Interviews – Daily News Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:57:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Holding Company for Cultural & Cinematic Investment to turn field into profitability: Khaled Abdel-Galil https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/20/holding-company-for-cultural-cinematic-investment-to-turn-field-into-profitability-khaled-abdel-galil/ Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:14:22 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705559 Egypt has rich cinematic history and will have an investment plan to manage it successfully

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The General Assembly of the Holding Company for Cultural and Cinematic Investment was held at the headquarters of the Supreme Council of Culture in the middle of July after Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli had issued the decree No. 1432 of 2019 to form the general founding assembly of the company.

Khaled Abdel Galil, culture minister advisor for cinema, said that the establishment of the company comes in line with the general orientation of the state for supporting culture and film industry to achieve sustainable development while introducing high-quality artistic works that reflect the Egyptian civilization and preserve its identity.

Abdel Galil, who also heads the National Center for Cinema and the Artistic Censorship Authority,

explained that the new holding company will work to promote the technical and vocational level to revive the film industry and cultural creativity through the restructuring of the cultural activities system in Egypt with an investment thought. He added that the cinematic assets, including studios and cinemas, are still owned by the Ministry of Culture, while allocating their management to the Ministry of Investment is a correction of the Egyptian cultural scene and restores its distinctive role in the development of society.

The General Assembly includes Abdel Galil, Mahmoud Fathy Atallah, Mahmoud Abdullah, Omar El Danaf, Hany Ahmed (representative of the Egypt Trade Union Federation), Ayman Mohamed, Nermin Tawfik, Akef Al Maghraby, Dina El Mofty, Heba Omar, Ashraf Zaki, and Hisham Azmy.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Abdel Galil to identify the planned changes by such new companies established by the state to exploit and develop state assets in this field. The interview’s transcript is below; lightly edited for clarity:

What is the purpose of establishing a holding company for film industry?

The idea of establishing a holding company for cinematic and cultural industries came out of the strong desire of the Egyptian state to exploit its cultural assets, such as theatres, museums, studios, and palaces of culture. Most of these assets are full of employees, thus cuffing the budget of the ministry. Whatever the budget of the Ministry of Culture and its institutions, it will in no way cover the required cultural activity, even after the financial support by the Ministry of Finance to keep theatres and the National Cinema Center alive. This was the reason to establish the company, so as to make a financial return to be added to the state budget and a cultural return by using the untapped assets.

What are the assets of the newly established holding company?

The company owns 24 cinemas spread across Cairo and other governorates, four cinema studios, and untapped land. The company will enter through these assets in production partnerships of approximately 25% at a competitive market price, in return that the state will provide a suitable exhibition space for each cultural product and will not ban or remove these products. I believe that the state-owned channels should buy the rights of these products after the end of their screening period to be a third party in this system and help to make them successful.

Khaled Abdel Galil, culture minister advisor for cinema

When will this become a reality?

It is on the way to exist on the ground, by the Ministry of Culture announcing the company’s subsidiaries and the formation of its boards of directors, as a representative of the state and assume the responsibilities of the Minister of Public Enterprises Sector in state companies.

Will the investment opportunities in the film industry become clear then?

Certainly, after the formation of the boards of directors of the company’s subsidiaries and the formation of the administrative structure of culture and cinema, the investment opportunities in the sector will come to light, which will ensure high profitability.

So, what are the next steps for the emergence of these subsidiaries?

The Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem, as chairperson pf the Holding Company, will form its board of directors. This has no link to the subsidiary cinema company, whose board will be formed later.

What about the rumours that artistic and cultural works do not make much profits?

This is a cliché which is absolutely untrue. There are other rumours that films created for festivals lose and are not profitable compared to other commercial films, which is illogical, especially since the sale of the film after screening at festivals multiplies its sales value to satellite channels.

How can Egyptian cinema return as an export industry to solve the cinema crisis?

The so-called “cinema crisis” is also a cliché, but there are multiple parties that look at the problem from their perspectives and want to solve their obstacles only, while the film industry in all developed countries is represented in the national centre. For example, in Morocco, the National Center for Cinema has turned the country into a major destination for shooting films of all nationalities, which brings huge returns to them.

But you are the head of the National Cinema Center in Egypt, what is the centre’s role?

The centre needs to be restructured to become a true supporter of the film industry, which I have been saying for over 10 years. I submitted several proposals to turn the centre into a cinema body that offers true services and establish a holding company for cultural industries eight years ago to the Ministry of Culture. Inas Abdel Dayem is the first Minister of Culture to present these proposals to the prime minister officially, and it was officially approved by the Ministry of Planning.

What is the estimated budget of the National Cinema Center?

It will not need a huge budget as it will be an organised entity that will lay the foundations of the cinematic work only. In addition, there will be self-sufficiency in terms of expenses and will not cost the state anything. For example, filming foreign films will bring large revenues in hard currency, and therefore the state will not bear any costs.

Will the Egyptian Center for Intellectual Property and the film rating system replace the Artistic Censorship Authority?

This project is still under study by the Ministries of Finance and Planning, and they will be merged in an entity. Since I took up my post in 2015, I found that the film rating will eliminate the problem of censorship on commercial films and prevent children from watching these films in cinema theatres. Incidentally, such films gradually decreased since the application of film rating. Now, all producers have become aware of the film content rating system. They are now aware that film rating is not only linked to sexual, religious, or political aspects, but it relates to other indicators that may adversely affect youth, such as using drugs, profanity, or even posing problematic issues to the public who can understand them. I think that film rating is now beginning to be transformed into a general culture which is also applied to television.

What about Egyptian Center for Intellectual Property?

After the approval of the Intellectual Property Law, the intellectual property bodies will be grouped into one entity with four central departments comprising copyright and licensing at the Ministry of Culture. The Copyright Office of the Supreme Council of Culture, censorship, and film rating will be in the same entity.

How do you see the state’s input in the cinema production?

The state cannot be the source of culture because in this case, it wants a canned culture and will not allow creativity, so the state should support culture and cinema production and this is what happens in developed countries, where the state has a regulatory role and develop theatres and studios.

How do you see the revival of Egypt’s “soft power”?

The state wants to revive its soft power, where the government believes that the strong influence of Egyptian cinema and culture should be invested. This is the difference between “the World Cup zero scandal” where Egypt failed to garner a single vote in the 2004 bidding poll, and Egypt’s successful organisation of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in June.

What about preventing banks from lending film production companies?

After the formation of the Holding Company for Cinema, it will have the right to contact banks over loans to production companies.

Who is currently responsible for sound and light shows?

Their affiliation has been changed to the Ministry of Tourism instead of the Ministry of Culture since 2016.

What about the Egyptian cimatheque project?

There is a project currently under study on documenting the heritage of cinema. Everything about films will be documented, including posters, equipment, clothing, and decorations. You can say that it is an integrated and huge project and I consider it as a preliminary step to establish a cinema city that will include cinematheque, museum, and film archive.

How do you the state’s support for civil society festivals?

We set conditions for the support of the Ministry of Culture for civil society festivals, during the reign of Imad Abu-Ghazi, which I did for the first time in its history after my assignment as the centre’s head, to become 50%. However, following the ministerial reshuffle, it became only 50% from the Ministry of Culture, thus, they can receive further support from different ministries, so many of the festivals are held with full support from the state. This will be eliminated after forming a supreme committee for film festivals, which will study the rounds of festivals this year. This also includes the Alexandria Film Festival, which will be subject to all the new controls, which include access to the biography of the president of the festival and other conditions for the screening of films in cinemas of a certain quality and not in DVD quality.

Is it the time to change the image of businesspeople in Egyptian cinema?

I certainly agree with you, but to make this happen, there is a need for a lengthy dialogue with the screenwriters who always put illogical perception of businesspeople. This is an old perception that needs to be changed undoubtedly.

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First 3D printer for gold jewellery to be launched in Egypt: Mohamed El Hashemy https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/19/first-3d-printer-for-gold-jewellery-to-be-launched-in-egypt-mohamed-el-hashemy/ Mon, 19 Aug 2019 19:18:29 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=705411 5 printers sold, for EGP 0.5m of sales since the launch, says Chairperson of Lamina for Additive Manufacturing Technologies & 3D Printing

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Lamina for Additive Manufacturing Technologies & 3D Printing is an Egyptian company aiming to disrupt the local gold jewellery market with 3D printing technology.

Mohamed El Hashemy, Chairperson of Lamina for Additive Manufacturing Technologies & 3D Printing, told Daily News Egypt that the design of gold and jewellery includes several stages, starting with the initial design, then the production of 3D wax models, and finally the stage of smelting and casting of gold ore turning it into gold jewelry ready to be sold in the market.

Daily News Egypt interviewed El Hashemy, to find out the company’s plans, and how would 3D printing change the local jewellery market.

When was Lamina established?

Lamina is a start-up company established in March 2017, through the Ministry of Investment’s Falak Startups, which is Egypt’s largest startup accelerator. Falak owns 4% of the company’s capital.

When did the company introduce the first 3D printer?

The company launched the first 3D printer for gold jewellery in February, intending to develop Egypt’s gold industry and shift from manual labour to technological manufacturing.

Mohamed El Hashemy

Did the company experiment with prototypes to reach the final model?

The company conducted several experiments with prototypes during the period from 2016 to 2018 to reach the best model of the 3D printer, to produce high-quality gold jewellery in addition to low economic costs to suit the requirements of SMEs.

What is the percentage of local materials in the printer?

The printer is produced in 90% local materials, aside from the projector, which is imported from a global company specialized in optical imaging. This is one of the main parts relevant to the quality and details of the preliminary wax models, which is part of the manufacturing stage.

Why didn’t you use an alternative to the projector as a light source from local materials?

The company conducted several experiments on the use of lasers as a light source, but the experience proved that the quality of wax prototypes was low in addition to the short life span of the material at only one year.

Is there a warranty on the printer?

The company gives customers a guarantee on the projector of 50,000 working hours and a one year on the printer.

Is the wax used in the manufacture of the prototype locally made?

The company is currently considering the preparation of its own new wax production line to be compatible with the printer. The printer can work with both local and imported wax.

How is the gold piece made of wax?

The idea of the printer is to build the jewellery piece inside the platform in the form of successive layers on top of one another made of liquid wax, which is dried by the shedding of a light source on it. The accuracy of showing the details depends on the severity of the light.

What is the sales volume of the company? What is the target by the end of this year?

Lamina achieved sales of EGP 500,000 during the first half of this year, selling 3D printers to produce gold and jewellery. We aim to increase the sales volume to EGP 1.5m by the end of this year, through the marketing of its products to about 5,000 workshops that manufacture gold jewellery in the local market. We also aim to market the printers to jewellery designers and small business owners and colleges of art and design, within the framework of the development of the gold industry and transforming it from manual methods to modern methods that adopt the technology of producing gold jewellery through 3D printers.

Do factories still rely on traditional gold production methods?

A large percentage of gold workshops and factories in the Egyptian market are still dependent on the production of prototypes made of wax using manual methods, which do not commensurate with the recent boom in the gold industry.

The use of 3D techniques in the production of gold jewellery saves time, effort and labour as well as facilitate the implementation of complex designs. It also helps workshops and factories to turn into mass production.

Why do not factories and workshops accept to rely on modern technology in production?

Many workshops and companies were unable to turn to this technology because of the high cost of purchasing 3D printers, which range in price from $5,000 to $10,000.

What are the specifications and prices of the company’s 3D printer?

The printer is available in three different sizes, the first printer contains a platform area (4-6) cm with a height of 15 cm, and is suitable for low production volumes, worth EGP 115,000. The second printer has a platform area (5.5 – 9.5) cm with a height of 15 cm and suitable for medium-sized products, worth EGP 170,000. The third printer contains a platform area (7.9 – 13.5) cm with a height of 15 cm and the value of EGP 220,000.

Does the company provide other services?

The company offers integrated services for gold and jewellery production, including training courses in the management and operation of these 3D printers, in addition to the gold jewellery design software such as RhinoGold and Matrix. We are working with universities to implement graduation projects instead of only designing jewellery.

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ALDAU to complete its Hurghada Heights’ 2nd phase by 1Q 2020: commercial director https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/19/aldau-to-complete-its-hurghada-heights-2nd-phase-by-1q-2020-commercial-director/ Mon, 19 Aug 2019 18:13:04 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=705406 ALDAU Village Mall to be completed next year

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ALDAU Development is looking for expansion across Egypt, Mohamed Salem, senior operations and commercial director at ALDAU, told Daily News Egypt in an interview, where he talked about the company’s projects and development plan; the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding the company’s projects in West Cairo?

Our growth plan aims to expand our market presence in core markets especially in Egypt which includes the major development in the West Cairo Pyramids Heights Business Park destination; Cairo West Residence, a luxurious residential compound, will be our first residential project in Cairo in proximity to the New Egyptian Museum, Sphinx Airport.

What is the value of investments the company directs to the project in the current year?

ALDAU Heights is regarded as one of the most important projects of ALDAU Development in Hurghada. It’s investment value amounts to EGP 1bn spanning an land area of 25,000 square meters with a total of 384 residential units overlooking the sea directly, all of which are distinguished by beach fronts and landscaping constructed on an area of 2000 square meters with two marinas for yachts. The second phase is expected to be completed by the end of Q1 2020.

What is the company’s strategy to expand in the coming period?

ALDAU Development is looking for expansion in multiple & different governorates across Egypt.

Also, in the light of our keenness in ALDAU Development to provide services at the highest level of welfare and luxury to open privileged access to our own owners, its scheduled to open ALDAU Village Mall  in Hurghada by Q1 2020, which includes a wide range of international brands along with top notch national brands making sure we provide Hurghada’s residents & shoppers with the best shopping experience & the best mix to amidst the increasing demand from clients in the Hurghada area with the completion of upgrading the efficiency of many areas and roads along the activation of means of rapid transport and roads.

 

What products does the company intend to showcase in its projects in the coming period?

At ALDAU Development we pay attention to the most accurate details and highest international quality standards in execution of our various projects to offer real estate products catering to consumers and investors aspirations and requirements whether with the objective of investing in commercial units or for residential purposes and recreational areas.

What’s the company’s delivery plan?

ALDAU Heights project phase one is completed & delivered, Our target is to deliver ALDAU Heights Project’s second stage during 2019 with a reality of 300 units. In addition, our aim is to inaugurate the first phase of ALDAU Village Mall Q1 2020 as well and this is the first comprehensive mall in the Red Sea spanning an area of 22,000 square meters alongside ALDAU Heights Project, while the total area of ALDAU Heights and ALDAU Village Mall amount to around 85,000 meters.

What is the size of the investments of ALDAU Heights and ALDAU Strand?

The volume of ALDAU Heights investments is LE two billon with a total of 1063 units and ALDAU Strand’s investments stand at LE one billion for establishing 384 units. ALDAU Village Mall LE 1/2 billion

Coastal areas in Egypt are transforming into first home and there is a great demand by Egyptians on these areas specially North Coast, Alamein, Hurghada and Ain Sokhna.

How do you see this market in the coming period and shall it will experience such instant demand?

In reviewing the history of the western Northern Coast area, we find that focusing on the Coast is changing, so after investment was in Marakia then Agami, Marabella and Marina reaching to Sidi ‘Abdelrahman and Ras Al-Hekma in its direction to Marsa Matrouh Governorate, we see that the area connecting between Ras Al-Hekma and Marsa Matrouh has become the promising investment one, which is expected to become the new attracting point for tourist investment.

This affirms that the Northern Coast sales won’t and will not stop in 2019, and the good product will undoubtedly find its place on the market.

What is the company’s plan to export real estate? Additionally, what is the percent of the company’s sales for foreigners?

We seek to provide various facilitations supporting foreigners purchase of the Egyptian real estate including easing conditions of real estate funding, because the current one applies to a limited number of units, which are not in the scope of foreign buyers’ demands whether in relation to value or location.

Over the past two years, ALDAU Development clients are English, Germans and Russians calling on the company to help them in acquiring residency in order to purchase units. This confirms that the law requires an amendment to one of the most prominent obstacles. In Hurghada, foreigners’ ownership of real estate units are not less than 100,000 units by any means and the rate of foreign clients at ALDAU Development reaches around 15 % from the total number of the company’s clients.

The largest rate of clients are English and Germans who buy in Egypt and they prefer to own units, its prices of which range between 100 to 120 Euros and in installments. Usually, foreign buyers prefer studios & 1 bedroom units that range between 58 and 110 square meters.

How do you see Egypt’s real estate market? Additionally, what is your expectation toward real estate price hikes after increasing fuel prices?

The real estate market in Egypt is a big market and is very competitive due to the entry of new players in it, but this market is able to sort itself will remain only the main players only able to provide excellent services at competitive prices.

Of course, real estate prices may see increases due to increased fuel prices, but real estate developers are offering large payment facilities that are very similar to bank financing services. With the increase in installment periods of up to 10 years, to pay the installments of the units that have been booked.

Unlike all expectations that the real estate market will slowdown in 2019, the sales witnessed a boom during the first half of 2019. Please explain us why? And what are your expectations to the second half of the current year.

The real estate market revealed the real need for non-residential units of all types other than housing units that investors used to put in the market, as the volume of investment demand for this type of units as indicated by recent market studies. As well as the current stage of great efforts to facilitate the registration of real estate, and activate the system of one window, and take a series of measures in support of investment. Through the opening of new markets and the provision of real estate products that meet the aspirations and needs of consumers and investors. Everyone should be well aware that demand trends are increasing towards real estate for investment, especially non-residential units of all kinds, medical, service, administrative or commercial units, including recreational areas.

How do you see developer’s participations in foreign exhibitions and do you think that this strategy works in promoting Egypt’s property?

Out of Egypt there is a different concept for real estate exhibitions for example, ALDAU Development received an offer to participate in an exhibition in China, while the exhibitor stipulated that the company send representatives who speak Chinese and the exhibitions in China have a special character, which is completely different from the existing local exhibitions. On the idea of ​​reserving spaces to display project models in order to inform all visitors to the exhibition.

The concept of the China Real Estate Exhibition is based on the opportunity for serious customers to meet with representatives of companies and sit with them at the same table to negotiate the purchase after seeing all the projects in one way or another and have the real desire to meet one of the sales staff in the target company, which receives before the participation in the exhibition details of the dates and the number of customers that will meet them at one table.

However, in light of our participation in the London exhibition, it became clear to us the need to develop the philosophy of exporting real estate in general and need more international marketing efforts, and the real estate developers must open branches in the countries that target them and attract and recruit foreign marketing competencies.

In your opinion, what are the hottest areas in demand for real estate in Egypt and why?

Al Mansoura is a new and attractive investment zone that serves more than one area such as Tanta, Alexandria , the new city of El Alamein, the new Mansoura, the new Damietta and the Canal region

which means that there is a large demand for investment in these areas, especially in light of the scarcity of land in the old cities and the availability of purchasing power exceeds the supply. In addition to the governorates of Upper Egypt, and sponsorship of the State to play the role of the developer and open the investment horizons for developers in these areas.

As I said there are other areas such as Tanta, Alexandria , the new city of El Alamein, the new Mansoura, the new Damietta and the Canal region.

How do you see that launching mega real estate projects by the government participate in improving the economy performance?

When we highlight the important role of the government in the development process, it must not exceed the role of the development plan and not become a competitor to the real estate development companies, but can play the role of participation in the land only to facilitate the process of investment and development, and its role in providing the integrated service areas that lead the development movement in any city This is a kind of long-term investment, but it must be offered at a distinguished level that attracts customers and serves development in the cities of Upper Egypt and the new urban cities whose services are sought by the pioneers. The Available in the capital and the cities of Greater Cairo.

Has foreign tourism been returning significantly?

The efforts of the Egyptian government in this file are very great. Thankfully, the hospitality sector has begun to pay off. The hotel hospitality sector was the horizon for the ALDAU Development Group

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FACE integrates homeless children into society https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/12/face-integrates-homeless-children-into-society/ Mon, 12 Aug 2019 19:41:12 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=705000 Belgian woman tries to integrate abandoned, homeless children back into the society.

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When you wander in Egypt’s streets, you may notice some children sleeping on pavements or under bridges, or even begging for money from pedestrians. Those children are known as homeless children or street children. They are victims of different circumstances, like poverty, domestic violence, etc. They are deprived from basic human needs, since they have no family or relatives to turn to, living each day as if it is their last.

Homeless children have no hope for the future, as they are rejected by society, and are often subject to sexual harassment, arrest, organ trafficking, and more. Some of them are engaged in petty theft and prostitution.

Despite all the problems that they face in such difficult environment, they like living in the street as it offers them more freedom, therefore reintegrating them into the society became very difficult and requires a lot of efforts. That’s exactly what Flavia Shaw-Jackson tries to do; integrating abandoned and homeless children into the society. Jackson founded FACE for Children in Need in 2003, an organisation in Egypt to help abandoned and homeless children.

Born in South Africa, Jackson chose Cairo to launch her project, visiting Egypt once every month to follow up the activities of the project.

There are at least 12 million homeless people in Egypt, among them 3 million children, according to the Ministry of Social Solidarity. They are mainly based in Cairo, Giza, Qaliubiya, Alexandria, Menoufiya, Sharqeya, Suez, Beni Suef, Minya, and Assiut governorates.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Jackson to learn more about FACE, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How did you come up with the idea of FACE?

The idea came as I always adored children and I always hated seeing children suffering, then in 1999, I saw a film documenting some children in China who were dying in orphanages, which was really terrible. Hence, I decided to do something for these children, but unfortunately China was too far from me, also keep in mind that at that time I had my first child who was only one-and-a-half years old. So, I started helping children in Belgium. I fostered children that were being abused in Belgium.

Then, I felt like I was really pulled to Africa because I was born in South Africa and I felt that Africa is where my roots are, but it was also far for me, therefore I ended up thinking that I would like to go to Cairo to see how I could help and to be really efficient.

In 2003, I visited the country and I really fell in love with it and its people. I realised that there is a large number of homeless children here. So, I thought to partner with Egypt in order to improve the life conditions of those children.

Then, I launched FACE and registered it in the Ministry of Social Solidarity in 2004. FACE is working now with abandoned children, whether orphans or homeless.

How many projects does FACE have in Egypt?

We have six projects, one in Maadi, two in El Obour, one in Banha, and one in Al-Salam City. Five of them are for abandoned infants and orphans. We have a partnership with the Ministry of Health, where it brings abandoned infants to these centres.

I think what those infants really need is our love and protection, therefore we train our staff thoroughly, and we conduct a psychometric session with the children.

I believe that the physical touch for a baby is very important, so we massage them in order to build a bond between the carer and the child.

