Opinion – Daily News Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:16:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Young South Africans want to farm. But the system isn’t ready for them https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/17/young-south-africans-want-to-farm-but-the-system-isnt-ready-for-them/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 12:00:30 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702926 The agricultural sector could be a key source of job creation for young people. But conventional opinion has it that they are turning their backs on the sector despite high levels of unemployment. So what gives?

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The Conversation – Persistent unemployment has become synonymous with the youth experience across South Africa. Youth unemployment rates are almost four times higher than the regional average – 62% of South Africans between 15 and 35 years are unemployed and of these 60% have never been employed.

Add to this the fact that even those who have jobs are earning below what is considered to be a monthly living wage and what emerges is youth employment crisis.

The agricultural sector could be a key source of job creation for young people. But conventional opinion has it that they are turning their backs on the sector despite high levels of unemployment. So what gives?

Drawing on personal narratives collected from 573 young people across three provinces in South Africa, recent research has begun building a picture what young people think and feel about work in agriculture.

Luke Metelerkamp

Overall, the prevailing notion that they are turning their backs on the sector seems to hold true. Over 60% of respondents felt that it was harder to make career decisions relating to agriculture than other careers.

But our research dispels the view that this is because of a lack of interest. Based on our interviews, more than half of those surveyed suggested that they saw a place for agriculture in the long-term visions for their lives. This was either as a useful stepping stone, or as an exciting option in its own right.

The problem wasn’t a lack of interest: rather it had to do with the fact that jobs in agriculture were either back-breaking and financially unappealing – at the subsistence level – or they were in large agri-businesses where workers are often treated appallingly.

These voices present a clear mandate to those interested in the future of youth, land and employment in South Africa: open up an economic space for viable family farming in South Africa and young people will throw their energy into the sector.

Stigma, risk and reward

Unsurprisingly, agriculture appears to carry a stronger set of negative stigmas than other careers. Examples included themes around agriculture being for poor and elderly people, on the one hand, or, on the other, for wealthier white people.

Agriculture was also perceived by many as a risky career path that involved a lot of hard work for little financial reward.

One 27-year-old put it this way:

    I was 17 and had to put through my university application. I sat my parents down and told them that I wanted to do farming as one of my career choices. They said no, farming was for old people and they didn’t put me {through} school to get dirty running after pigs. They wanted me to do an office job. I had to choose between my parents funding and career.

Other themes that emerged included peer pressure, shaming, racism and substantial family pressure when considering agriculture as a career choice.

A 20-year-old from Limpopo said:

    I once went to a certain farm to buy tomatoes, while I was there, there was a huge argument between the white boss and a worker who put wrong grades of tomatoes, she was kicked and fell on tomatoes in front of the customers, I started to have questions about working in agriculture.

Nevertheless, over a third of the young people we spoke to expressed positive vies about working in agriculture.

Many want to work in agriculture. But they said they battled to navigate the spaces between their own vocational motivations, the available work opportunities and the pressures they encountered from friends and family.

A 25-year-old from Kwa-Zulu Natal put it this way:

    I studied agriculture at university. It was a very good career path. I enjoy doing it a lot while my friends were against it, but I carried on {to} finish my year. But the problem came when I have to apply for a job. I didn’t get any job and that was painful to me and it felt like it {was} a waste of time because my parent have faith in me now I’m sitting home with my degree. But I still have hope.

Context

Stepping back to look to contextualise youth narratives within the broader food system presents good news and bad.

The bad news is that there aren’t enough farmers who fill the space between subsistence agriculture and large-scale agri-businesses. This “missing middle” leaves young people feeling trapped.

They either feel trapped by the poverty, isolation and backbreaking drudgery associated with rural subsistence agriculture. Or they face the unappealing prospects of unskilled minimum wage jobs on increasingly industrialised (and often racialised) commercial farming operations.

Seen in this light, it’s not surprising that young people are turning away from agriculture. The choices they are making simply reflect the fact that they are avoiding work that is demeaning.

There is some good news: many young people see potential. They aspire to entrepreneurial work with a deeper social purpose. Encouragingly, many believe that the act of working on the land to produce food is meaningful work.

Luke Metelerkamp is a Post-doctoral research fellow at Rhodes University. He received funding for this research from The National Research Foundation of South Africa and the Southern Africa Food Lab.

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Changing dominant narrative of women on stage https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/17/changing-dominant-narrative-of-women-on-stage/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:30:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702922 To a considerable extent, the media plays a key role in promoting negative concepts and attitudes toward women. Doubtless, the media not only gives people information and entertainment, but it also impacts people’s lives by shaping their opinions and beliefs.

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Despite multiple examples of both electronic and print media that highlight the successes of women in public and private life, women are still seen as too emotional and unable to take substantial decisions in their lives.

It is not just men who assume that women are not decision makers, women also fall prey to the same assumption. To a considerable extent, the media plays a key role in promoting negative concepts and attitudes toward women. Doubtless, the media not only gives people information and entertainment, but it also impacts people’s lives by shaping their opinions and beliefs.

Marwa El- Shinawy

Likewise, gender roles and capabilities are constantly reinforced throughout the media, which influences highly impressionable children and young adults as they develop and form ideas of their own. Hence, women’s representation in the media will not be improved by increasing the number of women’s rights activists, or increasing the number of women’s success stories in newspapers, magazines, and specialised reviews.

What it actually requires is a radical change in the dominant narrative of women in dramatic media (stage and screen) and literature, in an attempt to challenge the negative stereotypical images of women rooted in tradition and culture.

This new positive and empowering image of women is what you can see in Waitress starring Lucie Jones, Ashley Roberts, and Blake Harrison, currently on London’s Adelphi Theatre.

Waitress is the first musical in the history of the English-speaking theatre with an all-female creative team with music and lyrics by five-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, a book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Lorin Latarro. 

It is a highly acclaimed feminist drama that defies the negative image of women, and celebrates motherhood as a journey of learning and a builder of strength. The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly.

It tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress and expert pie maker at Joe’s Diner in the deep south, who is in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl, and tries to leave her small town and loveless marriage.

Obviously, the play focuses on the resilience of women and how they use obstacles to fuel their success. Most importantly, the play highlights women’s capabilities to take decisive decisions and make radical changes in their lives.

From the very beginning Jenna is neither resigned nor apathetic in the face of her immense difficulties. On the contrary, she tries to make of her workplace, the diner, a safe haven away from the realities of her violent home life, adding humour to her unhappy life by naming her tantalising confections after the tumultuous events in her daily life.

However, the pregnancy eventually changes the course of events in her life, giving her an unexpected and newfound confidence. When she discovers that she will be a mother, Jenna decides to use her baking skills as a means to change her miserable life by planning to enter a local pie-baking contest with a large reward, which would allow her to leave her husband for a new life with the baby.

Along the way, she begins an illicit affair with her gynaecologist, Jim Pomatter, for a little while, but she also decides to end this affair to lead a new life as a righteous mother for her newly-born daughter.

In spite of all the obstacles and mistakes in her life, by the end of the play, Jenna manages to be an empowered, financially-independent entrepreneur, the owner, and head chef of the diner. She became a woman who managed to realise her independence, and to create a safe space for herself and her baby, the only one who deserves her love and her protection.

Jenna ends her drama by singing a climactic ballad about crafting a new self, one who will learn “how to toughen up when she’s bruised”.

Certainly, the story of Jenna sends a message of hope, responsibility, and empowerment with a far-reaching impact on the lives of many women throughout the world. 

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

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Hamilton gives Trump facts about US history https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/10/hamilton-gives-trump-facts-about-us-history/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 11:30:34 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702367 As long as time continues to move forward, history will never settle with only one interpretation. It is exactly this interpretative approach in retelling

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Historical drama is almost as old as theatre itself and continues to play a viable role in contemporary theatre. However, history belongs to those who write it, especially when the author uses his dramatic license to interpret historical facts in response to current events.

That does not mean that there is no historical truth, but it emphasises the fact that history is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.

As long as time continues to move forward, history will never settle with only one interpretation. It is exactly this interpretative approach in retelling

Marwa El- Shinawy

American history that makes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, currently on Richard Rodgers Theatre, one of the most exciting and significant performances of the decade, and the most acclaimed and talked-about musical of the century according to the majority of critics.

The musical show represents the life and times of Alexander Hamilton (c1755 – 1804), who is one of the founding fathers of the United States, the first secretary of the US treasury, and the main founder of the Federalist party.

As a matter of fact, the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time.

But despite all of his great contributions as an American statesman, Miranda’s show focuses on the fact that Alexander Hamilton is an immigrant who worked desperately to make his adopted country his own. Hence, by this outstanding show, the author retells the story of a nation built by immigrants seen through its most central figure – The man who made modern America, and left an imprint on American institutions still present two centuries after his death despite him being a west-Indian immigrant.

Miranda highlights the idea that everyone in the US is an immigrant of some sort. Thereupon, he retells the founding fathers narrative to purposefully reflect the struggle that every immigrant goes through in American society today, especially in the wake of the Trump-era attack on immigration.

Moreover, he was able to transcend the boundaries of race, culture, and ideology by using a predominantly non-white cast of diverse backgrounds and Rap music.

Obviously, the casting of non-white actors as white historical figures, in addition to using Rap music by its association with black culture to tell the story of the American Revolution, remind audiences that US history is not just the history of white people.

For the author, all Americans have the right to tell the history of their own country   regardless of their various colours, origins, and forms of cultural expression because they all share common national ancestors, whatever their genetic ancestors.

He cunningly could employ and reinterpret the historical facts to empower immigrant populations at a critical time of the US history. Doubtless, the show represents a firm stand against the growing racism, the prevailing xenophobia, and vilification of immigrants in the US society due to Trump’s political practices.                                                                

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

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Why AMF is a good idea and what can be done to get it going? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/10/why-amf-is-a-good-idea-and-what-can-be-done-to-get-it-going/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:30:52 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702368 In our view the AU leaders should also use their meeting to reinvigorate their efforts to create an African Monetary Fund (AMF).

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The Conversation – African Union (AU) leaders will gather in Niger on July 7 for an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Area. They will be meeting at a critical moment for the continent as many African countries are experiencing uneven growth and rising debt, all face an uncertain global environment, and all need the boost that closer and more dynamic continental trade relations could deliver.

In our view the AU leaders should also use their meeting to reinvigorate their efforts to create an African Monetary Fund (AMF). This would be used to encourage African states to engage more actively in regional trade by offering them financial support for managing the risks associated with closer regional integration and expanded intra-regional trade.

Over the past 10 years, most regions have developed regional arrangements that can supplement the help that the IMF provides to countries facing balance of payments problems. Ten years ago, $100bn was available through these regional funds. Today more than $900bn is available through these arrangements.

William N Kring

Africa is currently the most prominent gap in the evolving global financial safety net.

African leaders signed a treaty to establish this fund in 2014. Unfortunately, progress to set it up has stalled.

So far, the treaty has been signed, but not ratified, by 11 AU member countries.  A number of 15 must sign and ratify the statutes for the fund to become operational. Once operational, it will have a capital subscription of up to $22.64bn and the ability to provide member countries with loans equivalent to two times their contributions to the fund’s capital.

Managing the ripple effects

The free trade area offers states new growth and employment opportunities. But by increasing economic linkages between African states, it could also increase the risk that economic problems in one country can spill over and have a strongly negative effect on growth, trade, investment, and employment in others.

For example, both positive and negative developments in the United States economy will have a powerful impact on Canada and Mexico.

To help mitigate these effects, participants in other regional trade arrangements have established regional financial arrangements. These provide financial support to their members to manage balance of payments crises.

The evidence suggests that when states have access to this type of financial support, they are less likely to take actions that impede intra-regional trade flows. For example, the Latin American Reserve Fund, which provides its members with financial support during balance of payments crises, has helped the recipient countries to maintain their intra-regional trade arrangements. This, in turn, has reduced the risk that the recipient’s problems would cause a crisis in its neighbours.

The failure of an adequate number of states to sign and ratify the AMF treaty is an embarrassing challenge to the credibility of the AU’s efforts to promote a more integrated, dynamic, sustainable, and equitable African economy. These efforts have been going on for more than 40 years.

Steps along the way have included the former Organisation of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action for Economic Development of Africa signed in 1980 and the Abuja Treaty signed in 1991.

In a policy brief published by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University, we propose three concrete steps to jumpstart the push for the fund.

Danny Bradlow

Action plan

First, the creation of the fund must be explicitly linked to the success of the free trade area. The AU leaders can do this by making the case that, just as has happened in other regions, the presence of a regional financial arrangement will support the efforts to boost intra-regional trade in Africa. It will help participating countries mitigate the balance of payments challenges that greater regional integration may cause.

Moreover, the fund, by quickly providing its members with financial support, can offer them more time to negotiate a larger support package with richer institutions, such as the IMF. In this regard, it should be noted that eight of the AU member countries (Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome, and Principe, Seychelles, and Somalia) will be able to borrow more resources from the AMF than the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Second, one AU member state should become the champion for the fund. This country would become the first country to sign and ratify the fund treaty. It would lobby other AU member countries to ratify the AMF. It would advocate for the AU to reconstitute the steering committee created in the treaty and provide it with adequate resources. Since Cameroon is the designated host country for the AMF’s headquarters, it has an incentive to be a champion for the institution.

Hadiza Gagara Dagah

Finally, the steering committee should develop a plan for overcoming the substantial resource constraints in the region. This will require balancing the fund’s need for sufficient resources to be credible with the limited ability of some states to contribute. This could be addressed by negotiating an arrangement in which richer regional countries and institutions contribute a disproportionate share of their capital contributions up-front.

These additional contributions will be reimbursed as poorer countries make their capital contributions. It’s important to note that the AMF board of governors has the authority to extend the period for a country to make its contribution for up to eight years.

To further incentivise small to medium-sized member countries to contribute capital, they should be allowed to treat their capital contributions as part of their international reserves. Such an arrangement is not unprecedented and was used effectively in South America. These measures would make an implementation plan more feasible.

Africa has tried valiantly for decades to overcome the substantial challenges hindering the development of robust intra-regional trade. The free trade area agreement is the most recent of these efforts. The credibility of the continent’s leaders and institutions will be influenced by its success or failure.

The establishment of the AMF would demonstrate the continent’s determination to promote intra-regional trade and development.

Danny Bradlow is SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria

William N Kring  is an assistant Director, Global Development Policy Center, Boston University

Hadiza Gagara Dagah is a co-author of the policy brief, Jump-starting the African Monetary Fund, on which this article is based.

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Is artificial intelligence a (job) killer? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/03/is-artificial-intelligence-a-job-killer/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:00:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701633 When we reach this so-called AI singularity, our minds and bodies will be obsolete. Humans may merge with machines and continue to evolve as cyborgs.

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The Conversation – There’s no shortage of dire warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence these days.

