Opinion – Daily News Egypt https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 22 Jan 2020 19:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Sultan Qaboos … A wise peacemaker in volatile region https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2020/01/15/sultan-qaboos-a-wise-peacemaker-in-volatile-region/ Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:04:32 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=719355 For 50 years, Qaboos was the founder of renaissance in Oman, his rule was characterised by wisdom, and resulted in a balanced policy that was rarely present in the world.

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“Omani people … I will work as quickly as possible to make you live happily in a better future … Each of you must help in this duty … Our country was in the past famous and powerful, and if we work in unity and cooperation, we will restore our past again and reach the prestigious place in Arab world”.

Through the aforementioned words, late Sultan Qaboos bin Said addressed the Omani people in his first speech after he took over the throne of the Sultanate on 2 July 1970.

From this date until his death, in January, Qaboos worked to fulfil this promise of massive reforms and achievements in various political, economic, military, social, and cultural fields.

For 50 years, Qaboos was the founder of renaissance in Oman, his rule was characterised by wisdom, and resulted in a balanced policy that was rarely present in the world.

Qaboos was born on 18 November 1940 in Salalah city as the only son of Sultan Saeed bin Taimur bin Faisal Al Said. He received primary and secondary education in Salalah, and in September 1958 his father sent him to the United Kingdom where he continued his education in a private school.

In 1960, he joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he spent two years, which is the prescribed period for training, there he studied military science and graduated with the rank of second lieutenant, then joined a battalion operating in the Federal Republic of Germany at the time for six months.

Afterwards, he returned to the United Kingdom where he received training in management style in the local government, he also completed specialised courses in administration and state organisation affairs.

Then, he made a 3-month tour around the world, during which he visited many countries.

After returning to his country, he deepened for six consecutive years in the study of the Islamic religion, and everything related to Oman’s history and civilisation.

This study had a great impact in expanding awareness of his responsibilities and granted him the opportunity to know many political and philosophical ideas of many thinkers who shaped the world.

Qaboos had wide interests, as this was demonstrated in his great and continuous support for many cultural projects locally and internationally, whether through UNESCO or other regional and international organisations.

Moreover, Qaboos was interested in changing Oman to an advanced state while preserving the identity of Oman, and in this context, Qaboos’ interest in culture was the most prominent thing in his rule.

Among the most prominent of his projects in Oman are Sultan Qaboos Encyclopaedia of Arabic Names, as well as some projects of Al-Azhar University, the Gulf University and a number of Arab and international universities and scientific centres, in addition to the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation, which is provided every two years through UNESCO.

Qaboos transferred Oman from the traditional tribal rule to the systemic democratic rule, by establishing the state’s advisory council, and after several years he replaced it with the Shura Council, whose members represent all regions.

The Shura council is an advisory entity supervised by a higher executive body known as the Oman Council.

One of the most important achievements of Sultan Qaboos is that he established a government based on democracy, so he began to form an executive authority consisting of an administrative body that includes the cabinet and various ministries, in addition to the administrative and technical departments and specialised councils.

Good Neighbourliness

Sultan Qaboos clarified the main lines of his foreign policy, and stated that it is based on good-neighbourliness, non-interference in their internal affairs, friendly relations with other countries of the world, stressing positive neutrality.

Unprecedented Local Development

Locally, he established schools in all parts of the country, built a large numbers of hospitals, clinics and medical centres in all parts of Oman and provided them with all their needs of doctors, equipment, tools, and medicine, and expanded oil production, in addition to cement factories, fish canning factories, dates, and other products.

Sultan Qaboos encouraged farmers and worked on developing agricultural methods and transferring them from old traditional methods to modern methods that rely on modern machinery and equipment, so the country produced all the food it needs; wheat, vegetables, fruits,… etc., and exports the surplus its need fresh or after packaging it to neighbouring countries.

Sultan Qaboos has also achieved his country’s cooperation with the rest of the Arab Gulf countries in the common defence field and in achieving various economic projects.

Taha Sakr is a political affairs journalist and news reporter, with seven years of experience in TV and newspapers. Sakr’s works featured in Daily News Egypt, Cairo Post, and Egypt Independent.

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The Investment Management Industry takes on AI and Big Data https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2020/01/12/the-investment-management-industry-takes-on-ai-and-big-data/ Sun, 12 Jan 2020 10:30:41 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=718885 In the words of many industry heavyweights, artificial intelligence (AI) is the “new electricity”.  Researchers have made tremendous strides in building the ultimate “seeing, hearing, and understanding” machine in recent years. But, while many are referring to AI as the new electricity, others are calling big data the “new oil.” Big data is often referred …

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In the words of many industry heavyweights, artificial intelligence (AI) is the “new electricity”.  Researchers have made tremendous strides in building the ultimate “seeing, hearing, and understanding” machine in recent years. But, while many are referring to AI as the new electricity, others are calling big data the “new oil.” Big data is often referred to as “structured data” and “unstructured data” or “alternative data”. Unstructured data is from sources that are not currently used or not yet mainstream. And, in comparison to structured data, which is data that is digitized and stored in relational databases, unstructured data often uses images or voice formats and are readily processable.

CFA Institute published a report called “AI Pioneers in Investment Management” which explains how investment managers are beginning to use AI and big data as part of their day-to-day work.

William Tohmé

The survey results indicate that, in fact, few investment professionals are currently using programs typically utilized in machine learning (ML) techniques. Most portfolio managers continue to rely on Excel (indicated by 95% of portfolio manager respondents) and desktop market data tools (three quarters of portfolio manager respondents) for their investment strategy and processes. Moreover, only 10% of portfolio manager respondents have used AI/ML techniques in the past 12 months, and the number of respondents using linear regression in investment strategy and process outnumbers those using AI/ML techniques by almost five to one.

The big takeaway is that the investment industry is still in the very early stages of adoption of AI techniques and related technologies. That said, approximately one fifth of analysts and portfolio managers report participating in AI/big data training, so we can expect to see changes coming soon.

So, what is holding investment professionals and investment firms back from realizing the full power of AI and big data? We identified five major hurdles, which form a pyramid for investors to overcome.

Hurdle #1: Cost.  Launching an AI and big data capability can involve significant upfront cost as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Small firms may find it increasingly difficult to compete in the age of AI and big data.

Hurdle #2: Talent. College graduates with basic programming and statistics training, not to mention those with advanced degrees in AI or related fields, are already very popular with employers in the age of AI. It seems very few of the top AI talents want to work in the investment industry, and companies need to develop compelling opportunities for people with these skills to attract them from the big tech companies.

Hurdle #3: Technology. We are at the beginning of the AI revolution, and technology is still fast evolving. Staying current with the latest developments is a real challenge.

Hurdle #4: Vision. There will likely be sweeping changes in the investment industry driven by advances in AI and big data technologies in the coming decades. Strategic vision, leadership commitment, and collective ownership of IT deployment will be essential for firms to succeed in the future.

Hurdle #5: Time. Any progress, no matter how small, often takes a significant investment of time, among other things.

The technology function in future investment teams will likely require different skill sets than those required today. In particular, data scientists, in addition to computer engineers, will become important.

To recap, we have identified three key uses of AI in investment management: (1) using natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, and voice recognition to efficiently process text, image, and audio data; (2) using machine learning (ML), including deep learning, techniques to improve the effectiveness of algorithms used in investment processes; (3) using AI techniques to process big data, including alternative and unstructured data, for investment insights. CFA Institute believes that successful investment firms of the future will be those that strategically plan on incorporating AI and big data techniques into their investment processes. And successful investment professionals will be those who can understand and best exploit the opportunities brought about by these new technologies.

By William Tohmé, Regional Head of Middle East and North Africa at CFA Institute, and Larry Cao, Senior Director of Industry Research, Asia Pacific, CFA Institute

Caption: Hurdles in Ascending the Fintech Pyramid

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2020 vision: The Focal Point for Egypt https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2020/01/12/2020-vision-the-focal-point-for-egypt/ Sun, 12 Jan 2020 09:30:24 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=718876 Inflation is likely to stay in single digits in 2020, so there is still scope for rates to fall further, possibly to 11.5% by 2020-end and 11% in early 2021.

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Three years after the start of Egypt’s economic reform programme, many easy gains have been made. The country has shifted, via painstaking measures, to a more sustainable macroeconomic position. A key measure of this success is lower inflation. Inflation has fallen from 33% to a decade-low of 3.1% as of October 2019. Foreign reserves have more than doubled from $17.5bn in 2016 to around $45.4bn in December 2019, representing 8.2 months of import cover. Moreover, the currency has appreciated by almost 12% from EGP 18.0 to EGP 15.95 per US dollar in 2019 alone, while interest rates have been gradually cut throughout the year from 18.75% to 13.25% and are nearing the pre-floatation level.

Ahmed Hafez

Inflation is likely to stay in single digits in 2020, so there is still scope for rates to fall further, possibly to 11.5% by 2020-end and 11% in early 2021.

Another positive is that the process to remove the petrol subsidy is pretty much complete, and the debt to GDP ratio is on a downwards path.

We remain strong advocates of the Egyptian story – it is a growth market supported by favourable demographics and an ongoing broad-based reform programme that is starting to bear fruit.

With inflation remaining below the 10% level and private investments showing signs of recovery, having climbed to 4.5% of GDP in fiscal year 2019 (excluding oil & gas, power and real estate) from 3.6% in the previous year, we believe 2020 should see much-improved consumer demand growth on stronger job creation and expanding real incomes. In our view, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) recent move to increase the retail debt burden to 50% from 35% should further support private spending, especially when it comes to discretionary goods.

The Egyptian government is also fully aware of the country’s industrialisation potential, with what seems like a growing emphasis on supporting the private sector and empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Bank management teams are generally upbeat, with budgeting for loans for capital expenditure kicking in as early as the first quarter of 2020. We are also excited about the CBE’s recent initiatives, including the EGP100bn subsidised funding programme, which could unlock investments worth 4% of the GDP.

Daniel Salter

With a population of over 100 million, and an improving economic outlook, we find that consumer-oriented industries, such as food, healthcare, and retail, as well as infrastructure-related businesses and financials are where investors should seek opportunities.

Exports are also looking good given the renewed cost-competitiveness of Egypt and the presence of businesses that are well positioned to benefit from the continued infrastructure spending, investment, and the new export support programme.

Growth in the short term is likely to continue to be investment driven, with the CBE’s monetary easing throughout 2019 helping to spur private sector spending.

It is hoped that this will trigger the transition from offshore gas-driven growth to a stronger consumer and bank lending story and help trigger a virtuous cycle of domestic and foreign investment in the wider economy.

Egypt is already attracting foreign direct investments, and in 2018 it received $7.9bn. Although this may be below the targets the government set out to achieve, it remains more than any other country in Africa.

Already, there is some acceleration in private sector investment growth, alongside a steady pick-up in system-wide household lending data, which is assuring.

With these factors in place, the economy is well positioned to grow 5-6% or more in 2021 and 2022, in our view.

We will watch the investment story closely to assess how enthusiastic we should be on Egypt on a multi-year basis.

On valuations, Egypt is trading on a 12-month forward P/E of 9.2x, a sizeable discount to the 12.9x multiple for global emerging markets and 5% below its long-term average of 9.7x; the market offers a 12-month forward dividend yield of 3.2%. In terms of performance, MSCI Egypt is up 36.4% year to date (in dollar terms), outperforming EM, which is up 14.6%.

Egypt is well owned by frontier funds (average allocation 10% Egypt), but only 26% of actively managed global emerging market funds we monitor have any exposure. Aside from an improving consumption and investment story, we believe that unlocking global emerging market money will be key for the market to exit the current trading range.

By Daniel Salter, Ahmed Hafez, and Charles Robertson

Renaissance Capital Research

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The ongoing pursuit https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/27/the-ongoing-pursuit/ Fri, 27 Dec 2019 15:02:33 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=717554 What Denzel stated sets some sort of challenge to the mainstream idea about how the world operates, how people succeed and how people become happy

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In one of his talks, Denzel Washington said, “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” He is talking about this sort of ease that leads to lethargy; it is when everything is at hand, that one may not even bother to try. Trying incessantly has almost always been the key behind great breakthroughs. Tawfiq Al Hakim (1898-1987), the founder of contemporary Egyptian drama, wrote more than 50 plays. His success was not an act of just the passion to succeed; he was reading around 100 pages every day in different languages. Had not he worked that hard, he would not have achieved that much.

What Denzel stated sets some sort of challenge to the mainstream idea about how the world operates, how people succeed and how people become happy. The main theme of many pop self-help books like “the Secret” by Rhonda Byrne is based on the belief of the law of attraction, which assumes that thoughts can change a person’s life directly. I wish it were that easy. The same applies to another mainstream idea that you can be happy because you deserve to be happy, or because you decide to be happy. I wish it were that simple.

Life is neither easy nor simple. It is entangled and complicated. Every single story is linked to other stories that make it even more entangled; it has got many layers, and everyone is linked to another, which makes what Einstein said, “ What is incomprehensible about the world is that it is incomprehensible” fathomable enough. We cannot just claim that life is easy because we think so, or we want to be popular, or because I can use an anecdote to prove what I am saying. When we set rules, we base them on patterns, not one single story, and that is why we cannot copy people’s life or follow what they have done and expect to get the same results. There is no manual that is based on other people’s stories. People’s stories are their own stories and these stories, whether successful or not, are based on many layers and circumstances that are almost impossible to copy. When you ask a happily married couple about marriage, their response would be different than those who are miserable in their married life, or if you inquire about someone’s experience in a foreign country, you would get diverse responses that are totally dependent on their own experiences there, but then again these are different people’s stories, so it would be too hard to benefit or even learn lessons from their own life, unless you study the whole context, but then you cannot repeat the same exact story with all its details. 

Change is a process; it is almost never a decision. So, it is not merely a law of attraction or a decision to be happy, the process is much more detailed and sophisticated than this. Stephen Covey (1932-2012), the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” explained that the cycle of change begins with an idea and that leads to a decision and then a practice phase where so many people fail to continue, if you don’t pass phase three you can’t get to the desired end. In this phase, change is basically linked to hard work which is the core of the story.