Our services also include medical support, as we partnered with Al-Salam hospital which give free medical support for our babies.

FACE’s services also include education, hygiene services, and legal support.

While the sixth centre, which is in Al-Salam city, is for homeless children. I think we are the first project in Egypt for street children. What we do is that we have two teams that work in Cairo’s streets to build trust with the children.

We don’t give anything to the children on street because if we give them money, clothes, or food, we are just making it easier for them to stay on streets. So, they have to enrol in our activities, including drawing and playing puzzles.

We teach them life skills and how to protect themselves in the streets. We believe that children have a lot of freedom in the street. They can get money, food, and drugs. So, we don’t push them to come to our centre, we just tell them that they can come whenever they want, and they actually come.

Once they arrive to our centre, we wash their clothes, offer them breakfast, as well as psychological and medical support.

Keeping in mind that the children live in the streets with no rules, so we have to make them understand that life has rules to respect. We tell them that the centre has rules, so if they made a mistake, they should be punished, but they will decide the type of punishment themselves. It helps them to respect the rules. That’s one step to come back into the society, as they have to learn that there are no rules on the street but if they come back into society, the first step is accepting that there are rules.

We also provide them with psychological and educational support, as we have a Child-friendly schools aim to develop a learning environment in which children are motivated and able to learn.

I want to mention that we have an agreement with the government, they accept our certificate, thus the children can return into the school system. That’s another step toward reintegrating them into the society.

We also do vocational training, and we work a lot with the children to get them back with their families which is very important for us, because 95% of street children have families, so we work not only with the children, but we also work with their families.

When can you say that a child was successfully reintegrated into his family?

We can only say that a child is successfully reintegrated into his family after spending one and a half years with them, and we are supervising this through our social workers who go to the family every month to see if everything’s going well, providing them with the psychological support.

We have a contract with very poor families which states that we will support them, however we don’t give them money, but we offer them required equipment or goods to start a business, on the condition that they promise that their child will go to the school.

How many children do you have in each project?

We have around 50 children in each project.

What are the conditions for accepting children in FACE’s projects?

There are no conditions, we accept all children, whatever their conditions, and the minister knows, I mean when they have difficult cases, they send them to FACE and they know that we would never refuse children.

From where do you get the funding for these shelters?

At the beginning, the project was self-funded. It was just my husband and I who were financing it, and then we asked friends to help us in the funding because it costs too much, then we started getting financial support from Egyptians, and now we have a businessperson who helps us. Also, the European Union gave us a fund.

Do you get donations from smaller donors?

No, we have been working here for many years on our projects, but we have not communicated with Egyptians about FACE itself, so normal citizens don’t know us well, while ministers, NGOs, etc, all know about FACE and we have a very good reputation among them.

Do you think that you need to promote FACE?

Yes, we have to do that, that’s where we need help now. I want to mention that my idea is that FACE must be 100% Egyptian, so we have 190 employees, where 100% are Egyptians today.

That’s because my idea is that one day, I will be able to go back to Belgium and it will be completely Egyptian and they will not need me anymore.

What is FACE’s expansion plan in Egypt?

I personally believe that orphanages are not the right place for children to grow up in. We do have our high-quality orphanages, but we are working with Minister Ghada Waly on closing these orphanages and integrating the children into families.

In your opinion, what are the reasons behind having a large number of homeless children in Egypt?

I think this is due to broken families, abuse and violence within the family, and poverty. When families have financial problems, they can’t even secure food for their children, so the children have to go out to work.

What are the challenges that still hinder NGOs work in Egypt?

The main problem we face is the red tape, but we get a lot of support from the Minister of Social Solidarity, I was impressed by how much she supports us.

How do you see the new NGOs Law in Egypt?

I think it was in need to be updated and nowadays they are modifying quite a few things, as it was complicated for the NGOS. But they are trying now to make it more flexible, so I think they are moving now in the right track.

What is your aspiration?

I hope to close all orphanages and put children in foster families.

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ACUD negotiates with Emirati investor to develop EGP 18bn project in New Capital https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/06/acud-negotiates-with-emirati-investor-to-develop-egp-18bn-project-in-new-capital/ Tue, 06 Aug 2019 14:00:50 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704625 Ten companies paid only 2% of land cost

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Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, chairperson of Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), revealed there are many offers from foreign and Egyptian companies to obtain large plots of land in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) project, east Cairo, although the ACUD has doubled the price of land compared to the first land offering in 2016/17.

Abdeen said the ACUD is studying entering in partnerships with developers to establish new projects in the New Capital, but the company will not apply this system in allocating lands of the first phase of the project.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Abdeen to know further details about the development of the NAC project, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How many companies did pay deposit for their lands in NAC?

Ten real estate companies have paid only 2% of their land deposits, but we are still in negotiations with these companies to pay 20% of the land price, and we will reach an agreement soon.

Do you plan to enter in partnerships with developers in the first phase of the NAC project?

Our priority in the current period is to sell lands of the first phase of the NAC project, however, we welcome having partnerships in second and third phases. We plan to have partnerships for plots of land exceeding 100-1500 feddan.

Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, chairperson of Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD)

What are most important partnership offers the company received?

We have a recent offer submitted by an Italian investor to launch the largest Disney Land project in the New Capital on 1,200 feddan. We are currently negotiating with the Italian company about the price of land and the pricing committee is currently determining the value of the project’s land to be presented to the Italian investor which will be part of the second phase of the NAC project.

Additionally, the ACUD is close to an agreement with an Emirati investor to get 1,200 feddan to set up a global residential project in the New Capital with investments estimated at EGP 18bn. The company had asked to obtain a plot of land within the rest area that the AUCD has not offered in the first phase of the NAC project.

Do you plan to offer new lands in the current year?

No, we do not need to offer new lands in the current year. However, we are studying partnership projects offered by Arab and Egyptian developers with large plots of land. Approximately 17,000 feddan have been sold in the first phase of the project.

How much did providing necessary utilities cost?

Providing utilities cost EGP 1,700 per square metre, with total infrastructure cost of EGP 140bn.

What is the value of construction contracts in New Capital?

The value of construction contracts signed by the ACUD in cooperation with the New Urban Communities Authority reached about EGP 40bn, which has been targeted since launching the project. About 70 companies are implementing infrastructure, buildings, road networks, drainage, water, and other projects.

How many embassies did request to move to the New Capital?

The ACUD has received 22 requests from foreign embassies in Egypt to acquire lands in NAC’s Diplomatic District, notably Saudi Arabia and China, who each appealed for a 20-feddan plot.

The Diplomatic District is the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and thus, it is responsible for accepting such applications and coordinating with ACUD in the process of land allocation.

ACUD has not yet received any payments from the concerned bodies in this district and prices stand at $400 per sqm. 

Three African countries covet to transfer Egypt’s experience in the implementation of NAC and are eager to establish a similar administrative capital in their homelands, notably Tanzania and South Africa.

What is the situation of infrastructure development in NAC?

The ACUD has completed 60% of the first phase of the New Capital infrastructure which spans over 40,000 feddan. A total of 17,000 feddan were sold for EGP 272bn to be paid in installments over four years.

In case of obtaining the ministerial approval and the companies did not begin construction works, what does the ACUD do in this case?

There are many companies that have obtained ministerial approvals for developing their projects, and those who obtained building license and did not begin construction works were warned by the ACUD

After the ministerial approvals are obtained, the company has to complete 25% of its project within a year.

Additionally, in the event that companies procrastinate in submitting their papers for obtaining ministerial approvals, the ACUD sends them memos to apply for them, and if there was no response from the companies, then ACUD has the right to withdraw the allocated land.

What are the updates of the ACUD’s negotiation with Emaar Misr?

The company’s negotiations with Mohamed Alabbar [Chairperson of Emaar Misr] stopped completely because the ACUD was not satisfied with the offer. The land that Alabbar was negotiating was sold to an Egyptian investor.

Do you plan to borrow from banks?

The ACUD will not borrow from banks. The financial position of the company is very strong. The company has accounts in more than 20 domestic and foreign banks, where the company’s profit reaches EGP 2bn year-over-year.

Do you plan to offer the company on Egyptian Exchange (EGX)?

The company has no intention at all to offer its shares on the EGX. Accordingly, the company’s financial position is very strong, and we do not need to have shareholders. If the company needs more funds, it would offer new lands to get sufficient liquidity for infrastructure development.

What are the updates regarding Talaat Moustafa Group’s request to obtain a 5,000-feddan in the NAC?

The ACUD has refused the request due to disagreement on the price of land.

What is the percentage increase of land prices in the NAC project?

The pricing committee at ACUD meets every six months to specify the increase in prices. I expect an increase of 10-15% in prices in the coming six months as well as, further increases after opening the governmental district and presidential palace, and operation of monorail and electric train. The first offering price for residential areas was EGP 2,100 per sqm, however, it currently reached EGP 4,000 per sqm. Meanwhile, it reached EGP 15,000 and EGP 40,000 per commercial sqm instead of EGP 5,000. Furthermore, the ACUD has sold lands for EGP 2,100 per sqm for the Ministry of Communications at the Knowledge City.

What are updates of the medical city in the NAC?

The company has received several offers to invest in the medical city, namely a request from a Saudi investor to have an integrated medical project on 120 feddan and another from an Egyptian investor on an area of 150 feedan.

How many contractors are working in the NAC project?

There are more than 40 contracting companies working in the NAC with total construction contracts worth approximately EGP 50bn.

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IWAN to deliver 3 projects in 1Q20 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/06/iwan-to-deliver-3-projects-in-1q20/ Tue, 06 Aug 2019 13:30:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704609 “I expect demand to continue to grow at historical high rate of 12%,” says IWAN CEO

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IWAN Developments has launched the second phase of The Axis, a modern residential complex built over multiple terraces with a focus on landscaping, CEO of IWAN, Waleed Mokhtar, told Daily News Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mokhtar to learn about his company’s plans, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding the company’s projects in West Cairo?

We are still in the designing phase of the project and will announce its details once we launch it in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019.

What is the company’s expansion strategy in the coming period?

Normally, we focused our investments in Sheikh Zayed City, where we have established a good reputation as a developer, and have become known for providing value-added solutions. Recently, we have decided to expand into other areas, including West Cairo and Ain Sokhna. This decision is always subject to finding the right location. As a company, the location is of great significance.  Therefore, finding a land plot that is suitable for development in West Cairo was one of the reasons that we are moving ahead with this strategy of expansion.

What products does the company intend to provide in the coming period?

We launched the second phase of The Axis, a modern residential complex built over multiple terraces with a focus on landscaping. In general, this project was developed with an eye to complimenting landscape rather than landscape that is added to the development itself.

What’s the company’s delivery plan?

We are actually very much on track in the delivery of our projects since the day we started as it is a matter of pride for us that to date we have been able to deliver on time. By Q1 of 2020, we will deliver a number of projects, including Jedar, Atrio, and Alma.  It’s an extremely ambitious mission, but we are confident of our ability to deliver on time.

When will the company begin construction works in the West Cairo project?

We aim to finalise the project’s design and will launch it once it’s done. We will have greater clarity on timelines soon.

What are the update regarding the company’s project in the Red Sea?

Once the design concept is finalised, we will launch the project officially.

Coastal areas in Egypt are transforming into first homes and there is a great demand by Egyptians on these areas specially the North Coast, Alamein, Hurghada, and Ain Sokhna. How do you see this?

Well it makes absolute sense. Worldwide migration patterns are the same. Owning a first home on the coast is usually more desirable than owning a home in a city and as a result those homes come at a higher price. With the addition of fourth generation cities the potential for finding fulltime employment in those areas will increase so it makes sense that people buy there knowing that the price will increase even further in the future. This is especially true of Sokhna since you have the Administrative Capital only half an hour away and you have Galala city and Suez which will create an incredible amount of job opportunities. I expect that especially Ain Sokhna will benefit from this relocation.

How do you see the market in the coming period? And will it experience such increasing demand?

I think Ain Sokhna will see a boom, followed by the North Coast. This will happen once there is visible movement in the New Capital City, meaning that businesses will move in and people start relocating. So initial phases of most projects to be launched will probably be within the range of normal market growth dynamics, but second phases and onwards will really pick up there.

What is the company’s plan to export real estate? And what is the foreigners’ share of the company’s sales?

We are a company that serves a very niche type of clients; most of our foreign buyers come through referrals.

How do you see Egypt’s real estate market? And what is your expectation for real estate prices after fuel price hike?

By 2030, about 40 million people will enter the workforce in Egypt. While this will put add pressure on the government to create new job opportunities, from a real estate perspective those are at least 20 million new customers coming into the market, customers who want to go shopping, who need offices to work, clubs to spend time at, places to eat, schools and hospitals and of course places to live. Moreover, the demographics will probably also change.  People will move out of Cairo with new opportunities in the many new cities around Egypt, urban migration will not be focused anymore coming into Cairo but moving to new cities so people will become more mobile and while they will continue to value a home in their city of birth because this is the nature of our society and thinking, rents will be on higher demand especially rents for smaller and medium-sized apartments to accommodate young people who move to their jobs and younger families. In general I expect demand to continue to grow at historical rates of 12% which is already very high, and I expect investment to focus on coastal areas and smaller sized apartments in prime districts close to business centres.

Regarding price hikes, I think it depends on the developer and how much of the additional cost he can absorb. While most developers will try to keep prices within the affordability range, especially given the last two years of price hikes, I expect there will be some impact but more in the range of low single digits.

Unlike all expectations that the real estate market will slow down in 2019, the sales witnessed a boom during the first half (H1) of 2019. Please explain why? And what are your expectations for H2 of the current year?

Demand has not changed significantly, most people see the last years as a boom in sales but that is because they look at the market in terms of value.  Of course, there was an increase in terms of quantity but not to double and triple figures that we hear about.  But as a result of this boom a large number of new players entered the market, this in its own way is healthy because it forces developers to provide better products for their customers, however the number of buyers remains the same only distributed on a larger number of players.  So, while the overall market will continue to grow in line with historical trends on an individual level, we will see smaller developers and even some larger ones that will have a slowdown in sales. Since prices of units will not decrease because cost, for obvious reasons, is not decreasing, the developers that will succeed are those that have well balanced finances and are well established in the market.

How do you see developers’ participation in foreign exhibitions? And do you think that this strategy works in promoting Egypt’s property export?

Yes, absolutely but this is a long-term strategy. We need to be on ground to promote our products, but this kind of activity takes time to build up, so yes, it is important. But it cannot be done alone, in addition to that we need an international campaign that focuses on promoting Egypt as an investment destination, those can be through general media or social media or simply through events. But exhibitions are only part of that overall strategy.

In your opinion, what are the hottest areas in demand for real estate in Egypt and why?

First homes will always remain a hot demand in our market simply because we culturally tend to invest in real estate and because we have a preference towards ownership rather than rent, not because rent is undesired in Egypt, in fact according to statistics, 36% of Cairo’s real estate is rented which is a huge number, especially when one considers that return on rent is 10%. But in any case, demand for first homes will remain highest in Cairo because that is where most of the population is, as time progresses this will continue as the largest city in Cairo. Ain Sokhna, I believe will also witness large growth because of the nature of the location.

Do you see the launch of mega real estate projects by the government would improve economic performance?

It’s pure economics. The government spending has traditionally improved economic performance whether that is through megaprojects or something else.

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Pyramids to start offering units of NAC’s Paris Mall soon: chairperson https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/06/pyramids-to-start-offering-units-of-nacs-paris-mall-soon-chairperson/ Tue, 06 Aug 2019 09:00:07 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704567 Company's investments in NAC reached approximately EGP 6bn, says El Kholy

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Pyramids Developments is building four large commercial malls in the New Administrative Capital (NAC); Paris Mall, La Capitale, Champ Elysees, and Grand Square.

Pyramids is specialised in the establishment and management of commercial malls and residential compounds, said Hisham El Kholy, chairperson of Pyramids Developments.

El Kholy told Daily News Egypt that the company is close to offer some administrative units of Paris Mall soon, with total area of 6,000 sqm.

What are the updates of Paris Mall?

Pyramids Developments has begun implementing the construction works in its commercial mall, Paris, in the New Administrative Capital in early July.The new mall will be built on an area of over 32,600 sqm.

Additionally, the company achieved EGP 800m sales from Paris Mall within only 15 days after its launch.

When will the company offer administrative units in the project?

I expect that the commercial units of Paris Mall will be sold out within the next few days as customers become aware of the importance of the mall’s location within the NAC as well as its distinguished services. The mall is located within the largest residential complex in front of the Olympic Village.

We are close to offer some administrative units of Paris Mall soon, with total area of 6,000 sqm.

How much is the value of Paris Mall’s investments?

The Paris Mall investments are worth EGP 2bn.The mall comprises of commercial, administrative, and clinic units with 0% down-payment and instalments over 15 years.

Hisham El Kholy, chairperson of Pyramids Developments

What is the value of the company’s investments in NAC?

Our investments within the New Capital reached approximately EGP 6bn. We began with La Capitale compound and La Capitale Mall inside the compound. Then the company launched its first administrative, medical mall inside the NAC, Grand Square Mall, with investments of EGP 750m. We then established Champs Elysees Mall within central business district (CBD) in the NAC, and finally Paris Mall, the largest in the New Capital. The company provided its clients with unique offers, most notably was facilitation in paying the down-payment and long instalment periods after delivery.

When will the company deliver Grand Square Mall?

Grand Square is the first mall with commercial, administrative, and medical units in the CBD with total investments estimated at EGP 750m. The mall spans over 7,800 sqm and will be completed and fully delivered by the end of 2020, according to the plan set by the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD).

It worth mentioning that the mall was designed at modern French style, comprising of eight floors, including a ground floor, for mixed-use purposes, where the first and second floors allocated for shops, the third floor for medical clinics, the fourth and fifth are for administrative offices, while the sixth and seventh floors will be a hotel. The mall is distinguished by its unique location in the CBD, located directly opposite the presidential palace, the cabinet headquarters, and the governmental district, and next to the parliament. Moreover, the mall is being surrounded by universities and entertainment areas in this vital region, which the company expects it would double the investment value of the mall.

What is the value of La Capitale residential project investments?

The company is developing the La Capitale project in the NAC on 12 feddan with total investments of EGP 1.5bn. The project’s built-up area does not exceed 22% of the total project’s area, and will be delivered fully finished.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company’s plan to launch projects in various sectors, whether real estate, industrial, or commercial, is a natural result of the improvement of the investment climate in Egypt. Additionally, it is evidence that the market has enjoyed many promising opportunities in light of the political and security stability in Egypt recently, which motivates any investor to pump more investments. Moreover, our expansion plan was within the company’s objectives before operating in the Egyptian market.

The company intends to begin construction works in two new projects in the second half (H2) of 2019. The first is an international tourist project in a French-Spanish partnership on an area of ​​165 feddan, and the second is a tourism project in 265 km in the North Coast on an area of ​​225 feddan. Furthermore, the company has completed the construction of a model school in the city of Mahalla, Gharbeya governorate, in addition to the construction of two international schools in the NAC, the first is on an area of ​​9,665 sqm in the R3 district and the second is on an area of ​​8,500 sqm on the Green River.

The company also plans to establish serviced apartments in the Fifth Settlement, New Cairo. Moreover, we are studying the implementation of a giant industrial project in 10th of Ramadan City. Over and above, the company soon will announce its cultural project to be the first of its kind in the NAC.

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Beta allocates EGP 250m for construction works in 2H19 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/05/beta-allocates-egp-250m-for-construction-works-in-2h19/ Mon, 05 Aug 2019 16:39:03 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704473 Company mulls new development project in September

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Beta Egypt for Urban Development plans to direct EGP 250m for the construction works of its projects during the second half (H2) of 2019, according to Alaa Fikry, chairperson of the company.

Fikry told Daily News Egypt that the company is currently seeking building permits for Beta Green New Cairo project in Mostakbal City.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Fikry to learn about the updates of the company’s plans, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding Beta Green New Cairo?

Beta Egypt for Urban Development is currently seeking building permits for some buildings in Beta Green New Cairo in Mostakbal City. The company plans to increase implementation rates by the end of third quarter (Q3) of the current year.

Tells more about Beta Greens New Cairo

The project is built on an area of 85 feddan in Mostakbal City, New Cairo, and is being implemented over six phases with initial investments of EGP 6bn.

The company intends to implement the first phase of the project early next year, which includes about 500 housing units with total initial investments of about EGP 1bn, out of a total of EGP 6bn for the whole project. The total project includes 3,000 housing units, which include 100 villas, and the other units are apartments of different sizes. The built-up area represents only 20% of the whole project. The first phase will be delivered in 2021.

How much is the project’s total investment?

The project’s total investment exceeds EGP 5bn.

What is the project’s sales situation?

The company has managed to market 40% of the total project’s units and will be developed within three years.

What are the projects that the company is currently developing?

We are currently developing two commercial centres in the Sixth of October City and we are close to completingone of them in preparation for inaugurating one of them next Ramadan. Therefore, we are working on completing their construction works in the coming six months.

How much investments Beta is directing in H2 of 2019?

We plan to direct EGP 250m investments in our projects; in two commercial centres in the Sixth of October City, and begin construction works in Beta Green New Cairo project.

Are there any new projects the company would announce in the coming period?

We plan to launch a new huge project and we will announce the details in September.

How do you see investment opportunities in Mostakbal City?

The presence of many real estate developers at Mostakbal City provides strong competition between companies to deliver products of the highest quality and best prices. The distinguished location of the city in east Cairo is an added value for investments.

What is your expectation regarding real estate prices?

I do not expect an increase will happen in H2 of the current year, despite the increase in fuel prices due to high competition in the market and high market supply exceeding demand. Moreover, there are some market pressures and commitments on developers because of the recent economic reforms undertaken by the government and stability in clients’ purchasing power.

How do you see the current situation in the real estate market?

Egypt’s real estate market is currently experiencing a relative balance between supply and demand which requires developers to exert more effort and innovate in providing different products to compete in the real estate market which sees severe competition by developers.

What are the problems the real estate market face?

The H1 of 2019 has seen low real estate sales compared to the same period last year. Additionally, interest rates of lands offered by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) are currently very high, and the authority has to reconsider such interest rates to stimulate urban area development.

What is your opinion regarding the state’s real estate export strategy?

Exporting property represents a strong opportunity for real estate developers to benefit from the currency devaluation following the flotation, whether to Egyptian expatriates or to foreigners, which necessitates the need to provide distinctive real estate products capable of competing in global markets. In addition, we must design real estate units to meet the requirements of the target customers.

How do you see the partnership between developers and the state in developing social housing units?