Modern prophets, such as physicist Stephen Hawking and investor Elon Musk, foretell the imminent decline of humanity. With the advent of artificial general intelligence and self-designed intelligent programs, new and more intelligent AI will appear, rapidly creating ever smarter machines that will, eventually, surpass us.

When we reach this so-called AI singularity, our minds and bodies will be obsolete. Humans may merge with machines and continue to evolve as cyborgs.

Is this really what we have to look forward to?

AI’s checkered past

Not really, no.

AI, a scientific discipline rooted in computer science, mathematics, psychology, and neuroscience, aims to create machines that mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving.

Since the 1950s, it has captured the public’s imagination. But, historically speaking, AI’s successes have often been followed by disappointments – caused, in large part, by the inflated predictions of technological visionaries.

In the 1960s, one of the founders of the AI field, Herbert Simon, predicted that “machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do.” (He said nothing about women.)

Marvin Minsky, a neural network pioneer, was more direct, “within a generation,” he said, “… the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved”.

But it turns out that Niels Bohr, the early 20th-century Danish physicist, was right when he (reportedly) quipped that, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Today, AI’s capabilities include speech recognition, superior performance at strategic games such as chess and Go, self-driving cars, and revealing patterns embedded in complex data.

These talents have hardly rendered humans irrelevant.

New neuron euphoria

But AI is advancing. The most recent AI euphoria was sparked in 2009 by much faster learning of deep neural networks.

Artificial intelligence consists of large collections of connected computational units called artificial neurons, loosely analogous to the neurons in our brains. To train this network to “think”, scientists provide it with many solved examples of a given problem.

Suppose we have a collection of medical-tissue images, each coupled with a diagnosis of cancer or no-cancer. We would pass each image through the network, asking the connected “neurons” to compute the probability of cancer.

We then compare the network’s responses with the correct answers, adjusting connections between “neurons” with each failed match. We repeat the process, fine-tuning all along, until most responses match the correct answers.

Eventually, this neural network will be ready to do what a pathologist normally does: examine images of tissue to predict cancer.

This is not unlike how a child learns to play a musical instrument: she practices and repeats a tune until perfection. The knowledge is stored in the neural network, but it is not easy to explain the mechanics.

Networks with many layers of “neurons” (therefore the name “deep” neural networks) only became practical when researchers started using many parallel processors on graphical chips for their training.

Another condition for the success of deep learning is the large sets of solved examples. Mining the internet, social networks and Wikipedia, researchers have created large collections of images and text, enabling machines to classify images, recognise speech, and translate language.

Already, deep neural networks are performing these tasks nearly as well as humans.

AI doesn’t laugh

But their good performance is limited to certain tasks.

Scientists have seen no improvement in AI’s understanding of what images and text actually mean. If we showed a Snoopy cartoon to a trained deep network, it could recognise the shapes and objects – a dog here, a boy there – but would not decipher its significance (or see the humour).

We also use neural networks to suggest better writing styles to children. Our tools suggest improvement in form, spelling, and grammar reasonably well, but are helpless when it comes to logical structure, reasoning, and the flow of ideas.

Current models do not even understand the simple compositions of 11-year-old schoolchildren.

AI’s performance is also restricted by the amount of available data. In my own AI research, for example, I apply deep neural networks to medical diagnostics, which has sometimes resulted in slightly better diagnoses than in the past, but nothing dramatic.

In part, this is because we do not have large collections of patients’ data to feed the machine. But the data hospitals currently collect cannot capture the complex psychophysical interactions causing illnesses like coronary heart disease, migraines or cancer.

Robots stealing your jobs

So, fear not, humans. Febrile predictions of AI singularity aside, we’re in no immediate danger of becoming irrelevant.

AI’s capabilities drive science fiction novels and movies and fuel interesting philosophical debates, but we have yet to build a single self-improving program capable of general artificial intelligence, and there’s no indication that intelligence could be infinite.

Deep neural networks will, however, indubitably automate many jobs. AI will take our jobs, jeopardising the existence of manual labourers, medical diagnosticians, and perhaps, someday, to my regret, computer science professors.

Robots are already conquering Wall Street. Research shows that “artificial intelligence agents” could lead some 230,000 finance jobs to disappear by 2025.

In the wrong hands, artificial intelligence can also cause serious danger. New computer viruses can detect undecided voters and bombard them with tailored news to swing elections.

Already, the United States, China, and Russia are investing in autonomous weapons using AI in drones, battle vehicles, and fighting robots, leading to a dangerous arms race.

Now that’s something we should probably be nervous about.

Marko Robnik-Šikonja is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Informatics, University of Ljubljana

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Transform your brand by transforming the way you talk to consumers https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/03/transform-your-brand-by-transforming-the-way-you-talk-to-consumers/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 10:00:07 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701629 By redefining the way they engage with consumers, brands can establish more meaningful relationships with them. 

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The world around us is transforming at an incredible pace, impacting how consumers engage with everything around them, and that includes brands. The digital age continues to transform the way we live, shop, and pay–including how and where brands show up. By redefining the way they engage with consumers, brands can establish more meaningful relationships with them. 

The evolution of communication

Take the example of Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ platform–it is a single word that is embedded within the DNA of our brand and drives differentiation. While it has been a constant, critical element for more than 20 years, what it stands for has evolved tremendously over the years. What started out as a storytelling tool is now something that engages our consumers in new and innovative ways. We care about what they value and what would make a positive difference in their lives. This is exponentially more powerful than any advertising material could ever be.

Corporations today should encourage and inspire consumers to create their own stories and their own memories. This ensures that the brand resonates with them on a more personal level. As part of this approach, paying greater attention to how you engage with your consumers and enabling them to make their own memorable moments is paramount. This is more pertinent than ever before given that today, people expect action, not advertisements, from brands.

The power of brand identity

Research shows that today, 84% of people say that brands have a strong identity and a clear role in the world, while 87% say that brands must stand up for what they believe. This is a clear indication that there is a necessity for brands to evolve and touch the lives of their consumers–passive brand identities will not remain relevant for long. Brands which still view their consumers as statistics, rather than real human beings, and approach communication in an impersonal manner will eventually fall by the wayside.

A brand needs to connect to people on several levels and be able to appeal to their various senses, therefore the need for continued transformation and innovation cannot be overstated.

In addition, the digital age is creating completely new definitions of consumer needs and experiences. As the lines between the digital and the physical blur and the number of consumer touch points continues to increase, consumer’s brand expectations evolve in keeping with the rise of new technologies—some, like ad blockers, increasing challenges, and others, like voice technologies, opening up new possibilities.

It’s with this in mind that we recently launched our sonic logo, which comes on the heels of our recent transition to a symbol brand. Our interlocking circles are a powerful visual cue and encapsulate the brand better than any word could.

There has been a rapid ascent of audio in our lives–hundreds of millions of people are already using smart speakers, and voice shopping alone is set to hit $40bn by 2022. In light of this development, an audio strategy is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s just as important as a brand’s visual identity-sound adds a powerful new dimension to brand identity. A sonic brand, and the opportunity to further explore all the senses, is a crucial component to the advancement and evolution of any brand.

Remember that consumers are human beings

To remain relevant, brands need to be more dynamic, more engaging, and more meaningful than ever before. Innovation remains key to ensuring a brand successfully transcends from what would conventionally be a mere logo to something that can engage consumers in a multi-sensory way. It has to be something that stands for a higher purpose.

In essence, speak to your consumers as you would to a real human being who might be standing right in front of you. The age of impersonal communication with a one-way stream of messaging is all but gone, and that’s where the innovation piece of the puzzle comes in. Innovation is key to opening a meaningful dialogue with your consumers, and eventually transforming your brand. It is the lifeblood that makes a brand alive, and can only be achieved if a company fosters a culture of innovation-the change has to come from within.

Beatrice Cornacchia is the Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Middle East and Africa–Mastercard

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United States Policy on Immigrant Children Violates the CRC https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/03/united-states-policy-on-immigrant-children-violates-the-crc/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 09:00:02 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701628 Children have been separated from their parents and kept in steel cages–a brutal aggression against those most vulnerable.

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A Salvadoran father and daughter, who drowned while attempting to seek asylum in the US, are the latest victims of a policy that has cost lives and seriously affected the health of hundreds of people, most of them children.

Children have been separated from their parents and kept in steel cages–a brutal aggression against those most vulnerable.

The mistreatment of children and the separation from their parents violates the basic tenets of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): an internationally recognised agreement which establishes a comprehensive set of goals for individual nations to improve children’s lives.

The next step—so far unfulfilled by the US—is for the president and his advisors to draft a Statement of Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations to be presented to the Senate for its “advice and consent.” Upon Senate approval by a two-thirds majority, the treaty goes back to the president for ratification.

The convention calls for children to be free from violence and abuse, and compels governments to provide them with adequate nutrition and health care. It also demands that children receive equal treatment regardless of gender, race, or cultural background, and have the right to express their opinions, with freedom of thought in matters affecting them. It also addresses the rights of children with disabilities.

In addition, the CRC emphasises the primacy and importance of the role, authority, and responsibility of parents and family and is consistent with the principles contained in the US Bill of Rights.

The ratification of the convention has been endorsed by about a hundred organisations in the US, among them the American Academy of Paediatrics; the American Baptist Churches; the American Bar Association; the National Education Association, and the Child Welfare League of America.

Given this level of endorsements, why hasn’t the US ratified the CRC?  The convention has found a notable degree of opposition within the Senate and in public, in part from a number of religious groups, as well as among those who claim it conflicts with the US Constitution. 

Several among these have portrayed the convention as a threat to national sovereignty, states’ rights, the child-parent relationship, and parental rights. However, Professor of History Emeritus at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, Lawrence S Wittner, has indicated that, although some current US laws clash with the convention’s child protection features, most US laws are in line with the convention.

Regarding the claim that the convention can override the US Constitution, the Supremacy Law of that constitution establishes that no treaty can override it. In addition, the convention does not grant any international body enforcement authority over the US or its citizens. It only obliges the parties to the convention to submit periodic reports regarding progress on the provisions of the treaty.  

The Trump administration policy on immigrant children not only does a disservice to children trying to come into the US—it hurts the reputation of the US and its system of justice in the world. 

César Chelala is an international public health consultant. He has written extensively on children’s health and on their rights. 

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Reflections of Cannes Lions 2019 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/02/reflections-of-cannes-lions-2019/ Tue, 02 Jul 2019 19:58:12 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701581 Encouraging diversity and inclusion at Facebook is something that’s really close to my heart. Diversity is critical to the success of our company. Why?

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The Cannes Lions Festival has never been more important. This gathering of the great and the good from the creative industries on the sun-drenched Croisette, has always been an opportunity to celebrate outstanding work from the past year and look forward to the emerging themes in advertising.

I’m sure this will always be true of the festival, but as I reflect on my week at Cannes, I’m proud to say it has evolved into much, much more. Yes, the sun remains, but the Festival itself is now swiftly becoming a serious forum to lead important debates such as diversity in advertising, moving away from gender stereotyping and opening the debate of how technology enables creativity for the benefit of the consumer it serves.

This may be my 17th year at Cannes, but the themes and progress in our industry felt fresh, exciting and future-forward.

Diversity

I’ll remember 2019 as the year we moved away from paying lip-service to diversity and inclusion, to taking meaningful action towards it.

Encouraging diversity and inclusion at Facebook is something that’s really close to my heart. Diversity is critical to the success of our company. Why? Because people from all backgrounds rely on Facebook to connect with others, and we better serve their needs with a more diverse workforce. It’s essential for future-proofing creativity and innovation for any organisation.

Whilst we’ve come a long way as an industry, research unveiled at Cannes by the Unstereotype Alliance showed that whilst 80% of people said they thought gender equality was important, one in three believed that if a man and woman do the same job, the man should be paid more. Clearly, there’s still a long way to go.

To address this, in collaboration with the Unstereotype Alliance, Cannes Lions updated jury guidelines for all awards.  In a ground-breaking manoeuvre, jury members were required to consider whether the work submitted perpetuates negative stereotypes and inequalities.

The impact of this is undeniable, and the recognition that stereotype-free creative is good for business permeated all discussions at Cannes.  In fact a recent study in the US found that 60% of survey respondents say they are more loyal to, and prefer to shop with, brands that promote gender equality.

The Glass Lion Award category, of which Facebook is a proud sponsor, has never played a more important role in recognising the work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality.  Poland took home a Glass Lion this year for doing just that. VMLY&R and Polish newspaper Gazeta.pl made a powerful partnership, turning the last issue of Poland’s oldest adult magazine from objectification to a powerful message of women’s empowerment.

I firmly believe that through partnership, we can achieve far greater things than alone. One of the ways Facebook is turning talk into action is through our commitment to Free The Work. This is a new, pioneering industry partnership which will put systems in place that would see 50 per cent of ads directed by women by as early as 2020. We’re currently at seven per cent.

We believe that to drive diversity we need holistic and systemic change across our agency partners and production houses. That’s why at Cannes Lions this year, we also outlined standards for diversity within our global agency networks. We expect our agency workforce to reflect the diversity of the world and our platform.

We’ve made a lot of progress on diversity and inclusion, and steps like this are critical to ensuring progress continues. But one of the biggest myths out there is that progress is closer than we think. We should never underestimate the work still to be done.

Authenticity

Another theme that gained significant momentum at Cannes this year was authenticity. Digital connectivity and mobile devices have raised expectations. With increasing competition for consumers’ attention, it’s more important than ever for brands to be authentic.

I met with Gary Vaynerchuk. Chairman of VaynerX, at Cannes where we spent a great deal of time discussing this topic. He believes that people don’t want the polished image anymore, being real and in the moment is more effective both for advertisers and consumers.

It’s a sentiment that was shared by legendary photographer Rankin, who was at Cannes discussing the importance of sharing your real self, as opposed to creating an image that’s not authentic. The democratisation of photography he said, where everyone has a camera in their pocket, should be the perfect opportunity to express your individuality rather than creating that perfect image.

Brands with purpose

We know consumers today are more purpose-driven than ever before. For example, Accenture research shows that more than half of consumers who are disappointed by a brand’s words or actions on a social issue complain about it. What’s more, 37 percent of consumers walk away from the brand in frustration and a quarter won’t ever go back. I don’t know of a brand that can afford for one third of its customer base to walk away. The business case for brand purpose is clear.

Purpose was prevalent as a theme for both the work and the winners in Cannes, with Nike taking out the Grand Prix for its purposeful ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The vast majority of the 900 or so entries for the Sustainable Development Goals categories this year were from brands.

I spoke to Craig Buchholz, Chief Communications Officer at P&G, about purpose and the notable shift in brands sparking conversations which elevate humanity. P&G’s Gillette ad called ‘First Shave’ is an excellent example of just that. Indeed, at Facebook we were proud to see our recent work for the Pantene Thailand campaign featured for an award, which celebrated the transgender haircare movement.