Covey resembles this to the law of the farm, where we have to prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water it if we expect to reap the harvest. You don’t reap anything if you just decide, or hope or wish or mentally focus on what you want; the process is long, hard, and arduous. It is easy to tell people you can change if you want to, but then the story is much more sophisticated. It is not merely about the vibes, there are deep layers to life. The core is to consistently practice what you are aiming to achieve, to really walk the talk, to get deeply immersed in the craft, profession, project or relationship you desire until it becomes part of you. Still, success is not guaranteed, it is an ongoing pursuit. There is a risk factor that is shaping the pursuits we are after in life. We have to embrace that factor so that we may master that change we are hoping for.

Sherif Rizq

M.A International Relations, University of Bedfordshire

Author, Trainer 

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Wadaan Misr … https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/21/wadaan-misr/ Sat, 21 Dec 2019 11:06:04 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=717002 Egypt has been, and continues to be, a true land of hope and opportunities, and I was glad to be able to contribute a small part - as the EBRD Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region  and Head of Egypt - to some of the many positive changes that have taken place in the country.

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It’s time to say goodbye to Egypt, my wonderful home for the past three years, to my amazing Egyptian colleagues and friends, and the many people from all walks of life across the country I was fortunate enough to meet and interact with during this time. 

Egypt has been, and continues to be, a true land of hope and opportunities, and I was glad to be able to contribute a small part – as the EBRD Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region  and Head of Egypt – to some of the many positive changes that have taken place in the country.

During my time here, Egypt also became an impressive success story.

 

Over the past three years, the EBRD invested more than 3.5bn Euros in the country, in almost 80 projects across all sectors of the economy, with a focus on infrastructure, energy, and banking.

 

And more than 60% of our investments were for the benefit of the private sector and thousands of large and small companies.

 

Such was the magnitude of our activities, that Egypt became the EBRD’s largest recipient country in 2018 which is an extraordinary achievement in itself.

 

But investments have not been an end in themselves and it was not just the bold figures that have been important to us.

 

Even more importantly, we aim to improve the lives and employability of the Egyptian people by supporting the provision of better public services, cleaner and more reliable energy, as well as technical assistance and vocational training to corporates.

 

For example, our S$150m funding to the governorate of Fayoum will give access to clean and healthy sanitation services to more than one million citizens. The investment is also expected to facilitate the creation of 30,000 jobs and to improve employment opportunities for women in one of Egypt’s neediest regions.

 

Millions of commuters across the whole of Egypt will benefit from our $ 350m loan to the Egyptian National Railways for the purchase of 100 locomotives. This investment will also facilitate women’s access to infrastructure and services and will generate improved economic opportunities for a very important segment of society, half of it to be more precise.

 

One project that especially stood out was the S$ 500m programme for the development of renewable energy in Egypt. In partnership with other financial institutions and foreign investors we were able to bring to life one of the largest solar parks in the world, and Africa’s largest, the Benban solar park in Aswan.

 

As a matter of fact, almost half of our investments in Egypt over the past three years supported the country’s transition to a cleaner and greener economy and society.

 

The development of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) segment has been a priority for the EBRD in Egypt, since these are a major source of job creation, and I am particularly proud of the work we have done to support them.

 

We have worked with several Egyptian banks to reach out to as many SMEs through trade finance and other financing facilities, including support for Women in Business, young entrepreneurs, and energy efficiency.

 

With the generous and essential support of the European Union, we provided valuable business advisory services to hundreds of small Egyptian firms, which helped them grow and create new jobs.

 

During my time here, we also opened a new office, in Alexandria, being the first international financial institution to establish a presence outside of the national capital.

 

This is our second office in Egypt, after Cairo, and showed just how committed the EBRD is to reaching out to Egypt’s regions.

 

We will keep increasing our presence across the country by opening new offices in Assyut, Ismailia, and Suez in the very near future.

 

Of course, many of these achievements would not have been possible without the commitment to reform and strong cooperation with the Egyptian Government.

 

And I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr Sahar Nasr, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation and EBRD Governor for Egypt, and her all-star team at the Ministry. They have been extraordinary partners in good deeds for the economic development of Egypt that helped us make significant progress on many policy issues and investment projects.

 

I am confident that I am leaving behind a country with enormous economic potential which, with the right policies in place it can be materialised and will benefit the whole of society.

 

While I am leaving Egypt, the EBRD will stay and continue to be a strong and trusted partner of the country and its people.

 

And I will be coming back, every now and then as a friend and admirer to witness what other good developments the future holds for Egypt. 

Janet Heckman is the Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the country head of Egypt since February 2017.

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This is how Egypt can fulfil its powerful economic potential https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/21/this-is-how-egypt-can-fulfil-its-powerful-economic-potential/ Sat, 21 Dec 2019 11:04:31 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=717001 Egypt could be part of the G20 powerful group of nations by 2050.

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That is according to a forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which predicts future GDP growth as measured by purchasing power.

The country has undoubtedly made significant economic progress over the past three years as it emerges from a challenging period which has included substantial economic reform and a currency devaluation.

Now, the country has been described as the “best reform story in the Middle East”. And it has the fastest growth rate in the Arab world, almost rivalling India.

For Majid Al Futtaim, the potential we saw many years ago in Egypt is being realised and today the country is recognised by investors and government partners alike as a compelling investment destination.

Having invested in Egypt for two decades, it is our strong belief that investors should sit up and take notice of the outsized potential of this emerging market.

Growing momentum

A significant part of Egypt’s enormous potential is underpinned by the secular trends of positive demographics, urbanisation and middle-class potential.

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world. It is blessed with a young and well-educated population who are digitally savvy and ambitious. This generation will drive the country’s economic renaissance unleashing significant amounts of disposable income and demand for high quality goods and memorable experiences.

The World Bank reports that retail and real estate sectors are among key drivers of Egypt’s growth. But it’s not just domestic demand that is driving overall growth. Last year was also a record for Egypt’s important tourism industry with 11 million visitors to the country. Tourism receipts surged to $14bn , the biggest increase ever for an industry that has been attracting visitors for 4,000 years. 

In a further endorsement of the country’s rich cultural heritage, The Independent ranked Egypt at the top of the list for travel recommendations in 2020.

In my view, the momentum we are witnessing across diverse sectors of the economy is representative of the deeper confidence reposed in Egypt, not just from tourists, but from consumers, domestic and foreign investors, and bilateral and multilateral partners.

At Majid Al Futtaim, we have invested EGP 26bn in the country across a range of sectors including real estate, retail, leisure and entertainment. We are excited by our future pipeline of projects that will enable us to put additional capital to work bringing our deployed and future investments to EGP 44bn .

If investors were to consider Egypt as a true G20 economy, we could well envisage other private sector partners deploying similar amounts of capital as we have done. Consider the possibilities for economic and social progress if Egypt were to receive EGP 500bn in investments. 

The opportunities, in my view, would be transformative.

Standing out from the crowd

Smart investors will take the long view, looking as far out as 2050, or even beyond. But what does it take to understand and capture the opportunity? In my perspective, there are three primary factors.

First, investors must dig deep into the nature of the market. A local lens is critical for success. For example, there are many opportunities for new retail offers in the country, which is one of the most underpenetrated in the world.

Second, customer experience is critical. You need to think about both the customer experience, as well as the sustainability of the assets that you create.

Third, differentiation is critical. Millennial and next generation customers will be more discerning and more demanding than the generation before because they’re more connected to the world. T

A collaborative approach

As we shape these investments, we must anticipate the size of the future opportunity, making sure that what we create now is fit for purpose in 10 to 20 years’ time.

The Egyptian government has laid out a clear vision for growth and private sector collaboration. In our view, private capital and public partnerships must work together to ensure that economic and social developments in Egypt benefit the communities they serve.

A thriving society

At Majid Al Futtaim, we don’t just build for profit but for the positive impact that our assets and offerings will have on communities. We innovate to create bespoke experiences that have a positive economic and social impact and one that will be long-lasting.

We take a view that all developments play a big role in improving people’s health, well-being and overall lifestyle. This is hugely important for each individual concerned, including our 7,400-strong team in Egypt, the 126,000 indirect jobs our investments created over the past five years, and the 37 million customers we serve in our assets.

I am looking forward to playing our part in this incredible growth story, and seeing Egypt become one of the world’s leading economies. The time is right and the opportunity is now.

Ahmed Galal Ismail is the Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Properties

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Breaking down barriers in an evolving digital payments ecosystem  https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/21/breaking-down-barriers-in-an-evolving-digital-payments-ecosystem/ Sat, 21 Dec 2019 10:58:22 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=717000  In today’s world, a mobile device is like holding the world in the palm of your hand. It serves as a gateway to life-enriching experiences, such as capturing moments with family and connecting with friends. It also means we can find information, share opinions, buy items and pay bills easily. In short, this digital and …

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 In today’s world, a mobile device is like holding the world in the palm of your hand. It serves as a gateway to life-enriching experiences, such as capturing moments with family and connecting with friends. It also means we can find information, share opinions, buy items and pay bills easily. In short, this digital and mobile era has opened up huge potential for financial outreach.

According to the GSMA, two-thirds of the population use a mobile phone – which is the equivalent of 5.2 billion individuals worldwide. Even though there has been a slowdown of growth in the more developed regions, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region is expected to see the fastest subscriber growth rate globally after Sub-Saharan Africa, growing to 459M unique mobile subscribers and up from 318M in 2018.

This massive mobile user growth has resulted in the accelerated adoption of financial services without needing to have a bank account. In the Middle East and Africa (MEA) there are over 445 million mobile money wallets versus 286 million bank accounts.

Mobile has paved the way for a revolution in digital payments

MEA is a very diverse and dynamic region across most industry sectors and verticals, with significant variation in mobile phone usage across the region’s countries. The more advanced GCC countries boast a subscriber penetration rate of more than 77%. T

It’s no surprise that policymakers in both developed and developing MENA countries are getting involved in providing the necessary regulatory framework and infrastructure required to support the growth of digital finance in the region. The central banks of Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, KSA, Jordan and Pakistan have adopted specific initiatives to deregulate digital payment services.

Telecommunication companies, digital service providers and electronic retailers – giants that are not traditional financial service providers – are increasingly looking to diversify their business models by offering financial services. According to the GSMA, mobile money providers that offer savings, credit or insurance products have on average 24% higher revenue per user and 19% higher activity rates than those that don’t. 

Consumer needs are also changing, and consumers don’t want to be treated as numbers 

Given the new wave of mobile users will be a mobile-only generation, consumers increasingly expect access to a comprehensive suite of digital/mobile financial products and services, powered and delivered by the personalised consumer experience and user interfaces via mobile only.

While person-to-person, bill payments and cash withdrawals represent the most common uses for digital financial services today, consumers are demanding more benefits, such as secure access to a global online marketplace, easy and affordable access to credit facilities, or working capital in the case of small businesses.

The non-traditional financial service providers are investing to understand these evolving consumer needs by offering a full range of digital financial services to their customer base.

But taking advantage of opportunity is sometimes easier said than done

As non-traditional financial service providers look to scale and differentiate at speed, they are challenged by the fragmented barriers that currently exist i.e. the legacy infrastructure, integrating with multiple FinTechs and delivering a superior consumer experience. They are often required to procure and manage multiple third-party fintech partnerships across each element of the digital commerce ecosystem, the end result could be a disjointed consumer experience.

However, as Wayne Dyer said “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

With an impressive base of consumers, merchants and agents, these companies represent the movers and shakers in the digital payments industry, some examples include Telecommunication Operators, Digital Merchants and Payment Facilitators and Fintechs.

They are fueling the unprecedented growth currently being seen in the digital financial services space. In the region, this transformation of mobile financial services can already be seen through products such as Careem Pay in the UAE.

A key ingredient to the success of these companies lies in their ability to offer innovative solutions to their customers in the most efficient and consumer-centric way.

Amnah Ajmal is the Executive Vice President, Market Development, Middle East and Africa at Mastercard

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US presidential election, then and now https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/21/us-presidential-election-then-and-now/ Sat, 21 Dec 2019 10:30:23 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=716971 Lyndon B. Johnson was elected Vice President as John F. Kennedy’s running mate. However, on November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President

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As the 2020 United States presidential election approaches, it is very informative and inspirational to look at and compare the present US political situation with our current and 60th president with Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), the 36th president of the United States. Although Trump has promised to restore America to the great nation it used to be, it is evident that all of Trump’s promises and proposed policies are methodically dismantling American democracy. In fact, the actions of Trump and his team are in direct contrast to the civil rights gains achieved under Lyndon Johnson just over 50 years ago. Admittedly, LBJ was a master politician, who knew how to get legislation through, and he had an impressive plan that made significant changes in the lives of American citizens, even those disadvantaged and discriminated against.                                                                                                           

Lyndon B. Johnson was elected Vice President as John F. Kennedy’s running mate. However, on November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President. He was president for the remainder of the term — a period some call “the accidental presidency”. Nonetheless, he came to office with a vision to build a Great Society for the American people. It was this vision that enabled him to defeat republican Barry Goldwater in the presidential election of 1964  in one of the largest landslides in U.S. history. Hence, ‘the Great Society program’ was Johnson’s agenda for Congress in January 1965. This agenda included aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, and removal of obstacles to the right to vote. During Johnson’s presidency, more than 200 major bills were passed focusing on social programmes. For the first time, African Americans were appointed to the Supreme Court and presidential Cabinet. He also established the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  Moreover, under Johnson, the USA made spectacular explorations of space in a programme he had championed since its start. When three astronauts successfully orbited the moon in December 1968, Johnson congratulated them: “You’ve taken … all of us, all over the world, into a new era”. Fairly, “The Great Society” enacted the most social progress since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. However, despite all his accomplishments, Johnson’s legacy remains closely attached to the nation’s problematic entry into the Vietnam War.

  Robert Schenkkan’s The Great Society, starring Brian Cox as president, depicts this crucial era in American history with all its peculiarities, sensitivities, and vulnerabilities.  Definitely, it was an era that would define US history forever: the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the creation of some of the greatest social programmes America has ever known. Obviously, The Great Society is a sequel to Schenkkens’s play All the Way, which told the story of Lyndon Johnson’s unexpected appointment as president immediately after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As a follow to the first part, The Great Society takes place between January 1965 and December 1968, focusing on the struggles that Johnson went through during his second term. It is a typical historical drama, and the characters on stage are fictionalised portrayals of real people. Actually, the play managed to represent a live picture of American society during that time : the violence in  the United States during Johnson’s presidency ; the  major riots  in Harlem, Los Angeles, Mississippi, and Atlanta; police violence by using flashbangs and tear gas; the unforgettable shouts of  the white supremacists “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate”; and African-American citizens’ peaceful marches under Martin Luther King.  Sometimes, the dialogue on stage has been copied directly from speeches or papers written by political figures.