The activation of the partnership between the ministry of housing and private sector developers in providing social housing units at the present time is important in the context of growing needs and the presence of a large segment of customers ‘ needs that the private sector does not meet in the light of recent price hikes. Additionally, the market has many companies with successful experience in cooperation with the state in producing housing units at a high level of quality at affordable prices suit for the largest segment of citizens.Furthermore, the presence of developers in the production of housing units at a price not exceeding EGP 400,000 per unit will reduce the waiting lists, which always exist as a result of the state alone bearing the burden of developing these units.

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Al-Wadi unveils new project in North Coast https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/05/al-wadi-unveils-new-project-in-north-coast/ Mon, 05 Aug 2019 14:13:55 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704480 Company launched 4th phase of Agora Sidi Abdel Rahman project in mid-July, says Commercial Director

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Al-Wadi Tourism Investment and Real Estate plans to launch a new extension for Agora Sidi Abdel Rahman project in the North Coast on 10-feddan plot, the company’s Commercial Director, Ahmed Samir, told Daily News Egypt.

Samir said that the new extension’s units have a sea view and will be built on 16-21 sqm sea surface height.

The extension spans over 10 feddan, named Sky, with unit prices starting from EGP 550,000 for one-bedroom units, and EGP 850,000 for two-bedroom ones, Samir noted.

He revealed that the company has launched the fourth phase of Agora Sidi Abdel Rahman project in mid-July.

The fourth phase comprises of 100 units, he added, expecting to complete marketing the phase within six months with anticipated sales of EGP 300m.

He further disclosed that the company aims to deliver the fourth phase within three years.

“We have completed the second phase, as the company has accomplished 80% of the phase’s buildings and it will be delivered next year. We have also delivered the third phase two years ago,” he highlighted.

Spanning over 21 feddan, Agora is a residential tourism project comprising of 900 units and a hotel which includes 120 rooms, in addition to a commercial part of the project which is a mall located on an area of 21,000 sqm, Samir noted

Furthermore, Samir added that the commercial mall has been fully operated and includes several international brands to serve the project’s clients and the surrounding area.

“The commercial centre of the project encompasses several international brands, notably IKEA, which opened its second headquarters in Egypt and the first in the North Coast inside Agora on an area of 1,200 sqm,” he pointed out.

“Three phases have been delivered to our clients and have been operating for two years. The project runs efficiently during the summer season due to the integration of the project services and implementation of a large part of it,” Samir stressed.

He revealed that sales to foreigners in the Agora Sidi Abdel Rahman project constitutes about 10% of the project, a good share which the company seeks to increase in the remaining project units.

Additionally, he revealed that the company plans to capture new investment opportunities for next year in several areas identified by the company including Ain Sokhna and New Cairo and then West Cairo in the cities of Sheikh Zayed and the Sixth of October.

The commercial director projected an increase in the North Coast project’s prices to reach10-15% after fuel price hikes, pointing out that sales in 2018 were more than this year as marketers directed clients to invest in the New Administrative Capital, which slowed down sales in the North Coast and Ain Sokhna.

He explained that increased demand for commercial and administrative units is due to the high profit of such projects as they have three times the profit than residential projects. Moreover, developers ensure recurring revenue from those service projects. Additionally, there is a great demand by clients and real estate investors on these projects.

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Assiut handicrafts are on the verge of extinction: Usama Ghazali https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/02/assiut-handicrafts-are-on-the-verge-of-extinction-usama-ghazali/ Fri, 02 Aug 2019 11:30:19 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704185 Egyptian researcher returned to record Egyptian handicraft heritage for children, grandchildren

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As an environmental researcher, Usama Ghazali travelled across the country,  south, through deserts, villages, and unvisited regions, to explore real spirit of Egypt’s handicrafts. During his earlier visit to India, he found out that they keep track of their handicrafts in a beautiful atlas. Afterwards, Ghazali returned to Egypt full of enthusiasm to do the same in his home country, to archive all handicrafts across Egypt, showing where they are based, how they are distributed, and making a record for the children and grandchildren to come.

Not only that, he also established a company not just to market these products, but to shed light on their makers and artists, and hold courses for those interested to learn more.

Daily News Egypt interviewed to Usama Ghazali to find out more details about his journey,  the difficulties that he faced, and how he accomplished his mission, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Daily News Egypt interviewed to Usama Ghazali to find out more details about his journey

What inspired you to start an Atlas of Handicrafts?

In 2012, when I travelled to India and saw the crafts’ atlas there, I was astonished, and somewhat jealous that Egypt did not have an atlas like it, despite its wealth of handicrafts. I thought about documenting the handicrafts my return to Egypt in March 2012, and started working on the encyclopaedia, and I collected information on the crafts I know, in cooperation with some friends, and then began the research journey.

What kind of work did you do at the time?

I was the director of the Gebel Elba National Park, in the south of the Red Sea governorate, until 2012, and then I left the job in order to start my own project under the name Yadawya for the development and marketing of crafts and handicrafts.

How did you conduct your search for crafts?

I was looking for the traditional crafts of the communities in the cities and governorates of Egypt, by adopting a heritage-based approach so that each community could maintain its distinct heritage. I intended to keep the crafts from being extinct. I then drew a map for each governorate and pinned the locations for the many crafts there so that tourists and visitors can easily find the location of each handicraft.

What was your criteria for including a certain craft into the atlas?

Each craft or profession is subject to several criteria and mechanisms for its inclustion into the atlas, the most important of which is how old it is – must be between 50 and 100 years – and to be authentically Egyptian.

How many governorates have you included in the atlas?

I travelled to 22 Egyptian governorates out of 27 governorates. I was looking for the marginalised, remote residents away from the capital, in order to reach craftsmen and women, such as carpet makers and palm painters. I found strange crafts on my journey such as drawing using wheat, sculpture of the buffalo horns, the manufacture of scales, and the animal leather-based handicrafts, such as the goat leather.

What are the strangest crafts you have discovered?

The manufacture of colourful palm fronds plates; pottery of sand in the oases area; wool weaving from sheep; hand-woven wool carpet; palm leaf furniture; arabesque of palm leaves; burning on wood; sand painting; sculpture on palm kernels, and oval clay formation.

Have you found support during your journey and what difficulties have you encountered?

I did not receive any financial or institutional support during my trip, and relied on self-financing for this project, which sometimes hindered me from fulfilling my mission, apart from forming a large working group on documentation, photography, and video.

Sometimes I would reach an end of paved roads and I had to ride old, worn-out vehicles. Other times I had to walk for long distances.

What are the most famous handicrafts that have disappeared from Egypt?

Unfortunately, for example, Nubian embroidery and engraving on the “buffalo horn” have disappeared. Making a special type of bed, similar to that of Tutankhamen has almost gone extinct, as only one person can now make them.

What drives the crafts extinction?

The reason behind the disappearance of these crafts is due to the change of time in addition to technological development. As the sons of craftsmen defer from following the steps of their parents, leaving only the elderly. So, we seek to transfer these experiences to the new generation for the continuation of the handicrafts of Egyptian heritage.

Do crafts have a life cycle?

Any craft begins with a use for it and then becomes an art, and the crisis lies in the lack of support for handicrafts in Egypt, which made them lose much value during the recent period.

What are the handicrafts in high demand?

The palm and beach bag crafst are the most sought, in addition to handcrafted carpets that are used as souvenirs.

Which governorates have the most crafts?

Upper Egypt is generally much richer than the Nile Delta in handicrafts, and its governorates has the lion’s share with about 35 crafts.

What is the Yadaweya project and how did it start?

The project was an digital social enterprise and it intendeds to serve as a link between the families producing handicrafts in the governorates of Egypt and consumers looking for authentic products that revive the sense of pride in the original Egyptian heritage. With the expansion of the project, its employees realised the importance of extending services beyond the internet, explaining that they felt the importance of working in parallel between the “online market” and on the ground for consumers who are always looking for products more tangible than those they surf online, and we have already opened our headquarters in Maadi.

Is it a marketing outlet for handicrafts?

The headquarters is more than just a product display platform. It also includes workshops for those interested in learning handicrafts at the hands of artists from around Egypt, along with seminars and educational activities that are held in Egypt and abroad. This is in addition to promoting the basic cornerstone of Yadawya, namely, teaching Egyptian heritage, not just promoting it. The main objective of the foundation is to empower local craftsmen in Egyptian societies and to spread the culture of handicrafts.

Which products do you focus on?

The place includes all types of indoor products; women accessories; ornaments; scarves; clothes; rugs; ceramics; lighting and decoration units; wooden kitchen decorations, and paintings. The site offers about 4,000 products from more than 5,000 craftsmen in various Egyptian areas.

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SEBA plans textile roadshow to Switzerland: Executive Director https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/02/seba-plans-textile-roadshow-to-switzerland-executive-director/ Fri, 02 Aug 2019 08:00:10 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704196 We aim to enhance, strengthen industrial, commercial relations between both countries, says Taher

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The Swiss-Egyptian Business Association (SEBA) is planning a textile roadshow to Switzerland to promote the textile sector in Egypt (garments and machinery) and to know the requirements of the Swiss market, SEBA‘s Executive Director, Marwa Taher, said.

“We believe that the Egyptian economy holds great potential for more investments and business expansion. In fact, Egypt is currently looked at as a gateway to the African market, as discussions have been already been opened to assess potential opportunities for Swiss investments in Africa, seen though their current presence in the Egyptian market,” Taher stated.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Taher to learn more about the updates of SEBA’s activities and its plans for 2020 in collaboration with the Egyptian and Swiss governments, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the future events that SEBA is preparing right now? And your sectors of focus?

We are currently getting prepared for our Meet The Expert: Customs Single Window Seminar. This event will discuss in-depth everything regarding the new customs regulations, as well as assist members and attendees with all their questions and inquiries. We also plan for a textile roadshow to Switzerland to promote the textile sector in Egypt (garments and machinery) and to know the requirements of the Swiss market.

Cheerful young angels with Down Syndrome that SEBA supports through its Four Biscuits Initiative

Can you please give us a brief about SEBA’s role and establishment?

Established in 2004, SEBA-The Swiss Egyptian Business Association-is a non-governmental organisation working under Law No 84 of the ministry of social affairs in 2002. With 15 years of experience in promoting bilateral trade and investments, SEBA was founded by a group of Swiss-Egyptian businessmen under the auspices of the embassy of Switzerland in Egypt. Our mission is to enhance and strengthen the industrial as well as commercial relations among the two states, and create new market opportunities.

Backgrounder: ‘SEBA focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR), vocational training, and employment activities through hosting related events in 2018, in collaboration with non-governmental organisations, Taher told DNE last year,  adding that SEBA supports the Four Biscuits Initiative that aims to empower young people with Down Syndrome by providing them with training in baking skills and then selling their products at local markets and online.’

What about SEBA’s past activities in 2019?

With the support of our members we organised our yearly fundraising Business Awards event to nominate the top contributors among Swiss and Egyptian investors in education. The fund was dedicated to ADVANCE Society for the training programmes which support teachers of students with disabilities. We also organise monthly meetings, including the embassy of Switzerland and SEBA members, to tackle the issues that are of interest to our members. The outcome of these meetings helps us improve the services we provide to our members by focusing on their needs and requirements to sustain economic and business challenges.

Backgrounder: ‘The embassy of Switzerland in Egypt, along with Swiss companies, will promote educational and vocational training cooperation, in collaboration with the Egyptian government, Paul Garnier, the ambassador of Switzerland, said earlier in April over the event that was organised by SEBA, noting, “the Egyptian government declared 2019 as a year of education and we will leave our footprint on that.”

How do you assess the performance of the Egyptian economy and how do Swiss companies see the improvements of the investment climate?

We believe that the Egyptian economy has a great potential for more investments and business expansion. In fact, Egypt is currently looked at as a gateway to the African market; as discussions have been already opened to assess potential opportunities for Swiss investments in Africa, seen though their current presence in Egyptian market. That being said, the Egyptian market is considered a window to the whole continent.

How many members does SEBA include? What about plans to further increase their numbers?

SEBA brings together around 160 valued members who significantly contribute to the Egyptian economy and benefit from a wide range of services that SEBA provides. Our objective is to grow and to further acquire members through our strategic growth plan.

What about the latest trade statistics with Egypt by the end of 2018? And the first months of 2019?

Egypt has grown to become one of the most significant trade hubs across the continent as well as the region. By the end of 2018, Egypt succeeded in attracting more trade investors, while focusing on and pushing Egyptian exported products and commodities. As for 2019, we look forward to casting a light on one of Egypt’s finest products, namely textiles. In collaboration with the Swiss side, we are preparing for a trade mission and textile roadshow for the year 2019-2020

How many Swiss companies work in Egypt? What is their amount of investment? What are their main sectors? Is there any interest by new companies for new investments?

The Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt reached $1.6bn, marking an increase of $400m during the last two years. Swiss investments take place in the fields of industry, energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and food.

What about the Swiss officials’ visits to Egypt in 2019? And the trade missions? What are the outcomes of the latest visits?

Switzerland and Egypt are proud to say that economic relations are outstanding in terms of quality. Both, Switzerland and Egypt, have achieved remarkable results from trade missions and delegations to both states.

This year Switzerland and Egypt celebrated 110 years of economic and trade relationships between both countries in the presence of Egypt’s Minister of Investment, Sahar Nasr, the Swiss Foreign Minister, Ignazio Cassis, and the Swiss ambassador to Egypt, Paul Garnier.

Backgrounder: ‘On 25 March 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with the Swiss Federal Councillor, Ignazio Cassis, where he reiterated Egypt’s keenness on boosting relations and cooperation with Switzerland in various fields, said presidential spokesperson, Bassam Rady.

Al-Sisi reviewed the latest economic developments in Egypt during the last period which witnessed the implementation of the comprehensive economic and social development programme.

Cassis noted that Switzerland seeks to bolster ties with Egypt in light of its role played in maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East region. The meeting also tackled means of increasing Swiss investments in Egypt, especially mega development projects.’

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New current NGOs Law is best in history: Ayman Okeil https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/31/new-current-ngos-law-is-best-in-history-ayman-okeil/ Wed, 31 Jul 2019 11:48:58 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704066 Despite Okeil’s satisfaction with Law, he expressed concern that Law would not be properly implemented, might be used against NGOs

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Egypt’s civil society organisations are currently awaiting the issuance of the executive regulations of the recently-approved non-governmental organisations (NGOs) law to start working with it, after a long period of facing difficulties in performing their work.

In 2017, the state approved a law which was not welcomed by the majority of NGOs, due to including several harsh articles hindering civil work. It was also a reason that put the Egyptian state in the path of severe international and local criticisms. Despite parliamentary approval and presidential ratification, the executive regulations of the law remained pending throughout the last two years, until President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi responded to the calls of civil society, and ordered a committee to be formed to look into and make possible amendments.

After several community dialogues, the ministry of social solidarity decided to come up with a new law satisfactory to all sides. Many of local NGO’s viewed the new law as a better version compared to the 2017’s law.

Daily News Egypt interviewed the President of Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights, Ayman Okeil, who is one of the prominent NGO members in Egypt, and he is also a member of a governmental human right committee, and his association have contributed in civil activities and was always one of the most-popular observers during any of the country’s elections.

During the interview, Okeil discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the new NGOs Law, the difference with the previous law, electoral performance in Egypt, and how the state responds to foreign criticism, as well as parliamentary performance.

Amendment of NGO’s law:

In the beginning, Okeil, who is also a lawyer, praised the move of amending the law, explaining that since long years ago, civil society organisations have been working under Law No 84 of 2002, and never stopped calling for its amendment as they believed that it restricted their work.

“There were around six bills and the new law was the best. It mostly covered all the comments and concerns of the members of civil society. However, this law is still facing criticism, but yet better than any other previous NGO Law enforced in Egypt,” Okeil said. 

“Law No 72 of 2017 was the worst law–even worse than the NGO Law of 2002”, he asserted.

Although Maat did not attend any of the community dialogues, their comments along with other civil organisations, were considered in the New Law, according to Okeil.

Speaking of civil society efforts to reject the Law of 2017, he highlighted that his association, along with other NGOs had attended several meetings with governmental figures and appeared in the media to express their opposition toward the law.

Okeil believes that the insistence of civil society groups to amend the law was the main reason beyond the hindering of executive regulations for the Law of 2017.

When asked on how NGOs were performing in the absence of bylaws of 2017’s Law, Okeil said NGOs faced “a state of paralysis” for almost two years.

He explained that NGOs were in an uproar, facing obstacles to finish work since no solid regulation is present to follow.

What Okeil thinks about the new law?

Elaborating further on the new NGOs Law, Okeil asserted that “the new law is the best one yet, you can never find a perfect law accepted by all people and concerned bodies,” Okeil shared, adding, “Throughout history, all laws organising the work of civil society faced criticism, however, the work of NGOs was ongoing and never stopped.”

“From my point of view, the new law is good, as it had responded to the majority of the calls of civil society, such as the cancellation of prison penalties, establishing a new NGO upon notification instead of approval as before, properly organising the work of foreign NGOs in Egypt from their establishment, declaration, and sources of funding,” Okeil said, praising the New Law.

He noted that one of the good advantages in the new law is that it gives NGO members the right to file a lawsuit to the judiciary in case if the concerned authority rejected the establishment of an NGO.

Regarding funding, he said that new law decided 60 days as a specific timing and duration for receiving and informing about the funds, highlighting that contrary to the previous law, if the concerned authority did not respond, the NGO can still work normally and receive the fund.

In the Law of 2017, in case of absence of approval on funding requests, NGOs were not allowed to receive the funding. 

“Entire articles are regulating the civil work while giving the state the right to supervise them, which I think is something normal,” Okeil said.

Civil society concerns:

Despite Okeil’s satisfaction with the law, he expressed his concern that the law would not be implemented properly, and be used against NGOs.

“The employees would complicate the procedures and hinder the work, thus, we recommend that the government trains ministry employees to work on implementing the law and to be able to take the right decision as well,” he suggested, citing an example that in of articles of the New Law, ministry’s employees are granted the role of judicial control officer, to visit anytime the headquarter and without prior notice it and freely interfere in its affairs, saying this would cause troubles, and open the door for any officer to visit any NGO anytime and do whatever he wants.

“The way the law will be implemented will decide whether it will regulate the work of civil society or not, no matter how good the law is,” Okeil added.

He stated that other civil organisations might not be fully satisfied with the New Law, but still believe that it is better than the law of 2017.  “For me (as civil society member) I think this law regulates the work of civil organisations in Egypt and is good, but still I am worried that it could not be well implemented and will shift into a bad law.”

“Still, I understand the state’s stance, I cannot deny that the past period was difficult, many NGOs worked on reports distorting the country’s image,” he added, highlighting that “the New Law is very cautious and grants the state its right to supervise and ensure that no work or activity could harm Egypt or threaten state security.”

“I don’t think that announcing sources of funding and how it will be used are matters restricting freedom of work. So, I recommend that NGOs be more patient and cooperate with those who will work on implementing the law until the image is clear for all,” said Okeil.

Critics to the new law

Following the approval of the law, some members rejected it, claiming that it came as a response to foreign pressure. Okeil commented on this regard, saying that “I think that there around 560 members in parliament, really it would be illogic if all of them agreed with the law. There should be some members rejecting the law. Also, I think the state is fully aware that no one can ever stop expressing his opinion, even in Egypt. No one can silence anyone, even by cutting the internet or banning social media, all are online, all can speak”.

“I don’t agree with this point. The idea of having an ideal law doesn’t exist in the whole world,” Okeil asserted.

On how NGOs can help the state to respond to critics, he said that he rejects such an idea, saying that NGOs are not in charge to respond to any critics, only the government has to do so. He also does not believe that a certain NGO can respond to a report released by any other NGO.

Relationship between civil society and government

Moreover, commenting on the cooperation between the government and civil society, he said the relationship between both sides deserves a period to improve, suggesting that the government has to show good intentions toward NGOs and vice versa.

Elections in Egypt

During the past two years, elections in Egypt have been seen in a new form. Voters danced and sang in front of electoral committees while some groups bought voters. When asked on how NGOs could deal with these acts, Okeil said that these forms are a way of expression and response to voices distorting the importance and validity of elections.

He also noted that although these scenes were witnessed during the presidential election and the constitutional referendum, their integrity was not impacted, and the percentage of peoples’ participation was fair.

Senate

The recently-approved constitutional amendment will allow the establishment of the senate to assist the parliament. Okeil commented on this, saying that it will help to reduce the burdens on parliament.

Blocked websites

As for blocked news and NGO websites, Okeil suggested that civil society cannot do anything in this regard, expect to report and document it.

He also urged that nothing happens without a reason, definitely, these websites must have violated laws and committed acts which threatened and harmed state stability and distorted its image, adding that the unblocking of these websites will happen only when they follow rules and regulations.

Defending state image

Recently, the State Information Service (SIS), the National Council for Human Right (NCHR) and the Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights, mainly became the state’s voice to respond to any foreign criticism. When asked on whether it’s normal that these entities neglect their initial duties and focus more on defending the state’s image, Okiel commented that he thinks that the only human right committee of parliament is the one in charge of such a role since it is a governmental body.

He rejected that the NCHR is a defender for the state, asserting that the ministry of foreign affairs and governmental human rights committees are the only ones who should do so, and he thinks that they are already doing great work in this regard.

Parliament of 2015

Commenting on parliamentary performance throughout the past four years, he said that he aspires that the procedures of dropping of membership of MPs would be more regulated in the upcoming parliament and that the parliamentary performance would focus more on the interests of people, as well as the high representation of youth, and a clear role for each political party.

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“Sale of Amun’s head in London is theft of Egypt’s identity”: Sahar Talaat Mostafa https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/30/sale-of-amuns-head-in-london-is-theft-of-egypts-identity-sahar-talaat-mostafa/ Tue, 30 Jul 2019 08:30:59 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703943 Auctions on Egyptian artefacts in Europe must end

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Recently, Egypt is achieving remarkable progress in attracting more tourists. It managed to organise the CAF in a professional and civilised way that dazzled the entire world.

Countless effort is being exerted to increase the ratio of tourism toward Egypt through different state channels, including parliament, with the aim of transferring the right image of the country and correcting many erroneous stereotypes of Egypt in foreign societies in the wake of political instability that popped up during the one year rule of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

With the aim of getting the new updates on tourism and plans to improve touristic destinations in Egypt, Daily News Egypt sat down with former head of the parliament’s civil and tourism committee and member of the parliament, Sahar Talaat Mostafa, who previously suggested establishing a ministerial group which includes the tourism, antiques, civil aviation, and transportation ministries. The group would work with the aims of improving the tourism sector in Egypt as well as affording all tourists’ demands in the country.

