today ... Al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Trump Excluded From Future Business With Deutsche Bank: Report

US President Donald Trump and his companies have been excluded from doing business in future with Deutsche Bank, the New York Times reported citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter, days after a mob of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building. 

Deutsche Bank is considered Trump's biggest lender, with around $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization, according to filings made by Trump to the US Office of Government Ethics in July.

Christiana Riley, head of Deutsche Bank's US operations, condemned the violence seen from Trump supporters in a post on LinkedIn last week.

"Yesterday was a dark day for America and our democracy. Violence has no place in our society and the scenes that we witnessed are a shame on the whole nation ... It is my hope that these shocking events will result in a reinvigoration of the principles our nation was built upon," she wrote.

Trump, however, denied responsibility for his supporters' violent in the US Capitol building.

"If you read my speech ... what I said was totally appropriate," he told reporters before heading to Alamo, Texas to visit the border wall, as members of his staff encouraged him to burnish his legacy by highlighting his campaign against illegal immigration.

The visit marks Trump's "completion of more than 400 miles of border wall -- a promise made, promise kept -- and his administration's efforts to reform our broken immigration system," said White House Spokesman Judd Deere.

This comes a week before Joe Biden's inauguration, which is set for January 20.

Virus Roundup: India Kicks Off Vaccination Campaign on Saturday

India, the world's second most populated country, plans to kick off its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Saturday, as Indian airlines began to deliver batches of vaccines yesterday.

The country plans to inoculate 300 million of its most vulnerable citizens over the next six to eight months.

Switzerland's drug regulator Swissmedic has approved Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, the second vaccine after Pfizer's to be approved in the country, amid plans to secure up to 1.5 million dozes in the next month.

The US has decided to release millions of coronavirus vaccines that the country was holding back for second shots in efforts to distribute the vaccine to all citizens over the age of 65, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

The Google News initiative has launched a global fund aimed at countering misinformation on coronavirus vaccines with $3 million.

The fund aims to back journalists' efforts to verify information on vaccines.

Canada's most populous province, Ontario, yesterday declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of the coronavirus and bring the daily case toll under control.

The new restrictions, which will be enforced from Thursday, require residents not to leave their homes unless for essential activities, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to five people.

Canada and the US have decided to extend the closure of their border to non-essential travelers, ongoing since March, for 30 days to end on February 21, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.

Tunisia will enforce a four-day lockdown from Thursday to curb a surge in coronavirus cases.

The country will impose a curfew from 4pm to 6am, while educational institutions will close until January 24.

The number of coronavirus cases has hit over 91,374,300 worldwide, with more than 22,771,300 cases in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

The global death toll from the virus has surpassed 1,956,400, with more than 379,300 deaths in the US.

Arab Markets
Egypt EGX30 11,339.75 +0.54%
KSA TASI 8,884.46 +0.17%
UAE ABU DHABI ADX 5,258.17 +0.40%
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World Markets
US Dow Jones IA 31,068.69 +0.19%
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France CAC 40 5,650.97 -0.20%
Japan Nikkei 225 28,393.30 +0.81%
China HANG SENG INDEX 28,262.40 -0.05%
US Dollar 15.61 15.71
Euro 18.98 19.10
Sterling 21.23 21.37
Saudi Riyal 4.16 4.19
UAE Dirham 4.25 4.28
Kuwaiti Dinar 51.39 51.85
Swiss Franc 17.54 17.66
Oil Brent USD/bbl. 57.40 +1.45%
Wheat USD/bu.Mar 2020 668.25 +0.49%
Gold USD/t oz. 1,859.51 +0.26%
Gold Egypt LE/ oz. 1,859.47 +0.23%
Silver Egypt LE/ oz. 25.55 -0.05%

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