     Like Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, Playwright Robert Schenkkan presents LBJ as a statesman of vision and experience, who could keep a stable relationship with many people, including Martin Luther King, bringing to life his vision of a ‘Great Society’ including domestic programmes for health, education, bills to address poverty, and civil rights. He is depicted as a hero who spent his vast political capital on the war on poverty and racism not because of elections, but because he saw America’s inequality as a stain on the country. However, his escalation of the Vietnam War led to his tragic end as he declined to run for a second term in office, and retired to his Texas ranch in January 1969.

    Indeed, there’s something inspirational about Lyndon Johnson especially, in today’s climate, where presidential elections are portrayed as a game of winners and losers and not as a system designed to benefit the actual population. The Great Society played its last performance in 2019 a few days ago, and is scheduled to be played on Contra Costa Civic Theatre, California, U.S. in May 2020, only a few months before the presidential elections.

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee of Cairo International Festival  for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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Snap Elections in Britain…. What’s Next? https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/09/snap-elections-in-britain-whats-next/ Mon, 09 Dec 2019 15:00:33 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=716044 A Technical Analysis

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As December 12th is approaching and with it Britain’s seventh snap election since the beginning of the 20th century, the biggest question that comes to the mind of most Britons is: “Will it change anything?” – “Will it bring along a parliamentary composition able to overcome the Brexit-Conflict?” or “Will it even deepen the ongoing country’s political crisis since 2016?”

Well, everybody with a basic background in elections will know that to the most of likelihood it’s going to be “Same ole Same” and a different approach will be needed to find a hole in the wall of the dead end back alley Britain’s politicians from all wings combined have driven their country into.

Why is that so?

First of all, the eight seats the Tories are short of for the absolute majority they previously held might not seem to be that significant at first glimpse, but even if we were to assume that the most added votes will come concentrated from specific regions and not widely spread across the country, a repetition of the conservative’s 2017 winning pattern would still require at least 360,000 new supporters (about 45,000 per seat) without losing any. Maybe even more should their geographical distribution be unfavorable. After all they, are not the Scottish National Party (SNP) who can make a seat out of every 28,000 votes because they are winning almost all of Scotland without any serious competition except some minor areas in the Northeast and the Middle of the Scottish Highlands and the area of Lothian. The latter went to the Libs in 2017.

What Johnson really needs is heavy wins in West Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex and regaining at least some ground in the counties surrounding Leeds and Manchester. In all of those, Johnson’s party will probably find it difficult to even maintain its previous results, let alone improving them.

London itself will constitute another major challenge to the Tories. Their 33% of 2017 is probably as good as it gets. The best they were ever able to score there in the last 15 years was their 2015 high of 34.9%, which is not at all likely to reoccur on December 12th.

Worse, this time even the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not rush to the Tory’s aid with their 10 or so seats, given the differences on Johnson’s newest Brexit-Deal.

But as utterly unpromising as it looks for the Tories, Labour shouldn’t expect too much also. They may have very well already maxed out whatever it is that they can win with 40% of the vote (their highest since 2001) and a gain of 32 seats in the House. They would need to convince Liberal Democrats in the Northern part of Hampshire and Northeast Surrey to switch sides. Corbyn’s rather radical discourse will not exactly promote that.

While some new votes may still come out of Tory-Land Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire, they will hardly suffice to induce any significant change unless Labour can also make something out of the Conservative strongholds of Cornwall and Devon. Right now there is no reason to assume that this could actually happen.

So, what’s next?

A meaningful coalition, having more than just simply a mathematical majority that can effectively govern and push through whatever sort of Brexit or No-Brexit Deal seems to be some sort of daydreaming. Even an absolutely crazy constellation of Tory/Lib Dems/DUP would have no more than 350 – 360 votes combined, therewith producing some 55% of the House with a severely unstable coalition that in most cases is more likely to disagree than to agree.

For better or worse, Johnson might have to form a minority government that at best can be suitable for working on a new retirement policy or different health care plans, but deciding Britain’s future for at least the next half of a century should be way out of its scope.

Sure, the 51.9% leave Brexit-Vote itself had a margin that couldn’t possibly have been slighter but a referendum that determines a simple “Yes or No” kind of question is something entirely different than forging alliances that are supposed to make actual politics.

Naturally, Labour is as far away from governing as it can possibly get with gaining another 90 seats being impossible and a coalition with the SNP (which first would have to regain the 19 seats it lost in 2017 and then win some additional ones) being ridiculous. Maybe the Scots don’t want to leave the EU, but going Labour would be political suicide for the SNP.

The Welsh “Plaid Cymru” and Irelands “Sinn Fein” and the “Green Party of England and Wales” will probably continue to NOT play any real role in British politics except for the occasional speech in parliament.

Hence, bottom-line is this, Johnson will face severe complications in passing his “all new Brexit-Deal” as he calls it, without the blessings of the DUP and the Liberal Democrats. Recent indicators would rather point to the opposite at this point in time.

The only advantage Johnson can possibly have out of the snap elections he called is that whatever harm may come to Britain in 2020; he can always blame it on the others.

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary is a Political Economist

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Public-Private Partnerships: a method to attract  investors https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/09/public-private-partnerships-a-method-to-attract-investors/ Mon, 09 Dec 2019 14:00:32 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=716041 The contractual nature of PPPs acts as a powerful incentive to ensure that this long-term perspective is put into practice: the public sector can no longer procure infrastructure assets while failing to maintain them properly. At the same time, the private sector has incentives, as their capital is exposed to performance risk, to design and build these assets taking into account the costs of longer-term maintenance and renewal.

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Many governments are turning to the private sector to design, build, finance, and operate infrastructure facilities hitherto provided by the public sector. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) offer policy makers an opportunity to improve the delivery of services and the management of facilities.

The other benefit is that of mobilising private capital: the estimated demand for investment in public services shows that government and even donor resources fall far short of the amount required. For this reason, access to private capital can speed up the delivery of public infrastructure.

Governments are also turn to partnerships with the private sector as a means to improve the procurement of public services. The PPP process usually requires information about the true long-term cost of service delivery, which generates a more realistic debate on project selection. By improving the identification of a project’s long-term risks and the allocation of those risks between the public and private sectors, the PPP process enables a more efficient use of resources.

The contractual nature of PPPs acts as a powerful incentive to ensure that this long-term perspective is put into practice: the public sector can no longer procure infrastructure assets while failing to maintain them properly. At the same time, the private sector has incentives, as their capital is exposed to performance risk, to design and build these assets taking into account the costs of longer-term maintenance and renewal.

PPPs require governments to think and behave in new ways that require new skills. They can be a tool for reforming procurement and public service delivery and not merely a means of leveraging private sector resources. PPPs are more than a one-off financial transaction with the private sector. They need to be based on firm policy foundations and long-term political commitment.

Private sector partners look for these factors when deciding whether or not to bid for a project.

The other challenge for governments is the fact that resources are usually less readily available for the activities that lay the foundations for a successful PPP than for project-specific procurement activities. However, without the right policies, institutions, and processes, the transactions that follow often fail.

Although most forms of PPP involve a contractual relationship between the public and private parties, the long-term nature of these contracts creates a strong long-term mutuality of interest. PPPs are not just a step in the procurement process, given their long-term nature, they differ from traditional procurement contracts, which often are associated with a short-term “claims culture.”

The PPP programmes in more mature operational contracts show that in many cases the parties can recognise this mutuality of interest without adversely affecting the mechanisms in the formal contract that determines performance.

PPP- In Egypt: President Al-Sisi’s Administration & Great Achievements:

Referring to PPP Law No. 67 of 2010, which remained locked up in the box without activation, the Sisi administration at the time developed a number of strong legislative policies that did not activcate the PPP system until Investment Law No: 72 / 2017. afterwards, the Sisi adminstration succeeded in liberating governmental bodies from obstacles and restriction in partnering with the private sector, for example under article 48 of law No 72/ administrative authorities that had assests were permitted to participate in the private sector by the PPP’s system and other types of the partnership. The Sisi administration also passed law No: 182/2018 for the organisation of contracts for public authorities while also giving the term ‘corruption’ a clear and legal definition for the country to abide by, but only to have law repealed in Law No: 89 /1998 for  Bidding & Tenders.

Recent legislative developments in Egypt have played a major role in attracting more investors and putting Egypt on the global map of long-term investments.

President Al-Sisi has done great achievements through major projects such as road, energy, and social housing. Many other areas of development like health, education, agriculture, and industrial prodution are considered a qualitative and historical leap to push Egypt among the ranks of the major countries and comes to fruition in the modernisation of infrastructure, public services, and utilities in record time.

Dr. Ahmed Alkalawy is a legal expert and the Managing Partner of Kalawy and Partners

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Never mind Brexit, hot London property market takes off as Middle East Investors attracted to solid fundamentals https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/09/never-mind-brexit-hot-london-property-market-takes-off-as-middle-east-investors-attracted-to-solid-fundamentals/ Mon, 09 Dec 2019 13:00:40 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=716030 Just as important, activity is being driven by pent-up demand and rock bottom interest rates.
Just as important, activity is being driven by pent-up demand and rock bottom interest rates

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Prime Central London residential house prices are forecasted to appreciate by 20.5% over the next five years with rents in the capital increasing by 18.8% during the same period according to recent Savills Research.

The prime London residential and commercial property market has demonstrated extraordinary strength and resilience despite political turmoil following the referendum on EU membership. As Britain heads towards a general election on 12 December and with Brexit still hanging in the balance, demand is rising for both residential and commercial property in the capital’s most prestigious post codes. Reasons for the upward trajectory include the sterling discount and, for residential, the ending of earlier weakness linked to stamp duty increases.

Just as important, activity is being driven by pent-up demand and rock bottom interest rates.

In its latest report on the fourth quarter of 2019, global property consultancy Knight Frank noted residential prices in prime central London (PCL) have declined by an average of 14% over the last four years, and this has compensated for higher rates of stamp duty. When combined with the effects of a weaker UK pound, and compared with June 2016, the date Britain voted to leave the EU, overall discounts of more than 25% were recorded by Knight Frank to be available for residential buyers whose cash is denominated in a range of overseas currencies.

Transaction activity has shot up in 2019 with Knight Frank reporting 11% more residential transactions between January and September compared to the same period last year.

Middle East investors continue to show tremendous interest in PCL homes, attracted by the significant value created by Brexit uncertainty.  This sentiment is underpinned by recent Savills Research, which forecasts that residential house prices are expected to grow by 20.5% over the next five years.

A prime example of this demand is the Battersea Power Station development, a £9bn urban regeneration project set within 42 acres along the River Thames.  Over the last 12 months alone it has sold more than £120m of properties with a significant percentage going to Middle East investors.

The residential lettings market is also powering ahead, which is driving wider Middle Eastern investor demand for Battersea Power Station’s properties. The tenant fee ban, which was introduced in June, has further driven residential demand by reducing upfront costs. Knight Frank said the number of new prospective residential tenants who registered in September 2019 increased by 29% compared to the previous 12-month period, the highest rise in more than ten years. The number of tenancies agreed above £5,000 per week rose by 20% to 146 in the year to September, indicating how demand in the highest price brackets has strengthened in response to political uncertainty. Conversely, the number of residential tenancies agreed below £1,000 per week in PCL increased by 42% in the year to September, the largest rise of any price-bracket.   Longer term, according to Savills Research, rental costs in London are expected to grow by 18.8% over the next five years.

In commercial, particularly on the occupier (tenant) side, data has shown demand a staggering 77% ahead of the long-term average. More than half of space in the office-supply pipeline – space under construction – is already pre-let.

Demand is being driven by the dearth of commercial space, and strong demand from domestic and overseas businesses, eager to expand.

A strong London job market has fed through to demand for commercial as well as residential. Knight Frank said the finance and banking sector has added 14,000 net new jobs over the last three and a half years, while the technology sector has added 1,000 new jobs every month for the last five years. These remain the core sources of demand for the occupier market.

New trends have emerged – such as the willingness of prospective office tenants to look beyond the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf. So-called emerging London markets such as Battersea, White City, and the Southbank are growing in popularity. Those three areas are being transformed by the opening up of new transport links. Big names are moving in.

Apple has announced plans to move staff from various sites around London to a 500,000 square foot London Campus in the restored Battersea Power Station, which, when complete, will offer 3m square feet of commercial space with 250 shops and restaurants, leisure space and cinemas, all set within 18 acres of public realm.

The City of London also got a boost this summer when Goldman Sachs opened its new £1bn European headquarters.  Supply shortages have fed through as banks have been nervous to lend and developers have been slow to bring on new schemes. So demand is far outstripping supply especially as fears of jobs moving to the continent because of Brexit have failed to materialise.

Let’s face it, London has access to one of the most diverse talent pools in the world, the English legal system – highly respected globally – as well as the English language and the unrivalled British education system.

With other geographies experiencing their own problems, Hong Kong, and the Middle East come to mind, London is regaining its position as a safe haven for both overseas and domestic buyers. 

Despite the UK’s current uncertain political outlook, the London property market is soaring ahead. And although the future is difficult to predict, the momentum looks unstoppable.

Andrew Jones is the International Director of Battersea Power Station

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MAAT celebrates its 20th anniversary with contemporary dance festival https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/12/03/maat-celebrates-its-20th-anniversary-with-contemporary-dance-festival/ Tue, 03 Dec 2019 11:30:25 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=715555 For two weeks, and under the name “20 Years Maat”, the festival brings all sorts of dance art, including dance performances, special dance classes, live music events, screenings, and talks, to celebrate dance with as much passionate people as possible.

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Celebrating 20 years of enriching the world dance scene with some of the most unique artists, MAAT|Cairo Contemporary Dance Centre (MAAT|CCDC) will hold an art festival on 7 December.

For two weeks, and under the name “20 Years Maat”, the festival brings all sorts of dance art, including dance performances, special dance classes, live music events, screenings, and talks, to celebrate dance with as much passionate people as possible.