Recently, a delegation from the Russian Federal Council paid a visit to Egypt. You, as the president of the Russian-Egyptian Parliamentary Friendship Group, and the Chairperson of the Egyptian-Russian Business Council, were the first to receive them. What happened during these meetings?

Of course, I met with members of the delegation of the Russian Federal Council who were on a visit to Egypt this July, and we engaged in an extensive meeting at the House of Representatives. The meeting witnessed a number of discussions and important results, including the discussion on resuming flights to Egypt to increase the flow of tourists.

Members of the delegation expected the resumption of flights to Egypt next autumn.

The meeting also dealt with the development of cultural cooperation, especially with regard to the expansion of establishing art academies. The Russian side supported us to establish the first art academy in the Haram district 60 years ago. Currently, there is a branch for an Art Academy that is being established in the Sixth of October city, and to complete this academy I called them to afford more support in establishing it among other proposals that I saw as an occasion to discuss and implement during the joint cultural year between Egypt and Russia and in line with the decision of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and President Putin that 2020 is the year of humanity between the two countries.

How will Egypt benefit from the Russian-African summit scheduled next October?

Egypt is the gateway to Africa, and the summit comes while Egypt is heading the African Union.

It is expected to open the door to further economic cooperation between Russia and Africa, as well as develop the political, economic, and cultural fields. It is planned, as I am aware, to discuss a wide range of international issues, including the fight against new threats, and the promotion of regional stability.

In the same context, your visit to Russia recently within the parliamentary delegation has had important results, Can you please inform us more about it?

The visit of the Egyptian Parliamentary delegation to Russia headed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel Al-Aal was very important. The reception of the Russian side to us was an expression of their interest in Egypt. During the visit, we participated in the second international forum on parliamentary development and the Russian, African Parliamentary Conference. We had important meetings in this regard, among them the Head of the Russian Federal Federation Council and the Head of Russia’s State Duma. On the personal level, I met the group of friends of Egypt in the Federal Federation of Russia. We also discussed all aspects of cooperation between the two sides in the common areas and how to benefit from the most important event of the Russia-Africa Summit scheduled for October, in addition to the discussion of applying the “Twin Towns” system between Egypt and Russia and the importance of cooperation between the Egyptian Parliament and its Russian counterpart in organising the joint legislation agenda.

How does the State’s external and domestic efforts affect the flow of tourism to Egypt?

I believe that the huge number of foreign visits of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, directly affected our relations with the countries of the world, and played a major role in re-branding Egypt as an appropriate destination. The political leadership has a great interest in the tourism file in Egypt. The president does not leave an opportunity to provide support to the tourism sector, this was very clear through his meetings with number of international leaders such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which had a significant impact on the increase in the volume of tourism. The Egyptian Parliament has also played a major role by providing all forms of legislative support with new laws that serve the sector, in addition to the great efforts of the ministers of antiquities, tourism and all relevant state bodies, which also had a clear role in restoring security which is the most important message to the world: to come to Egypt.

Do you think that Egypt’s tourism can target new touristic destinations?

Yes, Egypt is a diverse and rich country with many tourist products that can be promoted in various markets exporting tourism. We have in Egypt what is not found in any country in the world, we have wonderful monuments, culture, civilisation, beaches, entertainment, and shopping. We have entered into deals with various tourist destinations such as East Asia, in addition to the agreement between President Al-Sisi, the president of Cyprus and the Greek President to coordinate tourist activity among the three countries, which we discussed in one of our parliamentary visits to Cyprus.

Does Egypt need to increase hotel capacity now or to add international luxury projects like Dubai?

There are enough hotel rooms in the traditional tourist destinations, but there are places of course that need new tourist rooms like Alamein, and I assure you that Egypt is always able to meet the demand for tourist destination, what we really need is world-class entertainment projects, being one of the most important attractions and promotors of tourism, so that the tourist is not confined to his room.

Accessible tourism” is one of the files that have become strongly on the table of the World Tourism Organization, can Egypt get a fair share of them?

It is certainly a very important file especially that it has become a global trend and one of the factors affecting the tourist’s decision, especially in the case of a family member with special needs, and it became on the list of interest of the government and the private sector tourism. This segment of tourists have the right to access services that help them to live a distinct tourist experience, highly qualified tour guides, service providers, and hotels, as well as tourist facilities in a technical format that take into account that segment of tourists, which account for 20% of the volume of global tourism. There are also a large number of people who have reached the age of retirement and are interested in foreign visits. I sat with a great number of them, especially from the German market, but they demand special attention from the beginning of their arrival at the airport until they leave the country.

Do we have the ability to experience a loss in exchange for marketing Egyptian tourism externally?

First, marketing should be done on a scientific basis, meaning that the market is studied before the decision is made. This decision is made through representatives of the private sector such as the Federation of Chambers of Tourism, the Chamber of Tourism Companies and the administrative authority represented by the Tourism Promotion Authority in addition to the company or the corporate alliance responsible for promoting the tourist destination. Secondly, in the event of choosing a market or a group of markets to start promoting for the tourist destination, it is necessary to determine the nature of this market, and to consider all the studies related to it in terms of the trends of the prospective tourist, such as do they prefer cultural tourism or shopping? Are these tourists coming alone or with their families? Some markets, for example, women are the most influential in deciding the destination of the trip, and others children are the basis, and some markets the only source of young tourists prefer adventure tourism. Therefore, there is no risk or loss, as long as there is institutional work based on market studies. It is not logical that Egypt, for example, will conduct marketing and promotion campaigns in some markets that will impose a travel ban on our country.

In the context of the archaeology file, some Egyptian artifacts have recently appeared in a number of countries in the world, such as the head of

Former head of the parliament’s civil and tourism committee and member of the parliament, Sahar Talaat Mostafa

Tutankhamun, which was exhibited in London. What can we do to recover these pieces to Egypt?

First of all, we must make it clear that the statue is the head of the god Amun and bears the features of the young king Tutankhamun. Second, the Egyptian government has taken a series of measures from the beginning represented by the ministries of foreign affairs, antiquities and the Attorney-General, moreover the British government was informed that it is necessary to stop the auction. In spite of that, the auction was held and the statue was sold. The Egyptian government held an emergency meeting to discuss the matter and legally moved toward suspending the exit of the statue in case it moved to any other country. In my opinion, legal and criminal prosecution is particularly important because the auction hall did not provide any proof of ownership and only made a brief statement that did not provide any information with evidence.

I call on UNESCO to intervene to stop what I consider to be a “theft” of Egyptian identity. I call on lovers of civilisation and soft forces around the world to pressure the public to stop such crimes. The world should know that a part of the antiquities trade money may go to the financing of terrorism. The message that I want to convey to the world in this context is that Egypt does not need to prove that its civilisation which is known to the whole world, is not for sale.

What about the pyramids development project and the expected results?

I want to clarify at the beginning that the project of developing the pyramid is a great dream for me, you can say that I am associated with a spiritual connection to all our monuments, we worked a lot in the tourism committee of the parliament during my presidency in collaboration with the ministry of antiquities and concerned parties to achieve a civilised image of the pyramids. Especially as it carries an important aspect of our Egyptian identity. We, as members of the parliament, organised a number of field visits to discuss developments and overcome any obstacles facing the project.

How will the Grand Egyptian Museum change tourists’ experience in Egypt?

What I want to say about this project in short, that the project of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is highly important, it tells the story of Egyptian civilisation based on the latest technological methods, and provides a precise picture of the civilisation and history of Egypt. The project is a great opportunity for Egypt to increase the rate of incoming cultural tourism. Here I would like to mention the great effort exerted by the ministry of antiquities and the Armed Forces Engineering Authority in this regard, as well as hundreds of workers who laboured day and night without days off. I expect that the grand museum will be the jewel of Egypt for the world. It is planned to be linked with the pyramids. I also expect that the grand opening of the museum will be another spectacle to dazzle the world with the power of Egypt and its ability to organise.

Before the start of the African Nations Cup, you called on the state to promote Egyptian monuments during the events… Did this happen?

Certainly, the African Nations Cup is an important opportunity to promote Egyptian tourism in general, especially in the presence of important Icons for African and international media, and I think that Egypt was able to dazzle the whole world in less than a quarter of an hour during the organisation ceremony and send a clear message that Egypt is a strong and safe state that is able to regulate what is greater than that, but as for what I demanded, there was indeed a response from the Minister of Antiquities, Khalid Al-Anani. Moreover, many renowned guests appeared in their social media while they were in the events of the cup, this contributed very well in promoting for tourism in Egypt.

What is your interest in promoting the ‘Egyptian identity’ in many of the posts you write on your official Facebook page?

Let me talk about this in a detailed way because I decided to put it at the top of my interests. I am interested in highlighting the importance of the Egyptian identity because it enjoys the privacy and uniqueness that has been exposed for nearly five decades to the attempts of deliberate sabotage, and pasting strange habits that came into Egyptian society without taking into account the privacy of the Egyptian personality, beside the waves of ignorance ,spreading rumours and lies about Egypt, its history, culture and identity need a comprehensive confrontation of facts and evidence in order to protect the younger generations so as not to be surprised by the day when we have a generation that doubts its past and does not know anything about its history.

I notice great interest in this matter, is there a project adopted by you in this context during the coming period?

There will be an important project in that context, and I will study carefully with a specialised team, but it will be officially announced in due course.

What is your feedback on the first test flight that headed to the New Administrative Capital’s airport?

I saw a dream turning into reality. In just 12 months, we have a world-class airport, a parking area for 400 cars, 20 buses, 45 buildings, and a 50-metre air observation tower in the New Administrative Capital. Today, we can say that the New Administrative Capital has been linked to all countries of the world and in my view that this scene opens wide horizons for investment and tourism and is a new achievement for the Egyptian state.

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Three Chinese firms discuss investing in Egypt’s NAC: embassy https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/29/three-chinese-firms-discuss-investing-in-egypts-nac-embassy/ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 17:30:12 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703855 Inking Hamrawien project contracts may take time for technical negotiations, says Bing

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About three Chinese firms are in discussion with Egyptian authorities to inject new investments in Egypt’s News Administrative Capital (NAC), Han Bing, minister counsellor for economic affairs at the Chinese embassy in Cairo, told Daily News Egypt.

“Egypt is an opportunity for investment and several Chinese companies are remarkably increasing their investments while others are entering the market for the first time,” he added.

China EximBank discussed with Egypt’s Ministry of Transport the conditions of disbursement of the first tranche of the Chinese loan to the light railway, Bing shared.

“The total amount of the China EximBank’s loan to the light railway is about $1.2bn. I think that the first tranche will be delivered to the Egyptian side within one month,” Bing said.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Bing to learn more about the updates of the Egyptian-Chinese economic and trade relations, the transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you see Egypt’s New Investment Law? And how will it reflect on the Chinese investors’ interest in the Egyptian market?

We understand that the New Investment Law aims to improve the environment of investment in Egypt. We received many inquiries from Chinese companies asking for more details about the new incentives of investing in Egypt. From our side, we conducted an analysis for the Investment Law to deliver the advantages to the Chinese companies. Some of the Chinese companies had wrong ideas about the new incentives. Yet our role is to correct their understanding.

For Chinese companies, they see Egypt as an opportunity for investment and several Chinese companies are remarkably increasing their investments while others are entering the market for the first time. There are several big projects under consideration for investment in Egypt in the sectors of textile, steel, and leather manufacturing. There are also other plans from Chinese companies to invest in Egypt. The projects need special attention from the Egyptian government to support them with incentives, due to their high value added to the Egyptian economy, especially in terms of offering many job opportunities to Egyptian youth. We hope that the local authorities will support the new Chinese investments.

On 7 July, parliament approved the amendments of the New Investment Law which included incentives to the international companies already investing in Egypt when injecting investments in the neediest areas, according to a DNE’s past report.

Will any of the Chinese companies inject new investments in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) shortly?

There are about three Chinese companies that are in discussion with the Egyptian authorities regarding injecting new investments in the NAC. Yet, nothing is concluded yet.

Any updates about TEDA zone expansion plans?

The new investments in TEDA zone in Ain Sokhna are quite attractive. For TEDA’s expansions zone, there are already eight projects under construction, one of them will start a motorcycles’ production this year. Hopefully, next year, the other seven companies will go on line. The amount of investment of the companies in TEDA expansions is about several hundred million dollars.

Egypt’s Minister of Electricity announced that the Hamrawein power plant contracts will be signed soon, do you have any specific timing for inking these contracts?

I think that both sides are still in the technical negotiations. I don’t have a specific timing for the contracts’ signing. Technical negotiations may take time specially when investors come with new ideas. I don’t want to get into more details but I think that both parties are in technical intensive discussions.

Backgrounder: ‘On 2 July, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, said that his ministry is finalising the contracts of Hamrawein power plant project to be signed with a Chinese partner soon. Hamrawein is a key project that will be implemented with over $2bn in costs, the minister declared, noting that his ministry is working hard to diversify the energy resources and add capacities to the network in order to supply the electricity needs.’

What about the Chinese business missions that will visit Egypt in the second half of 2019?

We will receive a delegation at the end of July, consisting of about 20 companies that are looking for new investment and trade opportunities. We will organise a match making meeting with the Egyptian Business Association (EBA) to discuss the future plans with Egyptian counterparts. Earlier in July, we received one delegation from Chinese pharmaceutical companies where they met with the Export Council of Medical Industries and other medical and pharmaceutical stakeholders in Egypt. More than 10 Chinese companies met with about 20 Egyptian companies and discussed cooperation in trade and also the possibility of investing.

Will this Chinese delegation meet with any Egyptian officials?

The delegation will pay a visit to the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI). The Egyptian government participated in the China-African economic and trade expo last month where Egypt was a guest of honour. The Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat visited China to participate in the expo along with a number of Egyptian companies and representatives from GAFI. The Egyptian delegation was very satisfied with its participation in the event. GAFI’s representatives who participated in the China-African economic and trade expo met with Chinese companies for investment promotion to the Egyptian market.

What is the size of trade exchange between Egypt and China?

The trade exchange between Egypt and China recorded $5.42bn in the first five months of 2019. China exported $4.68bn and imported $0.56bn from Egypt from January to the end of May 2019. By end of 2019, we hope that we will be able to achieve a peak of trade exchange. Last year, trade exchange recorded about $13.87bn. The trade exchange will further hike after the production of black sand mining that will be exported to China. This can be one of the main export products from Egypt to China.

Do Chinese financial institutions plan to sign any new deals with Egypt soon?

The China Development Bank (CDB) has about $5bn involvement in the Egyptian market now representing the current portfolio of the bank in Egypt including the financial cooperation with Egyptian banks and the loans to Chinese investors in Egypt. Financial cooperation between both countries is very good.  About $7bn is injected to Egypt’s financial system from Chinese financial institutions. As I said, China EximBank discusses with Ministry of Transport the conditions of disbursement of the first tranche of the Chinese loan to the light railway.

Han Bing, minister counsellor for economic affairs at the Chinese embassy in Cairo

What is the amount of the first tranche?

The total amount of the China EximBank’s loan to the light railway is about $1.2bn. But for the first tranche we don’t know precisely. I think that the first tranche will be delivered to the Egyptian side within one month.

What is your expectation of Chinese tourist numbers to Egypt?

Last year, Egypt received about 400,000 Chinese tourists. Hopefully, the numbers will increase by the end of 2019 to about 500,000. There were many Chinese inquiries about tourism in Egypt from the Chinese participants in the China-African economic and trade expo. Now there are many charter lines from China to Egypt which will surely reflect on more positive figures by year-end.

What about US-China relations?

China and the US are each other’s largest trading partners and important source of investment. In 2018, bilateral trade in goods and services exceeded $750bn, and two-way direct investment approached $160bn. China-US commercial cooperation has brought substantial benefits to both countries and both peoples. According to China customs, trade in goods between China and the US grew from less than $2.5bn in 1979 when the two countries forged diplomatic ties to $633.5bn in 2018, a 252-fold increase. In 2018, the US was China’s largest trading partner and export market, and the sixth largest source of imports. According to the US Department of Commerce, in 2018 China was the largest trading partner of the US, its third largest export market, and its largest source of imports. China is the key export market for US airplanes, soybeans, automobiles, integrated circuits, and cotton. During the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, China was one of the fastest growing export markets for American goods, with an annual average increase of 6.3% and an aggregate growth of 73.2%, higher than the average growth of 56.9% represented by other regions in the world. Trade in services between China and the US is flourishing and highly complementary. The two countries have conducted extensive, in-depth, and mutually-beneficial cooperation in tourism, culture, and intellectual property. China is the largest destination for US tourists in the Asia-Pacific and the US is the largest overseas destination for Chinese students. According to Chinese figures, two-way trade in services rose from $27.4bn in 2006, the earliest year with available statistics, to $125.3bn in 2018, a 3.6-fold increase. In 2018, China’s services trade deficit with the US reached $48.5bn.

How will the additional tariffs from the US reflect on joint relations?

The US administration has imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods exported to the US, impeding two-way trade and investment cooperation and undermining market confidence and economic stability in the two countries and globally. The US tariff measures led to a decrease in the volume of China’s export to the US, which fell by 9.7% year-over-year (y-o-y) in the first four months of 2019, dropping for five months in a row. In addition, as China has to impose tariffs as a countermeasure to US tariff hikes, US exports to China have dropped for eight months in a row. The uncertainty brought by US-China economic and trade friction made companies in both countries more hesitant about investing. China’s investment in the US continues to fall and the growth rate of US investment in China has also slowed down. According to Chinese statistics, direct investment by Chinese companies in the US was $5.79bn in 2018, down by 10% y-o-y. In 2018, paid-in US investment in China was $2.69bn, up by only 1.5% y-o-y compared with an increase of 11% in 2017. With the outlook for China-US trade friction unclear, the World Trade Organisation has lowered its forecast for global trade growth in 2019 from 3.7% to 2.6%. In response to the economic and trade friction started by the US, China has been forced to take countermeasures, as bilateral trade and investment relations took a hit. For the well-being of the Chinese and American people and the economic development of the two countries, both sides deemed it necessary to come to the negotiating table to seek a solution through consultation. Since they were launched in February 2018, economic and trade consultations have come a long way with the two sides agreeing on most parts of the deal. But the consultations have not been free of setbacks, each of them being the result of a US breach of consensus and commitments, and backtracking. China had advocated resolving economic and trade friction through negotiation and consultation from the start. In early February 2018, the US government expressed its wish that China would send a high-level delegation to the US to engage in economic and trade consultation.

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Hilton’s global net income reaches $769m in 2018 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/27/hiltons-global-net-income-reaches-769m-in-2018/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 09:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703620 Group to increase its capacity in Egypt by adding 1,683 rooms by 2025

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The global net income of the American multinational hospitality company Hilton reached $225m during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, while the full year’s net income recorded $769m, according to Hilton’s Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Results. This is setting Hilton’s 2019 off to its most dynamic year, while celebrating 100 years pioneering the hospitality industry.

Amir Lababedi, the managing director for development in the MENA region at Hilton, told Daily News Egypt in an interview that Hilton aims to expand its capacity in the Middle East, especially in Egypt, explaining that Hilton plans to add 1,683 new rooms by 2025 in Egypt.

“Hilton group is made up of 17 brands, including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Canopy, Hilton, Curio, DoubleTree, Tapestry Collection, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Tru, Homewood Suites, Home2Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations, in addition to new brands, called Signia and Motto,” said Lababedi.

DNE spoke with Lababedi about Hilton’s expansion plans in Egypt and the Middle East, in addition to his evaluation of the Egyptian tourism sector’s performance and challenges. The interview’s transcript is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Does the group have expansion plans in Egypt? And what is your five-year strategy?

We have been working in Egypt for 60 years. We already have 16 hotels which are currently operating and eight others that are in the pipeline with more than 1,600 rooms to open during the upcoming five years. We are always on the lookout for more hotels and more deals to sign, so these numbers are expected to increase.

Those 16 hotels are divided into 15 Hilton hotels and a Conrad hotel.

Besides, we are expanding into new geographical territories in and close to Cairo, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), New Cairo, the 5th Settlement, Sheikh Zayed, and Sixth October City. We are also looking forward to increase our presence in secondary markets and national projects, such as the Suez Canal Area Development Project, Port Said, Damietta, Mansoura, Tanta, Assiut, and leisure destinations, including El Gouna, Al Alamein, and Ain Sokhna, all of which are set to expand our brand presence in the country.

Our priority in the coming years is to both expand into new geographical territories and introduce more of Hilton’s 17 brands into the country. Within these projects and locations, we firmly believe there is a need and great potential for new mid-scale and focused services brands, such as Hilton Garden Inn, and for our softer brands, such as DoubleTree by Hilton and Curio Collection by Hilton, which lend themselves well to both new build and conversion or adaptive re-use projects. All of these brands are being very well received by the hotel investment and development community, and we have many ongoing discussions to introduce all of these brands.

Currently, we already have two DoubleTree hotels under construction, one is located in El Gouna and the other is in Ain Al Sokhna. We also have two Hilton Garden Inn hotels which are also in the construction phase, one in Cairo Business Park close to the NAC and the other in Damietta which is a very important secondary city in Egypt.

Lastly, we are very much looking forward to introducing the first Waldorf Astoria into Africa in Cairo’s Heliopolis area. This project is currently undergoing rebranding activities.

While resorts do remain part of our strategy here and always will do, we need to ensure the quality of the product represents the brand. Therefore, we now have a number of hotels located in both our resorts and city locations that are undergoing renovations, such as Ramses Hilton, Hilton Pyramids Golf, Hilton Hurghada Plaza, Hilton Hurghada Resort, Hilton Alex Green Plaza, and Conrad Cairo. For those hotels that do not meet the criteria, we need to take the decision as to whether those brands will remain in the portfolio.

Tell us more details on the 1,683 new rooms to be inaugurated in Egypt?

The 1,683 rooms are divided into 257 rooms that are going to be opened in Hilton Cairo in Maadi by 2020, in addition to 179 rooms in DoubleTree by Hilton El Gouna Mangroovy Resort that are going to be opened by 2020, as well as 180 new rooms in Hilton Ain Al Sokhna which will be inaugurated by 2021.

Moreover, there are 130 new rooms to be introduced at Hilton Garden Inn Cairo Business Park by 2021, in addition to 120 rooms in Hilton Garden Inn Damietta Beach by 2021.

Also, there are 420, 200, and 197 rooms to enter operation respectively at Hilton Giza Pyramids by 2023, Hilton Port Said by 2023, and DoubleTree by Hilton Ain Al Sokhna in 2025.

What about Hilton’s expansion plans in the Middle East?

We plan to expand our capacity in North Africa in different brands, including Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa by adding 297 rooms by the end of 2019 and Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa by adding 170 new rooms by 2020.