Technology

And finally, it wouldn’t be Cannes without touching on technological leaps when it comes to consumer engagement. A great example of this was P&G’s new partnerships which put purpose at the heart of their innovation, leveraging the best of cutting-edge technology all to enhance the customer experience.

The P&G LifeLab at Cannes showcased new experiences which harness AI such as Oral-B Sense, Olay Skin Advisor and SK-II FutureX Smart Store, where you could have a personal skincare recommendation based on a scan of your skin, that lead the way in how other brands should be thinking about innovation.

Immersive technologies, such as AI, will be some of the most powerful partners we have when it comes to driving the change and action. We’re only now seeing the tip of the iceberg at Cannes and its’ future is one to watch.

It will be through innovation in the creative industries that we create valuable societal change. Whether through celebrating creative that’s tackling stereotypes, or through immersive consumer experiences to bring customers on the innovation journey with you.

I’m really excited to see how we turn talk into action over the next year, and like many others I can’t wait to see what further leaps we’ll make at Cannes 2020.

Nicola Mendelsohn is currently the Vice President for Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Facebook. A role she has held since 2013.

She currently serves on The Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board, The UK government’s Industrial Strategy Council and is a non-executive director of Diageo. She and her husband are also co-presidents of the charity Norwood.

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Repatriation: Why Western museums should return African artefacts https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/05/23/repatriation-why-western-museums-should-return-african-artefacts/ Thu, 23 May 2019 08:00:44 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=698850 A more serious problem is that the collections retain and perpetuate the stereotypical narratives Europeans had – and still have – about Africans.

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The Conversation – A large number of artefacts held in Western museums and libraries are known to have been appropriated over the ages through conquest and colonialism. The looting of African objects anthropologists, curators and private collectors took place in war as well as in peaceful times. It was justified as an act of benevolence; as saving dying knowledge.

Some museums have started to try and acknowledge that their collections have uncomfortable histories tied to colonial violence. Nevertheless, Britain’s long-standing policy is not to cease ownership over its looted treasures. As then-Prime Minister David Cameron said of Greece’s Elgin Marbles and India’s Koh-i-Noor diamond: “No, I certainly don’t believe in “returnism”, as it were. I don’t think that is sensible.”

The defence against “returnism” is the same defence museums give for their existence: they are custodians and conservers of humanity’s cultural and natural treasures.

This may seem like a valiant cause. But it essentially means that Ethiopians, or the people of India and Greece, cannot be trusted to preserve their own cultural heritage. This is why the calls for repatriation grow louder every day.

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes

A more serious problem is that the collections retain and perpetuate the stereotypical narratives Europeans had – and still have – about Africans.

The thousands of articles collected in most museums are not accompanied with their original history. The items on display are selected, organised and given tags or identifications by Europeans. The power to select, name and decide the meaning of these items makes Europeans the authors of African history.

Legacies

The International Council of Museums celebrates museums every May 18, stating that they are: an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples. Museums and libraries preserve artefacts and manuscripts in the name of cultural preservation, so that future generations may enjoy them.

But this isn’t always the case. The truth is that there are artefacts on display in Western museums that fail to meet these lofty ideas.

These range from animals and cultural objects, to collections of human remains. The remains include thousands of Africans’ skulls. These collections of African remains are reminders of scientific racism and the creation of human zoos which took place as recently as 1958, when living people from Congo were put on display for a world fair event.

They don’t express Africa’s history or culture, or offer any means of “cultural exchange or mutual understanding”, as the International Council of Museums suggests. They are parts of the legacy of European men who travelled to distant lands and brought items of interest that fascinated their audience in what was then known as the cabinet of curiosity, a popular way of representing unknown places and lives.

The cabinets of curiosity evolved into modern museums. Today, there are some attempts to make African displays more culturally sensitive. For example, the Belgian Africa museum, was refurbished with the aim of removing its racist and neo-colonial narrative.

But these changes don’t amount to the reversal of the colonial narrative. They simply make museums look progressive and relevant to today’s society.

Another tactic deployed by museums and libraries is to claim that they are making texts available to humanity by digitising manuscripts and documents. But these books are only accessible to people who speak the European language in which they are catalogued, and those who have an internet connection. If the books aren’t digitised, the only way to access them is to travel to the library and gain a reader or researcher pass – clearly beyond the means of those who could use them for their original purpose.

In several western ethnological museums where colonial items are still kept, Africans continue to be depicted as warrior tribes, with superstitious beliefs, and homogenous and unchanging cultures. Even when museums attempt to offer an insight into the original purpose or meaning of certain artefacts, they inevitably come from a European perspective.

The justification for repatriation

Repatriation seems the only way to address the historical injustice museums have caused. This is crucial to restore the agency of Africans as producers of their own history.

Preservation is not the only answer to the question of what to do with the vast wealth of natural, cultural and intellectual items, including human remains, held in Western museums. Following repatriation, Africans should determine the worth and place of these collections. Not all artefacts need to be preserved and put on display. They are living sources of knowledge, objects of worship and expressions of life.

For example, human remains, including the skulls of African ancestors, may be buried following local traditions. Cultural items could become sources of knowledge and storytelling.

A good example are the large volume of Geez manuscripts which were taken along with more than 15 Tabots – holy replicas of the Ark of the Covenant – during the Battle of Maqdala in 1868 by British troops. The Tabot are sacred religious objects used by all Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Churches around the world. Only priests can touch them and they cannot be displayed as objects of curiosity or relics.

The Ethiopian manuscripts aren’t artefacts. They are important documents that could be used as textbooks in thousands of traditional schools in Ethiopia.

By dispossessing people of their cultural artefacts, books and important religious and cultural relics, you dispossess them of their knowledge, history and philosophy. This has very concrete real-world implications. On this year’s International Museum Day, museums and libraries that hold vast collections of African cultural resources must face the fact that they are still continuing a legacy of dispossession similar to that of their colonial forebears.

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes is a lecturer of Human Rights, Curtin University

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Policy on Cuba is an embarrassment for United States https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/05/18/policy-on-cuba-is-an-embarrassment-for-united-states/ Sat, 18 May 2019 20:49:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=698372 In repeated public health-related visits to Cuba I got a first-hand sense of the problems besieging Cuban society: the need for foreign money, the oppressive nature of the regime, and the dissatisfaction of the country's youth

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The Trump administration recently decided to allow Cuban-American immigrants to sue the Cuban government for property confiscated from them after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. The administration is also limiting the amount of money that Cuban Americans can send to their relatives on the island, as well as the frequency of transactions. These are erroneous decisions which will only increase the suffering of Cuban people, and unnecessarily increase the antagonism between Cuba and the US government.

“The only way to get property claimants what they deserve is through diplomatic negotiations, which President Trump just threw off the table,” wrote in a statement James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a Washington-based advocacy group which is working to lift the embargo on Cuba. At the same time, limiting remittances to the island will only increase the suffering of Cubans who largely depend on the financial aid from their relatives in the US.

Shortly after President Trump announced his decision allowing US lawsuits, the European Union and Canada issued a joint warning against the US, “The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to international law,” declared EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, in a statement also signed by Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. They also warned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that enforcement of these measures would lead to reprisals in Europe.

In repeated public health-related visits to Cuba I got a first-hand sense of the problems besieging Cuban society: the need for foreign money, the oppressive nature of the regime, and the dissatisfaction of the country’s youth. These impressions were also confirmed during a visit to the island when I headed a UN mission to assess the progress of Cuban scientists in developing interferon, an antiviral substance.

Highlighting the Cuban government’s shortcomings does not disregard its achievements. During one of my visits to that country, I met Fidel Castro. Although we did not raise any political issues in our conversation, I was able to assess his enormous interest in — and knowledge of — health issues and the value of education. His interest and knowledge underlie the Cuban government’s accomplishments in health and education.

Cuba, for all its other faults and drawbacks, is at the forefront in both fields when compared to other Latin American countries. And in some areas, it is on par with the US. This progress, however, has been hindered by the unnecessary and ineffective embargo against the country, a situation that has cost the US materially. In addition, the embargo has hurt the US prestige among Latin American governments, which consider it a violation of a fellow Latin nation’s rights and sovereignty.

There is no doubt that political pressure from the powerful Cuban exile community in Florida has been an important factor in maintaining the US embargo. However, the descendants of that immigrant generation have now a more nuanced view of the Cuban regime. In particular, they have seen the damage caused by decades of antagonism between both countries — and are eager for friendlier relations between them.

While Cubans have always been clear about their admiration for the American people — which I have observed first hand during my visits to the island — the embargo has fostered more hate and mistrust of the US government than toward the Cuban government among Cubans.

These new measures may prove harmful also to the US, “Trump and his ideologically-driven national security advisors are pushing Cuba into the arms of China and Russia. At the same time, Trump’s Cuba policy increases the risk of a humanitarian crisis by creating conditions for mass migration from an island just 90 miles (144 km) from Florida shores,” wrote recently Rebecca Bill Chavez, former deputy assistant secretary of defence for Western Hemisphere affairs under Obama.

If repeated votes in the UN General Assembly are a test, no country in the world currently supports the embargo. Rather than strengthening it, the US should ease and eventually lift the embargo. This should be followed by an intense exchange of scientists, doctors, artists, and ordinary citizens. The effect would be dramatic in neutralising the atmosphere of antagonism between Cuba and the US, at a time when the world desperately needs this kind of action.

Dr César Chelala is an international public health consultant and a winner of several journalism awards

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Why Ramadan is the ideal month for job seekers https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/05/08/why-ramadan-is-the-ideal-month-for-job-seekers/ Wed, 08 May 2019 20:00:50 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=697510 As the holy month of Ramadan gets underway, changes in daily routine and lifestyles are in motion.

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While Ramadan offers an opportunity to reflect, reinvent, and refresh, the holy month also serves as a chance to step back from the mainstage and take a breather from the usual hustle and bustle of life.

But, did you also know, Ramadan poses an ideal time for job seekers to continue their search and capitalise on resources that are most likely to go unnoticed during this month? Here’s why the holy month is a good time for job seekers.

Ramadan creates more opportunity, less competition

There is some truth in the fact that Ramadan is a fairly-in comparison-slow month due to shorter working hours. However, the month has little to no effect on employees in the recruitment and human resources (HR) industry as they are constantly on the clock to fill vacancies. For job seekers, this works in their favour as a few of them may believe that the hiring process may have come to a standstill, therefore creating greater opportunity and less competition for the rest who decide to continue their job search.

Amir Reza

Ramadan offers an opportunity to improve

With shorter working hours, job seekers are able to take a break from applying for placements, and dedicate more time toward building their professional identity. This proves to be a great opportunity for those on the hunt to refresh, revamp, and create role-focused resumés. It also allows them to thoroughly research their industry, highlight skills that catch the eye of recruiters and HR managers, and most importantly, create a positive application for a position. According to a survey by Bayt.com, 79.1% of MENA professionals said they planned to spend more time looking for new job roles during Ramadan. This is simply attributed to the fact that job seekers are able to disregard distractions and focus on their career goals with ample time on hand.

Even though there is much to work with in favour of candidates during the holy month, it is imperative to understand how individuals themselves can best represent their skillset to companies on the hunt for new employees.

First impressions count

Many people tend not to focus on updating their resumés, let alone improving them. It is extremely crucial to understand that a resumé is a textual representation of who one is. Highlight best skills, best qualities, relevant job experience and keep it simple. Bullet points are highly advised. Remember, recruiters on an average utilise six to10 seconds to skim through a resumé. Tell all in that timeframe and attempt to deliver what they are looking for.

 Refrain from serial applying

A big negative for recruiters and HR managers alike is serial applying. Candidates who apply to any and all vacancies are more likely to be blocked, marked as spam, or looked over, as it portrays a hasty and careless image. Serial applying is a sure way to be left out in the crowd.

In addition to the above, it is best advice to utilise time effectively by applying for skill-building courses, constantly check on online job boards, and, network with other professionals in the industry of interest at Iftars and Suhoors organised by groups, all in a bid to maintain consistency and to drive you one step closer to securing a job.

Amir Reza is the founder of Harmony Connections, a UAE-based, boutique recruitment agency.

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Why Dancing Is Good For Your Health https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/05/08/why-dancing-is-good-for-your-health/ Wed, 08 May 2019 19:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=697496 It has been known for a long time that physical activity–including dancing and exercise–can have several positive effects on people’s bodies and minds, leading to better cardiovascular health, fewer migraine headaches, and a sharper brain. The Einstein Aging Study carried out in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, found that dancing helps …

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It has been known for a long time that physical activity–including dancing and exercise–can have several positive effects on people’s bodies and minds, leading to better cardiovascular health, fewer migraine headaches, and a sharper brain.

The Einstein Aging Study carried out in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, found that dancing helps prevent both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, which is the next most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Joseph Verghese, the lead researcher of the Einstein Aging Study said, “Dance is not purely physical in many ways, it also requires a lot of mental effort.” Among the people who participated in the Einstein Aging Study, those who danced frequently –three or four times a week–showed 76% less incidence of dementia than those who danced only once a week or did not dance at all.

In the Middle East, one of the most popular styles of dancing is belly dancing, which utilises muscles in the abdomen, pelvis, trunk, spine, and neck. The most sensual belly dancer of all times was “Princess Banu” who danced in a London restaurant called Gallipoli. Many dancers tried to copy her style–in vain. The Turkish Ministry of Culture proclaimed Princess Banu as “The National Dancer of Turkey.”

Although dancing can be done as a competitive activity, as in ballroom dancing, most people practice it as a way of being more physically active and of staying fit. In addition, dancing has social and emotional elements that are advantageous for all people, but particularly for seniors without many social connections but who want to lead long and healthy lives.

Many people who dread exercising are more prone to use dancing as a way of overall physical improvement. While most exercises tend to use repetitive motions which many be found boring, dancing uses a wide variety of movements and has the additional advantage of social interaction with different people. As a result, it can provide greater self-confidence and self-esteem, enhance a general sense of well-being, and lead to more active social relationships.

Researchers found that after age 40, people who had been actively dancing throughout their lives have younger-looking skin, similar to that of people in their 20s or 30s, even if those participating in the study were older than 65. Dancing can improve the condition of heart and lungs, make bones stronger and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, increase muscular strength, physical endurance, and motor fitness.

Dancing can have some additional health benefits. Listening to tango at Taller Latinoamericano, one of New York’s premier language and dance schools, reminded me of an incident in Buenos Aires. I was having a late lunch at a downtown restaurant, just a sandwich and a salad, when I noticed a man in his mid-70s having a hearty soup and then a huge steak with French fries and a salad. As a dessert, he had a caramel pudding. Since he was a very thin man I could not but ask him how it was possible that he was having such a huge lunch and still be in good shape. His answer took me by surprise. “Years ago,” he said, “I was a very sick man with arthritis so severe that I couldn’t cross a wide street without some concern. Mostly I stayed at home, feeling miserable since I was always a very active person. One day, at a friend’s suggestion, I decided to start dancing the tango. With some trepidation at the beginning, soon I was becoming more and more at ease until I reached a point when I practically went dancing the tango almost every night. Soon I recovered my strength and the freedom of my movements and what you see is the new man that I became.”