The platform was launched by Egyptian artist and UNESCO Dance Council member Karima Mansour.

The CCDC is the very first independent contemporary dance company in Egypt. For 20 years, the company produced more than 20 performances that travelled the world under the direction of Karima Mansour. They also participated in more than 20 collaborations in theatre and cinema and produced more than 25 performances by young Egyptian and foreign choreographers.    

MAAT also provides the chance for passionate dancers to learn through a number of free classes, attracting people from different backgrounds and from all ages. The festival will also host a discussion about the current contemporary dance scene in Egypt with a number of “professionals from all parts of the larger dance community who will lay out and explore important topics related to the field,” according to a statement published by Maat.

On one of the nights of the celebration, the company will host a performance by the dance school’s talented alumni. The performers are a number of underprivileged children who were fostered by a number of foundations and were taught how to express themselves through the arts and dancing.

“In recent years, MAAT|CCDC opened its doors to children and teens from different underprivileged backgrounds in order to share artistic experiences with them within a safe environment. This helps them to   develop their individual creativity by engaging in group activities that expand their personalities and increase their self-esteem,” the school said in a statement.

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Black Americans castigate Capitalism https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/17/black-americans-castigate-capitalism/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 16:42:37 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=714193 Capitalism only feels safe when it is ruled by whoever owns capital, whereas democracy, on the contrary, is the rule of the majorities who have neither capital nor reasons to identify with the needs of capitalism

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The marriage between  liberal democracy as  a political system and capitalism as an economic system is the telos which all states worldwide are moving towards all the time. We’ve long been told that  capitalism and  democracy are the twin ideological pillars capable of bringing unprecedented prosperity and freedom to the world. However, the relation between democracy and capitalism has always been a tense one, of even total contradiction. Obviously  democracy is egalitarian, while capitalism is inegalitairian, at least in terms of outcomes.

Capitalism only feels safe when it is ruled by whoever owns capital, whereas democracy, on the contrary, is the rule of the majorities who have neither capital nor reasons to identify with the needs of capitalism. Moreover, it is evident that capitalism has failed as a social system. Today, the majority of people view capitalism as an inhumane, anti-democratic, unsustainable, and deeply exploitative system that must be dismantled. They blame capitalism for the  crises in housing, healthcare,  and falling wages. Less than two decades into the twenty- first century, it is evident that capitalism is held responsible for variety of major societal ills. Apparently, the world has become mired in economic stagnation, financialisation, and the most extreme inequality in human history, accompanied by mass unemployment and underemployment, precariousness, poverty, hunger, wasted output,  and lives.

In the meantime, there is a large gap between the aspirations of the broad masses of people and the reality of the world’s economies. Their aspirations are for better and more secure jobs, while the private sector needs less restriction on its hiring and firing.

They want a system that is fairer but their notions of fairness are at odds with those that prevail in capitalist societies. In fact, there have always been critics of capitalism, but there is now a sense that the displeasure is spreading. Capitalism has become markedly less popular among the younger generations. The modern idea of socialism, which has roots in Greek philosopher Plato but emerged as a popular political idea in the early 19th century among German radicals like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has become increasingly popular among young people in the past several years, especially  following Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’s underdog run for president, and the authoritarian creep  of the ultra-capitalist, anti- socialist Trump regime.          

      American playwright Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman, currently on the Piccadilly Theatre in  London, is one of the early plays in which Capitalism is criticised and rejected, and an alternative, socialist community and system of values are pointed to. The play tells the tragedy of Willy Loman, the  protagonist of the play, who served more than thirty six years for a company named Wagner Firm. The firm  was a smaller, unknown one, but due to the hard work of Willy Loman, going state to state representing his firm, brought the firm a great reputation and lifted it to its present position.  Now, Willy is sixty four years old  and cannot drive much.  He plans  to work at the corporate office in New York, but the owner of the company denies him his right on the pretext that  he is no longer productive. The play hit the American stage in 1949 and won the New York Drama Critics award and the Pulitzer Prize, the highest literary award in the world, sening  Arthur Miller to the status of the greats of American dramatists. However, the play is more relevant now than at its first staging in 1949. When it premiered, victory from the second world war was still fresh, and people had no worries about their jobs being sucked away by a rising superpower, chewed up by changing technology, or wiped out by economic collapse. Remarkably, Miller proved to be prophetic in his dark view of the future facing the common man under the capitalist system. A lot of things that Miller was concerned about have gotten a lot worse today.

Seventy  years ago,  he forecasted today’s tragedy, in which workers are treated as something  disposable, and loyalty  between  employers and employees have become a thing of the past. He smartly linked two major entities in human life: economy and society, introducing modern capitalism as being corrupt and anti- social. He introduced capitalism as a failure system that is unable to spread happiness among individuals in society, uncovering the illusions of this ideology.                                                                                                                                           

           Nonetheless, what is new about the present revival of this timeless play is approaching the capitalist system in connection with the Afro-Americans. This current performance of  “Death of  a Salesman”, starring Wendell Pierce, is noteworthy because the four members of the Loman family are all played by black actors, while the other key roles are played by white performers. In point of fact, the African American relationship to capitalism has been central to the system since its earliest stages of growth. From its earliest establishment in America, capitalism has been guilty of enriching its private fortunes out of the most savage robbery of the   people, and their most ruthless exploitation of the labour power both during the era of chattel slavery, and throughout the span of the century since emancipation. Doubtlessly, the casting gives a new dimension to the 1949 play, accusing capitalism of promoting racism, classism, and oppression.

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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Bridging the skills gap in Africa https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/17/bridging-the-skills-gap-in-africa/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 16:30:45 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=714194 In Africa, unemployment remains a core issue, affecting even those with tertiary qualifications in some parts of the continent. Many of our educational institutions are keen to teach students the skills required to operate in the digital economy

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Empowering Africa’s youth to leapfrog towards a better future

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, and it is shaping up some of the most significant opportunities and challenges of our lifetime. The surging high-tech sharing economy is transforming jobs, policies, industries, and entire economies as we witness our digital and physical worlds continue to merge.

At the core of this digital transformation is the ongoing adoption of new emerging technologies. It is imperative for technology companies not only to bring these technologies safely to the world, but also equip societies and the workforce with the essential skills for this disruptive era.

In Africa, unemployment remains a core issue, affecting even those with tertiary qualifications in some parts of the continent. Many of our educational institutions are keen to teach students the skills required to operate in the digital economy. This is where the private sector must step in. After all, helping Africa’s 1.2 billion people prepare for the fourth Industrial Revolution is good for society and Africa’s youth.

CEOs rank investment in people as the number one way to accelerate performance

In the next three years, as many as 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled as a result of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation. This is according to the latest IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study titled The Enterprise Guide to Closing the Skills Gap. According to the research, the time it takes to close a skills gap through training has increased by more than 10 times in just four years.

In 2014, it took three days on average to close a capability gap through training in the enterprise, while in 2018, it took 36 days. In addition, only 41% of CEOs surveyed say that they have the people, skills, and resources required to execute their business strategies.

In 2016, executives ranked technical core capabilities for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), basic computer and software/application skills as the top two most critical skills for employees. Looking at that statement now, it’s obvious “basic computer skills” just aren’t going to cut it any longer.  A recent survey of business leaders by the World Economic Forum on Africa says around 42% of the core job skills required today are set to change substantially by 2022.

We know the challenge, but what are we going to do about it?

It is imperative to have a holistic approach to close the digital skills gap. We need to focus on reskilling our workforce through development that is personalised, multi-modal, and built on data. Educational journeys that are tailored to experience level, skills, and career aspirations will be the key to success. To fuel those journeys, private companies should take a cue from the emerging knowledge economy – they should take advantage of an ecosystem of partners to expand their access to content and leverage innovative learning technologies for their existing and future markets.

The IBV study recommends that those journeys be delivered through experiential learning. The course material must come to life within organisations through new ways of working, agile teams, and hands-on practice served up in the flow of work. But it’s not just employees who should benefit. Maintaining a dynamic and diverse workforce involves upskilling potential employees too – women, youth, recent graduates, and school leavers.

When we share our knowledge freely, we create both corporate and public good.

Around half of Africans are under the age of 25. This presents an enormous opportunity for tech companies to equip young Africans with the digital skills necessary and prepare them for today’s job market. Empowering people means growing economies, as well as a healthier and more productive population.

IBM’s online learning platform, Digital-Nation Africa is one example of how big corporates can help close the skills gap across the continent. The cloud-based online self-paced learning and innovation platform is designed to empower Africa’s youth to develop their technology and innovation skills and address three major gaps: Skills, innovation, and jobs.

That said, no one company can tackle upskilling African youth on its own. Partnerships are the fuel that will drive the continent’s development forward. The IBM Skills Academy, part of the IBM’s university programme, is an example of collaboration with more than 340 universities across Middle East and Africa to focus on skills and careers that are in high demand in today’s market.

IBM has already used its learning platform to power public-sector efforts in upskilling the workforce. IBM has also collaborated with both Egypt and Morocco’s Pathways in Technology (P-TECH), to empower African youth with new skills for today’s sought-after jobs. That includes “new collar” jobs, where having the right skills matters more than having a specific degree.

Africa’s greatest resource is its youth and the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit – born of necessity – is now ready to leapfrog towards a better future.

Takreem El Tohamy is the General Manager of IBM Middle East and Africa

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Swiss play solves Trump’s riddle https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/08/swiss-play-solves-trumps-riddle/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 15:30:44 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=713370 This was always the way with the most controversial president in the American history, who represents a political riddle for both Democrats and Republicans. Ironically, till the present moment, the Democrats have little understanding of how he won the elections of 2016

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Somehow it always comes differently than you expect when dealing with Donald Trump. A few days ago, the US House of Representatives voted to formalise its impeachment inquiry against President Trump after his infamous call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the popular former television comedian who took office in May. During that phone call, Trump perhaps improperly used his position to try to coerce Zelensky into investigating Trump’s 2020 political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, by withholding military aid to the Eastern European country. This vote is a historic event as it is only the third time in modern history for the House of Representatives to take a vote on an impeachment inquiry into a sitting president. However, this vote revealed that there is an obvious divide in opinion, although there were 232 to 196 in favour of the inquiry. Surprisingly, almost half of the House of Representatives did not support the impeachment inquiry against Trump. In fact, the “support” category does not mean that the member supports impeachment; it only means that he or she has indicated support for a formal investigation into the president’s actions. Thus, 43% views that there is no need to investigate the president despite all the evidence and all his erratic, unpredictable, and irrational actions, recognising the whole issue as a “political witch hunt”.

This was always the way with the most controversial president in the American history, who represents a political riddle for both Democrats and Republicans. Ironically, till the present moment, the Democrats have little understanding of how he won the elections of 2016. He insulted major voting groups like Latinos, when most Republicans were trying to gain their support. He wanted to deport 11 million immigrants. He wanted to stop all Muslims from entering the country.  He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals love him. He gave rise to various manifestations of racism more suited to a colonial society than a modern democratic state. He was even against his own party. Despite being the Republican Party’s nominee, Trump campaigned as a political outsider on a platform of eclectic policy ideas. Although the Republicans hate eminent domain, which refers to the power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use, and love the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP trade deal); he declared the opposite views on both. In fact, many Republicans don’t see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him, but don’t know how.

Apparently, Trump’s key to success lays in his Trumponomics, or his economic policies,  which were outlined in his campaign pledges, including trade protectionism, individual and corporate tax reform, and the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  According to a very recent economic report issued in September 2019 by the White House, the Americans of all backgrounds are experiencing economic success in the Trump economy. The report also emphasises that the strong Trump economy has created an environment where job opportunities are plenty and Americans are lifted out of poverty. These statements are also emphasised by both local and international media. According to the Associated Press, the poverty rate fell to 11.8%, the lowest annual level since 2001. Similarly, Washington Examiner asserts that the unemployment rate among black Americans hit a record low in August, narrowing the gap in unemployment rates between white and black Americans. Trump himself was also keen to brag about his economic achievements on his Twitter account on 9 September 2018. He tweeted, “Trump has set Economic Growth on fire. During his time in office, the economy has achieved feats most experts thought impossible. GDP is growing at a +3% rate. The unemployment rate is near a 50-year-low. Also, the stock market is up almost 50% since election!” Hence, it became clear that why he has lots of supporters despite of the fact that Trump has led the “most unethical presidency” in the US history, according to a scathing report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Obviously, in the age of Trump, people decided to sacrifice the principals of democracy and the Rule of law for the immediate financial gains, overlooking the destructive effects of their choice on the long run.

It is exactly this utilitarian view point that started to dominate our choices and our way of thinking in general that makes of Dürrenmatt’s most famous Swiss comedy The Visit (1956), the best choice or the next theatrical season. The play tells the story of Claire Zachanassian, an impenetrably terrifying woman, who returns to her hometown as the world’s richest woman. The locals hope her arrival signals a change in their fortunes, but they soon realise that prosperity will only come at a terrible price. The village has fallen on hard times, and the townspeople hope that Claire will provide them with much-needed funds. However, she offers the villagers the sum of one billion Swiss francs under the condition that someone kills the owner of the village shop. Of course, the comedy discusses big questions of justice and morality, but as we watch, it mainly makes us laugh, judge, and draw parallels to the current political scene. The main theme of the tragicomedy is also the utilitarianism, which is an ethical theory that distinguishes right from wrong with respect to outcomes. The school of thought believes that the most ethical choice is one which benefits the majority. In fact, thinking about difficult moral questions with the help of literature is more playful, and dissolves all limitations. In February 2020, Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner will debut on the National Theatre, London, a new adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, offering a post-war American context for his new version of the blackly comic masterpiece.

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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China’s booming economy will propel world economy with strong momentum https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/08/chinas-booming-economy-will-propel-world-economy-with-strong-momentum/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 15:00:52 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=713368 China remains the world’s biggest trader in goods, achieving a 2.8% increase in the first three quarters and more than RMB 22.91trn in total value

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In the latest biannual World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its economic growth forecast and expects global growth to be 3% in 2019 – the slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis. Nevertheless, China’s economy in the first three quarters maintained a strong momentum and has enjoyed an increase GDP of 6.2%. The IMF expected China’s contribution to world economic growth to be more than 39% this year. Against the gloomy backdrop of a weak world economy, China’s economy has shown remarkable resilience and will become the main force in stabilising world economic development. In the first three quarters, we have witnessed many highlights in China’s economic performance.