Furthermore, 155 new rooms are to be opened in Hilton Garden Inn Casablanca Sidi Maarouf by 2021, and 150 rooms in Hilton Rabat will be inaugurated by 2022.

We have a dedicated development presence based out of Casablanca, Morocco as an illustration of our commitment to grow in this region.

What are the most common nationalities that visit Hilton’s hotels in Egypt?

Our top three markets are the Arab Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the local market. We also started to see some Asian visitors.

How did Hilton deal with Egypt’s tourism crisis in the past eight years? And what were the occupancy rates of your chain during this period?

There has been a country-wide decline in occupancy rates due to the challenges that the local market was facing. Yet, we made sure during that time not to lay off any of our existing team members or shut down the doors of any of our hotels. Of late, the region has witnessed some of the strongest growth rates in the world.

What is the size of Hilton’s staff in Egypt?

Currently, there are 6,516 employees in our hotels in Egypt. We also have a dedicated corporate office based out of Cairo which supports those hotels.

Do you think Egypt’s tourism crisis is over? And how do you see the country’s tourism growth now?

We are observing a strong recovery in the market, and it is good to see that the crisis seems to be resolving and we are in a much stronger position now as a sector and as a hotel company in Egypt. Moreover, we are looking forward to adding more growth and further strengthening our footprint with more hotels and exploring new opportunities.

Finally, I also think that Egypt is one of the most important growing markets today and is one of our key growth markets for the region.

In your opinion, how has the floatation affected tourism in Egypt?

I think it has had a positive effect on the tourism industry in Egypt, as it became more affordable. I also think it can support domestic tourism.

What should Egypt do to attract more tourists?

I think it is important to ensure the diversity of the incoming tourists. It is also important to have the right products in the right location in order to attract different segments at different price points.

It is also essential to have strong brands in order to give the international tourism market the comfort and the quality, in terms of services and operations.

Egypt also needs to ensure the efficiency of the transport infrastructure that connects the airports to the new touristic destinations in Egypt.

Moreover, we need to ensure that the employees in the hotels understand and can deliver international- standard services. What is even more important that touristic agencies or hotels owners should guarantee a good culture and understanding of the tourism sector within their companies.

I need to highlight in this context that Hilton was recognised as number one work place by Fortune Magazine.

Over and above, we believe if employees are happy, then this happiness will be reflected on the guests, which will subsequently lead to their differentiation in the competition, and to strong performance in revenues, which will lead to a strong investment environment.

On another matter, I need to mention that what Egypt is doing now in terms of the e-visa is good, as it will make access to Egypt both cheaper and easier.

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Egyptian football league needs rebranding, AFCON19 should be exploited: Media Pro Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/27/egyptian-football-league-needs-rebranding-afcon19-should-be-exploited-media-pro-egypt/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 08:00:37 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703575 Government should lead development of Egyptian football

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The TV broadcast of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (AFCON) received great acclaim. It was the first time to use the 4K technology and such large number of cameras to broadcast the tournament.

Media Pro was responsible for television production of AFCON19 and implemented VAR technology in the tournament. It is one of the largest suppliers of video assistant referee (VAR) equipment in the world, and responsible for television productions for the Spanish, French, and Italian football divisions, and for the distribution of Spanish leagues worldwide.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Tamer Yousry, CEO of Media Pro International in Egypt, to discuss the company’s achievements and plans and how Egyptian football league can benefit from the AFCON experience.

How do you evaluate Egypt’s organisation of AFCON 2019?

All the aspects of the tournament, including the Fan ID, TV broadcast, and renovation of stadiums, can be exploited by Egypt to correct the situation of local football industry. It is necessary to benefit from what happened in AFCON to develop the Egyptian football league having major popularity in the continent and two major clubs, Al Ahly and Zamalek. I think the Egyptian league needs rebranding so as to be promoted as a new product.

What should Egypt do to achieve this?

The Egyptian government has to lead the development of local football industry, and this does not contradict with international regulations, as it can push those in charge to improve the local league. The Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) next election will not make any difference. There must be a professional league, and nothing hinders this now. The TV broadcast rights are now granted to a single company, which makes broadcasting easier. An executive body should be formed to manage the league away from the EFA.

We had a similar opportunity after AFCON 2006, but we missed it. We must not allow this to happen again. It is not difficult and the cost is not high. We have already been through the difficult part. Our company is ready to participate in the development process, and we opened our office in Egypt for this purpose. Egypt has many professional young talents who can change the current situation.

What can the company offer to develop the Egyptian league?

The cost of applying the VAR for an entire matchweek is equal to hiring a foreign referee crew to officiate a league match, so it’s not high and increases the market value of the tournament. We are in negotiations with the EFA over this issue.

In AFCON, there were 25 cameras to broadcast each game. Besides the main camera that is placed at the main media tribune, there are lots of cameras littered everywhere on the pitch side, behind either goal area (netcam), in the stands, on the roof top, and a skycam that runs just over the players’ heads for aerial view, along with a specialised camera for the entry and exit of players. The skycam hangs over the space with four reels anchored at high fixed points at corners of the stadium.

The human element is still very important in the TV broadcast. We can bring foreign directors to train Egyptian ones, as we seek to produce the Egyptian league.

Does the company have other activities in the Arab region?

We will apply the VAR technology in Morocco’s new football season. We also aim to apply it in Egypt to benefit from the presence of six Egyptian referees who were already trained on VAR.

Can you tell us more about the company’s history and business?

The company is based in Barcelona, Spain. Time Out was our agent in Egypt, before we decided to open our office in Egypt. We produce 26 leagues across the world. This year, we produced the UEFA Champions League, the AFC Asian Cup Final, the AFCON, and Formula 1. We distribute the TV broadcast rights of the La Liga around the world. The company also established both Barcelona and Real Madrid channels and museums, and provided the assets of BeIN Sports and Abu Dhabi Media.

When did Time Out start its activity?

Time Out has started five years ago with the aim to develop football sponsorship of players and clubs in Egypt and the Middle East, achieving the best ROI for sponsors.

How much is the company’s capital?

The company began with a small capital of EGP 120,000 and then was raised by 5,000%. We started as players’ agent. We provided endorsement deals from Málaga CF to Zamalek’s player Mohamed Ibrahim, and from RCD Espanyol to Mohamed Salah before moving to FC Basel.

What are the most important activities of the company?

We are working on developing Etisalat’s sports app. We facilitated endorsement deals for big stars, such as Carles Puyol, Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto’o, and Mido. These deals secure excellent returns for the company. Two years ago, the company concluded its first sponsorship deal in the English Premier League for an Egyptian company. It was between Chelsea FC and Mobinil in the 2013/14 season when Mohamed Salah was playing for the club. The deal was worth £150,000. We also provided sponsorship deal by Hyde Park to Arsenal, then Banque du Caire, Vodafone with Liverpool, and La Liga with Orange.

How can you attract Egyptian companies to sponsor European clubs?

Some people believe that the sponsorship deal value should be huge, but this is not true for regional rights. It is easy for any company to get the sponsorship rights of a big international club, like Real Madrid or Barcelona, for less value than local clubs, which offers huge advertisement for the company. The Egyptian market, according to studies, is the most interesting for the European leagues in the world. This is mainly due to the football activity suspension in Egypt in the past and banning fans from attending games.

Do you have contracts with Egyptian athletes?

We have the commercial rights of some Egyptian athletes, such as swimmer Farida Othman, handball player Mohamed Sanad. We had some business with Mohamed Salah and concluded his contract with Mobil recently.

Does the company have business outside Egypt?

At the Arab level, Time Out developed the app “du” in the UAE. We have contracts with major clubs there, as well as in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

For commercial rights of football side, how do you see the situation in Egypt?

The football industry in Egypt needs great development. There have been some improvements in recent years, but it has been characterised by randomness. It is necessary to change the mentality of dealing with advertising. It is necessary to understand the nature of each club’s fans. Clubs must stop relying on sponsors. Each club has a specific nature of fans and so it must sell its ads accordingly and not unify sponsors for all clubs.

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La Liga ready to transfer expertise to develop football in Egypt: Fernando Sanz https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/27/la-liga-ready-to-transfer-expertise-to-develop-football-in-egypt-fernando-sanz/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 07:30:22 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703611 Satellite broadcast rights for the Spanish league is worth €2.1bn

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La Liga, the top professional division of the Spanish football league, has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to develop the game in Egypt.

La Liga has taken a different approach, placing it at the top of the football pyramid in the world, which has emerged in its quest to open new horizons for further expansion in Africa and the Middle East to enhance its brand and opened the door to cooperation with various countries to develop football.

Daily News Egypt spoke with Fernando Sanz, Director of Institutional Relations and La Liga Ambassadors programme, about what La Liga can offer to contribute to the development of the football industry in Egypt, what the game needs to keep abreast of what is happening in the world, and his recent visit to Egypt.

Sanz started his football career at the Real Madrid Academy, and then moved to Málaga CF. Sanz retired from football in 2006, after Málaga’s relegation, with 240 matches and five goals in the top level to his credit, immediately becoming president of the club after his father bought 97% of its shares. After four years, he resigned on 27 July 2010 as the club was sold earlier in the summer to a Qatari investor.

You recently visited Egypt, we would like to know more about the reasons of this visit, and did you achieve the visit’s goal(s)?

I have been in Egypt to inaugurate the La Liga Space and interactive fan zone of La Liga where we highlighted the African talents that play in La Liga this season and also all of the ones that played historically in the best league in the world.

What are your plans for the Egyptian market?

Egypt is a very interesting market for La Liga as we have millions of fans that watch Spanish football every year.

Since 2015, the league has been working to create commercial opportunities and visibility across the continent and Egypt is no exception. Orange Egypt, for example, has been an official Telecom partner of La Liga for the past four years.

More recently, La Liga opened academies in Cairo in September of 2018, with almost 100 children enrolled, while over 1,000 Egyptian students have been reached through cultural seminars in collaboration with the embassy of Spain.

We recently participated at AFCON 2019 through our La Liga Space. Through this activation, we were able to demonstrate La Liga’s ongoing commitment to African football and the key role that African football already plays in our competition.

La Liga has a sponsor, Orange Egypt since 2015, we have an educational partner, ESLSCA Business School, and we run sports management courses with them, projects with the Spanish embassy. Very interesting projects to come soon.

Reflecting on the strength of this relationship, the ESLSCA Business School’s Cairo campus was chosen as the location for the first international course when La Liga Business School began its global expansion earlier in 2019.

It has been previously reported that you are planning to collaborate with the EFA on the VAR technology, what details can you share about this collaboration?

We have met the EFA and discussed many possibilities of collaboration. We are pleased to work with football institutions as we are doing in several countries to take the football industry to the next level in a global perspective.

What does the Egyptian football lack to be an integrated industry?

Interchange know-how with foreign institutions is a fruitful way to learn from each other towards professionalisation of the football industry.

How can La Liga help/support Egyptian football in general?

La Liga has academies in Egypt since September 2018 with up to 130 kids nowadays, and we have Spanish coaches on the ground. Our aim with the academies is to transfer know-how. Also, over 1,000 Egyptian students have been reached through cultural seminars in collaboration with the embassy of Spain.

We have been in touch with the EFA and the Ministry of Sports, and we are willing to collaborate with such institutions for the development of football in Egypt.

Are you solely focused on Egypt or do you have plans to spread in other countries?

La Liga strives daily to promote Spanish football beyond its borders with the goal of creating a community of fans across the globe, especially in Africa.

We have 11 offices worldwide and 45 delegates/representatives all over the globe. We have two international offices in Africa. The first office was launched in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the second office was launched a year later in Lagos, Nigeria.

Additionally, La Liga has delegates in Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Angola, Cameroon, and Senegal whose mission is to help enhance the La Liga brand value on the international stage, increasing the number of global followers and driving greater interest in the competition, as well as creating business opportunities both for La Liga and its clubs in Africa.

Why are you focused on branching out internationally and what are the outcomes of these international endeavours?

Since 2013, when our President Javier Tebas took office, we focused on the centralisation of TV rights, financial control of the teams, and fight against piracy.

Our strategy now has changed to become a global player in sports and entertainment industry, for that we are focusing on being digital, innovative, and international, as well as increasing our brand value.

Since 2013, our audience has doubled reaching almost 3 billion people last season and the TV rights are reaching €21bn.

We are focused on being international because the largest number of La Liga fanbase comes from overseas.

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AFCON19 venues should stay open after renovation: stadiums committee head https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/27/afcon19-venues-should-stay-open-after-renovation-stadiums-committee-head/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 07:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703570 Current football infrastructure enables Egypt to host FIFA World Cup, says Abdulla

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The Egyptian stadiums which hosted the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (AFCON19) were in tip-top condition. They met all the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) requirements, although the task was given to Egypt on such short notice (only five months) after the CAF deemed Cameroon not ready to host.

Ahmad Abdulla, head of the AFCON19 Stadiums committee, called for the need to preserve what has been accomplished in the six stadiums where the AFCON19 matches were played, namely Cairo International, Alexandria, 30 June, Al Salam, New Suez, and Ismailia stadiums.

Abdulla is a dentist and former player of Zamalek during 1990s. He served as football manager of Zamalek under French coach Henri Michel in 2007. Daily News Egypt spoke with Abdulla about the success story of AFCON19 and how Egypt can maintain the stadiums in good condition after the end of the tournament.

How could Egypt succeed in hosting AFCON19 on such short notice?

Thanks to the youth who worked in the development of stadiums and the organisation of the tournament. The state also facilitated all procedures and provided all resources.

How can we benefit from this success in the future?

With the development of stadiums, introducing electronic entry and exit system of spectators, and providing high-quality TV broadcasting, we can say that the football system in Egypt has seen a boom. We should benefit from this situation through keeping stadiums open for local league, providing regular maintenance for sports facilities, and allowing fans to attend matches at stadiums using the huge database collected by Tazkarti app.

The football situation in Egypt seems vague, do you think the Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) election can be the beginning of reform?

The election does not always introduce the best solution. It is necessary to raise the awareness of the EFA general assembly through seminars, and to develop new regulations that serve the game in Egypt.

We should help clubs to develop themselves to produce a better product. The English Premier League is run by a company that has nothing to do with football, however, it has the best league in the world.

We should benefit from such successful experiences. We should regulate the transfer of coaches and players among the league clubs, along with addressing the monopoly of some agents on all players.

Can you elaborate about the development process of AFCON19 venues?

Cairo International Stadium received the largest share of development among the six stadiums. It was completely changed. New dressing room were built to meet the world-class standards. It was almost the case in Alexandria Stadium, where the pitch was completely renovated and new dressing rooms were built.

The pitches and lightning system of New Suez, Ismailia, and Al Salam stadiums were completely changed. The 30 June Stadium was developed by the stadium’s administration. A private company took over the renovation of Cairo Stadium’s pitch, while another company changed the pitches of Alexandria, Ismailia, Al Salam, and New Suez stadiums. The construction works in in Cairo Stadium were implemented by Arab Contractors. Hassan Allam was responsible for the constructions in other stadiums, except 30 June.

What about the training playgrounds?

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has developed the training playgrounds of Railway Club, El-Nasr Sporting, the Cairo Stadium, Shams SC, Olympic Club, Al Ittihad Alexandria Club, and the Alexandria University Stadium. Other clubs developed their playgrounds, such as Al Mokawloon Al Arab, Wadi Degla, and PetroSport. The Suez Canal Authority developed five playgrounds.

How do you assess Egypt’s hosting of the tournament?

There were 24 teams in this tournament for the first time and there were no complaints. The state provided all required facilities. After the tournament, Algeria’s star Riyad Mahrez praised the high-quality of stadiums and good organisation.

Can Egypt host the FIFA World Cup?

The current football infrastructure enables Egypt to host FIFA World Cup. But we need to provide regular maintenance to these stadiums. The World Cup has eight teams more than AFCON; Port Said or Aswan stadiums can be developed and host them, in addition to Borg El Arab stadium. We can also use El Gouna and the Military College stadiums. There are many solutions. We already have 32 ready training playgrounds.

How did Egypt benefit from the tournament?

We now have a large group of youth who are capable of doing the job professionally. The state proved its ability to host any big sports event. We also now have developed infrastructure that helps Egypt to host any tournament in the future.

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Danish investment funds actively eying new opportunities in Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/22/danish-investment-funds-actively-eying-new-opportunities-in-egypt/ Mon, 22 Jul 2019 09:00:25 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703228 Companies injected $1bn in new investments in 3 years, says Danish ambassador

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The number of Danish investment funds are actively eying new investment opportunities in the Egyptian market especially in the energy, infrastructure, transport, and food sectors, Denmark’s ambassador to Egypt, Tomas Anker Christensen, said.

“A Danish investment fund owns 10% stake in Benban Solar Park. It has invested in Aller Aqua fish feed company, which is an Egyptian Danish joint venture. This investment fund is looking for new investment projects in Egypt,” the ambassador shared.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Christensen to learn more about the Danish-Egyptian relations in terms of trade, investment, technical cooperation, and tourism, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the cooperation updates between both countries in terms of investments?

On the economic side, Egypt has gone through very difficult times over the past years. Yet, we think that the situation is improving now. Egypt has undertaken very strict economic reforms which are highly appreciated by foreign investors.

Egypt precisely followed its economic programme’s benchmarks that was set by the authorities and coordinated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The accurate implementation of the programme has given the confidence to international investors that Egypt is serious about its reforms.

The GDP growth of Egypt is picking up which is positively reflecting on investments. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, pays attention to the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDG2030). When the plan is fully implemented, it will help Egypt create more jobs, improve education, health, the situation for women, and many across sector improvements.

In general, Egypt is coming from a very difficult position, and fixing it will take some time.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Christensen to learn more about the Danish-Egyptian relations in terms of trade, investment, technical cooperation, and tourism

What are the reactions of Danish investors toward the reforms in Egypt?

The reaction that I get from the Danish businessperson on Egypt’s business climate improvements is very positive. The Danish businessperson is looking very carefully at the Egyptian market.

There are key elements that impact the international investors’ decisions including stability, regulatory certainty, and long-term stable policy. Egypt is coming where those conditions are met.

The ease of doing business is very important in terms of getting the production inputs and materials, clearance of the customs policy, and licensing.

We are very active with the Egyptian authorities in helping Danish companies manage the difficulties they face in the Egyptian market.

What about the interest of Danish investment funds in Egypt?

Danish investment funds are actively working in Egypt and are considering new opportunities. There is a large investment fund managed by the Danish government (IFU) focusing on investments in the sectors of the sustainable development goals.

Additionally A.P.Moller Capital is looking for new opportunities to invest in Egypt as part of their Africa Infrastructure Fund. This fund is implementing projects focusing on infrastructure in growth markets worth of $1bn over its first phase of investing and will keep investing more in the future.

What are the difficulties that Danish companies face in Egypt?

There are some difficulties that faced Danish companies while operating in the Egyptian market. Egyptian authorities are very supportive and cooperative. There is a government policy to assist investors who face issues.

Every time we discuss any of the issues with the ministers, there is a clear interest in solving it. This policy positively reflects on our relations. There are many business opportunities in Egypt for Danish companies who work in energy, food health care, and transport.

I have a positive experience with several Egyptian ministers to solve investors’ issues. When Danish investors face an issue, there is always an open door for actual solutions from Egyptian ministers.

How many Danish companies are operating in the Egyptian market right now?

We don’t have the precise number of the Danish companies in Egypt. We have the Danish Egyptian Business Club, with more than 20 members of the largest Danish companies in Egypt.

Over past three years of 2015, 2016, and 2017, Danish companies injected about $1bn in new investments in the Egyptian market. 

One of the largest Danish companies in Egypt, is the transport company Maersk. It is the largest investor in the Port Said area with very large containers terminal.  Maersk is the largest employer in Port Said with 3,000 persons and its investment in the port ranges from $850m to $1bn.

In addition to the investments and because of shipping in the Suez Canal, Maersk pays about $1bn in fees to Egypt every year.

I know that you met the Chairperson of the Suez Canal authority, Mohab Mamish, several times. What are the results of these meetings?

Because Mamish is head of both authorities of the Suez Canal Authority and the General Authority For Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), he is a close partner for us, especially because of Maersk, and also more generally due to Denmark’s leading role in the shipping industry.

Denmark is one of world’s biggest shipping nations. We have the fifth largest ship fleet in the world. We are a small country, but shipping is one of the sectors that is a core part of our economy. Our close cooperation with the Suez Canal is crucial for us.

The Suez Canal authority is an investor in Maersk’s terminal in Port Said and it has a certain stake in it. So, we have ongoing conversation to the way that the port is running, its state of competitiveness, new investments into the port, the regulatory circumstances, and other discussions.

We also have received a very kind invitation to the opening of the new tunnels in Ismailia which I attended. I have been driving through the tunnels a number of times. It is a very impressive new megaproject that ties Africa to Asia. It’s a very big vision to the future of the whole canal area and Mamish is leading that work in a very impressive way.

You are actively meeting with Egyptian ministers; can you please elaborate on these meetings and their results?

Egyptian Ministers are very generous with their time with us. I have been fortunate to meet Finance Minister, Mohamed Moeit, a number of times. I’ve also met the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Anany, the Minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, and the Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad.

I aslo met with Egypt’s minister of Transport, Kamel Al-Wazir.

We discuss with Egyptian ministers business cooperation, government relations, political policy, and technical projects. For example, I met with the minister of electricity and renewable energy, to discuss a new technical programme in wind power.

In Denmark, we generate about 60% of our energy from wind. Egypt has a very ambitious programme to generate more than 43% of its energy from renewables by 2035.

Denmark has very experienced engineers in terms of integrating wind into the energy systems. We have some of the best engineers in the world. We offered Egypt a capacity building and knowledge transfer programme.

We will have an energy advisor who will come to the embassy starting next October and his job will be to work with the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable energy and its affiliated agencies on this planned programme.

With the ministry of finance, we have been working on a number of issues that relate to taxation fees and customs that faced Danish companies while working in Egypt. We had very successful discussions.

We also are coordinating with the ministry of environment on climate change issues. Egypt is getting ready for the summit of the UN Secretary General on climate change that will take place in September. Meanwhile, Denmark is leading the track on the climate change issues, so we have very close cooperation on environmental issues.

What about future meetings with Egyptian ministers?

We have an ongoing dialogue with a number of officials. Nothing is planned right now, but I hope I will meet the Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, soon, and Finance Minister, Mohamed Moeit again.

Since we have a new government in Denmark, we will coordinate a meeting between Denmark’s Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, during the general assembly annual meeting in New York.

Shoukry sent Kofod a congratulatory note on the occasion of Kofod’s assuming office recently. I hope they will meet in New York.