Agnieszka Burzynska, an assistant professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies published a study showing the effect of dancing on the “white matter” in the brain.

Although the brain’s “gray matter” is better known because it is the tissue of the brain that contains the neurons, “white matter” can be considered as the brain’s wiring, similar to cables connecting discs in a computer. As people age, the quality of the brain’s wiring deteriorates, provoking disruptions in the transmissions of the electrical messages in the brain. This communication is critical for any brain function.

Burzynska and her team carried out the study on 174 healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 79 who met three times a week for six months at a gym at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Burzynska found that dancing has a very positive effect on the “fornix”, an area of white matter that carries a bundle of those “wires” and that plays an important role in memory.

Although the deterioration of the fornix has been linked to progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease, Burzynska’s team found that the integrity of the fornix increased in the dance group. A control group that only exercised did not show the same benefits. Given all these health benefits, we can all use a bit more dancing in our lives.

César Chelala, MD, PhD, is an international public health consultant and a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.

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Has Sudanese revolution overthrown Muslim Brotherhood rule? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/05/08/has-sudanese-revolution-overthrown-muslim-brotherhood-rule/ Wed, 08 May 2019 12:18:19 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=697504 The 18 December revolution in Sudan promises new realities in the African country, where it overthrew the dictator Omar Al-Bashir and a long period of repression which began with the Muslim Brotherhood coup in 1989. Al-Bashir’s 30-year kleptocracy has been marked by famine, civil war, and the detention of thousands and torture in the so …

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The 18 December revolution in Sudan promises new realities in the African country, where it overthrew the dictator Omar Al-Bashir and a long period of repression which began with the Muslim Brotherhood coup in 1989.

Al-Bashir’s 30-year kleptocracy has been marked by famine, civil war, and the detention of thousands and torture in the so called ‘ghost houses,’ and the firing of thousands of civil servants under the claim of the public good, in addition to killing thousands of people in massacres described in international reports as genocide in Darfur, which ignited the civil war in Kordofan and the South of the Blue Nile.

Khaled Mahmoud

The authorities also suppressed a number of peaceful uprisings in a brutal manner. The uprising of 2013 led 200 people to lose their lives, with the latest uprising where 54 Sudanese were killed, and 700 more were injured were both only chapters.

Despite the unanimous opinion that the revolution has achieved victories to overthrow the regime of Omar al-Bashir, but to what extent? The debate over the revolution putting an end to the rule of the Brotherhood in Sudan continues.

One of the dangers that strongly exists faces in Sudan now: that this revolution itself might present an opportunity to the Brotherhood to reproduce a newer version of their Brotherhood’s rule to replaces the old one, waiting only for the doors after the end of the transitional period, for many reasons:

The Sudanese revolution since its outbreak on 18 December focused on expressing public rejection toward Bashir’s rule with its repression, failures, violations, and chaos. It, however, did not focus on the Brotherhood’s cover for this rule and avoided going into a battle to liquefy the religious state to defer division. However, the main forces leading the revolution, such as the Professionals Association of Sudan and the Forces of Freedom and Change-as leaders-advocate for a modern state.

The Brotherhood’s experience in Sudan is evasive and misleading, which is different from their traditional edition. The Sudanese Brotherhood does not include a supreme ruler, an international organisation, or obedience. It also does not stand on emotional isolation. It created a camouflage to prevent the leftists and the liberals from pointing fingers against them as a radical movement in an attempt to produce a narrative which looks, even superficially, sympathetic with women, the modern state, and art. Once they came to power, this cover was disregarded, especially prior to 1999, as they opened ghost houses to torture opposition and hosted Osama Bin Laden and were involved in the failed assassination of Hosni Mubarak.

But there is a sector of the Brotherhood which opposed al-Bashir and stood with the revolution from day one. This section includes some of the National Congress Party. They refused the leadership moves of Aly El-Hag and Ibrahim El-Senousy who sided with Bashir. The Brotherhood-Al-Sadek Abdel Maged’s movement is the traditional brotherhood group which refused to walk the path of Hassan Al-Turabi, in addition to Reform Now led by dissident Ghazi Salah Al-Din, and the Coordination for Change which includes five Islamist streams siding with the revolution and led by Mahboub Abdel Salam and Shafei Mohamed. This opposition sector, came out in the revolution, and were arrested, leaders were killed, such as Mohamed Kheir, hence, it will form the biggest challenge, with the return of democracy, in imposing the Brotherhood variable in the equation. It could also become the back door to return the comprehensive Brotherhood idea to take control if no guarantees are in place in the framework of democracy.

On the other hand, another segment of the Brotherhood which is led by the uncle of al-Bashir named Tayeb Mostafa, who is an extremist who slaughtered sheep and danced to music when South Sudan separated in celebration of Muslim Sudan ridding the ‘southern infidels and Christians’. This segment is also led by the Salafist imam Abdel Hay Youssef, who is reported to be involved in burning Christian books at the book fair in Khartoum University. They are accompanied by many of the radicals of the al-Bashir’s National Congress party and the Islamist movement.

There is the deep state rooted in the old administrative apparatus, its institutions, economy, and media. This deep state is not ideologically Brotherhood-leaning, however they were aligned with the regime for pragmatic reasons. To understand the dangers of this state, we should be aware that it was rooted in the days of Jaafar an-Nimeiry through the economy and Sharia laws when Islamists took over the rule in the past years then continued its influence in the third democracy after 1985, before the 1989 coup.

For all these reasons, the danger of the Brotherhood’s rise to power in Sudan is very likely, however, this can be prevented by some steps:

Lengthening the period of transitional rule to four years or more to become enough to birth and enrich civil parties that can compete against the brotherhood.

Establishing a comprehensive purge for the Brotherhood ideology in the state, and administrative apparatus.

Establishing a cultural revolution which will raise awareness of the dangers of a religious state and its atrocities and its threat to the future of Sudan along with its relationship with its neighbours, brotherly countries, and the international community.

With these points alone, a roadmap can be devised against the rescue project, which only overthrew the state. Otherwise, the alternative would be a more pessimistic scenario for Sudan and for the whole region.

Khaled Mahmoud is an Egyptian journalist, expert on African studies.

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The widespread impact of domestic violence https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/04/25/the-widespread-impact-of-domestic-violence/ Thu, 25 Apr 2019 07:00:07 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=696769 María Salguero knows how to leverage her background as a geophysical engineer on behalf of women. Since 2016, she has been tracking cases of femicide (also known as feminicide) all over Mexico. Femicide is the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender. Every year, there are tens of thousands of missing …

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María Salguero knows how to leverage her background as a geophysical engineer on behalf of women. Since 2016, she has been tracking cases of femicide (also known as feminicide) all over Mexico. Femicide is the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender.

Every year, there are tens of thousands of missing women, men, and children in Mexico, most of whom are believed to have been tortured and killed. According to government figures, there were more than 38,000 ‘desaparecidos’ in 2018. Salguero has been building a database with information about women who have been killed because official figures tend to minimise the problem. The women killed are at the end of a tragic spectrum of abuse of women at the hands of men.

Intimate partner violence is the most common kind of aggression experienced by women worldwide, both in developing and in industrialised countries. A great number of women suffer physical violence and a significant proportion among them is also victims of psychological violence. However, many women do not report the abuse they suffer because of cultural norms and fear of retribution.

Economic cost

Violence against women has a high economic cost for society. According to the United Nations, the cost of domestic abuse in the US exceeds $5.8bn per year: $4.1bn for direct medical and health care services and nearly $1.8bn for productivity losses. This kind of violence results in almost two million injuries and nearly 1,300 annual deaths. These costs are considered an underestimate since they don’t include those figures associated with the criminal justice system.

In addition, victims of domestic violence lose nearly 8m days of paid work –this is equivalent to more than 32,000 full-time jobs- and almost 5.6m days of household productivity annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

Extent of this phenomenon

The extent of this problem is equally serious in most countries around the world. According to recent research carried out by James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University and PhD student Emma Friedel, after almost four decades of decline, homicide among romantic partners is now on the rise. While 1,875 people were killed by an intimate partner in 2014, there were 2,237 such deaths in 2017, of which the majority of the victims were female.

According to their research, four women a day are killed by domestic violence in the United States. They also found that since 2010, gun-related murders by intimate partners have increased by 26%, particularly since 2014. However, those kinds of murders involving other weapons, such as knives, have continued to decline.

In Russia, for example, more than 14,000 women are killed every year in acts of domestic violence. And in China, according to a national survey, one-third of the country’s 270m households cope with domestic violence.

Domestic violence is also rife in most African countries. According to a United Nations report, domestic violence in Zimbabwe accounts for more than six in ten murder cases in court. In Kenya and Uganda, 42% and 41% respectively of women surveyed reported having been beaten by their husbands.

Domestic violence is widespread in Arab countries as well. Studies carried out in the Arab world show that 70% of violence occurs in big cities, and that in almost 80% of cases those responsible are the heads of families, such as fathers or elder brothers. Both fathers and elder brothers, in most cases, assert their right to punish their wives, children, and other members of the family in any way they see appropriate.

Physical and mental effects

Female victims of violence suffer a wide variety of health problems, such as organ and bone damage, miscarriage, exacerbation of chronic illness, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS,. Often, they also suffer long-lasting psychological problems including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and eating disorders, emotional distress, and suicide. Often, abusers prohibit their victims, mostly women, from pursuing career opportunities and other education and personal empowerment activities.

Organisations such as Sanctuary for Families in New York City are training gender violence survivors to find living wage jobs in the competitive New York City market. Over the past five years, for example, the organisation Sanctuary for Families has trained over 560 survivors of gender violence, of whom 88% have graduated and secured a living wage job. To better protect women, efforts like this should be replicated throughout the country.

Effect on children and the family

Worldwide, the percentage of women who are battered during their pregnancy is 25% to 45%. Domestic violence by a partner has been associated with higher rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity.

Because children often are in the middle of such disputes, they are also affected by domestic violence. A government survey found that 27% of those surveyed said that their children had also been victims of violence, particularly of a psychological nature. According to the CDC, there is a 45-60% chance of co-occurring child abuse in homes where violence between partners occurs.

Children who grow up in families where there is domestic violence are prone to a wide range of behavioural and emotional disturbances. One of three abused children becomes an adult abuser or victim. Often, the psychological scars on children who have seen their mothers beaten last for several years. Among those effects are excessive worry or sadness, guilt, frequent lying, shame, and fear of harm or abandonment.

Moving forward

Because of the extent of this phenomenon, global momentum for more effective action is building. However, at the global level, the response is still inadequate. In the US, for example, there are more animal shelters than shelters for battered women. Ending global violence against women requires passing and systematically enforcing appropriate legislation for the protection of women. It also demands that we assess the real magnitude of the problem and educate our societies on the value and rights of women and girls. Actively promoting gender equality may be the best prevention against future violence.

Cesar Chelala

The author of Maternal Health, Adolescents’ Health, and Violence in the Americas.

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Edward Said: remembering a Palestinian patriot https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/04/17/edward-said-remembering-a-palestinian-patriot/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:00:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=696165 The 2019 Memorial Lecture honouring Edward W. Said, “Out of Place: Refugees, Immigrants, and Storytelling” couldn’t have come at a more appropriate moment. And the main speaker for that event, Viet Thanh Nguyen, was the right person for the job. Viet Thanh Nguyen, the author of the novel The Sympathizer, shares with Said two qualities: …

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The 2019 Memorial Lecture honouring Edward W. Said, “Out of Place: Refugees, Immigrants, and Storytelling” couldn’t have come at a more appropriate moment. And the main speaker for that event, Viet Thanh Nguyen, was the right person for the job. Viet Thanh Nguyen, the author of the novel The Sympathizer, shares with Said two qualities: his political concerns, and the widespread recognition for his work. He also shares with Said a feeling of displacement; him as a refugee, Said as an immigrant.

Edward Said was perhaps one of the most profound analysts of the situation of the Palestinians, and one of the most vocal critics of the Israeli government’s policies towards them. To his credit, Said is equally critical of both.

Following the Six-Day War (5-10 June 1967,) Said worked hard to dispel the stereotyped misrepresentations of Arabs in the US media, which had no bases in the political and historical realities of the Middle East. In that war, the combined armies of Egypt (known at the time as the United Arab Republic,), Jordan, and Syria were crippled by Israel, which had in the United States a most powerful ally.

As a result of the war, huge civilian populations were displaced, resulting in long-term consequences. About 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank, and about 100,000 Syrians fled the Golan Heights. In addition, the war had a disastrous effect on the morale of the Arab people.

Said wrote extensively about the West’s misrepresentations of the Arab cause. In 1979, in an essay “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims,” Said argued in favour of the political legitimacy and right to a Jewish homeland; but also on the right of the Palestinians for self-determination.

In an essay published in The Nation in 1980, “Islam through Western Eyes,” Said wrote, “Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have, instead, is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world, presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.” These are topics that he had written at length in his books Orientalism and in Culture and Imperialism, and on numerous articles on this topic.

He himself had been a victim of the media bias against Arabs and Palestinians. On July 3, 2000, while touring the Middle East with his son Wadie, Said was photographed throwing stones across the Blue Line Lebanese-Israel border and accused of personal sympathy with terrorism. That photograph was published in several leading newspapers in the US and the journalist Edward Alexander labelled Said “The Professor of Terror.” 

Said’s action was sharply criticized by right-wing students at Columbia University and by several Jewish organizations. To his credit, though, Columbia University’s provost published a five-page letter defending Said’s action as an academic freedom of expression saying, “To my knowledge, the stone was directed at no-one; no law was broken; no indictment was made; no criminal or civil action has been taken against Professor Said.”

Said, an accomplished pianist himself, founded with his friend Daniel Barenboim the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, composed of Israeli, Palestinian, and other Arab musicians. In addition, they established The Barenboim-Said Foundation in Seville, Spain, to develop educational music projects. He received several prizes and was awarded some twenty honorary university degrees from the most prestigious academic institutions.

Said always carried with him the pain of not being able to return to his original home. Mahmoud Darwish’s words, “Where can I free myself of the homeland in my body?” could have been his. On 24 September 2003, after enduring 12 years of unrelenting chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Said died in New York City. He was the leading Palestinian figure of its time. Said’s vision and his hopes for a more peaceful Middle East remain alive.

César Chelala: Foreign correspondent for The Middle East Times International (Australia).

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There is bullish case for the Egyptian eurobond market, but risks have not gone away https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/04/04/there-is-bullish-case-for-the-egyptian-eurobond-market-but-risks-have-not-gone-away/ Thu, 04 Apr 2019 18:38:34 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=695079 we expect Egypt to continue to tap the eurobond market annually, including in 2019 and again in 2020, along with more infrastructure-linked loans.