First, China’s main economic indicators were kept within an appropriate range. In the first three quarters, China’s GDP has topped RMB 69.78trn with a growth rate of 6.2%, which is well within the anticipated range. China remains the world’s biggest trader in goods, achieving a 2.8% increase in the first three quarters and more than RMB 22.91trn in total value. Against the worldwide shrinking international capital flow, China has utilised RMB 683.21bn foreign investment in the first three quarters with a remarkable increase of 6.5%, and remains the most attractive developing economy for foreign investors. 

Second, the shift from high-speed to high-quality growth has greatly improved the efficiency of economic growth in China. The figures in the first three quarters showed an optimising economic structure: consumption continued to play an increasingly important role in driving economic growth. With an increase of 8.2% in overall consumption expenditure, domestic demand has contributed 80.3% to China’s economic growth. Industry structure is upgrading with service sector’s contribution to GDP approached 54%. Growth in high-tech industries and equipment manufacturing reached 8.7% and outstripped other industries. New growth engines represented by new industries, products and business models keep emerging, with an average of more than 19,900 new enterprises established every day. New growth drivers such as modern supply chain, e-commerce, online finance, are now profoundly changing our mode of production and way of life, creating new strengths for China’s development.

Third, China’s economic success has greatly improved people’s livelihood. A further 10.97m new urban jobs were added, and the surveyed unemployment rate remained stable at a comparatively low level of around 5.2%. Per capita, disposable personal income grew by 6.1% in real terms, which kept up with the pace of economic growth. The share of consumption of clean energy such as natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, and wind power in total energy consumption in the first three quarters was 1.2 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year. The energy consumption per unit GDP went down by 2.7% year-over-year.

China is pursuing development at home while embracing the world. In the future, we have reason to believe that China’s economy will remain a strong engine for world economic growth. We sincerely invite global partners to share the benefit of China’s economic success through the platform Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by improving infrastructure, boosting trade and investment, improving people’s livelihood, and creating jobs. By the end of 2018, China had invested $28.9bn in countries along the BRI routes, paid $2bn in taxes to host countries, and created 244,000 jobs locally. In the first three quarters of 2019, the total trade volume between China and countries along the BRI routes has increased by 9.5%.

BRI cooperation between China and Egypt has been the flagship among African countries. Egypt is among the earliest in supporting BRI and is actively bridging Egypt Vision 2030 to BRI in strategies, plans, and mechanisms. Through joint efforts, major infrastructure projects like State Grid Upgrading, CBD in New Capital, 10th of Ramadan Railway were completed, and important platforms for investment cooperation such as TEDA-Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone were established. Up until now, China’s investment to Egypt has reached $7bn and created more than 30,000 jobs locally. The harvest has shown that BRI has no political strings attached or economic risks caused. The sole goal of BRI is to release the development potential of China’s partners in pursuing common interest. It is a road of peace and cooperation, a road of openness and inclusiveness, a road of mutual learning, and a road of mutual benefit.

The Chinese people believe that to establish ourselves, we should help others establish themselves since the world is one community. Amid surging protectionism, unilateralism, and populism, the world economy is faced with many uncertainties. But the more difficulties we encounter, the more important it is that we should shore up confidence, take the courage to shoulder our responsibilities and join hands to overcome the difficulties. China will embrace the world with open arms and join hands with global partners to build an open world economy. In celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, President Xi Jinping said, “we will hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and keep firmly to the path of peaceful development. We will stay committed to opening-up and work with people in all countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and to create a world bathed in peace and development.” Guided by Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China will forge ahead in its own development and endeavours to make more contributions to the world.

Xiao Jun Zheng is the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy to Egypt

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Democracy, Economy, and “Brexit” https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/08/democracy-economy-and-brexit/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 14:30:02 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=713360 What has quite apparently thus far so considerably delayed the implementation of the 23 June 2016 referendum’s results, are of course its economic implications over which no consensus seems to be reachable

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If it is ever done at all to begin with, it will at least still take some time until Britain has finally concluded its bidding farewell to the EU. January 2020 as a final date for the Brits to leave, which we have on the table right now, is far from certain, especially given the upcoming snap elections on 12 December, to which the kingdom’s parliamentary opposition has finally agreed only about a week or so ago. They triggered cynical remarks like “Nobody wants Jeremy Corbyn as PM, not even Jeremy Corbyn wants Jeremy Corbyn”. The Labours initial fierce resistance to come out of the “Brexit” deadlock by calling for new elections was short only of a Samuel Beckett play.

What has quite apparently thus far so considerably delayed the implementation of the 23 June 2016 referendum’s results, are of course its economic implications over which no consensus seems to be reachable. Some openly proclaim the outbreak of the British economy’s doomsday the moment the world’s most significant island leaves the continental block. Others do actually believe that it will do much better and flourish without too close of a cooperation with its European partners, even if that should mean a transitional period of suffering for the ordinary citizen as well as for smaller companies. The big guys already have safely deposited their funds offshore or are at least prepared to shift their investments to somewhere else. Let aside for the moment the general sense of cultural and national isolationism it would bring about. Someone here must have learned a lot from what the White House is doing recently.

Contrary to most economists, I personally tend to believe that every single additional day of delaying “Brexit” will eventually have a devastating effect on Britain and its economy. This is not necessarily because of such economy’s sovereign nature or for it being unusually strong on its own (actually it is neither), but because undermining the credibility and dignity of Britain’s longstanding democratic tradition will not at all promote investments or help redefining its role on the global economic stage.

Coming to think about it, it’s quite simple really: Almost a year and a half ago, the British people have given a vote through a democratic instrument asking their government to leave the EU. Full stop. That vote has to be respected and Britain just will have to go, with or without a deal. Nothing on earth can be naiver than arguing now that in the meanwhile the British voter has changed his mind or that at the time of the referendum, he wasn’t fully aware of his decision’s further reaching implications. First of all, because we don’t really know that – even better: We don’t know it at all – and secondly because by saying so, one automatically insinuates that at least half of the British population is not emancipated enough to take an educated decision. Nothing much encouraging also for companies and individuals who are looking for sensible ways to use their funds in the right place. That might not shy away investments in dictatorships where citizens are not involved in the decision. But in a democracy where the people decide, saying that they lack proper awareness is not the smartest thing to do if you want to attract fresh capital or retain as much as possible from the one you have.

Of course, scratching the “Brexit” plans now can also only be the result of a possible new referendum, hence a democratic process as well as some might claim. Now that sort of statement is not simply naive anymore, but rather “plain stupid”. Why? Because in a healthy democracy you cannot simply go on voting again and again over one and the same issue until you get the result your political and societal intelligentsia deems as suitable. That sort of elitist thinking does not at all work in the favour of democracy, nor in the best interest of the economy. Britons need to seriously ask themselves what kind of message they are conveying to the world here. Is it not that they are posing serious questions regarding the stability of their own legislature? A decision taken by the people has to be implemented no matter what or the international business community will think twice and thrice before booking a ticket to Heathrow or Gatwick. How secure, many will ask, is my investment or business in a country where even the most serious kind of democratically taken decision can be revoked with relative ease because it is not to the liking of “X”, “Y” or “Z”? Real stability sounds different, doesn’t it? Yes, I know, democracy can be a real pain in the neck, but well, that’s just how it is.

Realising such a simple truth shouldn’t have needed a guy who uses the same hairdresser like Donald Trump and currently lives in 10 Downing Street without actually having been elected. That in itself is harmful enough. Topping it now by instigating an essentially entirely undemocratic process – that at the end of day will only play into the hands of other top European politicians like Merkel and Macron – is suicidal.

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary is a Political Economist

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How can Egypt benefit from the roll-out of the 5G network? https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/02/how-can-egypt-benefit-from-the-roll-out-of-the-5g-network/ Sat, 02 Nov 2019 07:30:27 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=712725 Relative to gaining regional influence, the country’s prioritized instrument has and will continue to be the tourism sector as tourist’s arrivals increased by 30% in 2019

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Egyptian consumers and businesses have long anticipated the arrival of the 5G era in the country after the race of roll-out has created conversations around the world on its impact on various industries like healthcare, tourism, and much more. How will Egypt benefit from this specifically? It is expected to compose user experience through smart education, smart transportation to remote entertainment, and everything in between, for improved levels of performance, efficiency, and cost. It is additionally aimed to empower new user experiences and connect new industries utilizing automatic driving, holographic conferences, cloud VR.

Huawei, the global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, has had a leading role in the 5G area worldwide. They issued a white paper indoor 5G scenario which provides richer services and further extends industry boundaries, proving that it can assist enterprises to improve production efficiency and build smart production systems, such as smart factories, smart mines, and smart hospitals.

Relative to gaining regional influence, the country’s prioritized instrument has and will continue to be the tourism sector as tourist’s arrivals increased by 30% in 2019. The technological advances in attracting tourists will be sufficiently improved through services that are technically empowered. Imagine visiting the great pyramids of Giza and understanding the rich history through listening to tourist guides on 5G phones, or virtual audio guides, and enhancing this experience further through sophisticated applications with augmented reality. This digitalized experience is set to change the setting for tourists globally, providing a different level of quality.

Huawei has further developed a full range of 5G solutions and continuously innovates to achieve large-scale 5G commercialization by transmitting 4k 360 degrees real-time footage to be transmitted to VR Glasses. Transmitting such heavy content would not be doable except with 5G technology. This technology can be used for surveillance and touristic purposes. This new technology was showcased during their participation in the World Radio Communication Conference (WRC) held in Sharm ElSheikh, Egypt from October 28th to November 22nd.

As Egypt continues its journey of digital transformation, revolutionizing healthcare and medical services is imperative for the country to continue competing against other emerging markets in the region. 5G wireless networks will revolutionize healthcare providing more effective and lower-cost medical services. Through wireless communications, smart medical data collection will be more efficient and timely. 5G will provide access to the cloud, enabling the robot to communicate with patients and medical staff. When a patient boards a 5G connected ambulance, the doctor can use the in-vehicle medical equipment to complete medical examination like a blood test, ECG test, or a B-mode scan. This will save more time for rescuing the wounded and increasing the rate of treatment success.

As the government continues to place consistent effort to develop infrastructure through smart cities, 5G intends to play an important role in this evolution. The enactment of the network through smart building property infrastructure is just as important as water, electricity, and gas services. It will become the core of smart city evolution, meaning more possibilities for creating a digitalized industry. 5G will, in turn, provide a reliable, predictable network, enabling industry-centred applications to keep up with differentiated and deterministic requirements for various sectors.

To sustain the continuity of 5G in emerging markets, it is important to consider environmental sustainability in the process. With this set into consideration, we created solutions via 5G networks coordinating energy conservation. The innovative PowerStar solution enables coordinated energy consumption on multiple bands for various radio access technologies, which reduces site energy consumption by 15% or above, promoting sustainable and green 5G development.

Vincent Sun is the CEO of Huawei Egypt

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Politics of Brexit negotiations in Ten Times Table https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/02/politics-of-brexit-negotiations-in-ten-times-table/ Sat, 02 Nov 2019 06:00:43 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=712722 Those advocating for staying in the EU, on the other hand, emphasized that the financial advantages of EU membership, such as free trade and inward investment, far outweighed the costs of the membership

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The Brexit negotiations present a puzzle for scholars of international bargaining. Talks on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) may be the most complicated negotiation of all time as from the very beginning there were 180-degree opposite opinions on the same table. On the one hand, the brexiteers argued that leaving the EU would result in an immediate cost saving, as the country would no longer contribute to the EU budget, emphasising that the UK could compensate for any expected losses by establishing its own trade agreements. They also highlighted the principal of the national sovereignty and argued that Britain should “regain control” of its borders, because under EU law Britain could not prevent a citizen of another member state from coming to live in the UK. This policy resulted in a huge increase in immigration into Britain, particularly from eastern and southern Europe. Hence, most wanted a substantial cut in immigration because reducing the number of people coming to the country would mean less competition for jobs among those who remained and, potentially, higher wages. Most of them also emphasised the importance of leaving the EU for protecting the security of the state. Former work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said that Britain was leaving the “door open” to terrorist attacks by remaining in the EU, asserting that “this open border does not allow us to check and control people”

Those advocating for staying in the EU, on the other hand, emphasized that the financial advantages of EU membership, such as free trade and inward investment, far outweighed the costs of the membership. They also asserted that reducing immigration and limiting freedom of movement would dampen demand for goods and services, and it would also cause damaging skills shortages in the UK workforce. Even concerning the security issues, they argued quite the opposite, emphasizing that the EU was an increasingly important pillar of UK’s security, especially at a time of instability in the Middle East and in the face of Russian aggression.

Following 2016 referendum, in which 51.9% voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, starting a new and harsh phase of the negotiations, in which they began to discuss a withdrawal agreement. In fact, Both the UK government and the EU governing bodies clearly prefer to split with a deal and a more gradual separation process. To this aim, the two sides have spent nearly two years in the painstaking negotiation of the withdrawal agreement, which is now known as the  “Brexit deal”. Like in an actual divorce, the agreement sets the terms for splitting the assets, liabilities, and people shared across the two sides, leaving aside the numerous legal resolutions especially affecting commerce. However, on 5 January, Britain’s House of Commons rejected the Brexit deal by a stunning and unprecedented majority of 230. More than one third of Theresa May’s majority parliament members joined the opposition parties against the Brexit deal. Eventually, May’s Brexit defeats led to her political downfall, and she resigned her premiership in June. Presently, Boris Johnson, the bombastic outspoken champion of Brexit,  promised that he would deliver Brexit for the United Kingdom, “do or die,” by the current deadline of 31 October, asserting that he’ll achieve what May failed to do, muting the opposition by suspending the parliament , and opening the door for the sense of resentment and opposition to sweep away the forthcoming decision.