According to Forbes, Denmark is one of the best countries to invest in. How can Egypt benefit from this experience?

There are a number of reasons that make Denmark one of the best environments for business. Our population has a very high level of education. Our government takes care of citizens and gives them social protection. Denmark enjoys a flexible labour market. In Egypt, it’s very difficult for employers to fire employees, while in Denmark, it is very easy because the government protects citizens when they don’t have a job.

In Denmark, it’s easy to open a business and it’s easy to close it. Denmark enjoys a dynamic labour market, very stable economy, very good regulatory framework, and very predictable and long-term policies.

For example, when we change governments, we don’t shift policies. Investors can predict what will happen in the next five years. Our policies are a combination between a social welfare state and a free market economy.

Let’s shift to another key point of the Danish-Egyptian relations which is trade exchange. What are the latest statistics of trade exchange between both countries?

Over the last three years, Danish exports to Egypt reached about $1bn. Egyptian exports to Denmark are less than that, but they are picking up especially agriculture products including the Egyptian potato.  There are many Egyptian potatoes in the Danish market due to its good quality that is getting even better.

The biggest sector for exports is health care products because of the Novo Nordisk, which is one of the biggest Danish companies in health care. It has a very big market share in Egypt.

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iSagha does not compete with gold companies, actually aims to maximise their sales: CEO https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/19/isagha-does-not-compete-with-gold-companies-actually-aims-to-maximise-their-sales-ceo/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:02:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703078 Company's capital estimated at EGP 5.5m, of which 10% contributed by Flat6labs

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iSagha is the first application to provide gold prices and jewelry sale service in Egypt and the Arab world.

Said Embaby, CEO of iSagha, said the company aims to offer gold prices in the local market through a safe means in line with the global market standards, in addition to marketing the products of gold companies and shops to the largest number of customers.

In his interview with Daily News Egypt, Said explained that the company is trying to use information technology (IT) to serve its consumers, as most of the people nowadays have access to internet.

When was the company established?

The company was established in December 2016 as an Egyptian joint stock company. Flat6labs has a 10% share of the capital estimated at EGP 5.5m.

How did you come up with your business idea?

Gold trade is my family business. I tried to use technology to develop the gold sector. iSagha was my solution to allow everyone to follow gold prices throughout the country.

In the past, gold shops used the phone to follow the gold prices. If phone lines were broken, we could not complete major gold sales until the official gold prices were confirmed at that time.

The gold prices change throughout the day and no trading can be made without knowing the excat price of gold to avoid any loss.

Do you have the intention to manufacture and market jewellery?

My company does not intend to engage in the manufacturing or trading of local or imported gold, and our work is limited to exhibiting and marketing gold products for the benefit of other gold companies and shops. We are not competitors but partners who seek to increase gold sales.

What is the size of iSagha users?

We have over 20,000 users, including 5,000 jewellers and traders.

Said Embaby, CEO of iSagha

How many gold companies and shops does iSagha deal with?

We have no jewellery companies so far, but we have contracts with 155 gold shops to exhibit and sell their products through the company’s platform.

What are the real benefits of the application?

iSagha allows traders and consumers to know gold prices without manipulation. Gold prices in Egypt are unfair, as some of them do not reflect the decline or rise in the global gold prices.

The price of gold in the local market is determined according to the prices of other commodities and the US dollar value. Egypt is the only country where traders determine gold prices.

Does this require the state to control gold prices?

I do not prefer the state’s intervention to regulate the gold industry and trade because many officials are not familiar with this profession. The market should regulate itself, through innovation and the creation of marketing methods that address current generations rather than traditional ways.

Will selling jewellery via internet become an alternative for shops?

Modern technology should be used to allow companies and shops to market their products to as many potential customers as possible.

Selling jewellery online will not be an alternative, but rather a way to market products. It is also an opportunity for gold shops to expand online instead of opening new branches at different locations to increase their customer base, especially with the high costs of opening new branches.

As the gold products will be exhibited online, this will reduce the robbery risk.

How did both consumers and traders react to the idea?

At first, gold traders were enthusiast for the idea of displaying and selling their products online. However, younger generations praised the idea, and the situation changed after they achieved sales through the platform.

The demand from consumers was not high at first as the society needs more time to get use to buy gold and jewellery online. Many consumers are used to deal with certain jewellers in their neighbourhoods.

How iSagha works?

Gold traders create their accounts on the application to display their products, and customers can browse the featured items and choose whatever they want. We also provide delivering service for customers.

How much is your commission?

We charge shops a 3-10% commission of the value of sold items.

What guarantees do you provide to consumers?

The company provides guarantees to consumers in terms of dealing with reputable dealers, verifying the authenticity of the offered products.

The company protects the rights of both the trader and the consumer. The site offers the selling and buying prices of each item. It also shows the profit margin at the time of selling, as anyone can sell his jewellery with no more than 2-5% profit margin of its value.

How do you deal with invoices and returns?

The invoice guarantees the consumer’s right and there are all sealed by iSagha. You can return any gold item but must be in the same condition.

Does the company interfere in determining the gold craftsmanship fee?

The company is not responsible for that, and we try to create free competition between the shops, which eventually is the best for consumers. However, the company guarantees providing consumers with products that meet the legal standards.

What is the demand rate for wedding jewellery on your app?

The demand for wedding jewellery through the site is low compared to other items such gold bullions, while the demand for gold products is higher than gold bullion.

The growth of the volume of small gold jewellery sales is based on a piece rather than a weight basis, in addition, gold bullion and gold coins sales were growing during the price fluctuation period, as they attract those who want to invest in them.

What is the size of the company’s sales last year? And your target this year?

Our sales reached EGP 2.5m in the past year, with a target of EGP 5m this year. It’s still low because the society is still not familiar with the concept of purchasing gold online. The company intends to launch new services during the coming period to encourage consumers to invest in gold or makes purchases through the internet.

Are there new services to be offered to consumers?

We have been trying for a year to provide e-payment service on our website, and we have launched the service at the beginning of this month. At first, banks refused to allow e-payment for gold and silver products trading, as the Central Bank of Egypt considers gold as cash equivalent.

Does the company intend to enter into new partnerships?

The growth rate of the company is good, but slow, and we are trying to expand the company’s activity and look for foreign or local shareholders.

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After appointing new female judge, will Egypt see more women in courts? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/18/after-appointing-new-female-judge-will-egypt-see-more-women-in-courts/ Thu, 18 Jul 2019 20:24:21 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703068 However, Qandil is not really the first female judge in Egypt’s criminal courts. She was preceded by judge Sally Al-Saidi, who was part of several judicial panels in criminal and misdemeanour courts in 2009. She ruled on 95 criminal cases that year

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Several media outlets recently reported that Fatima Qandil became the first female judge to join a judicial panel of an Egyptian criminal court.

The court was trying a case about stock market manipulation. The judicial panel was led by Mohamed El-Feki and included Mahmoud Rashdan, Abdullah Salam, and Usama Aboushaisha, alongside Qandil. Several individuals from the Mubarak regime are suspects in this case, including the former president’s sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, in addition to seven others.

However, Qandil is not really the first female judge in Egypt’s criminal courts. She was preceded by judge Sally Al-Saidi, who was part of several judicial panels in criminal and misdemeanour courts in 2009. She ruled on 95 criminal cases that year.

Al-Saidi was one of 68 female judges appointed in Egypt’s ordinary courts. She then became a member of the Cairo Juvenile Court in 2009, and later a member of the Cairo Criminal Court.

In 2013, Al-Saidi was appointed as a member of the technical bureau of the Court of Cassation (Criminal Division).

Notably, the role of the technical bureau is to conduct legal research and studies, but this would not give her the authority to try or rule on cases.

The question is: will the media interest of the presence of a female judge, Qandil, in law courts pave the way for more females to be part of the big scene in the Egyptian judiciary?

Before 2003, both the Administrative Prosecution Authority and the State Lawsuits Authority have appointed women in their offices, but no women were allowed in the Egyptian courts.

In 2003, judge Tehani Al-Gebali was the first woman to join the Supreme Constitutional Court by a presidential decree. This was followed by the appointment of 42 female judges to the ordinary courts from 2007 to 2008.

In June 2015, the Ministry of Justice announced the appointment of a new batch of 26 female judges to the ordinary courts. Unfortunately, the government did not take further steps to increase the number of women in the judiciary since then.

Sally Al-Saidi

Are female judges banned from Egyptian judiciary?

The Egyptian judicial system is divided into three branches: ordinary courts, which are entitled to try civil, economic, and criminal cases, administrative courts, which adjudicates disputes involving government actions (and sometimes inaction) and disciplinary actions involving government employees, and the Supreme Constitutional Court, which rules on constitutional matters.

According to the Egyptian constitution, the law graduates can apply to join the administrative prosecution authority, public prosecution, the State Council, and the military prosecution, Omnia Gadallah, founder of “Her Honor Setting the Bar” support campaign of female law graduates, told Daily News Egypt.

Gadallah has filed a lawsuit against the State Council for refusing to enrol women in the body. 

She explained that both administrative prosecution and Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority are judicial bodies, however, the work nature of their members is different than normal judges, as they do not rule on cases.

Even though, women are allowed to enter both. They currently account for 43% of the administrative prosecution members, and represent about 28% of the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority.

Meanwhile, the members of the Supreme Constitutional Court are selected from the best judges in the ordinary courts, the State Council, and the military prosecution. However, no women allowed in the military prosecution.

“The female law graduates have two options; either to apply in the public prosecution to enter an ordinary court, which is difficult as the public prosecution continues to reject women, or to apply in the State Council to enter an administrative court, which is also rejecting female applicants. This means that the ban on female judges continues,” Gadallah said.

In 2009, Egypt’s State Council agreed unanimously to appoint male and female law graduates from the academic years 2008 and 2009.

However, in February 2010, a special committee of the State Council’s general assembly convened and voted against appointing female judges, with an overwhelming majority of 334 against 42 votes.

Therefore, when the public prosecution announced the recruitment of a new batch in 2010, only males could apply.

So, when Gadallah filed a lawsuit against the State Council, this brought the issue of female judge ban to light again and this case is still ongoing until now.

Exclusion of female judges violates constitution

Gadallah told DNE that the exclusion of women clearly violates the constitutional principle of equality, citing some articles in the 2014 Constitution, mainly Article 9. It prescribes that the state is committed to achieving equality among all citizens, without discrimination.

Moreover, Article 11 prescribes that the state must ensure equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Article 14 also prescribes that citizens have the right to government employment on the basis of competence, without favouritism.

Fatima Kandil

Is appointing female judges in courts still a taboo?

Gadallah said that Al-Saidi and Qandil are among the 66 female judges that were appointed in the ordinary courts, representing 0.5% of 16,000 judges.

“Those female judges were appointed, not selected normally through career progression,” Gadallah explained.

Despite this fact that their selection was not through the career progression, social media and newspapers congratulated the Egyptian women for being empowered.

Mohamed Samir, spokesperson for the Administrative Prosecution Authority, told DNE that the media interest of appointing females in the criminal court is a result of the public argument whether women can hold judicial positions.

According to the Malik and Shafi‘i schools of Islamic law, being a male is a precondition to be a judge. Meanwhile, Abu Hanifa school says that women may be judges in all matters, except “Hudud” crimes, which include theft, robbery, illicit sex, alcohol consumption, and apostasy, and “Qisas”, which refers to offences that involve bodily injury or loss of life. The Hanbali school said that women may become judges in all matters.

Samir explained that the criminal court tries matters related to Hudud, thus women were always excluded.

“Seeing a female judge in the criminal court means that the picture is changing. It shows that we now follow the Hanbali school that permits women to be judges in all matters,” Samir said.

What is the next step?

Samir continued that appointing women in the criminal court was a good step, however, we aspire to more progress.

He explained that the appointment of Qandil was not through the normal procedures as males. He called for ending this gender discrimination, especially in the general prosecution.

Gadallah agreed with Samir, stating that the evaluation of female judges is conducted unfairly. Male judges should not be compared to female judges, as women’s career progression face more challenges than men’s.

In conclusion, the appointment of of Qandil was a good step, but the admission of women to the judiciary system remains dependent on the government’s intervention and civil society organisations’ pressure.

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EBRD, CBE discuss offering new banking products for Egypt’s private sector https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/17/ebrd-cbe-discuss-offering-new-banking-products-for-egypts-private-sector/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702912 Locally operating banks receive 25% of EBRD funding portfolio in Egypt, says EBRD’s VP for Banking

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The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is discussing with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) offering new banking products to the local market, EBRD’s Vice President for Banking, Alain Pilloux, said.

“We have invested in our 13 partner banks in Egypt which we offer them diversified packages in order to save energy, finance women’s businesses, focus on youth, and others. All of these banking products are important for the country,” he noted.

The EBRD’s banking cooperation with Egypt will continue and expand over new banking products for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and FinTech, Pilloux asserted, adding that bank lending represents about 25% of the EBRD’s portfolio in Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Pilloux during his recent visit to Egypt, in the presence of Janet Heckman, the EBRD’s managing director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, along with Khalid Hamza, the newly appointed deputy head of the EBRD’s Egypt office, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What was your recent visit to Egypt?

I had very fruitful meetings during my recent four-day visit to Egypt, which took place in early July. I had the opportunity to meet with Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

I also discussed expanding our cooperation with several ministers, including Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr; Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker; and Minister of Public Enterprise Sector, Hisham Tawfik.

I met with the Governor of CBE, Tarek Amer, as well as representatives of several banks operating in Egypt and the private sector.

You also visited Alexandria, what did you do there?

In Alexandria, we celebrated the EBRD’s advisory of about 200 SMEs there and neighbouring governorates. I also had a fruitful meeting with the Governor of Alexandria, Abdel-Aziz Qonsowa.

What about the EBRD’s future plans for Egypt?

Egypt is an important country for the EBRD. It became number one for the bank in 2018 in terms of annual activities. Over the last two years, in 2017 and 2018, we invested in Egypt about $3bn.

Currently, we do more in Egypt and we want to maintain a very high level of activities. We aim to invest over $1bn annually in Egypt, yet it depends on local projects’ needs.

What were the main topics in your meetings in Egypt?

I’ve put a lot of emphasis on the private sector as the main creator of jobs, particularly SMEs. We advised 800 SMEs in the country, of which 200 projects are in Alexandria and the neighbouring region. The EBRD aims to expand its businesses in the Egyptian SME sector.

Since we can’t directly reach all Egyptian companies, we are always keen to maintain good partnerships with banks in order to lend SMEs.

In Egypt, we work with 30 banks, in both public and private sectors.

The most important thing for us is to work with good partners in a strong network to ensure that our funds benefit the Egyptian economy and do not stay in banks.

How do you assess Egypt’s banking system?

Egypt’s banking sector is stable which makes the performance of the banks operating there positive. Many of the countries that we are working in do not enjoy this stability.

We proposed a diversified package to our 13 partner banks in Egypt which include energy efficiency, women’s business, and youth. All of these banking products are important for the country.

Large companies can directly access our finance. Recently, we have signed a new $25m loan agreement to United Metals Company (UMC), a subsidiary of Elsewedy Electric.

‘The funds will boost the company’s working capital and co-finance the implementation of a comprehensive environmental and social action plan which includes the purchase of modern equipment that will set new quality standards in Egypt’s cable and electrical products industry,’ according to a previous statement of the EBRD on 4 July.

What is the outlook for EBRD’s future cooperation with the private sector in Egypt?

The EBRD is expected to expand business with Egypt’s private sector. We are not here to compete with the Egyptian banks, we are here to complement their role.

For example, we can lend companies in foreign currency because it might be a problem for some Egyptian banks. We can lend companies over a long-term payment plan because sometimes Egyptian banks don’t want to do that.

Renewable energy can easily attract the private sector. Egypt is hungry for energy as the country’s GDP is growing by about 5-6% annually. Consumption is growing at the same pace or more, so the country will need a lot of energy too.

Renewable energy prices are very competitive, contrary to the past. Renewables are good for the Egyptian state and people, so we will continue supporting this field. 

We are working on additional deals in the energy sector which will be announced in due time.

The EBRD supports the private sector through developing public private partnerships (PPP), such as the Sixth of October dry port and a container terminal in Damietta.

What is the size of funds provided by EBRD to banks operating in Egypt?

It represents about 25% of our portfolio in Egypt. Since 2012, we have invested about €5bn in more than 90 projects throughout the Egyptian economy. The bank invests in all sectors of the economy to support the private sector and sustainable development.

EBRD’s Vice President for Banking, Alain Pilloux

Does the bank have any future cooperation plans with the banks operating in Egypt?

Our cooperation will continue and expand over all banking products. We would like to work more closely with this sector to offer innovative products.

We discussed with the CBE and other banks the possibility of creating a product that would help people get out of informality.

The informal sector represents 40-60% of Egypt’s GDP. When SMEs were informal, they could not grow because they had no bank accounts or working licenses, so they would stay small.

It’s not easy to convince SMEs of the disadvantages of being informal, so we are discussing with the CBE the possibilities of creating a banking product that encourages informal projects to join the formal market.

We want to innovate all the time and to create new banking products because our role is to help the market to expand.

Does EBRD plan to expand beyond the 13 banks currently dealing with?

It is possible. The EBRD is partnering with about one-third of the banks in Egypt which is a good number.

Janet Heckman: We hope we will add new banks. We have been adding new products in the Egyptian market for years. For example, we have supported the supply chain financing through helping SME companies to become suppliers to larger ones and we also had green products.

How do you see the flotation decision and its consequences?

Flotation was an excellent decision because it was taken in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The big advantage of cooperating with the IMF is the guidance that Egypt had step-by-step during its economic reform programme.

Like in any activity, you know what you have to do but when there is a step-by-step guidance with a timetable, it works better.

I am impressed with Egypt’s economic reform programme, and with the resilience of the Egyptian people because flotation caused the inflation to soar to more than 30%.

A lot of people suffered in Egypt following the flotation. Today people can see the reforms’ benefits. Inflation is about 14% now. It will go down to a single digit figure in the future. Everything will normalise because I believe that flotation was the right decision.

What about interest rates in Egypt? What are the appropriate rates for investments?

Investors always complain from high interest rates, even when they’re not. Companies in Egypt borrow at about 16% interest rate, which is high but it is linked to inflation. When inflation goes down, interest rates will decrease too. I would like to emphasise that Egypt is going in the right direction and everything will normalise at the end.

What about the technical cooperation with the CBE?

We have a large number of technical assistance projects with the CBE in order to improve the CBE’s functions in many areas, like the money market, the yield curve, and the capital market.

We are also discussing with the CBE having better access to the local currency. We already have access to local currency in Egypt in various means, yet we want to have better access.

We are also discussing with the CBE offering new products in the areas of financial technology (FinTech) and innovation. I have discussed this matter with the CBE team during my recent visit to Egypt.

How do you see Egypt’s steps to achieve financial inclusion?

The EBRD pays great attention to financial inclusion in its activities in Egypt. Women business and youth programmes are part of the financial inclusion. For us, financial inclusion is a key theme in Egypt.

What do you think of CBE’s plans to float some public banks?

The EBRD is closely following the CBE and the Egyptian authorities’ IPO plans of some banks. We know about the Banque de Caire’s offering and we are closely following it.

However, we hope that the IPO process is faster than it is. Privatisation is important not only in the banking sector but also in other sectors.

How do you see the CBE’s initiatives to support SMEs?

The SME sector is very large and has many needs. Supporting SMEs is very positive. The CBE announced EGP 25bn initiative to the SMEs at subsidised interest rates. There is also another CBE initiative of EGP 5bn for the medium-sized companies. For us, we continue to play our role in collaboration with the banks operating in the local market to support the SME sector.

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ECA works on amending Competition Protection Law: authority head https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/15/eca-works-on-amending-competition-protection-law-authority-head/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:30:12 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702721 “We will not allow monopolistic practices in IT sector, says Nabil

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A comprehensive study is under preparation of the information technology (IT) sector in Egypt, including possible risks and the enforcement policies of the Competition Protection Law in this sector, head of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), Amir Nabil, said.

He added in an interview with Daily News Egypt that the ECA has participated in this study besides other competition protection authorities in the world, and it will be published soon.

Nabil noted that the authority will not allow any monopoly in the IT sector, which is currently given great attention because it is important for economic growth during the coming period.

Nabil explained that the IT sector, which leads the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is capable of providing a large number of job opportunities for youth and creating new and varied ideas that add to the economies of countries. He added that this sector must be protected from malfunctioning or harmful acquisitions by major companies.

The ECA is keen on protecting the IT sector from monopoly practices, he pointed out, and ensuring all competition elements for this promising sector.

Why is the ECA so concerned about the IT sector?

We focus on the IT sector being one of the emerging sectors which can achieve significant qualitative leaps for the Egyptian economy, especially as IT is the driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We will not allow monopoly in the digital economy and IT, and the recurrence of cases of economic concentration, so the authority has long advocated the need for pre-control of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to regulate the market, increase competition, and reduce monopoly practices.

IT sector is one of the priorities of the current markets, especially the so-called participatory and digital economics because it is a sector filled with new ideas and innovations which add to the economies of countries. This innovation must be protected alongside the competitive environment that allows it to grow, expand, and succeed because competition will encourage diligence and invent new ideas to withstand competitors. Without a climate of competition, there will be no innovation. The authority has also found that this type of digital economy is capable of employing a very large number of young people and provide solutions for many important sectors in the country.

Through the studies prepared, in cooperation with a number of other competition authorities, the authority found that there is an imminent danger to this sector, which is the data necessary for companies to operate being concentrated in the hands of a few companies. We found that many of the promising ideas that are implemented by entrepreneurs are exposed to acquisitions by big companies, who buy these ideas, and do not allow their circulation or development to avoid the emergence of new competitors in the market, which we call “fatal acquisitions” because they lead to high rates of economic concentration and monopolisation.

Have you prepared a study for the IT sector in Egypt?

Yes, the ECA has completed a study on the IT sector and its risks. The priorities of the authority are enforcing the Competition Law in this important sector and the objectives sought to be achieved. This study is very important because this sector needs to have a database to help us later in our work.

What are the most prominent sectors or markets that the authority has focused on lately?

The competition protection system monitors all markets, whether transfer, production, industry, or services. All sectors are important to the Egyptian economy, and we have specialised departments in the authority that cover all sectors. The authority also receives a large number of complaints and reports for investigation.

How do you see the importance of maintaining a real market competition and the impact of monopoly on the economy?

Competition is the backbone of any market. If competition is absent, it means that we return to arbitrage, and certain companies will control the market. Many economic problems emerged in the Egyptian market due to the lack of real competition. For example, Glovo’s exit from Egypt was due to monopolisation that the authority eventually stood against. Therefore, the role of the ECA was necessary and important.