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Egypt’s IMF-supported reform story remains attractive. Inflation is under control, the currency has been stable, and foreign reserves have been replenished. The public debt stock remains large but has fallen in recent months, which is why investors should be optimistic about the country’s eurobond issuances.

The public debt to the GDP ratio increased from 82.1% of the GDP in 2013 to a peak of 96.7% in 2016. Following reduced fiscal deficits, it has since moderated to 74% in September 2018. This has been achieved while the balance of debt has shifted from domestic to external sources. As the overall ratio fell, the external debt stock grew to 35.4% of the GDP in September 2018, up from 16.6% in 2016. This increasing reliance on external debt has been achieved via access to the eurobond market.

Since the turn of the century, Egypt has come to the eurobond market 11 times. It took a pause between issuance in 2001 and 2011 and it has scaled up its issuance since November 2016, so that $25.5bn is now outstanding (in USD and EUR). In 2016, Egypt issued $4bn of eurobonds and followed this with $7bn in 2017. In the first half (H1) of 2018, $4bn was issued across three USD tranches, followed by a €2bn issue. This was followed by a further $2.58bn of eurobond issuance in November 2018 to almost zero fanfare.

Going forward, we expect Egypt to continue to tap the eurobond market annually, including in 2019 and again in 2020, along with more infrastructure-linked loans.

We also see innovations in Egypt’s borrowing. The government is planning further EUR-denominated eurobond issuance in H1 of 2019 and it has stated its intention to issue a debut samurai (JPY-denominated) eurobond this year. Plans for a sukuk, panda bond, and green bonds are also on the horizon. To reduce the costs of domestic debt, the government is working with Euroclear as a step towards the inclusion of Egypt’s EGP bonds in the JP Morgan Emerging Market Bond Index.

However, while debt ratios have fallen, risks have not gone away. If there is no IMF support beyond November, a clear reform path and a credible medium-term debt anchor will be needed to support investor confidence.

To ease concerns about debt sustainability, investors will eagerly await publication of the government’s debt control strategy, which should ideally include a medium-term debt anchor that clearly commits the government to a further reduction in the debt ratio. It should also target a reduction in the proportion of short-term debt. Investors will also be keen to see a public debt to GDP target set under 70%, to be achieved in the next two-to-three years, and over the next five-to-seven years for debt levels to be steered towards 60% of the GDP. The target for short-term external debt should be no more than 10%.

To reward the debt sustainability gains already made, Fitch upgraded Egypt from B to B+ on 21 March. If debt levels and risks were brought down as suggested by the targets above, then a further shift back to double-B credit ratings is plausible.

All things considered, debt ratios are moderating. Egypt’s public debt to the GDP ratio remains high, at 87% in 2018, but the trajectory is downward. The government is targeting a deficit of 8.5% of the GDP this fiscal year and 7% next year. The fiscal deficit has moderated over the past year from an average of 11.3% of the GDP from 2015 to 2017. This trend is supportive of stabilising the stock of public debt.

Gregory Smith is a Fixed Income Strategist at Renaissance Capital

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Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/04/03/gideon-levy-a-voice-of-sanity-from-israel/ Wed, 03 Apr 2019 10:30:01 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=694880 I first learned of Gideon Levy many years ago, during a casual conversation with my friend Edy Kaufman, an Israeli human rights activist. He told me that he had asked Levy why was he such a serious critic of Israel’s government and its policies with the Palestinians. Levy, whose own father was a German Jewish …

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I first learned of Gideon Levy many years ago, during a casual conversation with my friend Edy Kaufman, an Israeli human rights activist. He told me that he had asked Levy why was he such a serious critic of Israel’s government and its policies with the Palestinians. Levy, whose own father was a German Jewish refugee who had settled in Israel, responded, “Because I do not want Israelis to say that they did not know.” 

Levy frequently travels to and writes about the occupied territories. As a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Levy shows the evils of the occupation and how it hurts not only the Palestinians but also the Israel that he loves so much. “I am an Israeli patriot. I want to be proud of my country. I want us to do the right thing,” he declared. His writing has gained him several prestigious awards, but also the hatred of many Israelis and several personal attacks.

He is the recipient of the Association of Human Rights in Israel award (1996), The Israeli Journalists’ Union prize (1997), the Leipzig Freedom prize (2001), the Euro-Med Journalist prize (2008), and the Olof Palme prize (2016) which he shared with the Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb, for their “fight against occupation and violence.”

Last year, at a talk entitled ‘The Zionist Tango: Step Left, Step Right’ in the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Levy touched upon many critical topics having to do with the occupation of the Palestinian territories. He spoke about the possibility of change within Israeli society and said, “Maybe you are holding the key for any kind of change, for any kind of hope because, as I will try to claim later on, the hope for change within Israeli society is so limited. It is non-existent. When the United States is so still, so crucial, people like you can make the difference. People like you can really be a game changer, and I mean it. Never before did Israel and the United States share the same values as in those days. The only place on earth that Donald Trump is beloved, admired, adored, and appreciated is Israel. The only place that Benjamin Netanyahu is admired, adored and beloved is the United States. If these are not shared values, what are shared values?”

Levy does not hide his contempt for the Jewish lobby in the IS, of which AIPAC is the most notorious organisation: “I can tell you in the US, as an Israeli, we don’t have a bigger enemy for justice, for peace, for equality, than those who think that if you supply the drug addict with more drugs you are his friend; that if you support him blindly and automatically in whatever he does, you are a friend. No, my friend, those are not friends. Those are enemies.”

Levy calls the actions of Israeli soldiers in Gaza crimes against civilians, which are hardly covered by the media.  Ahed Tamimi is a 17-year-old Palestinian girl whose family demonstrated their opposition to the expansion of the Israeli settlements and the detention of Palestinian activists. When she was 11 years-old, Ahed was commended for her courage by the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, for attempting to prevent her mother’s detention in August 2012.

In 2015, she was filmed while she was biting a masked Israeli soldier who was trying to apprehend her brother for throwing stones against the soldiers. On December 15, 2017, Ahed took part in a demonstration opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements near her village. During the protest, Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, was shot in the head and severely wounded. Ahed, along with mother and a cousin slapped, kicked, and shoved the soldiers.

Four days later, Ahed was arrested with her mother and her cousin and charged with assault and incitement to violence. She instantly became a symbol of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Major rallies in her support took place in several major cities in the US and Europe.

Levy is unsparing in his criticism of the Israeli soldiers’ actions. “The crimes [by the Israeli soldiers] are on a daily basis, but a really daily basis. The media hardly covers them. If they cover them, it will be always according to the Zionist narrative. A terrorist of 12, a girl of 14 with scissors in her hands is an existential threat to the state of Israel. A girl who is slapping a soldier is someone who deserves life in prison, not less than this.”

I remember my surprise, several years ago, when I found out that an acquaintance of mine, an Israeli professor, had never, aside from his gardener, had a conversation with any other Palestinian, although he was living in Jerusalem. According to Levy, “…Everyone will deny it. But if you scratch under the skin of almost every Israeli, you’ll find it there. The Palestinians are not equal human beings like us. They are not like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life like us. So you have a society with a deep conviction in its justice, in its right way with very, very few question marks. Anyone who dares to raise a question mark in a systematic way is immediately erased, demolished. It is unbelievable how this machinery works for Israel.”

Despite a systemic policy of demonization and death threats against him, Gideon Levy continues to denounce the Israeli government’s crimes against Palestinians, who have been unable to counteract this onslaught against their basic rights. Gideon Levy is their Jewish defender and Israel’s voice of sanity.

César Chelala is a New York writer and winner of several journalism awards.

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Camp David turns 40 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/27/camp-david-turns-40/ Wed, 27 Mar 2019 07:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=694085 US Senate passes bill to honour former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat

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Historical narratives will always disagree on any significant bygone event, especially one that changed the course of history. However, undeniably, the late Egyptian President Sadat was a far-sighted leader. He realised there can be no economic prosperity without political stability, and that is what he set out to accomplish through the peace treaty with Israel.

The year 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the Camp David Accords, signed by the late Egyptian President Muhammad Anwar El-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on 26 March 1979, facilitated by US President Jimmy Carter. Both Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace prize for the treaty.

Sadat, during his speech as he jointly accepted the Nobel Peace prize said, “peace and prosperity in our area are closely linked and interrelated. Our efforts should aim at achieving both, because it is as important to save man from death by destructive weapons, as it is not to abandon him to the evils of want and misery. And war is no cure for the problems of our area. And last, but not least, peace is a dynamic construction to which all should contribute, each adding a new brick. It goes far beyond a formal agreement or treaty, it transcends a word here or there. That is why it requires politicians who enjoy vision and imagination and who, beyond the present, look towards the future.”

Astute, shrewd, forward-thinking, undoubtedly no history book can deny the 1973 October War victory Sadat and the Egyptian-Syrian armed forces were responsible for. The infiltrated and mostly demolished the Bar Lev Line-commonly thought to have been an impenetrable defensive chain- astonished both Israel, and the Arab world, and was the most striking achievement of the war. The late Major General Baki Zaki Youssef shattered the Bar Lev line fable, as he came up with the idea of ​​using water to dissolve the Bar Lev Line, in preparation for the crossing of the Egyptian armed forces into Sinai.

The analysis of the forces participating in the 1973 October War on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts is still difficult. Some of the war documents are still classified and have not yet been published, so they differ in estimating the balance of power among the forces according to the various accounts of the war. In terms of measures only, bear in mind that the nature of Arab armaments were quite different from the nature of Israeli armaments at that time–which were qualitatively and technologically superior.

“Let me take you on more of a personal story. When I was in 12th grade, President Sadat surprised us with what we know now as the Yom Kippur war. It was a war that changed Israel forever and left all of us traumatised until this day. A few years later, President Sadat surprised us again when he came to Jerusalem. I watched his arrival with the mother of my boyfriend at the time, who lost his older brother in Sinai during the Attrition War a few years earlier. Watching her go from a sense of total loss to total hope when Sadat first showed up on screen was a very significant moment for me. It was a very unreal and real moment at the same time. No one in Israel was left untouched by his arrival. What Sadat did was the result of one very impressive leader who took a stand and had a very big influence on everyone in Israel one way or another. As a result of that visit, my generation and the generations that followed were saved, at least, on the Egyptian front. Here we are now, celebrating 40 years of a peaceful border.” Tzili Charney’s speech at the Sadat congressional gold medal reception, November 13, 2018.

Tzili Charney is a curator, costume designer, producer, and philanthropist. As a philanthropist, she devotes her time toward developing education, conflict resolution, and peace. She maintains her late husband’s position as chairperson of his real estate business at the LH Charney Associates in New York and retained his diplomatic legacy by establishing the Leon Charney Resolution Centre in Israel in his honour. The resolution centre’s hospitality extends to students from all over the world, and is committed to teaching future generations on both peace negotiations and diplomacy.

In August 2018, the US Senate collectively passed a bill to honour former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian embassy in Washington said.

“The Anwar Sadat Centennial Celebration Act S266 awards the congressional gold medal to Sadat, in recognition of his historic achievements and courageous contributions to peace in the Middle East,” it added.

Sadat is the first Arab and Middle Eastern person to be awarded the medal.

On 19 November 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and expressed before the Knesset in Jerusalem his views on how to achieve inclusive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which involved the full application of UN Resolutions 242 and 338.

He said that he hopes “that we can keep the momentum in Geneva, and may God guide the steps of Premier Begin and the Knesset, because there is a great need for a hard and drastic decision.” In his acceptance speech, Sadat emphasised the much-anticipated peace sought for by both Arabs and Israelis:

“Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call, which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women, and children around the world that you are today honouring. These hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind,” declared Sadat.

Yet, the treaty was exceedingly unwelcome in most of the Arab world and the wider Muslim world. His predecessor Nasser had made Egypt an icon of Arab nationalism, an ideology that seemed to be marginalised by an Egyptian position after the 1973 War. Neighbouring Arab countries presumed that by signing the accords, Sadat had put Egypt’s power structure ahead of Arab unity, betraying Nasser’s pan-Arabism, and demolishing the dream of a unified ‘Arab front’ for Palestinians’ support against the ‘Zionist entity.’

However, Sadat decided early on that peace is the solution. Sadat’s move toward diplomatic relations with the US was also seen as treason by many Arabs. In the US, his peace strategy increased his popularity among some Evangelical circles. He was awarded the Prince of Peace award by Pat Robertson.

In 1979, Egypt was suspended from the Arab League due to the Egyptian-Israel peace agreement, and the league changed its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Arab League member states upheld the belief of the elimination of the ‘Zionist entity’ and Israel concurrently. Egypt was re-admitted as a member in 1989 into the league and its headquarters returned to Cairo.

Resilient economic growth was the result of improved relations which Egypt gained through the Camp David Accords and with the west. However, a period of rapid inflation in 1980 was due to Egypt’s strained relations with the Arab world was the outcome.

Now, Sadat’s words still ring true today as they did forty years ago, and it is more imperative than ever to recall these virtues of benevolence and peace as we seek to create harmony and security in the Middle East. As President Sadat said during his visit to Israel in 1977, “There are moments in the life of nations and peoples when it is incumbent on those known for their wisdom and clarity of vision to overlook the past, with all its complexities and weighing memories, in a bold drive toward new horizons.”

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AUC: A Century of Excellence and Distinguished Alumni    https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/05/auc-a-century-of-excellence-and-distinguished-alumni/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/05/auc-a-century-of-excellence-and-distinguished-alumni/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 10:00:24 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688880 It was back in 1919 when a US mission established an English-language university in order to offer a western high-level education in Egypt, and emphasised the need to provide a liberal arts education. After 100 years since its founding, the American University in Cairo (AUC) is still offering this unmatched level of education, celebrating a …

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It was back in 1919 when a US mission established an English-language university in order to offer a western high-level education in Egypt, and emphasised the need to provide a liberal arts education. After 100 years since its founding, the American University in Cairo (AUC) is still offering this unmatched level of education, celebrating a century of excellence as one of the leading educational and cultural institutions in Egypt and the whole Middle East region. Till our present day, the AUC continues to be a main cultural, social, and intellectual hub in the region, attracting the most distinguished minds from all over the world.

The AUC’s contributions are immense to go beyond offering 36 undergraduate, 44 masters, and two PhD programmes to include 16 ground-breaking research centres across a wide array of disciplines. This is besides the university’s special attention to social responsibility and sustainable development, and the various initiatives which aim to support the community and contribute to its evolvement and prosperity.

As an AUC alumnus, I still remember the very first day of my freshman year. I recount stepping my foot into the giant edifice standing in New Cairo, which made me eager to explore every inch of this remarkable institution. I was mystified by “the state-of-the-art” campus which is built on a 260-acre land, which reminded me of Egypt’s traditional and grand Islamic architecture, yet it encompasses the latest technological resources and modernised means. I was astounded by the grandeur of the buildings, the diversity of students who came from all over Egypt and the world, and the meticulously organised system. 