Obviously, Ten Times Table, written by multi-award-winning writer Alan Ayckbourn, currently on Newcastle Theatre Royal, tackles the Brexit dilemma with every detail in an insightful; hilarious way, revealing the politics of people sitting on a roundtable to negotiate. Although it’s over 40 years old as Ayckbourn premiered the play in 1977, but it’s strikingly topical in this difficult political time. The play revolves around a group of local members of the Pendon community who are brought together to organize a town pageant based on a lost piece of local history, the massacre of the Pendon Twelve. The committee comprises disparate characters with very different views. As the meetings progress, the group becomes ideologically divided with the left-wing side, led by a Marxist teacher, building it up as a political rally, and the right-wing side of the committee, formulating plans for a violent confrontation in response.  Finally, the pageant ends in a state of chaos due to their disputes.  In fact, the political wrangling and the chaotic climate of the play help in creating an incredible miniature model of the British parliament. 

In one of his interviews, Ayckborns says, “As we were rehearsing it, we were all turning to each other and saying, “My goodness me, it’s just like Brexit!” I think you can see how human nature doesn’t really change. Whether it’s on a committee or on an international scale, the weaknesses and faults of human beings still come through.”                                                                

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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The Service sector of high value motivates the Egyptian economy https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/11/01/the-service-sector-of-high-value-motivates-the-egyptian-economy/ Fri, 01 Nov 2019 20:45:27 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=712719 Since then, the form of international economy has been effective in development plans. In 2016, the list of the ten largest companies in the world included nine companies working in the field of technology, although the energy companies were at the top of the list in 2006

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American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor at Harvard University, Daniel Bell, introduced his economic vision for the services economy sector by refuting the coordinates of the post-industrial society. Economic development is materialized in the form of a services institution, a prosperous, and civilised society. A developed and fairer society.

The classical forms of economies are industrial, agricultural, and services forms. The general belief is that only industrial economy is the engine of economic development. But the international coordinates led to development tracks which gave the services and agricultural economies more privileges of economic stability and the capability of exporting competitiveness.

Since then, the form of international economy has been effective in development plans. In 2016, the list of the ten largest companies in the world included nine companies working in the field of technology, although the energy companies were at the top of the list in 2006.

Thus, that would change the international investment map in the midst of the coordinates of globalization, the artificial intelligence, and the fourth internet revolution, which depends on the internet and the fifth Internet generation, and not on traditional factories.

It is also noteworthy that China gained its status as the world factory because it achieves cheap manpower, industrial incentives, and the great production which is difficult to compete with in the midst of free market coordinates.

Some criticize the Egyptian’s government attention towards the services economy. But 80% of the US economy depends on services economy, and also 66% of India’s economy. In addition, 78% of the UAE, Singapore, and Hong Kong economies depend on the service economy. Also, 44% of Chinese economy depends on services economy, while 45% of its economy depends on the industrial economy. Thus, experts consider the Chinese economy imperfect for development because the services economy sector such as tourism, health, education, financial sector, construction, and communication sectors are considered the greatest providers of job opportunities, as the opportunities in the factories depending on technology would diminish in the future and the cost of its job opportunities would increase contrary to the services economy.

The recreation sector is considered one of the most profitable sectors worldwide, but it is classically classified in category of tourism, housing or after-sales services. Sometimes, it is classified in software or design category, and sometimes in illegal categories such the narcotics or pornography. The revolution of Steve Jobs, the founder of the US Company Apple depended on the I-Pod. Then the company acquired the cartoon film company, Pixar, which became the largest company in the Walt Disney Group.

The services economy has recently become the most important supporter of the development of the industrial sector that includes the after sales, maintenance, qualification, development services and software.

Concerning the Egyptian economy, the services economy creates 72% and assimilates 54.4% of the job opportunity total. While the industrial sector creates 17.7% and assimilates 30% of the job opportunities, but they would diminish in the future due to the fourth industrial revolution, which depended on robots and artificial intelligences as alternatives for manpower.

The best examples of successful sustainable development experiences, which achieve high-value economic development were carried out by USA and India. They include software designing and recreation depending on qualified human capital in order to provide services in accordance with international standards. The qualification of the human capital is achieved through health and education (services economy). The Egyptian economy depended for the previous decades on the services sector such as tourism, the Suez Canal, and the transfers of the Egyptians abroad. Thus, the human capital, represented in the Egyptian capabilities and expertise would form a high-value developmental model, which would make the services sector an engine for economic growth.

The path towards the high-value services sector begins by developing the human capital on all social levels, according to the international variables, concerning students and graduates alike just as what India did to develop education in order to achieve prosperity and the desirable development rates. Thus, without developing the human capital, we would face a future crisis, represented in the presence of a group which would a burden for more qualified groups to face the challenges of technology and job market.

The international competition in achieving sustainable development rates has become impossible due to the great competition between the countries. For example, Saudi Arabia aims at developing tourism, the UAE aims at developing industry, and African countries, such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, targets developmental projects, even if they were at the expense of other Nile Basin countries. The awareness and ambition of peoples towards development has become a motivation for governments in order to achieve different development examples. On the other hand, wars between major countries have become economic wars focusing on the technology sector (services sector) instead of traditional wars.

The development opportunity for the Egyptian economy in the services sector is available, and it is also necessary to develop the social capital in order to face the challenges and keep pace with developments, especially the technological ones imposed by the international economy.

Ehab Zakaria is the chairperson of Kasr El Salam – Real estate & Commercial investment

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History of Water in the Middle East on Stage in London https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/23/history-of-water-in-the-middle-east-on-stage-in-london/ Wed, 23 Oct 2019 17:12:39 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=711938   In fact, the Middle East is considered the most water scarce region in the world. The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region has only 1,100 m3 of renewable water per capita per year. For comparison, Western Europe has 5,400 m3 and North America 20,300 m31.

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  Water is becoming an increasingly scarce and strategic resource. Dwindling water supplies induced by global climate change, over-consumption, displacement and forced migration flows, technological deficiencies, and the absence of specific, long-term water security policies place an extraordinary strain on the world’s ecological resources and systems. It is claimed that water will preoccupy nations, governments, and international organisations in the 21st century. Some people go so far as to claim that it will be the “century of water”. In 1995, for example, former World Bank Vice-President Ismail Serageldin claimed that ‘the wars of the next century will be about water.” However, the water crisis in the Middle East is far more complex with political and historical dimensions.                                                             

 

Marwa El- Shinawy

In fact, the Middle East is considered the most water scarce region in the world. The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region has only 1,100 m3 of renewable water per capita per year. For comparison, Western Europe has 5,400 m3 and North America 20,300 m31. Hence, the increasing demand upon a limited supply has caused many regional conflicts over water. On top of that, since the evacuation of the British occupation from the Middle East, the region has never achieved stability. The establishment of the state of Israel, that dates back to the British mandate,  has led to further instability and created the political crisis of water in the region as control over the water- supply network has represented, since the very beginning, a national security issue for Israel.

In fact, the hidden reason behind the occupation of both the West Bank and the Golan Heights was to get the upper hand over the natural water supplies.  The conflict over water from the Jordan River and nearby aquifers has long been a tangled affair which has enmeshed Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank-Gaza Palestinians. Lebanon and Syria are upstream states and have the first chance at using the water, while Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank-Gaza are generally downstream, they must either take the water that is left or act forcibly to acquire the water they want. This conflict has lasted for decades and has been a part of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Thereby, water lies at the heart of Israel’s relationship with the Arab states, and poses one of the toughest challenges for peace in the Middle East.                                                                                                                  

   Moreover, one of the most distinguished characteristics of water crisis in the Middle East is using water as a pressure paper to solving other problems. In 1991, for instance, Israel announced that it will not withdraw from Lebanon without pledges to get its share from the water of Al- Litani River. In other words, even though the wars were not fought over water; allocations and agreements were always key issues on the negotiating table and an actual impediment to peace. Obviously, the latest crisis of the Ethiopian dam is a new part of this hidden and complicated strife that uses water as a political weapon to destabilise the region further to achieve political and economic goals, taking advantage of the fact that the water resources in Arab states are controlled by non- Arab states; namely, Ethiopia, Turkey, Uganda, and Ghana.                                                                                                        

This intertwined relationship between the water resources and the policy in the Middle East is the main topic of Sabrina Mahfouz’ “A History of Water in the Middle East,” currently on the Royal Court, London. The play explores how water in the Middle East has enabled British power through the ages; and how Britain still affects landscapes, lives, and legacies in the Middle East today. In a 70-minute show that journeys from Egypt to Dubai, Iraq to Jordan, Mahfouz explains how water has been used by Britain in the Middle East to exert commercial and colonialist control. Using theatre, poetry, and music, Mahfouz, who has dual Egyptian-British nationality, represents various stories of women from across the continent to explore who really has the power in and over the Middle East in the present time. Directed by Stef O’Driscoll, the lecture style play tells the story of how colonialism has carved a path through the Middle East and had managed to divide nations along lines that would cause centuries of conflict.

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary an Experimental Theatre

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Inequality in the OECD is at a record high – and society is suffering as a result https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/11/inequality-in-the-oecd-is-at-a-record-high-and-society-is-suffering-as-a-result/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 19:21:40 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=710630 After taking a few months out to write a book on what we know about economic inequalities, I was struck by the enormous amount of research showing how harmful inequality is for people

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The Conversation – When high levels of inequality are pointed out, a common response is that the “politics of envy” are being deployed. I heard the phrase myself when I tweeted recently that the share of income going to the richest 0.01% of adults in the UK was almost at a record high, based on my new analysis of UK tax data.

After taking a few months out to write a book on what we know about economic inequalities, I was struck by the enormous amount of research showing how harmful inequality is for people. It’s increasingly clear that high levels of inequality damage our health and well-being, harm social cohesion and levels of trust, and act as a brake on economic performance. And there is increasing evidence that inequalities dramatically tilt the playing field for future generations.

Harming our health

Countries with high levels of inequality are more stressed and anxious, less happy and healthy, and have lower feelings of solidarity or trust across society. The best known research on this is by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

Wilkinson and Pickett argue that in societies with high levels of inequality there is an ever-increasing cachet to being rich and it becomes more shameful to be poor. This heightens anxiety over social status. And money – and what one does with it – becomes evermore important to social status.

As a result, inequality worsens aspects of consumerism (“keeping up with the Joneses”), leads to feelings of entitlement for those at the top and shame for those at the bottom, and reduces social mixing, trust and social cohesion.

This may sound like a damning indictment on our 21st century culture of Instagramming our lives to death. But sociologist Thorstein Veblen observed these desires to establish superiority (among the rich) or conform (among the slightly less rich) in the 19th century United States.

Economic performance suffers

Research also indicates that high inequality damages economic performance. It may even have caused the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession.

What surprised me about this recent work is that it is being led by the IMF and the World Bank. They are not exactly well-known hot-beds of radical thought, but Christine Lagarde, IMF chief until recently, said: “Reducing excessive inequality is not just morally and politically correct, but it is good economics.”

The OECD, the organisation representing the world’s wealthiest economies, adds:

The notion that one can enjoy the benefits from one’s own efforts has always been a powerful incentive to invest in human capital, new ideas and new products, as well as to undertake risky commercial ventures. But beyond a certain point, and not least during an economic crisis, growing income inequalities can undermine the foundations of market economies.

A high level of inequality is not a natural, and certainly not a necessary, consequence of a vibrant economy. Instead, key international organisations are worried that inequality is a drag on economic growth.

Opportunity is limited

Inequality also makes it harder to achieve equality of opportunity, and it perpetuates the division between those that have and those that have not. We used to hope that if there were some in society who had a lot less than others, then maybe this would be just a short-term blip. Or that people could improve their lot with hard work and effort.

We now know that, far from living in a world where all young people have equal chance to shine, success in life is heavily influenced by where you start from. Hard data and careful research show that the more unequal society is, the harder it is to achieve equality of opportunity, and the less social mobility there will be.

In the US, so often seen as the land of opportunity, a common route to the top of the income distribution is to be born there, or to marry into it. In which country does a child from a disadvantaged family have the best change of making it to the top? It’s Sweden.

Unfair and undemocratic

There’s a final worrying aspect about high levels of inequality, set out by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. If Western governments do not try to redistribute wealth or curb the very rich, and if money is allowed to shape political debates, then the 21st century could see the emergence of a super-wealthy elite akin to that which existed at the dawn of the 20th century. That would be profoundly undemocratic, and most definitely unfair.

Every year of high inequality is another year that strains our sense of fairness and of social justice, and another year where equality of opportunity becomes harder to achieve. It’s up to voters, politicians and other social actors to play their part in shifting the boundaries of what policy responses are politically feasible, and what levels of inequality are socially acceptable.

Mike Brewer is a Professor of Economics and Director of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change, University of Essex

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Dublin Theatre Festival sends message of solidarity to Palestinian people https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/11/dublin-theatre-festival-sends-message-of-solidarity-to-palestinian-people/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 18:20:07 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=710627 This year, the festival offers a unique way of addressing the Palestinians' suffering through representing Justin Butchrer's Walking to Jerusalem. The play is a creative, artistic work that condemns Balfour Declaration, which was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the WW1 announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which was then an Ottoman region with a small Jewish minority

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Dublin Theatre Festival (from 26 September to 13 October) is Europe’s oldest specialised festival that was established in 1957 to bring together artists, theatre-makers, and audiences from Ireland and around the world. The festival is also one of the key post-WW2 events established to foster tolerance and cultural understanding between nations. However, Dublin Theatre Festival is well-known for its firm and unwavering commitment towards peace and human rights. It has a long list of inspiring artists whose work showed a clear-cut and consistent position on the current regional and international conflicts, and played a decisive role in putting the question of human rights and human dignity in the forefront of the human values that guide all nations regardless of their cultural or historical differences. This year, the festival offers a unique way of addressing the Palestinians’ suffering through representing Justin Butchrer’s Walking to Jerusalem. The play is a creative, artistic work that condemns Balfour Declaration, which was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the WW1 announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which was then an Ottoman region with a small Jewish minority.