Is the lack of awareness of competition rules in the Egyptian market hinders the work of the ECA?

We certainly face challenges in terms of changing the culture of the society that have been established for many years. Many of the practices that some have adopted before the issuance of the Competition Law have ended as the market now relies in pricing on supply and demand. After 15 years from issuing the Competition Law, there is no excuse for companies to violate the law, so we are currently working to counter monopoly practices in all markets, and we will not allow any violation of the law.

Does the ECA enact new changes to its law?

We are already working on amending the law. These amendments have been approved by the cabinet and are currently in parliament for discussion and approval. The aim of these amendments is essentially to ensure greater autonomy for the ECA from the government, as we are one of the regulatory bodies to which the Constitution grants full independence to perform its supervisory role. The amendments also give the agency the power to impose administrative fines to counter monopoly practices, rather than waiting for judicial rules.  The amendments also include developing investigative mechanisms and collecting proofs to enable the authority to play its role effectively.

What are the most controversial items in the law that negatively affect competition?

Apart from these amendments, the ECA believes it’s unnecessary to intensify the penalty for violations to Article 6 of the current law. It is related to pricing manipulation in which market competitors agree on raising or reducing prices collectively or restricting production and distribution operations. Such violations involve a sort of bad faith and conspiracy against consumers depriving their right to obtain goods or services at the best prices. The punishment for this crime in some countries may be imprisonment.

What are the latest developments of ECA’s investigation into Uber’s acquisition of Careem?

We have already prepared a market study on the potential effects of the acquisition. The report has been sent to the two companies, and we have received their responses. We are currently studying their responses to reach the final decision in accordance with the principle of transparency. We previously set a 60-day deadline to make our decision but then we extended this period for another 60 days. The final report will be published for greater transparency and as reference in future studies in this important sector.

The ECA has three scenarios for this transaction: first to reject it if we found that it would harm the market. Second to approve it on specific terms to limit the harm. Third to unconditionally approve it and subject this approval to renewal every two years.

But the UAE has approved the deal, does this mean that Egypt will soon approve it too?

Each market has its different circumstances. The UAE transportation sector is quite different from Egypt, in terms of infrastructure, geographical distribution of population, and the consumer culture. All these elements affect the competition. The UAE’s Ministry of Economy’s approval of the deal does not necessarily mean that Egypt will agree or reject it. We are still in the study phase, and there are other markets that are also studying the deal, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

How did you manage to bring Glovo back to Egypt?

When Glovo decided to exit the market, no one thought that this was the result of a monopoly practice. Glovo’s exit was not its decision, but it came after pressure from Delivery Hero, which owns 16% of its shares, to limit the Egyptian market to another brand owned by Delivery Hero, which violates the Competition Law.

We met with the two companies and have been able to bring Glovo back to Egypt to keep up the competitive environment in the market.

Does the ECA have the power to stop M&A that occurs abroad?

It is important to emphasise that the role of the ECA is not limited to the violations that occur inside Egypt, but its role also extends abroad, as long as this violation will affect the local market. This is not regulated by the Egyptian law only, but all international conventions related to competition protection and monopolistic practices.

According to Article 5 of the Law, the ECA has the right to examine and study any deal or agreement that takes place abroad if it has repercussions on the domestic market, as was the case in the broadcast issue of CAF football matches.

The ECA has cancelled some items of Apple’s distribution contracts with local agents and asked both parties to amend these contracts. What is the situation now?

Apple has committed itself to amend these contracts in Egypt and the Arab region. This commitment allows for the so-called parallel import. Therefore, we have opened the door to a large number of potential exporters to the Egyptian market, and 80 exporters have been authorised to import and sell Apple products in the Egyptian market, up from only three companies.

This means that competition will increase and thus the Egyptian consumer will get better prices because the big profit margin will be reduced. Even if the new parties did not enter the competition, opening the market to any potential competitor will put the main market players under pressure to maintain their market share.

How do you see the media reports saying that frequent issues raised by the ECA with large companies may have a negative impact on investment?

On the contrary, protecting competition is a protection of investment too, and there will be no real investment in Egypt if we allowed monopolistic practices. Our role in the ECA to provide a comfortable and fair environment for domestic and foreign investors. The Competition Protection Law essentially defends potential competition, which simply means that it protects potential investment opportunities from monopoly.

Does the ECA have authority over state-run companies if they violate the Competition Law?

There is no exemption for any company under the Competition Law, even if it was owned by the government.

Any state-run company is subject to the control and authority of the ECA. We cooperate with various government agencies to ensure that competition rules are properly applied.

But we should distinguish between the economic activity and public services offered by state-run companies or agencies.

Has the ECA received any complaints regarding the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s decision to impose temporary import tariff of 15% on iron billets?

The ECA is not concerned with this matter, and we have not received any complaints from the steel manufacturers. The state’s decisions aims to protect Egypt’s domestic iron and steel industry against unfair competition, and this is part of the state’s role to work for the public interest, whether through protecting a particular industry or deepening domestic industrialisation, in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which have allowed such procedures for the protection of economies and industries.

This does not mean that the ECA has a specific position on these fees, but rather, it is essentially a matter of organisation of work.

The cement market in Egypt suffered from major crises during the recent period, have you received any complaints regarding competition in this sector?

The ECA prepared a study on developments in the cement sector and the closure of some factories of production lines. What is happening in this market specifically are non-competition problems, but other conditions, including a stagnation and low demand, at a time when supply has increased dramatically.

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CCFE: new technical programmes between tourism, health ministries, French institutions https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/14/ccfe-new-technical-programmes-between-tourism-health-ministries-french-institutions/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:50:15 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702678 Chamber follows up on signed agreements during Macron's visit to Egypt last January, says Behnam

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The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt (CCFE), seeks new capacity building programmes for the ministries of tourism, health and population, in collaboration with French institutions, Managing Director of the CCFE, Hassan Behnam, said. He explained that the health and tourism sectors are key areas where technical and vocational training are essential to boost these sectors’ performance.

“We hold several seminars to inform French companies about the updates of the political scene. I delivered four speeches in 2019 about Egypt’s economic and geographical potential in France. I am scheduled to give an additional couple of speeches in the next period to convince French companies to invest in Egypt,” Behnam noted.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Behnam to learn more about the chamber’s current activities and plans in the Egyptian market to further develop business relations with France, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

There were many agreements which were signed during Macron’s visit to Egypt; What are the updates of their implementation?

During President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Egypt in January 2019, both countries signed about 32 agreements, including between government entities and the private sector. The agreements are very diversified such as in the sectors of infrastructure, roads, building materials, tourism, culture, and construction–which is a labour-intensive sector. Renewable energy is key sector for Egypt’s economy where Schneider Electric (SE) is active. SE contributes to a major project, the Benban Solar Park, in Aswan, Upper Egypt. French companies pay attention to the fields of agriculture, health, and education. Health, education, and agriculture are three main areas for French companies. On June 9, 2019, the CCFE organised a major successful conference in the health sector. The CCFE pays great interest to the health cooperation in Egypt and nine French companies announced a health coalition in 2018. ‘A group of French companies announced the establishment of a health coalition–according to a past statement from the ministry of investment and international cooperation (MIIC) on November 20, 2018–noting that companies’ coalition includes Sanofi SA, Danone, AXA, L’Oréal, and others. French companies in Egypt are offering the Egyptian market about 35,000 jobs in the fields of industry, tourism, agriculture, telecommunications, transport, infrastructure, and financial services. French companies increased their investment by $200m during the fiscal year 2017/18.’

How does the CCFE follow up on Macron’s latest visit?

The signed agreements during Macron’s visit are very diversified. We follow up on the business side of the agreements especially in the energy sector with Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker. We follow up on the agreements on the agriculture side with the Minister of Agriculture, Ezz El-Din Abu Steit. France is very active in investing in Egypt’s agriculture sector. Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) implements a programme for Egypt’s small farmers worth EGP 700m. This programme has a very high budget and will be disbursed over several phases. The CCFE’s health committee meets regularly and is very active in approaching healthcare views between Egyptian and French authorities so we have a very close cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population. I believe that the technical and vocational training sector is crucial to the Egyptian economy. We are in discussions with the Egyptian government to boost this kind of cooperation between the Egyptian government and French organisations.

Which areas do you discuss to have new technical and vocational trainings in?

Tourism and healthcare. For example, I discussed with the Minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, the possibility of inking an agreement with a French institution to implement a vocational and technical training for the employees in the tourism sector, as it is a key field of the economy. Programmes can be implemented here in Egypt or in France as we have not decided yet. The Egyptian economy is moving toward development and so, technical and vocational trainings are crucial in all fields, especially in the tourism and health sectors.

How can the chamber play a vital role in convincing French companies to inject new investments in Egypt?

We hold several seminars to inform French companies about the updates of the political scene. I delivered four speeches in 2019 about Egypt’s economic and geographical potential in France. I am scheduled to give additional speeches in the next period to convince French companies to invest in Egypt.

Are there any upcoming business delegations that the chamber will organise shortly?

I don’t think so due to the summer vacations. Yet, there were a couple of visits to France in January and March 2019. On March 18, I attended a conference in Marseille, France, where I gave a detailed explanation on Egypt’s great potential in the presence of Alexandria Governor, Abdel-Aziz Qonsowa, and the French ambassador to Egypt, Stéphane Romatet. During Marseille’s conference, I suggested inking a twinning agreement between Marseille and Alexandria to allow businessmen to further enhance their collaboration.

When do you expect both countries to ink this twinning agreement between Marseille and Alexandria?

It depends on the procedures, yet the suggestion of a twining agreement between Marseille and Alexandria was very welcomed. We are in close discussions to follow up with the French and Egyptian sides on the timing of inking the agreement.

How many members does the chamber include?

The CCFE includes 713 members, 80% of which are Egyptians and the remaining 20% are French companies. The CCFE was established in 1992, so it is 27-years-old.

What about new French investments and expansions of investing companies in Egypt?

Most major French companies are already investing in Egypt. For expansions, Total Egypt is implementing expansion plans as well as SE and Danone. ‘Total Egypt is continuing to develop lubricants through the development of direct sales to industry, the expansion of its geographic coverage, and the signature of contracts with importers and large automobile dealers. Total Egypt is ranked number two in the car dealer segment behind the market leader. Total Egypt is a subsidiary of Total established in 1998,’ according to the company’s website.

How many French companies are investing in the Egyptian market?

There are about 540 French companies that are in Egypt for both trade and investments, 160 of which are investing in the country. Many French companies come to Egypt to ink deals of trade or investments without informing the chamber. And we are very happy to know that because this reaffirms the importance of the Egyptian market and the direct close cooperation between companies of both nationalities. French investments in Egypt are about €5bn and they are expected to rise following the signed agreements in January during Macron’s visit to Egypt. The views of French companies were positively changed following the November 2016 economic reforms. The policies are improving to eliminate the rooted economic issues since the 1950s. The economic reforms were quite essential to the economy. Over decades, many past governments tried to implement the reforms, yet they failed. If Egypt implemented the reforms in 1977, the situation would have been better now. Egypt’s implementation of its economic programme, in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), boosted global investors’ trust in the Egyptian economy’s outlook. The programme caused many Egyptians to suffer following the inflation hike that reached more than 30% but now everything is normalising again. The key to implementing the reforms and gaining its benefits is ‘patience.’ I hope that history will record how Egypt passed through a very tough period from 2016 to 2025 before it moved toward an economic leap. ‘On November 11, 2016, the executive board of the IMF approved a three-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Egypt for about $12bn to support the authorities’ economic reform programme. The EFF-supported programme helped Egypt restore macroeconomic stability and promote inclusive growth. Policies supported by the programme correct external imbalances, restore competitiveness, place the budget deficit and public debt on a declining path, boost growth, and create jobs while protecting vulnerable groups,’ according to the IMF.

What is the amount of trade exchange between Egypt and France?

It’s about €2.5bn annually, €1.7bn of the total trade is France’s exports to Egypt. I know that Egyptian exports to France are increasing recently. This is a good sign of the development of the Egyptian economy.

How do you assess Egypt’s investment climate now?

Current updates of the investment climate in Egypt are positive. The MIIC is working hard to further support international investors. The chamber discusses with the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) how to attract French companies to manufacture in the local market and export to many African countries in order to benefit from the agreements between Egypt and its African partners. ‘Notably, the 12th Summit of the African Union (AU) kicked off in Niamey, Niger last week, launching the long-awaited-African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). A number of 54 of the 55 AU member countries have now signed onto the deal, with Eritrea being the only holdout. Considered the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1994, the AfCFTA seeks to triple the volume of intra-African trade from 17% to 60% by 2022,’ according to media reports. Egypt enjoys very good potential, including its geographical location, more than 100 million consumers, and positive regulatory framework reforms. Furthermore, Egypt needs new investments and our role, as the CCFE, is to help the government of Egypt attract new investments from France in many key fields for the Egyptian economy. The country solved the three major problems that faced investors before November 2016 which were, foreign currency shortage, lack of security, and bureaucracy. Egyptian authorities are implementing several steps to eliminate corruption and bureaucracy. The MIIC is trying to summarise investment procedures according to the New Investment Law and its amendments. ‘On July 7, the Egyptian Parliament approved the New Investment Law’s amendments, in the presence of Minister Nasr. The New Investment Law was issued as per No 72 for 2017. The amendments include incentives to international companies already investing in Egypt when injecting investments in the neediest areas,’ according to media reports. The MIIC, along with GAFI, will continue working on enhancing the investment regulatory framework in line with international standards, Nasr asserted on July 7. She noted that the MIIC coordinates with other governmental agencies in order to eliminate any obstacles that may face investors in Egypt,’ according to the MIIC.

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L’Oréal seeks to rely on local suppliers to further enhance its exports https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/14/loreal-seeks-to-rely-on-local-suppliers-to-further-enhance-its-exports/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:36:44 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702675 Egypt is promising, attractive market for investment, says Country Manager

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L’Oréal, a French personal care company headquartered in Clichy, seeks to rely more on local suppliers during the coming years to further enhance the company’s exports, L’Oréal’s Country Manager for Egypt, Benoit Julia, said.

“We would like to develop product packaging, in order to be in line with the standard specifications and to have product conformation to local and export standards at affordable prices to consumers,” Julia added, noting that 85% of the factory’s production is export-oriented to mainly the GCC, Lebanon, and Morocco.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Julia to learn more about the updates of the company’s activities in terms of investments, exports, as well as future strategy for the company in Egypt, the transcript below was lightly edited for clarity:

How do you assess Egypt’s investment climate? What are your recommendations to further improve it?

Egypt has a promising and attractive market for investment and has many opportunities for growth. For us, Egypt is a strategic country and we have started our investments in 2009, and by 2011 we took the decision to establish the first L’Oréal factory in the region to be the export hub for Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market? How do you assess your investment experience here?

L’Oréal is present in 150 countries through 44 specialised factories. In 2011, we established our first factory in Egypt with initial investments of €50m to be the export hub for MENA. The factory is located in the 10th of Ramadan City.
During the inauguration ceremony of the plant, L’Oréal’s Executive Vice-President, Africa-Middle East Zone, Geoff Skingsley, said: “With the rising demand across the region for innovative and high quality beauty products, it was crucial for L’Oréal to have a production facility close to its key markets which is able to adapt its product offers to local specifics.” He added that the Cairo plant reflects the company’s confidence in the continuous expansion of the MENA markets and L’Oréal’s strong commitment to Egypt as a strategic production hub.

What about L’Oréal’s CSR projects in Egypt?

For CSR activities, we have several key areas, including a programme entitled Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality. L’Oréal Egypt implements a number of citizenship programmes that entail a commitment toward empowering diversified segments in the society.

Driven from L’Oréal’s profound vision in the vitality of endowing science and research, and with its certainty that Egypt acquires highly qualified calibres in that sector, L’Oréal Egypt in 2018 launched the first edition of L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship, in partnership with the Academy of Science. The programme granted fellowships to three promising youths. However, we have up to date 19 Egyptian scientists who have been recognised and awarded whether on international or regional level since the programme was launch 21 years ago

L’Oréal focuses its attention on the underprivileged in its “Boost Her-Pioneer for the Future” programme. The platform empowers women and aims to provide job opportunities in an attempt to promote gender equality through offering the necessary training and skills development, as well as knowledge sharing.

To further complement the know-how transfer, the company proudly established the first-of-a-kind specialised L’Oréal Professional Institute in Egypt, a technical institute that offers an internationally accredited educational curriculum to support and train talented youths and enable them to master the hairdressing profession.

The institute bestows a commitment for the company to educate and train Egyptian youths on the best standards and techniques in the field, and up to date we have more than 320 graduates from the institute.

How many products do you produce from Egypt?

L’Oréal Egypt offers a wide range of products with each brand category catering for a specific market segment. The Egyptian market includes 100 million consumers; this is in addition to consumers in neighbouring markets, which serve as a driving force for us to provide a variety of L’Oréal Egypt products. We have successfully produced 13 International brands out of 36 brands offered by the L’Oréal Group; some of them are manufactured locally while others are imported.

What is the size of the company’s exports?

As I early mentioned, L’Oréal Egypt factory is the company’s export hub for MENA, and 85% of the factory’s production is export-oriented to mainly the GCC, Lebanon, and Morocco. In order to enhance exports to foreign markets, the company seeks to develop local suppliers so as to rely on them in providing the factory’s needs in the coming years, in particular with regard to product packaging, in order to meet standard specifications and to reach local and export product conformity at affordable prices for the consumer.

How many people work in L’Oréal Egypt?

L’Oréal Group has around 82,000 employees. Meanwhile, L’Oréal Egypt employs approximately 800 employees. We are proud that 99% of the employees are Egyptians and they hold most of the leading positions, and this is in line with our efforts to empower Egyptians in order to become future leaders.

According to L’Oréal Group’s website, the group achieved about €26.9bn in sales in 2018. The group has 36 brands, and 79% of new products in 2018 have an improved environmental or social profile. The group achieved about €3bn of its sales from e-commerce. The group has 21 research centres spread across six regional hubs, three global centres in Europe, while it has 14 evaluation centres.

In a beauty market that continued to grow steadily in 2018, L’Oréal confirmed its position as the worldwide leader in beauty, with a strong presence in its three main geographic zones: Western Europe, North America, and other new markets.

Africa and Middle East region recorded growth, despite the unfavourable geopolitical context and sluggish markets, especially in the Middle East. Egypt and Morocco posted positive growth, and all divisions increased their market share. There were favourable developments in South Africa and Kenya, thanks in particular to the consumer products division and the launch of the Mixa body care range, added the website.

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Sanofi Egypt to increase its investments 50% in 2019 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/14/sanofi-egypt-to-increase-its-investments-50-in-2019/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:15:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702672 Economic reforms helped country restore stability, says Chairperson

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Sanofi Egypt, a French multinational pharmaceutical company, invested a total of EGP 300m over 2016-2018, growing at 30% per year on average, and will continue to increase investment by 50% in 2019, Chairperson and Managing Director of Sanofi for Egypt & Sudan, Christelle Saghbini, said.

“Sanofi is present in Egypt since 1962, and we have constantly expanded and upgraded our manufacturing site since then. Moreover, we inaugurated our new distribution centre last year that delivers now 500,000 boxes per day with the aim to better meet the Egyptian patients’ needs. We also have export activities to countries in the MENA region,” Saghbini added.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Saghbini to learn about the company’s roadmap for allowing access to innovative medicines in Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you see Egypt’s investment climate?

Egypt is a very attractive market and probably one of the most promising in the region. The economic reforms helped the country restore stability, as shown by the positive evolution of the key macroeconomic indicators, which make Egypt a good place to invest.

Given the priority to healthcare by the government, the dynamic evolution of the Egyptian population and the unmet medical needs, the healthcare sector will have a key role to play in the coming years.

What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market?

Sanofi is amongst the top three pharmaceutical companies in the market and we are in a leading position in therapeutic areas like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rare diseases, and neurological diseases. We also have a prevention portfolio, based on vaccines. We cover some acute diseases and we have consumer healthcare products. This diversified portfolio is one of the key strengths of Sanofi in Egypt. Sanofi Egypt employs around 1,200 persons. From the volume sold in Egypt, 83% is locally produced and our manufacturing site capacity is almost 120m units per year. We manufacture almost all galenic forms: tablets, syrups, creams, suppositories, ampoules, and vials. We also export to countries in the region.

What is your 5-year strategy?

As Egypt is looking to improve its healthcare system by progressively deploying universal health coverage (UHC), eradicating acute diseases, and decreasing the burden of non-communicable diseases, we believe that Sanofi can be part of the solution. As an innovative healthcare leader, our strategic roadmap is designed to expand access to healthcare in Egypt. Our first priority is to develop access for Egyptian patients that can benefit from our affordable quality treatments. Our second priority is about driving innovation. We will supply up to 10 new products within the next three years and our aim, beyond bringing innovative treatments, is to develop real integrated healthcare solutions for better patient management. This is why we embrace the innovation ecosystem through working with startups. For the second year, Sanofi Egypt participated in the Sanofi regional competition Afric@tech on health challenges and we are proud that this year, Egyptian startups presented at Vivatech four out of the 10 African finalists, and one of the Egyptian startups was among the winners. Third, Sanofi has a strong social responsibility in the country, which we will continue to foster through our different programmes that support the Sustainable Development Goals. As a leader in the pharmaceutical sector in Egypt, we know we can’t solve the healthcare challenges and achieve those priorities by ourselves. Improving healthcare in Egypt needs an ecosystem of partnerships in which innovation will be key, and it is one of our priorities to partner with the healthcare ecosystem. Last but not least, we will continue to invest in our people’s development and create an enjoyable place to work, so that Sanofi Egypt can remain a top employer in Africa.

How do you plan to contribute to reforms of Egypt’s healthcare?

As healthcare partners for more than half century in Egypt, we strive to transform innovations into integrated solutions that empower people to enjoy a healthier and better life. We are determined to work closely with governments and healthcare system stakeholders to build partnerships that advance public health. Egypt is an important country where Sanofi already has a rich heritage and footprint, and we look forward to continue supporting the Egyptian government in reforming its healthcare system and improving the health of the Egyptian population. We are proud to partner with the ministry of health to answer the unmet medical needs in Egypt in our areas of expertise. As an example, during the presidential visit of Emmanuel Macron in January 2019, Sanofi Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry of health to address key health challenges in the area of oncology and cardiovascular diseases from a holistic disease management perspective for the benefit of Egyptian patients. Our focus is on three projects: the first looks at improving the management of genito-urinary cancer patients, the second focuses on providing continuous medical education to transfer French expertise in dealing with emergency management of acute cardiac conditions, and the third one is assessing the feasibility of local manufacturing partnerships of new aspects of medicine production.