Although I always wanted to study political science, but my experience at the AUC enabled me to do much more. I do believe that what really distinguishes the AUC is its liberal arts education, being one of its fundamental philosophies. The education I received in the AUC allowed me to examine ideas from multiple points of view through combining several disciplines of study. Liberal arts transcend beyond the traditional ways of teaching and learning, as it enables students to think critically and have a diversified base of knowledge, which are strong advantages in our fast-changing world. Besides political science, I was able to graduate with a minor in ‘Rhetoric and Composition’, which is a discipline I never knew I would be that passionate about. I also got to study Islamic architecture, film, and Arabic literature, which is the same case for all AUC graduates.

Amidst a challenging educational system in Egypt, the AUC stands out as it embraces academic freedom and inclusion. Throughout my university years, I got to meet students with specialisations in chemistry, economics, theatre, business, history, visual arts, literature, film, and several others. I also did get to meet students from several governorates, and I also had the chance to encounter international students who come from different places and countries. I do believe that this mindset is what Egypt really needs right now, which embraces diversity, innovation, inclusion, and excellence.

The AUC is the only university in Egypt to be accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and the first one to be accredited by the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education. Notably, out of 523 institutions worldwide which are accredited by the MSCHE, only 17 — including AUC — are outside the US, with only four in the Middle East.

It is of no surprise to know that many prominent leaders and thinkers are AUC graduates, such as Queen Rania of Jordan; Sahar Nasr, the Egyptian minister of investment and international cooperation; Tarek Amer, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt; Omar Samra, the first Egyptian to climb mount Everest; Yuriko Koike, Tokyo’s first female governor and Japan’s former defence minister; and Thomas L Friedman, a New York Times op-ed columnist.

In 2019, I do take pride in holding an AUC alumni card, and in being one of its graduates. The AUC is celebrating its centenary through launching several events which will begin on 9 February in its historical campus in Al Tahrir Square, and will end in February 2020 in its new campus in New Cairo. The celebrations will also include art exhibitions, musical performances, and lectures by major local and international figures.

From getting lost in the HUSS building, to casually chilling with friends in the AUC garden and spending endless hours at the library while working on group projects, I am thankful for this eye-opening and enriching experience. Today, I look back at those memories with a smile, as they made me the person who I am today. The AUC played a pivotal role in Egypt’s history and will continue to do so in its future. I also do take pride in belonging to an institution which maintains its promise to serve excellence to the Egyptian community and the whole world.

Sally Radwan is an AUC graduate with a major in political science. She is currently a copyeditor at the Daily News Egypt.

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President Donald Trump’s ‘Magical Realism’ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/05/president-donald-trumps-magical-realism/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/05/president-donald-trumps-magical-realism/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:00:28 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688873 It is possible that President Donald Trump never suspected this, but among his many, yet never-acknowledged, talents is that of being a novelist. A novelist in the Latin American tradition of magic, or ‘magical realism.’ Magical realism is a style of fiction writing that combines a realistic view of the modern world while also adding …

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It is possible that President Donald Trump never suspected this, but among his many, yet never-acknowledged, talents is that of being a novelist. A novelist in the Latin American tradition of magic, or ‘magical realism.’

Magical realism is a style of fiction writing that combines a realistic view of the modern world while also adding some magical elements. Writer and literature professor Matthew Strecher defined magical realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”

Magical realism has been often associated with Latin American authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, and Isabel Allende. Now President Donald Trump has joined the rank of these illustrious authors. His assertion that there is a serious national crisis at the US’s southern border with Mexico seems to challenge reality, making it too strange to believe.

According to official data, the number of people caught trying to cross the southern border peaked at 1.6 million in 2006, and have been in decline since then.  According to the Customs and Border Protection, there were 303,916 apprehensions at the US-Mexico border for fiscal year (FY) 2017, the lowest in over 45 years.

In magical realism, writers reveal the magical element in the real world and the supernatural blends smoothly with the familiar world. This was notably done by Gabriel García Márquez in his seminal work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. When President Trump says that he has already started building the wall in the border with Mexico, he is bending reality. So far, Congress has only appropriated money for bollard fencing, replacement fencing, or secondary fencing. What started in California is bollard fencing that had already been planned in 2009.

President Trump has also made false claims relating to suspected terrorists trying to cross the border. According to the Trump administration, 3,755 known or suspected terrorists were blocked by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from entering the United States in FY 2017. The problem with this assertion is that it does not say how many among those individuals tried to cross through the US-Mexico border, or by airports, or by sea.

According to the DHS, terrorist groups seek other means of trying to enter the US, mainly by air. Of the 2,554 people on the terrorist watch list who were identified by US officials in 2017, 2,170 had tried to enter through airports and 49 by sea.

Trump has dallied with magical realism in other areas as well. Talking about his capacity as a military strategist Trump declared, “I think I would have been a good general, who knows.” This after his Defence Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest for the president’s policy on Syria (the first pentagon chief to resign in protest). And this is coming from a man who, according to The New York Times, was exempt from military service thanks to a fake bone spurs diagnosis that a Queens’s podiatrist wrote as a favour to his father. And who, while American soldiers were dying in Vietnam was busy organising beauty contests around the world. It is hard to say if Trump’s comments belong to magical realism or to the delusional world of a draft dodger. 

The US President’s penchant for making false claims does not seem to have any boundaries. Among the reportedly over 7,000 false claims (probably a Guinness’s World Record of false claims by presidents) is his statement on January 4, 2019, that some “former” presidents had told him that a wall in the US-Mexico border should have already been built on their watch. However, the four living US presidents (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barak Obama) strongly denied having made such an assertion.

These are only a few examples of a world of fantasy and unreality created by President Trump that, unlike in fiction, have a very real negative impact on the country and the world.  Now one can say that among the illustrious practitioners of magical realism in the Americas,  Argentina has Jorge Luis Borges, Chile has Isabel Allende, Colombia has Gabriel García Márquez, and the US has Donald J Trump.

César Chelala is an international public health consultant and a winner of several journalism awards.

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Attracting right talent for thriving business https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/attracting-right-talent-for-thriving-business/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/attracting-right-talent-for-thriving-business/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:00:30 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687007 Yoga on the office roof, bring your dog to work, lunch by a five-star chef, nap pods for a quick siesta—these playful perks have become an all too familiar approach as a means to entice the very best candidates in the market. Consider these measures a result of an evolving work model, or a shift …

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Yoga on the office roof, bring your dog to work, lunch by a five-star chef, nap pods for a quick siesta—these playful perks have become an all too familiar approach as a means to entice the very best candidates in the market.

Consider these measures a result of an evolving work model, or a shift from corporate rigidity to one of informal fluidity, with a work setting that feels more like a lifestyle than a job. It’s a continuous battle to not only find, but retain top talent in such a competitive environment, so throw away the vanity perks and deliver what your employees really deem valuable instead: a relaxed management approach and incentive-based benefits.

Incentives will prove crucial if businesses are to compete for the top candidates, understanding that past motivations no longer strike the same chord. What today’s generation want from their working lives is not the hefty pay check, instead they strive for that invaluable element of flexibility. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, the way in which we work has become less bound to the physical office and more about the delivery of execution.

The UAE has been quick to welcome the flexible mindset of a changing culture, with the government issuing cheaper freelance visas and new categories outside of the creative field, and reducing fees for local business partnerships. The introduction of part-time work also answered the call for parents to be able to contribute outside of home life.

We are living in an age of considerable connectivity, allowing people to work remotely, learn new skills or network without leaving the house. Conquering fluidity in the workplace goes beyond where the job is done and between what hours. It is important to improve productivity and engagement at every level of business.

Research from the American Productivity Audit suggests that the cost of absenteeism in the US amounts to up to $150bn a year, with the UK not far behind at $114bn. While we cannot control people falling ill, we do know people burn out, no matter what the job. An unlimited annual leave initiative has the potential to be a game changer by reducing stress and allowing staff to be in control of when and how long they take a break.

What motivates employees to perform well is an employer investing in them, and not just financially. Employees want to be involved and have a positive impact on the business. When they have an environment where they are able to connect what they do to who they are, regardless of their title, the results can be incredibly rewarding.

A weekly brainstorming session, where no idea is off the table, gives everyone a voice to influence the business and to tap into underutilised strengths. This goes hand-in-hand with career development by offering meaningful opportunities for teams to engage in the company culture. Every day provides a new learning opportunity, and employees are encouraged to learn by doing, asking questions when they hit roadblocks, and ultimately feeling empowered when they conquer a new skill or task. While there is a no one-size-fits-all approach to securing top talent, it can no longer be about offering a package of perks. It’s about making the role, culture and environment desirable and attuned to deliver on the needs of the people who make your business a success.

Rockstar teams do not just happen, you need to work hard to find, nurture, and retain them in today’s new, flexible working landscape.

Sarah Jones is CEO of Sprii.

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Is there an end to tragic fate of Syrian refugees in Lebanon? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/is-there-an-end-to-tragic-fate-of-syrian-refugees-in-lebanon/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/is-there-an-end-to-tragic-fate-of-syrian-refugees-in-lebanon/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:30:06 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687002 The influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon which started in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war has created a serious problem not only for Lebanon but for the refugees themselves. Lebanon currently has the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, with one refugee per four Lebanese. The stress on …

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The influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon which started in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war has created a serious problem not only for Lebanon but for the refugees themselves. Lebanon currently has the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, with one refugee per four Lebanese. The stress on Lebanon’s health and social services has been considerable and demands urgent and practical solutions.

Crowded conditions in the camps encourages the spread of respiratory and intestinal infections, particularly among children. Chronic conditions are common among older adults, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory infections. Essential medicines for chronic conditions are frequently lacking. A high prevalence of depression and cognitive disorders are frequent among elder refugees.

Although both the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people have shown considerable understanding and willingness to help, the problems created by the influx of refugees have reached such a dimension that it has strained the relationships between the Syrians and the Lebanese and also between their governments.

The statistics are numbing. The UNHCR estimates that 1 million Syrian refugees have been registered in Lebanon in 2016. However, this figure is probably underestimated, since the UNHCR has stopped registering new refugees since May 2015, and does not include individuals waiting for registration.

More recent estimates identify 1,500,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This number includes 31,502 Palestinian refugees who were living in Syria. Although the majority of Syrians now living in Lebanon are Arabs, various ethnic and religious minorities are included among them, such as Syrian Armenians, Syrian Turkmen, and Syrian Kurds.

According to the UNHCR, Lebanon never signed the 1951 Refugee Convention. That convention establishes that a refugee who belongs “to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” should receive appropriate assistance.

If it had adhered to this convention, Lebanon would have been obligated not only to provide asylum to refugees but to also allow them with the right to access courts, elementary education, and travel documents. Even if it was not obligated to do so, however, the Lebanese government has tried to assist Syrian refugees within the limits imposed by the magnitude of the problem. Currently, however, they must begin to resume a normal life, hopefully back in their own country.

As Bashar al-Assad seems to be regaining control of the country, refugees have been returning to Syria, in some cases with aid from the government in Damascus. This move has been supported by the Lebanese government, which claims that it is unable to provide assistance to such a large number of refugees. The UNHCR, for its part, disagrees, and advises against the return of Syrian refugees because of the dangerous conditions still prevailing in Syria.

In the meantime, several NGOs have been providing assistance to the Syrian refugees. Among those NGOs are Medair, a Swiss NGO, Anera, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Solidarités International, CARE Canada, the Syrian American Medical Society, Islamic Relief USA, and Caritas Lebanon. Although their work is invaluable, the need is overwhelming. In this regard, the UNHCR is an agency with 68 years of experience in dealing with refugee needs and should have a pivotal role in any future assistance.

Given the multiplicity of organisations channelling aid to the Syrian refugees, what is needed is more coordination among them, and for the foreign governments that participated in this war to step up their aid and give the refugees a future of hope to regain a decent way of life. The Syrian war is a foreign governments-fuelled disaster that should have never happened.

César Chelala is an international public health consultant and winner of several journalism awards.

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Trump in Middle Eastern eyes https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/trump-in-middle-eastern-eyes/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/16/trump-in-middle-eastern-eyes/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687005 When Trump walked into the White House in January 2017, panic spread like a bonfire, not only amongst US liberal circles – whatever their understanding of “liberal” might be – but also all across the globe, from Canada to Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and eventually the Middle East as well. In American politics there were …

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When Trump walked into the White House in January 2017, panic spread like a bonfire, not only amongst US liberal circles – whatever their understanding of “liberal” might be – but also all across the globe, from Canada to Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and eventually the Middle East as well.

In American politics there were a fair amount of voices who expressed ingenious thoughts about how to circumvent due democratic process and block Trump’s path to the presidency. Even I, not being exactly qualified to head the “Donald Trump Fan Club” to say the least, perceived these attempts as a pathetic performance by a group of actors who were unable to get the roles they wanted in the recent Steven Spielberg movie.

Yes, personally I am not at all fond of Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office but then again, reducing whatever he has of political abilities and governing qualities to his poor rhetoric – which it is indeed as also his fiercest supporters can hardly deny – and to a blunt language that doesn’t reflect the standard ‘Harvard’ manner of expression, is also far from being the best of ideas.

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary

However, two years into the Trump presidency his critics by now will have to admit that almost nothing of what they have initially feared came true. He certainly did not ruin America’s economy by running the country in the way one should only run a company as many were predicting, to the contrary, business in the US is flourishing as it never did for as long as I can remember, better even than in the Reagan-era. Growth rates are peaking and if it were not for inflation adjustment, which is a very questionable approach to begin with, they would be even higher and tax cuts are actually yielding results. True, on the long term the radical deregulation policy the Trump administration implements might create chaos in the markets at some point and could as well support the creation of monopolies in certain industries, but there is still plenty of time to avoid that scenario even if Trump is not re-elected.

Additionally, what many refer to as inciting trade wars against Europe, China and even partners within North America are at the end of the day justified attempts by Trump to rectify a rather awkward situation in which many countries have gotten used to exploit unfair trade practices with the United States throughout at least the last two decades with huge trade deficits being just one expression of such. Apparently, they did it for so long by now, that they became to see it as a birth right. As non-Americans, of course we do not like that, but at the end of the day, Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America and has the obligation to put the interests of the American people above all other considerations. Objectively speaking “America First” is what he said in his campaign and that exactly is what he is doing in his presidency, like it or not.

Personally, I can no longer see any signs of Trump inventing a 21st century version of good old fascism as it was declared in many hysterical statements after election results were confirmed.

Naturally, ideas like building a wall along the US – Mexican border were not exactly the brightest of ideas, but it had a rationale – though pretty naïve – and can hardly be described as fascism. American democracy still works the same way it always did, and if there are any shortcomings then rest assured that they have always been there. Democracy is not perfect anywhere in the world, why does it have to be in the US?