Walking to Jerusalem is a theatrical narrative that chronicles a six-month walk from London to Jerusalem in the name of Palestinians in 2017. Obviously, 2017 marked three major anniversaries for the Palestinian people: the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the fiftieth year of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and the tenth year of the blockade of Gaza. Hence, to show their rejection of all the notorious acts exercised by the Zionist entity, Justin Butcher, along with 10 companions and another hundred joining him at different points along the way, walked from London to Jerusalem as an act of solidarity. They walked 3,400 km for 147 days across 11 countries, three seas, mountains, rivers, and soul-stirring landscapes from the green fields of Kent to the desert dust of Jordan, discovering both the Roman roads and the refugee routes with all their perceived dangers. Butcher’s on-stage performance retraces every step, oasis, and bump in the road in front of a live audience, using a mixture of live performance and a video montage of live footage from the trail. This combination of live performance and projected film allows Butcher to convey his experience in a realistic way, interweaving his face-to-face experiences  and the political realities in order to depict a live picture of the Israeli government. It shows Israel’s continuing acts of enforcing severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, restricting the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip, and facilitating the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Certainly, this positive attitude of the festival towards the Palestinian cause is in compliance with the political stance of the Irish state that supports the Palestinians in their fight for self-determination and freedom. On 9 April 2018, for example, Dublin City Council was the first European capital to vote in favour of resolutions endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. In fact, the Palestinian issue has long occupied a place in the Irish consciousness due to the evident parallels with the Irish national experience, which has a long history of fighting a revolutionary war against the British occupation. This apparent sentiment was clearly expressed by the renowned Irish novelist Sean O’Faolain in 1947. He rejected the comparison between the Irish and Zionist struggles, and asserted, “If we could imagine that Ireland was being transformed by Britain into a national home for the Jews, I can hardly doubt which side you would be found.” Doubtless, despite of all the commentaries that try to take the play out of its context, Walking to Jerusalem or A pilgrimage to Palestine, as many critics like to call it, brings a message of compassion to the Palestinian people, and an urgent and impassioned plea for justice in the Middle East.

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre. She is a member of the Higher Committee for the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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Time for rich countries to pay their climate debts https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/11/time-for-rich-countries-to-pay-their-climate-debts/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 18:05:38 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=710624 The problem is that climate change economic impact took its toll on poorer countries. Oxfam, a globally renowned aid and development charity, estimates that between 1998 and 2017, low-income countries reported climate-related disaster losses of $21bn, or an average of 1.8% of GDP.

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In the recently held United Nation’s Climate Action Summit, more than 70 countries committed themselves to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, however, major emitters have not yet done so. 

According to UN estimates, if our world is to avoid the climate catastrophe, we need to cut greenhouse emissions 45% by 2030, reach carbon neutrality by 2050, and limit temperature rise to 1.5 ˚C by the end of the century. But the question remains: who should pay the price of climate change?

The problem is that climate change economic impact took its toll on poorer countries. Oxfam, a globally renowned aid and development charity, estimates that between 1998 and 2017, low-income countries reported climate-related disaster losses of $21bn, or an average of 1.8% of GDP.

The ludicrousness of the situation is that those rich countries are in their position of wealth because of the emission-intensive development that has fuelled the climate crisis in the first place. And while climate crises would not spare any country, however, wealthy countries would be better fitted to adapt or recover from the crises.

Considering the fact that the world’s richest 10% emit half of the global emissions while the poorest 50% emit about 10% of global emissions, according to Oxfam estimates, it is fair that climate action should not be distributed evenly between the world’s nations.

Why should the citizens of poor countries sacrifice their development and pay the bill for climate action, when the average footprint of the richest 1% of people globally could be 175 times that of the poorest 10%?

In Africa, Somalia’s annual per capita emissions are 0.05 tonnes, Ethiopia 0.12 tonnes, and Kenya

and Mozambique 0.31 tonnes, even Egypt – a more developed country – stands at 2.2 tonnes, a fraction of the 16.5 tonnes per capita emissions in the USA.

Put another way the average carbon emission of just one American are equivalent to those of 330 Somalis, 53 Mozambicans or 7.5 Egyptians.

In absolute values, collectively, the world’s top 15 countries in terms of emissions generate 72% of CO2 emissions. The rest of the world’s 180 countries produce nearly 28% of the global total – close to the amount China produces on its own.

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said in a June report: “Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change, and have the least capacity to protect themselves.”

According to Alston’s report, developing countries will bear an estimated 75% of the climate crisis costs, despite the poorest half of the world’s population causing just 10% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Thus, it is only fair that wealthy countries provide sufficient financial support for poorer countries to finance their low-carbon development.

Until now, fossil fuels are still the cheapest, most reliable available energy source. Thus, developing countries should be compensated, if they would not be able to use such fuels anymore.

Otherwise, how can sub-Saharan African countries abandon fossil fuels, and opt for the capital-intensive clean energy? The International Energy Agency estimates that around 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa remain without access to electricity, totalling 57% of the population there. In Liberia, for example, just 2% of the population has regular access to electricity.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that adapting to climate change will cost developing countries between $140-300bn per year by 2025-30. Yet, a mere fifth of the $52.5bn rich countries reported as annual public climate finance (2016/2017 annual averages), was dedicated to adaptation – and just 15% of the overall sum went to the 48 least developed countries. The amount of support available is much lower than the reported figures suggest.

One possible way to finance the transition is Carbon pricing, which is a tool aiming to reduce emissions by changing the relative costs of low-emissions products, high-emissions products, services, and production methods. Implementing a carbon tax – or increasing it in countries with the tax already in place – would provide the necessary funding, as all the money would go to poor countries to adapt to climate change and develop renewable energies. 

Mohamed Samir is an economic and political journalist, and analyst specialising in the Middle East. Over the past decade, he covered Egypt’s and MENA’s financial, business, and geopolitical updates. He is currently the Deputy Executive Editor of Daily News Egypt

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A Climate Change: An Unstoppable Movement Takes Hold https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/03/a-climate-change-an-unstoppable-movement-takes-hold/ Thu, 03 Oct 2019 10:09:58 +0000 https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=709908 Climate chaos is playing out in real time from California to the Caribbean, and from Africa to the Arctic and beyond

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On the eve of the September UN Climate Action Summit, young women and men around the world mobilized by the millions and told global leaders: “You are failing us”.

They are right.

Global emissions are increasing. Temperatures are rising. The consequences for oceans, forests, weather patterns, biodiversity, food production, water, jobs and, ultimately, lives, are already dire — and set to get much worse.

The science is undeniable. But in many places, people don’t need a chart or graph to understand the climate crisis. They can simply look out the window.

Climate chaos is playing out in real time from California to the Caribbean, and from Africa to the Arctic and beyond. Those who contributed least to the problem are suffering the most.

I have seen it with my own eyes from cyclone-battered Mozambique to the hurricane-devastated Bahamas to the rising seas of the South Pacific.

I called the Climate Action Summit to serve as a springboard to set us on the right path ahead of crucial 2020 deadlines established by the Paris Agreement on climate change. And many leaders — from many countries and sectors — stepped up.

A broad coalition — not just governments and youth, but businesses, cities, investors and civil society — came together to move in the direction our world so desperately needs to avert climate catastrophe.

More than seventy countries committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, even if major emitters have not yet done so. More than 100 cities did the same, including several of the world’s largest.

At least seventy countries announced their intention to boost their national plans under the Paris agreement by 2020.

Small Island States together committed to achieve carbon neutrality and to move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Countries from Pakistan to Guatemala, Colombia to Nigeria, New Zealand to Barbados vowed to plant more than 11 billion trees.

More than 100 leaders in the private sector committed to accelerating their move into the green economy.

A group of the world’s largest asset-owners — responsible for directing more than $2 trillion — pledged to move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

This is in addition to a recent call by asset managers representing nearly half the world’s invested capital – some $34 trillion – for global leaders to put a meaningful price on carbon and phase out fossil fuel subsidies and thermal coal power worldwide.

The International Development Finance Club pledged to mobilize $1 trillion in clean energy funding by 2025 in 20 least developed countries.

One-third of the global banking sector signed up to align their businesses with the Paris agreement objectives and Sustainable Development Goals.

The Summit also showcased ways in which cities and global industries like shipping can achieve major reductions in emissions. Initiatives to protect forests and safeguard water supplies were also highlighted.

These steps are all important — but they are not sufficient.

From the beginning, the Summit was designed to jolt the world and accelerate action on a wider scale. It also served as a global stage for hard truths and to shine a light on those who are leading and those who are not. Deniers or major emitters have nowhere to hide.

I will continue to encourage them to do much more at home and drive green economic solutions around the world.

Our planet needs action on a truly planetary scale. That cannot be achieved overnight, and it cannot happen without the full engagement of those contributing most to the crisis.

If our world is to avoid the climate cliff, far more is needed to heed the call of science and cut greenhouse emissions by 45 percent by 2030; reach carbon neutrality by 2050; and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. That’s how we can secure the future of our world.

Too many countries still seem to be addicted to coal – even though cheaper, greener options are available already. We need much more progress on carbon pricing, ensuring no new coal plants by 2020, and ending trillions of dollars in giveaways of hard-earned taxpayers’ money to a dying fossil fuel industry to boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases, and heighten conflict.

At the same time, developed countries must fulfill their commitment to provide $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

And I will make sure that the commitments that countries, the private sector and local authorities have made are accounted for — starting in December at the UN Climate conference in Santiago, Chile. The UN is united in support of realizing these initiatives.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time.

Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3 degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century. I will not be there, but my granddaughters will.

I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their one and only home.

Young people, the UN – and a growing number of leaders from business, finance, government, and civil society – in short, many of us – are mobilizing and acting.
But we need many others to take climate action if we are to succeed.

We have a long way to go. But the movement has begun.

António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This article appears as part of Daily News Egypt’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

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Imagining both utopian and dystopian climate futures is crucial – which is why cli-fi is so important https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/26/imagining-both-utopian-and-dystopian-climate-futures-is-crucial-which-is-why-cli-fi-is-so-important/ Thu, 26 Sep 2019 08:00:40 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=709142 Society often looks to culture to try and make some sense of the world’s problems. Climate change challenges us to look ahead, past our own lives, to consider how the future might look for generations to come – and our part in this. This responsibility requires imagination.

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This story originally appeared in The Conversation. It is republished here as part of Daily News Egypt’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

We are headed towards a future that is hard to contemplate. At present, global emissions are reaching record levels, the past four years have been the four hottest on record, coral reefs are dying, sea levels are rising and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the moment to do something about it. But what?

Society often looks to culture to try and make some sense of the world’s problems. Climate change challenges us to look ahead, past our own lives, to consider how the future might look for generations to come – and our part in this. This responsibility requires imagination.

So, it is no surprise that a literary phenomenon has grown over the past decade or two which seeks to help us imagine the impacts of climate change in clear language. This literary trend – generally known by the name “cli-fi” – has now been established as a distinctive form of science fiction, with a host of works produced from authors such as Margaret Atwood and Paolo Bacigalupi to a series of Amazon shorts.

Often these stories deal with climate science and seek to engage the reader in a way that the statistics of scientists cannot. Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (2012), for example, creates emotional resonance with the reader through a novel about the effects of global warming on the monarch butterflies, set amid familiar family tensions. Lauren Groff’s short story collection Florida (2018) also brings climate change together with the personal set amid storms, snakes and sinkholes.

The end to come

Cli-fi is probably better known for those novels that are set in the future, depicting a world where advanced climate change has wreaked irreversible damage upon our planet. They conjure up terrible futures: drowned cities, uncontainable diseases, burning worlds – all scenarios scientists have long tried to warn us about. These imagined worlds tend to be dystopian, serving as a warning to readers: look at what might happen if we don’t act now.

Atwood’s dystopian trilogy of MaddAddam books, for example, imagines post-apocalyptic futurist scenarios where a toxic combination of narcissism and technology have led to our great undoing. In Oryx and Crake (2003), the protagonist is left contemplating a devastated world in which he struggles to survive as potentially the last human left on earth. Set in a world ravaged by sea level rise and tornadoes, Atwood revisits the character’s previous life to examine the greedy capitalist world fuelled by genetic modification that led to this apocalyptic moment.

Other dystopian cli-fi works include Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015), and the film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), both of which feature sudden global weather changes which plunge the planet into chaos.

Dystopian fiction certainly serves a purpose as a bleak reminder not to act lightly in the face of environmental disaster, often highlighting how climate change could in fact compound disparities across race and class further. Take Rita Indiana’s Tentacle (2015), a story of environmental disaster with a focus on gender and race relations – “illegal” Haitian refugees are bulldozed on the spot. A. Sayeeda Clarke’s short film White (2011), meanwhile, tells the story of one black man’s desperate search for money in a world where global warming has turned race into a commodity and circumstances lead him to donate his melanin.

The future reimagined

It is this primacy of the imagination that makes fictional dealings with climate change so valuable. Cli-fi author Nathaniel Rich, who wrote Odds Against Tomorrow (2013) – a novel in which a gifted mathematician is hired to predict worst-case environmental scenarios – has said:

I think we need a new type of novel to address a new type of reality, which is that we’re headed toward something terrifying and large and transformative. And it’s the novelist’s job to try to understand, what is that doing to us?

As the UN 2019 Climate Action Summit attempts to bring the 2015 Paris Agreement up to speed, we need fiction that not only offers us new ways to look forward, but which also renders the inequalities of climate change explicit. It is also key that culturally we at least try to imagine a fairer world for all, rather than only visions of doom.

When now is the time that we need to act, the rarer utopian form of cli-fi is perhaps more useful. These works imagine future worlds where humanity has responded to climate change in a more timely and resourceful manner. They conjure up futures where human and non-human lives have been adapted, where ways of living have been reimagined in the face of environmental disaster. Scientists, and policy makers – and indeed the public – can look to these works as a source of hope and inspiration.

Utopian novels implore us to use our human ingenuity to adapt to troubled times. Kim Stanley Robinson is a very good example of this type of thinking. His works were inspired by Ursula Le Guin, in particular her novel The Dispossessed (1974), which led the way for the utopian novel form. It depicts a planet with a vision of universal access to food, shelter and community as well as gender and racial equality, despite being set on a parched desert moon.

Robinson’s utopian Science in the Capital trilogy centres on transformative politics and imagines a shift in the behaviour of human society as a solution to the climate crisis. His later novel New York 2140 (2017), set in a partly submerged New York which has successfully adapted to climate change, imagines solutions to more recent climate change concerns. This is a future that is mapped out in painstaking detail, from reimagined subways to mortgages for submarines, and we are encouraged to see how new communities could rise against capitalism.