What about Sanofi’s CSR projects in Egypt?

Sanofi adopts the Sustainable Development Goals, and Sanofi Egypt has been granted the CSR award from the Federation of Egyptian Industries. Our CSR strategy is based on long-term programmes to have an impact on access to healthcare in vulnerable areas, to support communities and societies, and to adopt environment-friendly and energy-saving programmes for a healthy planet. As an example, we have been doing awareness campaigns for the last 10 years, particularly for diabetes. This includes awareness for better diagnosis as well as advice for healthier lifestyle and diabetes management. We contribute to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in the most vulnerable areas through our “KiDS” programme that is focused on educating parents and teachers on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes as well as the management of children suffering from Type 1 diabetes. So far, we served a total of 6,000 children, 8,000 parents, and around 200 teachers and community health workers in 12 schools in the KiDS programme in 2018 and we are planning for the academic year 2019/20 to expand the project in 23 schools, targeting 20,000 children, 14,000 parents, and 350 teachers and community health workers.

What do you think of Egypt’s health insurance system?

The plan to develop Universal Coverage by 2032 is very ambitious and it will provide appropriate medical care to the overall population. The collaborative approach between ministries, the stepwise approach of the plan are driving its success. I would like to congratulate the country on the kick-off of the programme in Port Said last week and I am personally proud to witness this important milestone for all Egyptians.

What is your opinion concerning government healthcare campaigns like “100 Million Health”?

The 100 Million Health campaign reflects the priority that is given to improve the health of Egyptians. It has rightly screened diseases like hepatitis C, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, as the prevalence of these diseases is high and it helped improve the diagnosis of the patients. I am really impressed by the way it was rolled out, and the speed of enrolment of probably one of the most important screening campaigns in the world. This initiative will have a major positive public health impact in the country.

Can you please give me a briefing about Sanofi globally? What about the R&D activities?

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions. With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

We are investing around €6bn yearly in R&D, and we have currently 81 R&D projects under development. We have seen significant advancement on our ambition to sustain innovation in R&D with the development of leading technology platforms and multiple high potential projects in late stage trials. We are confident that this portfolio will be the foundation for Sanofi’s future.

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Steigenberger to open 2 new hotels in Taba, Luxor by year-end https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/12/steigenberger-to-open-new-hotels-in-taba-luxor-by-year-end/ Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:00:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702525 Hotel optimistic about tourism growth in Egypt this year

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Deutsche Hospitality, represented in Egypt by the Steigenberger brand, is to open two new hotels; one in Taba in South Sinai and the other in Luxor, by the end of the year, according to Thomas Willms, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality.

The planned Taba hotel to include 398 rooms, while there will be 281 rooms in the Luxor hotel, Willms told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

He tackled tourism in Egypt and the expansion plans of Deutsche Hospitality in the Middle East.

The interview also touched on the procedures that the government has to take in order to develop the tourism sector and the evaluation of Egypt’s tourism nowadays, disclosing the top nationalities that visit Egypt currently, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Let’s introduce Deutsche Hospitality to the readers: how many brands does the company own?

Our hotel portfolio encompasses 150 hotels in 11 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Deutsche Hospitality brings together five separate hotel brands under a single umbrella. Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts has nearly 60 hotels housed in historic traditional buildings and lively city residences as well as health and beauty oases set at the very heart of nature. MAXX by Steigenberger is a new and charismatic concept, which places the focus on the essential under the motto “Maximize your stay”.  Jaz in the City reflect a metropolitan lifestyle and draw upon the local music and cultural scene. IntercityHotel brand offers more than 40 upper mid-range urban hotels, all of which are located within easy walking distance of railway stations or airports. Zleep Hotels is a well-known and successful hotel brand in Scandinavia which offers service and design at a great rate for many. In Egypt, we have Steigenberger with 12 hotels and six Nile cruisers.

Thomas Willms, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality

What about Deutsche Hospitality’s expansion plan in the Middle East?

 Deutsche Hospitality runs hotels in Tunisia, Dubai, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. We are looking forward to expand in other Middle Eastern countries.

 

Will you introduce any new brand of Deutsche Hospitality in Egypt?

We would love to introduce all brands in Egypt. We already have a strategy to have all brands in Egypt, and ee will announce the new developments as soon as possible.

 

What about Deutsche Hospitality’s global earning for 2018? (annual report)

As a private company, we enjoy the luxury to build our future development on a sustainable strategy, which includes middle- and long-term growth. Our aim is to double the number of hotels within the next five years, so that we can run 250 in the year 2024. The year 2018 was the most successful in our 90-year-long history. This is more than a solid basis for international growth.

 

How do you see the floatation’s effect on the tourism sector in Egypt?

 

Surely, it had a positive effect on the Egyptian tourism sector. However, I think what the Egyptian authorities really understood during the last years is that when it comes to rates, it is essential to ensure a minimum standard. This is the only way to constantly push quality to the next level. On the long run, the most valuable tourism for every country is focused on quality and sustainability more than on cheap trips.

 

How did Steigenberger deal with Egypt’s tourism crisis in past eight years? Was any of the workers laid off during that period?

Prioritising and investing at staff training and development is basic to ensure reaching world class standards of service. Therefore, we also try to be hosts for our guests as well as for our employees. If one hotel currently doesn’t need the power of all employees, we transfer them to another hotel – as a task force. We take care of our employees.

 

How many employees are there in Deutsche Hospitality in Egypt and in total?

 

We have 10,500 employees in total, while in Egypt there are more than 3,000 employees.

 

Do you think the tourism crisis is still ongoing? And what are your expectations for this year?

We see the positive efforts the government is undertaking to foster economy, especially the tourism sector. The government did some great efforts in the private sector; they improved transparency and strengthened social solidarity pensions. They did a lot to bring Egypt back on the right track by promoting Egypt’s tourism all over the world.

We are proud to run 12 hotels and six Nile ships in this beautiful country. We have five new hotels in the pipeline which we are looking forward to running. So, our decision is clear enough: We believe in the ongoing growth of the Egyptian economy. In facts and figures, the year 2018 witnessed outstanding performance and all the hotels had exceeded the financial budget with healthy ratio. We maintained our leading position when it comes to RevPAR.

 

What about your hotels’ average occupancy rates in Egypt this year?

Our hotels in Egypt recorded their highest occupancy since 2012. Egypt’s hotel occupancy rate reached record levels in the beginning of 2019, reaching its highest level since 2012, according to the STR report. The STR stated that occupancy grew from 21.2% to 60.1% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019.

 

What about the top nationalities that visited Egypt this year according to destination?

 

The Red Sea: German, Polish, and British nationalities

Sharm El-Sheikh: Ukrainian, Italian, and Saudi nationalities

Cairo: American, GCC, and Indian nationalities

Alexandria: American, and Australian nationalities

Luxor and Aswan: German, British, American, Australian, and French nationalities.

In your opinion, what needs to be developed in Egypt to attract more tourists?

The most important issues that Egypt faces as well as other tourist destinations all over the world within the next years concern for quality, safety, human resources, and sustainability.

Speaking about source markets, especially Egypt, it is deeply connected with the European market. In our hotels in Europe, we experience since some years an increasing number of Chinese and Indian tourists. We see this trend also for Egypt within the next years. Especially as China is a big market of 1.3 billion people in the country, 100 million travelling at the moment. Chinese guests prefer more cultural tourism than the tourism, which is very interesting to Egypt.

 

What about the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Egypt?

 

We strongly believe in our CSR – not only as part time projects, more as a part of our philosophy. As part of our global CSR strategy, we are proud of our Egyptian hotels which really foster for our CSR team for going the extra mile: they are so engaged! All our hotels in Egypt are currently implementing an environmental management system that is based mainly on the “Green Star Hotel” (GSH) demands and criteria. Beneath that we have massive improvements using motion sensors, power saving cards, time switches and many things more CSR is about looking at every part of the value chain to gain the maximum improvement.

Steigenberger hotels are also the main sponsor for the UN programme of protecting migrating soaring birds through Egypt. We are members in the HEPCA organisation, a local organisation that is involved with environment preservation in the Red Sea, the hotels contribute to the support of the protection and conservation of the coral reefs including supporting natural protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value. Most hotels organise and participate annually in local environmental campaigns and actively at the local community.

 

What about your CSR plans in Egypt in 2019?

 

Four hotels will start to partially produce energy from solar energy. Eight other hotels are planning to be GSH certified. And we have a lot more to offer, including a pilot project in Makadi to produce our own drinking water to reduce plastic bottle waste.

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JETRO leads meetings with cabinet to resolve obstacles facing Japanese companies: JETRO Managing Director https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/10/jetro-leads-meetings-with-cabinet-to-resolve-obstacles-facing-japanese-companies-jetro-managing-director/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:00:53 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702353 Slow residency paperwork, work permit for foreigners are problems, which need solutions

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The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is holding a series of meeting with the cabinet and its affiliated government agencies to find solutions to many of the problems facing Japanese investments in Egypt.

In a press interview conducted by Daily News Egypt with Takashi Tsunemi, head of JETRO in Egypt, he said that Japanese car manufacturers in Egypt complained about the bad competitive environment and the impact of implementing custom exemptions on European cars earlier this year.

JETRO called on the cabinet and the ministry of trade and industry to intervene to provide additional incentives and create a competitive environment in light of the large investments made by the Japanese side in the local assembly and manufacture of cars.

Four international Japanese companies are working in Egypt and hold a big market share, namely Toyota, Isuzu, Suzuki, and Nissan.

Tsunemi pointed out that other meetings were held previously, and they continued and the last of which was on 18 June. He held two previous meetings with the cabinet and the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation in the same month, during which the ministers promised to solve the problems.

Furthermore, Tsunemi said that the Japanese side is very happy with the high-level intervention of the Egyptian state to solve the problems of companies and protect their investment, as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has already intervened personally along with the cabinet to solve all obstacles.

Moreover, Tsunemi said the cabinet stressed the impact of zero customs applied on European car customs on the domestic market, and Japanese companies received a promise to seriously consider some incentives or measures to rebalance the competition.

In the context, companies complained about the procedures of the customs clearance system, as one of the Japanese companies had its imported components damaged and delayed in clearing.

Tsunemi added that the matter was also presented to the cabinet and a separate meeting was held with the head of the customs department, who promised to intervene, and that the other shipments received to be handled in a better manner.

He pointed out that the ministry of finance and the Egyptian Customs Authority in their last meetings with JETRO promised to take new measures to cut clearance time to 72 hours soon.

JETRO’s Managing Director said that the proposal for the establishment of a Japanese economic zone in Egypt has not yet come into force, and no official instructions have been issued by Japan to activate such an agreement. He said that JETRO will take over negotiation procedures if approved by the Japanese government.

He stressed that JETRO has experience in establishing and inviting Japanese companies to invest in such mega projects and has an experience in establishing a Japanese economic zone in India.

About 50 Japanese companies are working in Egypt in various fields, including household products, electrical and automotive industry, and some factories in the industrial area in the 10th of Ramadan City that exports to Africa, including Unicharm Company for manufacturing baby diapers and paper napkins, YKK Company which is specialized in manufacturing zippers, companies in food industries, constructions companies and infrastructure, other companies working in the field of renewable energy and wind energy, and some companies engaged in the implementation of metro lines in terms of supplying tasks and drilling.

Tsunemi stressed that the Egyptian political leadership is keen to cooperate with the Japanese side in the various projects, and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed this on more than one occasion, but what hinders the expansion process is the high cost of the Japanese product compared to competitors. President Al-Sisi urged that matter to be addressed and the Japanese government is working to find a solution to provide a product commensurate with the purchasing power of customers in Egypt.

Tsunemi praised Egypt’s economic reform plan, noting that the investment vision is now clearer to Japanese companies seeking to expand or enter the Egyptian market now.

He pointed out that the most prominent problems in Egypt is the weak education system, which the government is now considering, where there is a plan to develop the educational system by the Ministry of Education and the results are expected to become visible in 20 years.

Tsunemi also stressed that it is necessary to focus on providing more incentives to some specific sectors to complement the Investment Law, in order to ensure the reaping of the rewards of economic reform. He cited experiences presented during a cabinet meeting by a representative of the Japanese companies for the incentives offered to partners operating in Turkey and Morocco.

Moreover, he referred to the need to improve the efficiency of government employees and overcome the routine and slow procedures.

He stressed that one of the biggest problems faced by Japanese and foreign investors in Egypt, is residency procedures and work permits, which may require a full year to get.

Additionally, he pointed out that the approvals of the projects and the multiplicity of bodies authorised to approve them is a major problem and must be worked on, and it is not natural to allow a foreign company to invest in a project and represent years to obtain licenses and approvals.

Tsunemi highlighted the growth of trade exchange between Egypt and Japan by 30%, where transactions reached $1.2bn in 2018 up from $0.9m the year before.

Over and above, Tsunemi attributed the growth to the increase of Egyptian exports to Japan, especially oil products and agricultural crops.

He pointed out that preparations are being made, in cooperation with the Egyptian-Japanese Business Council, to benefit from the Tokyo International Conference on African Development 2019 scheduled for August in order to hold working sessions between Egyptian and Japanese companies.

JETRO is a public institution with a special status set up to promote Japanese exports to the world at large and it was established in 1958.

Cairo’s JETRO office is one of the oldest offices of the Commission and its first office in the Middle East and North Africa, where it was established at the end of the 1950s.

Japan’s JETRO is working with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones to offer investment opportunities in Egypt, as well as encouraging Japanese companies to pump more investments in Egypt.

JETRO offers a variety of other valuable services and support, including the organisation of fairs and exhibitions and trade missions.

Japan External Trade Organization also continues to conduct economic research abroad and gathers a lot of information to disseminate to the business community.

After the growth of Japan’s trade surplus to unexpected levels, it focused on helping foreign companies enter the Japanese market through its branches abroad, numbering 76 branches around the world.

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New technology by Philip Morris to provide less harmful alternatives to smoking https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/07/new-technology-by-philip-morris-to-provide-less-harmful-alternatives-to-smoking/ Sun, 07 Jul 2019 10:30:07 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701975 Tobacco industry presently undergoing drastic changes. Past few years witnessed great development in use of modern technology to develop better tobacco and nicotine products

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Lausanne- “Designing a smoke-free future” is the goal of Philip Morris International (PMI), said the company’s Manager Market Campaigns & Initiatives, Anna Bodi, during a presentation for a group of journalists, Daily News Egypt included, at the company’s Research and Development (R&D) centre in Switzerland.

PMI aims to offer smoke-free alternatives that have the potential to reduce the risk of developing smoking-related diseases, as compared with continued smoking, Bodi added, explaining that this is why PMI decided to create an R&D centre in 2009. “We work on developing products that are satisfying to current adult smokers, so they can fully switch.”

Smoking cigarettes causes several serious diseases and increases the risk of early death. In fact, based on population trends and the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that there will be more than 1 billion smokers by 2025, about the same number currently exists.

“Given this number, and as the technology now exists and continues to develop, it makes sense to offer consumers, less harmful, yet satisfying, smoke-free alternatives,” said Bodi. 

According to international statistics, a person dies every six seconds due to smoking-related illness, and half of smokers will die from a disease directly linked to their use of combustible tobacco or traditional smoking.

The criticisms tobacco companies face and the huge technological revolution sweeping the world have led these companies to think of alternative products for smokers; products that companies say are “less harmful” than conventional smoking.

According to the Global Forum on Nicotine held two weeks ago in the Polish capital, Warsaw, e-cigarettes can be less harmful by  95% compared to traditional cigarettes. Moreover, according to presentations in the Global Forum, there are numerous markets that have started commercializing smoke-free alternatives, including most of European countries, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, and many more.

As per an international report issued by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World in New York, about a billion people around the world smoke and there are more than 7 million people that die each year as a result of smoking. This is all while the sales of nicotine products in 2017 reached $785bn, of which 89.1% were cigarettes.

The report shows that there is a clear growth in the sales of e-cigarettes, where the estimated sales of electronic products reached $11.4bn, up by 21% compared to the previous three years. Meanwhile, Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) saw sales of $6.3bn, up by 52% against the previous three years, out of which 85% in Japan alone.

The report said that e-cigarettes, in general, have recently seen a clear growth compared to traditional cigarettes, adding that the top players in the tobacco industry turned into the next generation of tobacco and nicotine products, where Philip Morris International’s IQOS for example is currently present in 48 markets around the globe.

In the same context, Japan Tobacco aims to offer PloomTech outside its home country, including the US, Canada, and Switzerland. Moreover, British American Tobacco will also introduce heating-based products in South Korea, Russia, Romania, Canada, and Switzerland.

“We welcome the competition because it means more research. At the same time, we are not afraid of competition. We started the journey since the early 1990s, so we have a good experience in the field,” concluded Bodi.

Different innovations

The R&D centre gave the opportunity to move from very little innovations to different innovations, said Nuno Fazenda, Program Manager Scientific & Public Communication at PMI.

He explained that the process of burning cigarettes is the main harm component and trigger, noting that nicotine itself, while addictive and not risk-free, is not the primary cause of smoking-related disease.

“PMI’s R&D decided to develop products that deliver nicotine, the taste and the flavour, without the combustion factor. We develop a lot of products, and IQOS is currently our most advanced one,” explained Fazenda. 

And that’s why, after only four years, 10 million adult smokers are using it, of which 7.3 million have made a full switch and abandoned cigarette smoking altogether. 

“IQOS uses the principle of heating tobacco instead of burning it, which in itself has been around for over two decades. However, it is only now that we have finally managed to find ways to heat tobacco in such a way that satisfies adult smokers. IQOS uses sophisticated electronics to heat specifically prepared and blended tobacco,” Fazenda added.

The PMI is building a future on smoke-free products (also referred to by the company as Reduced Risk Products or RRPs) that are a much better consumer choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

In its 2017 sustainability report, PMI stated the ambition that by 2025, at least 30% of its revenues would come from smoke-free products.

According to international research conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada, IQOS users achieve between 90-95% of what they can achieve if they quit smoking. “The aim is to demonstrate that the toxicity of the aerosol from smoke-free products is lower than that of cigarette smoke.”

In this context, IQOS was authorized for sale by the FDA on 30 April 2019, to be the first Heated Tobacco Product qualified for sale in the US.

The sales of IQOS, according to the presentation of the PMI’s R&D, registers 10.4 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, compared to the 2.9 million in Q1 in 2017. (70% quit smoking completely and switched to IQOS).

Egypt is a key market

Philip Morris is a key player in Egypt’s economy, as Philip Morris Misr (PMM) is the top international player in the Egyptian tobacco industry, with a 24% market share and around one-third of the total tobacco taxes revenues.

The company provides numerous job opportunities, as it employs around 2,500 people, whether directly or indirectly, across its value chain, including manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution among others. This comes in addition to over 100,000 retailers who sell Philip Morris products on a daily basis.

“The industry has significantly evolved, and PMM has been playing a major role in its development. The Egyptian market is witnessing strong competition, thanks to the presence of international tobacco companies within Eastern Company. Eastern Company manufactures a total of 86bn cigarettes annually for all tobacco companies operating in Egypt,” PMI’s Managing Director Egypt & Levant, Vassilis Gkatzelis, told Daily News Egypt.

“Egypt is a key market for us, and has great potential for a smoke-free future. We would like to offer better alternatives to adult smokers in Egypt,” he added.

When will IQOS be introduced in Egypt?

PMM is working with the Egyptian government and its partners to turn this into a reality; however, no launch date has been set yet, Gkatzelis said. Regardless, IQOS would be launched after obtaining all regulatory approvals.

As for pricing, he noted that it is too early to announce the device’s price, while adding that “we are targeting all segments of Egyptian smokers.”

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American International School in Egypt to open new campus in Moqattam: Managing Director https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/07/american-international-school-in-egypt-to-open-new-campus-in-moqattam-managing-director/ Sun, 07 Jul 2019 09:00:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701949 Dorra Group to focus on contracting, facility management in near-term future

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Since its inception in 1943, Dorra Group has become one of the leading contractors and real estate developers not only in Egypt but also the Gulf.

The group also entered the education market by partnering with Esol Education, one of fully accredited educational providers of the American curriculum, and opened the West Cairo campus of the American International School in Egypt (AISE).

Daily News Egypt interviewed the Managing Director of Dorra, Omar Dorra, and the Chairperson Advisor of Esol Education, Tammam Abushakra, to learn about AISE’s and Dorra’s latest plans, the transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Do you have any expansion plans in the near-term future?

Abushakra: We aim to establish a new campus of AISE at Emaar’s Uptown Cairo compound in Cairo’s Moqattam neighbourhood. In regard to Esol Education, the AISE’s parent company, we have already expanded in Asia, opening the American School in Hong Kong as well as two AIS campuses in Dubai.

Esol’s relationship with Dorra Group was cherished by the AIS; Omar Dorra himself is a graduate of AISE’s West Campus, that’s why he appreciates the value and high-quality of American education offered by AISE for 29 years in Egypt.

Through Dorra’s support and investment, we have been able to offer high-quality education to the West Cairo suburbs, and we aim to continue to deliver the same quality of American education for Egypt in the future.

There are currently 1,515 students enrolled in the AISE West Campus with 140 local and international teachers, and it is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).

Dorra: As a group, when we decided to enter the education market, we partnered up with one of the best and fully accredited education providers of American curriculum and opened the AISE West Cairo Campus.

For Egypt, I believe, education is essential to unlock the potentials, talents, and innovation of this country. I strongly believe communities’ flourish on having access to the best educators and education establishments, and that is what I longed to provide.

This project is not the most profitable or the largest, but it is the most satisfying development I have made to date; being part of developing communities and providing the platform to shape the minds of tomorrow’s leaders is really the true essence of development in my opinion, and we need more of such developments in our country.

You recently revealed plans to establish a branch of California State University in Egypt, can you elaborate?

Dorra: Our project with California University is still under negotiation, Walid Abushakra has successfully received the necessary approvals from the California State University. Now, what remains is that we receive the necessary approvals from the Egyptian side, through a protocol.

We have not decided on the location yet, as we are currently choosing between the New Administrative Capital or West Cairo.

Does Dorra Group have any new plans in the near-term future?

Dorra: As a group, we are now focusing on service providing, in light of the real estate booming that is taking place in Egypt. Our multi-national experience will allow us to provide special service to real estate developers.

For example, as a contractor service provider, we are currently constructing projects for Emaar, while for facility management, we are currently bidding for different retail malls, such as the North Edge Towers in New Alamein.

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