Even the very controversial appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—think about him what you may—followed strict democratic guidelines and adhered to each and every tiny little detail in the “rule of law”.

For people in the Middle East, nothing has really changed that much. Trade disputes with Europe or China do not reflect on the region’s countries and even the renewal of sanctions against Iran have little to no effect on the area’s nations since trade relations with Iran were almost non-existent anyway ever since the Iranian revolution back in 1978, which is 40 years ago.

US involvement in Syria, as disturbing as it sometimes might be, is also nothing the Trump administration has come up with out of thin air. As a matter of fact, the exact same scenario would have occurred under any other administration given the role Russia is trying to play.

Once again, one might disagree with Trump’s policies on the issue, but they are not very much different from what a government led by Democrats would have done.

The Jamal Khashoggi incident has also shown that Trump is a practical and pragmatic man. He understands that US-Saudi relations are vital to both sides. Crude oil supplies from the Middle Eastern kingdom and their arms purchases are an important part of the American economy and Washington’s support in the regional power struggle with Iran is much needed in Riyadh. Trump just says it more frankly and more straightforward than other presidents would have, and maybe that is not diplomatic, nor does it carry much morality, but at least it is honest and realistic.

As a man who has a very clear stance towards the Middle East conflict and by extension towards Israel also, I resented Trump’s decision to move the US-embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but then again, Trump knew from the beginning that he could push it through, and that Arab objections will be, as always, limited to fiery statements but with no political or economic consequences whatsoever. Not even the Gulf states would start thinking about selling off the trillions of dollars they own in US debt. Other key countries like Egypt are politically way too vulnerable right now than to risk a diplomatic showdown with the White House.

So, no harm will be done from the Arab side and an improvement of the US-Israeli relations that were seriously damaged by 8 years of Barack Obama was much needed, why then not do it?

Besides, that move – talking about democracy – was practically long overdue as it is in theory the implementation of the so-called “Jerusalem Embassy Act” adopted by both houses of Congress in 1995 and should be gotten over with no later than May 1999. Previous American presidents have indeed been very creative in finding various cover-ups for violating the constitution. Trump did not, that is pretty much it.

Maybe the Trump opposition, regardless of the reasons, would be well advised to start focusing on his really weak points, of which there surely will be many, instead of hoping that their exaggerated nightmares and sad predictions may come true or following yellow press tactics in working against him. That would be doing the job one hell of a lot better.

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary is an expert in political economy

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Digital banking gains momentum in Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/25/digital-banking-gains-momentum-in-egypt/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/25/digital-banking-gains-momentum-in-egypt/#respond Tue, 25 Dec 2018 18:39:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=685084 In the embrace of new technology, every step counts in Egypt’s digital transformation, according to Jacques-Emmanuel Blanchet CEO, HSBC Egypt. Egypt’s banking architecture is getting a digital upgrade. Efficiency and personalisation are at the top of the list of preferences as one of the world’s oldest civilisations undergoes a very modern disruption. Progress and change Two …

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In the embrace of new technology, every step counts in Egypt’s digital transformation, according to Jacques-Emmanuel Blanchet CEO, HSBC Egypt.

Egypt’s banking architecture is getting a digital upgrade. Efficiency and personalisation are at the top of the list of preferences as one of the world’s oldest civilisations undergoes a very modern disruption.

Progress and change

Two of Egypt’s national goals, to modernise its economy and to support a rapidly growing population, are being carried out within a positive economic outlook. The GDP in the fiscal year 2018 is expected to rise by 5.8%. Egypt’s proactive attitude is driving digital growth in the country’s banking sector and is filtering down to the consumer too. This is largely down to the government, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) with the support of the local banking community.

A progressive tone from the top is matched by an enthusiastic response from the banks and the public. This banking ‘marriage’ is bearing fruit.

Seamless customer experience

From the top down, the National Payments Council is putting in a general framework to shift to a less cash-based society, and to create a national system of payment and cards. Meanwhile, the CBE is investing heavily in developing a ‘seamless’ customer experience that is more efficient and easy to use.

Both aim to safeguard the value of human interaction i.e. intensifying the level of trust and loyalty in the customer-bank relationship. The country’s approach includes the promotion of innovative technologies in the design and delivery of financial services. This includes the review of digital banking regulations, and the launch of a fund for innovation and talent investments worth EGP 1bn ($558m).

Digital maturation

From the bottom up, Egypt’s banking community – banks and customers alike – is keen to embrace change. Nearly all respondents, 90.57%, to an HSBC digital survey carried out in Cairo, expect ‘the internet of things’ (the trend towards more devices being online) to have a major impact on their existing business model. Leveraging this appetite for digital maturation is key.

The same applies to tailoring services for different socioeconomic and digitally-able customers. Clear communication to improve understanding within the banking community is vital to build trust and adopt digital banking tools. Patience is also essential, as it will take time to shift the national psyche towards digital banking.

It’s about family

Egypt’s tightknit family and social network must be addressed in banks’ marketing and communication programmes as ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations carry significant weight when it comes to building reputations and communicating change. The influence of informal knowledge sharing in Egypt will only heighten as the world’s most populated Arab nation gets busier. The United Nations (UN) expects Egypt’s 97 million population today to rise to 120 million by 2030 – a 23% growth in less than 12 years.

As one of the largest multinational banks in Egypt, and with a presence since 1982, HSBC’s unwavering dedication to build its digital knowledge will continue. The bank has been a leading and respected voice on digital advancements for over three decades. Plans to spend $15bn-$17bn on technology, worldwide, up to 2020 are underway, in addition to $6bn in recent years. Such efforts will undoubtedly enhance Egypt’s digital journey, be it through talent creation, research and development, or tech deployment.

Digital toolbox

There are many new digital methods that Egypt’s banking community can use. These include the next generation virtual accounts, enhanced liquidity management, and more streamlined mobile collections and payments. HSBC is always working on how to design and deploy new technologies, including machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), biometrics and blockchain.

HSBC completed its inaugural blockchain transaction for trade finance this year. This is highly relevant for a growing banking community as each transactional step is entirely transparent and accountable. It is also attractive for Egypt’s growing trade finance market as the country’s gas exports, for example, are likely to rise significantly.

More than half, or 56.6%, of survey respondents to our digital research agreed that international trade has become more difficult over the last three years. This means that making cross-border trade easier by using digital tools is even more critical to sustain Egypt’s global competitiveness.

Challenges to overcome

As with any market in development, some areas need more attention. These include improving cybersecurity, legal frameworks, and scalability. Therein lies the value of collaboration and knowledge sharing, something that HSBC is able to facilitate.

To take an example – globally, banks’ ties with Fintechs are thriving. HSBC’s data showed that approximately $31bn was invested in Fintechs around the world last year. Collaboration agreements and sandbox environments, both promoted by regulators, can help test the relevance of new technologies in Egypt’s banking community.

We must not fear the unknown. Egypt must keep its best foot forward, for every digital step counts.

 

Jacques-Emmanuel Blanchet is Deputy Chairman and CEO, HSBC Egypt

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Visiting Dubai Shopping Festival? Here’s how you can maximise value paying with Visa https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/visiting-dubai-shopping-festival-heres-how-you-can-maximise-value-paying-with-visa/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/visiting-dubai-shopping-festival-heres-how-you-can-maximise-value-paying-with-visa/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 15:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=684431 If you are considering visiting Dubai, there is no better time to plan a trip than the eagerly awaited Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) 2018/19, a six-week long extravaganza offering shoppers unbeatable deals on everything from fashion and jewellery to electronics and entertainment. The 24th edition of the world’s biggest shopping festival will run from 26 …

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If you are considering visiting Dubai, there is no better time to plan a trip than the eagerly awaited Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) 2018/19, a six-week long extravaganza offering shoppers unbeatable deals on everything from fashion and jewellery to electronics and entertainment. The 24th edition of the world’s biggest shopping festival will run from 26 December 2018 to 2 February 2019, making it the longest in DSF history. A host of exciting events awaits visitors this year, including firework displays, fashion shows, and live concerts across the city. Shoppers will also get the chance to win exciting prizes, such as SUVs, cash, and gold.

As a key sponsor and long-time official partner of DSF, Visa offers international travellers heading to the festival an array of discounts on travel, hotel, and leisure spends. Visa cardholders attending DSF can also get 25% off their stay at select Jumeirah hotels and resorts, in addition to up to 20% off select Meraas restaurants, attractions, and cinemas.

Given that the UAE is home to more than 200 nationalities, Dubai is ably equipped to meet the needs of international travellers from every corner of the world. According to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study (GTI) 2018, 20% of travellers consider good weather as an essential factor behind their choice of destination, while 19% look for a location that fits their budget, and 17% consider safety and security as important aspect. Going by the preferences of international travellers, Dubai is one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations, with the six-week long DSF period being the best time to visit. In fact, a recent research from Euromonitor International shows that the city was the seventh most visited globally in 2018, and even figured ahead of many popular destinations in Europe and America.

According to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Egypt was among the top twenty source markets for visitors to Dubai, accounting for 29,000 people during January 2018. Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates in January said it had seen an increase in the number of visitors from Egypt during the DSF period. As per the Visa GTI study, for travellers from Egypt and the wider Middle East and Africa region, activities are a main consideration when choosing a travel destination, with 44% indicating it as an essential factor. This is followed by budget (39%) and weather, safety, and cleanliness (37%). Dubai scores well on all these parameters, making it a hotspot for Egyptian tourists.

Although many travellers globally use cards while on vacation, 77% still prefer to use cash when making purchases. However, the study further revealed that travellers cited loss of cash or theft as a top money concern while on trips. Therefore, to better manage your money on your next adventure to Dubai, here is a list of travel tips from Visa to keep in mind:

1. Paying by credit or debit card is safer and more convenient than carrying cash.

2. Check your card to make sure it will not expire while you are away.

3. Save money: when traveling out of country, paying by card in local currency can offer a competitive exchange rate.

4. Make two copies of important travel documents, including your passport, in case of emergency.

5. Notify your bank and card issuer about your travel plans to help monitor for fraud.

6. Set alerts so you can keep track of spending on your phone.

7. Data roaming charges can skyrocket while abroad, so set up your cell-phone to avoid international data roaming or ensure you have an international plan.

8. Keep a list of important contacts in case your phone is lost or stolen.

9. For fun, check out the Visit Dubai website for local events happening during DSF.

Through its long-standing partnership with DSF, Visa is committed to ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience for international visitors to the festival by offering them convenient, secure, and frictionless payment options. And it is these illuminating benefits that help make Visa the best way to pay and be paid for everyone everywhere.

Ahmed Gaber – Visa’s General Manger for North Africa

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Human experience still at the heart of digital transformation https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/human-experience-still-at-the-heart-of-digital-transformation/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/human-experience-still-at-the-heart-of-digital-transformation/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 14:00:32 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=684439 Machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IOT) are transcending from buzzwords to hard reality. As organisations invest millions into their IT estate, it can seem easy to forget the importance that humans play in the future of technology. After all, it is still humans who decide whether technology is adding …

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Machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IOT) are transcending from buzzwords to hard reality. As organisations invest millions into their IT estate, it can seem easy to forget the importance that humans play in the future of technology. After all, it is still humans who decide whether technology is adding value to their lives or becoming a hindrance.

Technology can directly impact an organisation’s bottom line and it is playing a more prominent role across the board. Digital touchpoints are increasingly becoming the core point of customer contact, and a subpar delivery on this front can have a very negative impact on repeat custom and company profits. After all, it is always going to remain the case that poor customer experience is never good for business.

Organisations that do not succeed in digital transformation are at risk of damaging their growth. Research from Forrester supports this claim—it found that 30% of companies will see a decline in digital experience quality this year, ultimately losing a point in growth.

While IDC has projected that $2.1tn will be spent on digital transformation by 2021, it has also been found that more than 70% of organisations embracing digital transformation journeys are hitting significant roadblocks, struggling with the shift from being digital players to digital transformers or even disruptors.

Performance is and will continue to be the primary indicator of success for the development and implementation of new technology in any business. However, in a modern digital environment, traditional performance metrics, such as chip speeds and data transfer rates, are secondary to the insight, analytics, and data itself.

Providing IT teams with real-time metrics is of paramount importance. Network speeds, app, digital services performance, unusual user behaviour, and issues with a recent OS upgrade or any other possible issue that could impact performance need to be continually monitored. This is critical to ensuring businesses can maintain the level of service that users have come to expect and demand.

The ability to monitor every aspect of the digital experience and measure performance on a day-to-day basis, whilst analysing and proactively tackling any issues whilst they are in their infancy, is what will allow organisations to disrupt industries and transform legacy business models. This approach allows business a window into the humans behind their digital transformation journey.

In sectors, such as retail and finance, employees are often far too busy to fill in complaint reports around the poor performance of technology—especially if these systems are struggling to keep up with demand. IT teams need the power of proactivity behind them to truly bring digital performance to those who need the help most and these systems allow visibility into any issues, without the employee needing to take time out to report them.

Organisations with the right vision and technology have the opportunity to take the user and human experience to the next level. This is especially true when business leaders are asked to rethink technology investments and strategies. Research from McKinsey & Company found that early adopters and fast followers of digital business capabilities saw twice as much growth over three years, as those companies that played it safe. Supporting this, non-profit firm, the Design Management Institute, found that stock prices for companies that invested in user experience outperformed their peers by 219% between 2004 and 2014.

As exciting as the digital revolution currently seems, we are only at the beginning. The newly evolved ability to identify network and end-user issues, and quickly implement fixes, combined with the latest machine learning capabilities, has the potential to evolve into self-healing networks in the future.

Across all sectors, from shipping to retail and finance, we are seeing how digital performance investments are providing a real financial return. Companies are rethinking possible and activating business functions that would have previously taken months, in just a matter of weeks. As customer demands evolve, so too does the way that businesses need to operate, and technology cannot be an inhibiting factor in this process.

The importance of digitalisation is already established. However, amongst the lure of AI, ML and IoT, businesses cannot lose sight of the most important piece of the puzzle: Humans.

Ultimately, providing a happy human experience will always be good for business.

Paul Mountford – CEO of Riverbed Technology

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Making the Middle East a safe environment for crypto investing https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/making-the-middle-east-a-safe-environment-for-crypto-investing/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/making-the-middle-east-a-safe-environment-for-crypto-investing/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 13:00:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=684437 This year the blockchain industry has evolved, infiltrated traditional sectors, become more credible through increased regulation, and seen blockchain hubs of innovation cemented in smaller jurisdictions. The features that the blockchain industry has adopted now mirror that of a more mature space, such as the widening breadth of professional services, the mainstream adoption of crypto …

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This year the blockchain industry has evolved, infiltrated traditional sectors, become more credible through increased regulation, and seen blockchain hubs of innovation cemented in smaller jurisdictions.