This is inspirational – and useful – but it is also is crucial that utopian cli-fi novels make it clear that for every utopian vision an alternative dystopia could be just around the corner. (It’s worth remembering that in Le Guin’s foundational utopian novel The Dispossessed, the moon’s society have escaped from a dystopian planet.) This is a key flaw in the case of Robinson’s vision, which fails to feature the wars, famines and disasters outside of his new “Super Venice”: the main focus of the book is on the advances of western technology and economics.

Forward-thinking cli-fi, then, needs to imagine sustainable futures while recognising the disparities of climate change and honouring the struggles of the most vulnerable human and non-humans. Imagining positive futures is key – but a race where no one is left behind should be at the centre of the story we aspire to.

Bernadette McBride is PhD Candidate in Creative Writing, University of Liverpool

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 Docu-play exposes US police brutality https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/26/docu-play-exposes-us-police-brutality/ Thu, 26 Sep 2019 07:00:45 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=709104 Recent statistics show that the number of people killed by the US police jumped from 962 in 2015 to 1,164 in 2018. Ironically, there were only 23 days in 2018 where police did not kill someone, according to Mapping Police Violence organisation.

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Police brutality, which means the excessive and unnecessary use of physical force on the part of police officers in the line of duty, is one of America’s hottest political topics.

Despite of the US’s commitment to advancing human rights and democracy worldwide; Americans of all races, ethnicities, ages, classes, and genders have been subjected to police brutality.

In 1998, for example, Human Rights Watch issued a report that found that 14 major US cities, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, lacked effective systems to hold police accountable for the unjustified use of force, and consistently failed to investigate and punish officers, or deliver justice.

However, this phenomenon started to take a new serious dimension in  recent years, especially after President Donald Trump’s speech to the law enforcement officers in Long Island, New York, in 2017, in which he endorsed police brutality, and openly encouraged police officers to abuse people they arrest.

Recent statistics show that the number of people killed by the US police jumped from 962 in 2015 to 1,164 in 2018. Ironically, there were only 23 days in 2018 where police did not kill someone, according to Mapping Police Violence organisation.

In the same vein, a very recent study conducted in 2019 by a team of researchers from Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis, under the title ‘Risk of being killed by police’s use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex’, emphasized that fatal police violence becomes a leading cause of death for young men in America just like cancer and car accidents. The study also asserted that while young men in general face a higher risk of being killed by police violence, the level of risk changes depending on race.

Most seriously, US policemen used to walk free after shooting dead unarmed citizens, especially if the victims are Native Americans or the ethnic minorities. There are many examples of unarmed young men who were killed by law-enforcement officers and became national news stories sparking widespread protests, but their killers did not face charges—such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (August 2014);  Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland (April 2015); the Arab student Saif Al Ameri, Ohio (December 2016), and Stephan Clark, California, (March of 2019).

Until the Flood, currently on Arcola Theatre, London, is a quasi docu-play by Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Obie Award Winner Dael Orlandersmith that documents one of these unspoken crimes of the policemen in the US. The play is based on extensive interviews with Missouri residents after the 2014 shooting of the unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. It aims to give voice to a community rallying for justice and a country still yearning for change. It represents the broad spectrum of perspectives towards the violations committed by police officers, through a series of characters not directly involved in the shooting, in a 70- minute one- act performed by the author herself. 

However, the play is not a traditional documentary work that represents verbatim reenactments of the interviews that have been recorded by the author. Instead, the author cunningly created composite figures that drew from multiple interviews, as well as from people she had encountered in her life, exploring all the views and opinions without bias. Hence, the play includes black, white, male, female, young, and old people.

It displays both the opinions of the white supremacist, who openly relishes the idea of shooting down blacks in Ferguson, as well the angry black teen, who fantasizes about committing suicide by a cop. The action of the play is staged on a single platform with an imaginary waviness, emphasizing the metaphorical meaning of the play’s title, which refers to the Biblical great flood of Noah’s time that destroyed the world because of people’s sins.

Obviously, the play has a redemptive message as it ends with a black universalist minister, who talks about going to the protests in Ferguson and praying for blacks and whites, police and protesters alike. ‘Until the Flood’ is a play that reveals a hidden dark side of the modern-day America, where Americans struggle against police misconduct and the lack of accountability for policemen’s crimes

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre.

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President Al-Sisi outlines importance of mutual understanding on Renaissance Dam https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/25/president-al-sisi-outlines-importance-of-mutual-understanding-on-renaissance-dam/ Wed, 25 Sep 2019 21:33:51 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=709094 Egypt requires safe access to water during climate change

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New York – President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi addressed the 74th United Nations General Assembly’s General Debate on Tuesday morning in New York, immediately following the highly anticipated speech of US President Donald Trump.

On the opening day of the annual event, at the United Nations headquarters in lower Manhattan, President Al-Sisi’s 13-minute address in front of the 193 member states underlined the importance of multilateral cooperation with respect to the Renaissance Dam, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the promise of a new era for the continent with the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking in Arabic and beginning at 10.57am local time, Al-Sisi stated that the establishment of the AfCFTA on 30 May 2019 will allow Africa to realise a number of promising opportunities that can be both a promise for growth and spur the ramp-up of construction of much-needed infrastructure. Only a couple months ago, Nigeria and Benin, the final two countries of the 55-member African Union became signatories of the AfCFTA.

Drawing on the particular example of the $4bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, the president emphasised the importance of coming to an agreement with Ethiopia over the protracted four-year-long GERD negotiations.

Despite Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signing an agreement of principles in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on 23 March 2015 to in effect permit the government in Addis Ababa to construct, fill, and operate the dam – to date, the desired results have not been attained.

GERD, formerly known as Project X or the Grand Millennium Dam, is being built by Ethiopia but bilateral talks have currently stalled between the two countries.

“For decades, Egypt has sought to strengthen and deepen the bonds of cooperation with its brotherly Nile basin countries,” President Al-Sisi said in his address, marking the GERD project as necessary in furthering the interests of all the people in proximity to the Nile River basin.

The president conveyed hope in his address that the common interests of the Blue Nile participants will be taken into consideration, stating simply that inaction with respect to the dam will not help, but rather hinder much-needed prosperity for water ecosystems.

“Egypt still hopes for an agreement that will secure the common interests of the peoples of the Blue Nile, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. The continued impasse in the negotiations on the dam will have negative repercussions on the stability as well as on development in the region in general, and in Egypt, in particular,” remarked the president.

He further issued a concern that while it supports Ethiopia’s commencement of the construction of the Renaissance Dam, it disagrees with the country’s timing, doing so without conducting the necessary studies on a project of such magnitude. Front-end engineering and design (FEED) studies are necessary, the president said, because the well-being of all the countries downstream, including Egypt is paramount to any multibillion-dollar infrastructure project and its related investments.

“For Egypt, the water of the Nile is a matter of life. It is an existential matter and this places a great responsibility on the international community to play a constructive role in urging all parties to demonstrate flexibility in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory agreement,” said President Al-Sisi.

At 11.10am local time, the president closed with a message from Egypt for a call to peace and mutual understanding among member states, a call to action for the benefit of humanity, a call for sustainable development, and a call for the promotion and protection of human rights. The president said that these directives will chart an ideal path for the benefit of the international community and the United Nations.

Interests, related to water, for each of the countries affected in the Nile basin took on special importance in the following day when the United Nations hosted the high-level Climate Action Summit in the same hall. Several dozen heads of state and government spoke, as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former New York City Michael Bloomberg, and the controversial 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden that has sparked climate action protests worldwide.

Thunberg issued an emotional condemnation of the world’s leaders at the summit’s opening. Leaving nothing back and sitting less than three metres from the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Thunberg threatened leaders on their climate inaction and empty emission target promises by saying, “How dare you,” and concluding her remarks by saying, “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

The United Nations General Assembly’s General Debate will continue this week until 28 September, and then resume for its final day on 30 September.

Robert Terpstra has worked as a journalist for more than 16 years, having been based in several dozen countries. He is a Canadian previously based in Cairo for three years and now resides in Berlin. He has written for several publications as editor-in-chief, editorial manager, deputy chief sub-editor, country editor, news editor, business editor, op-ed columnist, and sports editor.

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Canadian Musical Commemorates 9/11 and Arabophobia https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/13/canadian-musical-commemorates-9-11-and-arabophobia/ Fri, 13 Sep 2019 09:00:40 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707820 Another strong theory argues that these attacks were "false- flag" operations directed by right-wingers in the US government to justify military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, asserting that Osama bin Laden was a CIA fabrication and never stopped working for the US secret service. 

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The 9/11 attacks are the most enigmatic incidents in recent history. Following almost two decades, the official consensus that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into United States landmarks is still widely rejected. More than 3,000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them claim that the US government was behind it all. 

The most prominent belief is that the Pentagon was hit by a missile, not an aeroplane, launched by elements from inside the US government. This widespread belief is supported by the fact that no video evidence shows a plane hitting the Pentagon, and there was no debris of the plane found after the crash. 

Another strong theory argues that these attacks were “false- flag” operations directed by right-wingers in the US government to justify military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, asserting that Osama bin Laden was a CIA fabrication and never stopped working for the US secret service. 

 Despite all these impartial analyses, the 9/11 attacks remain as a watershed event which created a wave of Arabophobia in the western world. Hence, Arabs and Muslims in the US and Canada, and those perceived to be Arabs or Muslims, such as Sikhs and South Asians, became victims of a severe wave of violent backlash and hate crimes directly after 9/11. 

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims have multiplied by 1.6% from 2000 to 2001. Despite the public calls for calm and tolerance, and the famous speech by President Bush, in which he urges Americans not to take their anger out on innocent Arabs, the tide of Arabophobia grows increasingly stronger every year since these attacks. Every year, the 9/11 anniversary comes bringing inevitable discussions, movies, debates, and dramas about the state of Arabophobia in western society which usually results in more discrimination and violence against Arabs. It is enough to mention that hate crimes against Arabs in Canada grew 253% from 2012 to 2015, according to Statistics Canada. 

Come from Away, currently at the Wharton Centre in East Lansing, Michigan, is one of the most famous musicals about the attacks of September 2001 that reflect the biased and unjust attitude toward Arabs. It is the longest-running Canadian musical in Broadway history, with book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein

The play is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the true story of the small town of Gander in the province of Newfoundland and LabradorCanada, when the attacks resulted in the US airspace being closed, forcing 38 international aircraft to be diverted and land unexpectedly at Gander airport, doubling the population of the small Newfoundland town. 

Obviously, the play focuses on the kindness and hospitality the townspeople displayed toward their unwitting guests. As a matter of fact, the play has been received by critics as a love message to strengthen the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest moments, and the triumph of humanity over hate. 

However, the play is not free from flagrant racism against Arabs, which is manifested through the hostile attitude toward one of the passengers, who is an Egyptian chef (Samayoa). 

The other passengers in the play treated the peaceful Egyptian man with unfair suspicion and prejudice just because he is perceived as sharing the same cultural background of Al-Qaeda members. 

Even toward the end of the play, the passengers and crew unjustly subjected the Arab traveller to a humiliating strip search, overlooking the fact that he is a victim exactly like them. 

In fact, terrorism has no religion or nationality, and Arabs all over the world suffer from terrorism more than any other nationality. Certainly, all the dramatic works which propagate discrimination and hatred against Arabs, either directly or indirectly, render many innocent Arabs vulnerable to violence and hate crimes through no fault of their own. 

 

Marwa El-Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre and is a member of the Higher Committee for the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary an Experimental Theatre

 

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Caller ID: Cairo https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/13/caller-id-cairo/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 23:04:39 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707814 This is actively supported by government initiatives to attract the growth of call centres in the fields of healthcare, education, and oil and gas

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In the early 2000’s, and in line with Egypt’s development strategy, many multinational and regional companies identified Egypt as a base for their call centre operations. The attraction of Egypt is reflected in its central location between Europe and Africa, along with its large, young, well educated, and bilingual population. While the economic slowdown and political tensions that followed dampened the country’s growth prospects, some businesses are looking once again at call centres as a catalyst for job growth and overall economic recovery.

This is actively supported by government initiatives to attract the growth of call centres in the fields of healthcare, education, and oil and gas. Also, earlier in April during the “Belt and Road” initiative summit, President Sisi announced plans to position Egypt as a regional digital hub for data transfers between Europe, Africa, and Asia. To that extent, the government is seeking to improve the technical and physical infrastructure required to support this growth.

The birth of call centres in Egypt

The number of call centres in Cairo has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. One of the first sectors to expand their call centres were fast food chains offering home deliveries. As the economy grew and expanded in the early 2000’s, businesses in other sectors, such as banking, increasingly turned to call centres to handle their clients’ requests in a more cost effective and efficient manner, thereby reducing their requirements for a large local branch network.

Call centres in a digital age

As technology evolved, customer care or call centres remained a critical component of the growth strategy of many businesses. While e-commerce has become the new interface, most people still prefer to interact with a person on the other side of the screen. No matter how digitised an experience or an industry might become, many firms still require customer service agents. While more of these agents are now working from home, many are still based in collective call centres.

A major attraction of working in a call centre, is that of the flexible work schedules. Call centre jobs’ schedules are often revamped every week, in most cases, and the staff can find a way to work the hours that suit them best (during night shifts, right after classes etc.) which allows the staff to avoid Cairo’s infamous traffic jams (with many employees using bus shuttles provided within their packages).

Location, location

As businesses shift further to the east of the city to be closer to the New Administrative Capital, west Cairo could develop as a location for more call centres, with a number of such operations already located in projects such as the Smart Village (Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Xceed and HSBC, among others). Those would be in absolute competition with currently established call centres in west Cairo (Raya Contact Center, Wuzzuf, etc) and specifically in New Cairo’s banking district (Dell EMC2, Jumia as well as centres for banks and real estate developers, etc.).

A number of owners are currently seeking to attract call centre operations to fill the increasing level of vacant office space in west Cairo. In essence, these could ultimately be renovated to accommodate for operations in the greater sense of service centres rather than simple “call” centres.

Geographic and socioeconomic factors make Cairo well placed to emerge as a major service and call centre hub for companies servicing the growing Middle Eastern, African, and European markets. While advances in technologies are slowly changing the way businesses operate, there will likely continue to be demand for some human element, which in turn is expected to drive demand for service and call centres.

Mahmoud Elleissy Nassef is an analyst at JLL MENA

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