The features that the blockchain industry has adopted now mirror that of a more mature space, such as the widening breadth of professional services, the mainstream adoption of crypto by everyday people, and the consideration of the impact of crypto by major world institutions, most recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

When looking toward the Middle East specifically, the crypto industry is being defined by regional factors, in addition to the global crypto climate. Many countries in the region, for example, have specific regulations in place for their economy, which include the requirement that currencies are backed by tangible assets—meaning that any cryptocurrencies may need to function akin to stable coins. There are also complex laws in many Middle Eastern nations prohibiting collections of interest on loans and forbidding market speculation, all of which creates a unique financial system and makes compliance even more crucial.

In a way, the Middle East has not always been an easy home for virtual currencies. Many countries in the region have banned crypto trading completely. Despite being slow off the starting blocks, however, the region is now on its way to be a global blockchain hub. We also see countries that have traditionally been more tentative in embracing the technology, more recently taking steps to welcome industry actors.

Some of the most notable convergence of blockchain technology, large enterprise, and government in the region have taken place in recent times. Saudi Arabia has publicised aims to use Distributed Ledger Technology to strengthen its economy. The UAE has also been experimenting heavily with blockchain, having even launched a Dubai Blockchain Strategy to become the first blockchain-powered city by 2020. In Turkey, the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST) has developed a blockchain-powered customer database, and in Kuwait, where the Kuwait Finance House (KFH) joined RippleNet, a major blockchain-powered network has been designed for cross-border remittance payments.

Evidently, there is a widespread recognition of blockchain technology’s potential to transform government activity, citizens’ lives, and business performance for the better in the Middle East. Yet the region is still battling fears about the technology’s association with criminal activity and, like the rest of the world, is holding its breath waiting for universal regulation to provide security to investors. The future impact of cryptocurrencies is difficult to predict across the globe, never mind in individual regions. In a broad sense, however, it is acknowledged that digital currencies and blockchain technology have a significant role to play in the future.

Despite an initial understandable caution exhibited towards cryptocurrency by regulators in the Middle East, there is an undoubtable and urgent need for future-focused regulation of digital assets. Future-proofing Middle Eastern economies involves regulation that facilitates the secure and trustworthy use of cryptocurrencies. While the industry itself needs to come together to develop universal standards, individual governments also have a responsibility to create a secure environment for investors who want to participate in advanced economic developments.

Investors in the Middle East may be deterred from entering the crypto market by the prominent media narrative surrounding scams and fraudulent activity. As the nascent crypto industry grows into a more mature financial contender, those eagerly watching it will see that growth is taking place on all sides, from legitimate to illegal, corrupt to transparent, and compliant to criminal. Just as we witnessed the rise of previous technologies before blockchain, for example with the inception of the Internet, there is new potential for criminal activity. However, there is also potential for greatness. The defining factor in the future of cryptocurrency will be our ability to support the positive and weed out the negative, being weary of the negative while not letting it consume the positive.

There are measures that investors can take to ensure they avoid scams.

  • Support government regulation—Regulation has the power to end the uncertain environment that investors experience and which can lead to criminal activity.
  • Do not go it alone—Find legitimate and credible wealth managers to partner with.
  • Do due diligence—Do the same research and proceed with the same caution as with a traditional investment.

Frank Wagner – CEO and Co-founder of INVAO

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A simple lesson of peace https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/a-simple-lesson-of-peace/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/19/a-simple-lesson-of-peace/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:00:32 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=684366 As a writer on human rights issues, I do not lack reasons for concern. Nowadays, in many countries, human rights are abused, and violence strikes in one of its multiple forms. Although writing topics are plentiful, this situation is especially upsetting for anybody who yearns to live in a peaceful world. At such moments, when …

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As a writer on human rights issues, I do not lack reasons for concern. Nowadays, in many countries, human rights are abused, and violence strikes in one of its multiple forms. Although writing topics are plentiful, this situation is especially upsetting for anybody who yearns to live in a peaceful world. At such moments, when the negative aspects of the human condition are overwhelming, I visit one of the many neighbourhoods outside Manhattan – where I live – and where the change of locale can do wonders for my mood.

One of my favourite places is Brighton Beach, an area on Coney Island in the borough of Brooklyn, a subway ride away from Manhattan. When the weather is pleasant, and I have some free time, I go to the boardwalk, sit in front of the sea and the salt breeze energises me. When it is cold, I visit one of the plentiful ethnic stores and delight in their variety. When my appetite is in full force, I go to one of the many restaurants in the area to savour food unlike what I eat at home every day.

The area is populated mainly by immigrants that left the former Soviet Union starting in the 1970s and whose influx, albeit diminished, continues today. Years ago, the area was dubbed “Little Odessa,” since many of its residents came from Odessa, a city in Ukraine. I remember the welcome surprise of a friend – with whom I was having dinner at one of the local Russian restaurants – when he realised how many patrons came from that city, his parents’ hometown.

Reading the news recently has been particularly disheartening: the continuous violence between Israelis and Palestinians, with no hint of an effective rapprochement between them, the sustained violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, countries whose sores never seem to heal, and the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, hardly a week goes by without a bombing incident causing scores of victims. In the latest action by US forces against the Taliban, officials in Afghanistan’s Helmand province and international media reported that at least 30 civilians, including 16 children, were killed in the attack.

The carnages in Syria and Yemen have caused enormous losses in lives and the forced migration of thousands of people to neighbouring countries. In addition to these conflicts, there is the continuous mistreatment of immigrants coming to the US. In many cases, children are forcibly separated from their parents, sometimes permanently, something which can only be called an inhumane and perverse policy.

As if these were not enough dire facts, the US government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment outlines the potential impacts of climate change across every sector of American society. “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states,” the report said. However, President Donald Trump, the Denier-in-Chief, acknowledged that “he does not believe the report,” adding that he only read parts of it.

I want to forget about these events, I desperately want to believe that I live in a world without wars and with a healthy climate. I take the subway and after almost an hour I am on another planet. I am sitting by the sea in Brighton Beach. Today is a relatively cold day so there are few people around. A young woman comes with her child and sits next to me. She sends her child to play on the sand. By the occasional remarks the woman makes to him I take her to be of Russian origin.

The child is happily playing with a ball. Suddenly, he leaves the ball. Seeing a line of giant ants moving along the sand, he takes a bunch of them and crushes them with one hand. On seeing this, and putting her knitting aside, his mother beckons him, puts her hand on his shoulder and in heavily accented English quietly but firmly said, “Do not do that ever again. You do not hurt anybody—do you hear me? You do not hurt anybody.” The child looks at her with a mixture of fear and surprise. Then slowly, very slowly, his head down in shame, he drops the dead ants, one by one, on the sand…When he sees his mother’s look of approval, the boy smiles and embraces her.

César Chelalais – international public health consultant and writer on human rights

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Public Relations: Survival https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/09/public-relations-survival/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/09/public-relations-survival/#respond Sun, 09 Dec 2018 18:58:27 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=683299 Public relations is about survival. For me, public relations is life, and the essence of all I do. When I talk about public relations I don’t talk about a profession, I talk about a passion. It is a passion that I believe is a necessity to be able only not to promote one’s self and …

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Public relations is about survival. For me, public relations is life, and the essence of all I do. When I talk about public relations I don’t talk about a profession, I talk about a passion. It is a passion that I believe is a necessity to be able only not to promote one’s self and business but also internally to look at areas of growth and development.

No matter the setting I am in, you will always find me discussing the latest in public relations and the latest insights in all industries, and I am always questioned about what does awareness, and an insider view of different sectors have to do with public relations? My answer is survival may be of the fittest, but in our world of public relations, it is of the informed.

public relations is not a press release or an event that is cooked up in the back kitchen.

It is about understanding behaviours and creating an identity and a message that is enhanced through positioning and relationships. It is about having a constant dialogue with partners and the society as a whole. It i’s about raising awareness and education.

On a global and economic level, public relations is about the enhancement of a country’s position externally, and it is about shedding light on the latest in any government. It is also about celebrating successes and showing the world where we stand economically, socially, and culturally.

The positive outcome and reactions ignited by successful public relations strategies eventually have a domino effect in raising awareness and building credibility and trust between governments, countries, and even continents.

This is where the passion for public relations comes in. The ability to interact on a daily basis with stakeholders, opinion leaders, and policymakers in order to formulate real success stories and strategic implementation of these tools is priceless.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that I am limiting public relations to governments and nations because let us be honest, it is the operating businesses that build progress. They are the successes we need to be celebrating. They encourage further participation from foreign investors, and local players, to promote their contribution to economic development through public relations.

Jupiter Commz was founded with the sole purpose of bringing eminence to businesses within Egypt and around the region. It was and still is our belief that stories of accomplishment and success are meant to be shared, learned from, and acknowledged.

Over the years, we worked closely with numerous sectors and businesses in finance, medicine, pharma, automotive, real estate, FMCG, ICT, appliances, women’s empowerment, CSR, B2B and B2C, and they all had one thing in common: the need to be B2H (i.e., Business to Human) and to spread their message. The need to use public relations to achieve their objectives and business success.

From government relations and public affairs to information sessions and roundtables with media and stakeholders to instigating change through corporate social responsibility, public relations is at the core of business continuity, and we are proud to be partners of success with many of these businesses.

I firmly hold that public relations is instrumental in achieving sustainable development for our society, and is a platform that should not be overlooked. With the use of public relations, we are able to rally further investments and support for sustainable initiatives by communicating to the four main pillars of social responsibility: NGOs, government entities, the private sector, and what I personally believe in is fine arts and culture.

A recent experience I’d like to share is Jupiter Commz’s involvement in the communication and raising awareness of the latest exhibition ‘Symphony of Color & Compassion’ by contemporary art pioneer Wesam Fahmy. By using public and media relations, we were able to spread awareness for global good. The exhibit’s proceeds went towards Mohamed Ghoneim’s Mansoura International Centre for Kidney Diseases and Research and Magdy Yaqoub’s Foundation for the Aswan Heart Centre.

By rolling out a number of public relations tactics, we garnered the general public’s interest, and along with Fahmy’s undeniable talent, we managed to raise enough funds to support two local causes which undoubtedly contributed to the socio-economic development of our nation.

So, do you see it now? public relations is not just some “look good” tactic that we use, it’s survival.

Survival of countries, bringing together stronger cross-cultural and economic relations. It’s an integral cog in the sustainable development engine that drives the government and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals-2030. It is only through public relations and communications that we are able to educate the general public and key stakeholders.

Egypt and its varied business sectors is continually exerting efforts to tackle the SDGs, and public relations is what sheds light upon these efforts and their importance. Addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment is apparent through the continued work and initiatives of the Business Women of Egypt 21 Association, whom for the past three years Jupiter Commz team have been closely working with and promoting their vision and mission.

I can write endlessly about the importance of public relations, strategic planning, and implementation, but if it is one thing I would love for you to take away from this piece it is this: public relations is not ad-hoc. public relations is not about marketing. public relations is about survival!

“Without publicity, there can be no public support, and without public support, every nation must decay” – Benjamin Disraeli – Former British Prime Minister.

Salah El Din Aloui,Chairman & MD of Jupiter Commz

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What will it take to create next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/08/what-will-it-take-to-create-next-generation-of-entrepreneurs-in-africa/ https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/08/what-will-it-take-to-create-next-generation-of-entrepreneurs-in-africa/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 14:58:59 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=683125 Start-ups in Africa raised just $556m from investors in 2017 (compared to $7bn raised in India) and that the number of incubators and accelerators of start-ups has grown to more than 440 in 2018, compared to 314 two years ago, according to a just-released study by the IFC

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While entrepreneurship is thriving in many parts of the developing world, starting a business in Africa remains an uphill battle. Founders face a lack of capital, an abundance of bureaucracy, and often have no one to turn to for advice.

Start-ups in Africa raised just $556m from investors in 2017 (compared to $7bn raised in India) and that the number of incubators and accelerators of start-ups has grown to more than 440 in 2018, compared to 314 two years ago, according to a just-released study by the IFC. The study also found that five African cities, Accra, Cairo, Cape Town, Lagos, and Nairobi, attract 84% of the funds, even though they account for 22% of the continent’s start-ups. Start-ups in other cities are simply missing out in financing opportunities.

So as 100 of Africa’s top entrepreneurs gather this weekend in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the question for them, governments, and finance institutions is how do we take entrepreneurship in the continent to a much higher level?

Part of the responsibility rests with governments. Officials need to support the development of what the IFC study calls ‘entrepreneurial societies,’ or places that encourage risk-taking and do not punish failure. At a practical level, that means reducing bureaucracy that would make it easier for start-ups to get off the ground. It means reforming bankruptcy laws, so that if entrepreneurs fail, they are not saddled with debt their entire lives.

Governments and the private sector also can bolster much-needed early-stage financing by creating public-private funds,and developing new instruments to de-risk investment to crowd in new investors. Governments can help by investing in technology infrastructure, such as high-speed internet, and by encouraging competition in industries, like telecoms and transport, which have traditionally been dominated by a handful of firms.

Importantly, to take entrepreneurship to a higher level, we also must make sure half of the population has the right opportunities. We must find ways to encourage more women to start businesses. According to last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor on women, over 75%of women in Sub-Saharan Africa would not be deterred from starting a business by the prospect of failure, compared to 57%of women in Europe, Asia, and the MENA region. This shows that many more women in Africa would be willing to take the risk of starting of a business, but that many factors, such as discriminatory laws or culture practices, discourage them.

Egypt is a good example of a country that is working to expand entrepreneurship. Officials recently passed the country’s first-ever entrepreneurship law, which makes it easier for founders to launch a business. It also has built a network of offices where aspiring entrepreneurs can get free advice.

Of course, fostering entrepreneurship is not just a state responsibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs need to give back to the start-up community by acting as mentors and investors. A recent study by Endeavor, a global entrepreneurship movement, found that top performing entrepreneurs were much more likely to receive knowledge, mentorship, or investment coming from other, more seasoned, entrepreneurs who have led a company to scale.

Fast-growing, innovative companies create jobs. They also provide solutions to long-standing development challenges, helping Africans power their homes, open savings accounts, and access good healthcare.

Kenya’s M-Kopa is a good example of a start-up making a difference. The company builds pint-sized solar power systems designed for residential use. In a country where 25 million people are not connected to the power grid, it is providing light and internet to some 600,000 homes.

This week we will celebrate the young entrepreneurs gathering in Sharm El Sheikh. But the continent is filled with countless other talented founders whose ideas have yet to take off. If we can encourage more of Africa’s best and brightest to launch start-ups, and if we can support them properly, we will have many more great business successes. These entrepreneurs will create markets,jobs, and opportunities that the people of Africa urgently need.

Philippe Le Houérou

CEO of IFC, part of the World Bank Group,the largest development institution in the world focusing on private sector development

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