Opinion – Daily News Egypt https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Tue, 17 Sep 2019 20:05:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Canadian Musical Commemorates 9/11 and Arabophobia https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/13/canadian-musical-commemorates-9-11-and-arabophobia/ Fri, 13 Sep 2019 09:00:40 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707820 Another strong theory argues that these attacks were "false- flag" operations directed by right-wingers in the US government to justify military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, asserting that Osama bin Laden was a CIA fabrication and never stopped working for the US secret service. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

The birth of call centres in Egypt

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

Call centres in a digital age

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

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

Location, location

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

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

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

Mahmoud Elleissy Nassef is an analyst at JLL MENA

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Egypt needs more private capital – and that’s everyone’s responsibility https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/01/egypt-needs-more-private-capital-and-thats-everyones-responsibility/ Sun, 01 Sep 2019 13:00:55 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706679 As developed market interest rates stall or fall and the inflation-adjusted returns on most sovereign debt drops to negative territory once again – the global search for yield by institutional investors is as urgent as it has ever been. This, as much as anything, is driving the huge flow of institutional capital into private investments.

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Egypt, more than any country in the MENA region, has a wealth of investment opportunities. The less charitable commentators may see those opportunities as sharp reflections of the challenges Egypt faces (population, resources, space) but proper risk investors see them for what they are – chances to deploy capital to generate supernormal returns.

As developed market interest rates stall or fall and the inflation-adjusted returns on most sovereign debt drops to negative territory once again – the global search for yield by institutional investors is as urgent as it has ever been. This, as much as anything, is driving the huge flow of institutional capital into private investments. The illiquidity and scarcity of private investments (real estate, private equity, infrastructure, private credit) are supposed to deliver the higher returns which investors need if they are to fulfil their mandates to their trustees and stakeholders.

Investors have already moved into EM equities and bonds but remain underexposed to private investments in emerging and frontier markets. This is an opportunity which Egypt must take if it is to attract the capital flows it needs to develop its economy in a post-FDI age. The future of international investment lies not with Fortune 1000 corporates – but private capital managers like Blackrock, KKR and Brookfield.

There are headwinds, however. The collapse of Abraaj Group last year has soured sentiment amongst global investors towards emerging-markets based (and Middle-East particularly) private equity managers. Note, the sentiment is sour towards where the managers are based, not where their funds invest. The alleged governance failures of Abraaj have been interpreted by investors as being a function of weak regulatory regimes in emerging markets – DIFC in the case of Abraaj. True, DFSA’s recent announcement of its largest-ever fine does look quite a lot like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted but investors must share some of the responsibility too.

Private capital needs scale, opportunity, comfort and local partnership. Witness the recent $4.6bn investment by GIC, Blackrock and KKR into ADNOC’s pipeline business in the Gulf. One of the first commitments of significant private capital into the MENA region shows that with the right asset and the right partner, there is an appetite for deployment from global private capital titans. And they have financial firepower which dwarfs both development institutions and corporates. Preqin, the private capital analytics firm, estimated that global private equity dry powder (raised but uninvested capital) topped $2trn in January 2019.

Global private capital likes to work with local partners – in fact, it requires it. Local partners from government, from corporations and local private capital investors. If the regional private capital industry is to recover from the Abraaj debacle then it will do so more quickly if it partners with its global peers. Local knowledge, insight and presence deliver real value to global players – it’s an opportunity which managers here in Egypt can capitalise upon if they seize the opportunity. Good partnerships also mean that more of the returns and expertise stay within Egypt, making its growth more sustainable.

Private capital can be a real and enduring source of investment for Egypt – if Egypt creates the right projects and the right legal environment for it to have a home in the country. It should prioritise this and building its relationships with both local and international private capital managers. That will be good for Egypt and good for the global investors who need the returns that this growing nation can provide.

Richard Banks is a consulting editor to Euromoney Conferences, the opinions in this article are his own.

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3 benefits of AI projects and how to measure them https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/30/3-benefits-of-ai-projects-and-how-to-measure-them/ Fri, 30 Aug 2019 11:00:25 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706563 Determining the benefits for artificial intelligence (AI) projects is difficult and confusing, but increasingly important

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Digital business leaders must overcome the challenge of identifying and quantifying the benefits offered by AI projects to ensure a maximum return on investment.

Determining the benefits for artificial intelligence (AI) projects is difficult and confusing, but increasingly important. By 2024, 50% of AI investments will be quantified and linked to specific key performance indicators to measure return on investment. Success in AI depends on considering both its tangible and intangible benefits and determining how to meaningfully quantify them.

The following three benefits of AI projects and how they are measured are largely consistent with the top sources of business value for AI through 2030: cost reduction and customer experience.

  • Risk: Measurements include risk reduction, mitigation, deduction and a range of other ways to leverage risk information.
  • Speed: Measurements include process, call answer, worker, operational efficiency, accuracy, customer satisfaction and response time.
  • Sales: Measurements include churn, revenue, leads, abandons, web traffic, orders, user experience and interactions.

While AI investments that reduce risk are valuable, they are hard to quantify. When defining benefits, leaders should ensure a clear link between each benefit and the relevant business KPIs. A critical element in understanding benefits is defining how they will be measured. KPIs need to be defined before the AI project is deployed (as a baseline) and again after project completion to determine the resulting benefit compared to the baseline.

Identify the sources and types of benefits for each AI project by classifying the best methods for measuring success, noting that many projects have multiple benefits. This then enables more-effective project prioritization and justification.

Bern Elliot is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner Research.

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The Son speaks for victims of divorce https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/30/the-son-speaks-for-victims-of-divorce/ Fri, 30 Aug 2019 10:00:56 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706548 Marriage is no longer seen in the public awareness programmes and the media as a combination of two people working together to achieve their goal—which is a successful marriage. People forgot that marriage is an institution that only grows when the couple involved work hard on their relationship.

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Divorce is a painful illness in our modern society that Family break-up has become a common experience in childhood today. Researchers estimate that 45% of all first marriages end in divorce.

However, the high divorce rate is not the challenge that society faces. The true challenge lies in confronting the growing social acceptance of this phenomenon that impedes the development of a stable society. Indeed, divorce has become more acceptable now than in the past. These high rates of divorce in comparison to past decades could be attributed to the changes in values in society at large. Tolerance of divorce has produced profound changes in our attitudes towards the concepts of marriage and family.

Hence, marriage, as an institution, has become increasingly defined as a short-term relationship, and laws no longer assume that marriage is forever. The commitment to stay in a marriage; doing whatever it takes to make it work, has been replaced by new notions that promote the culture of divorce.

Marriage is no longer seen in the public awareness programmes and the media as a combination of two people working together to achieve their goal—which is a successful marriage. People forgot that marriage is an institution that only grows when the couple involved work hard on their relationship.

Even the relationships experts today do not say that successful marriage requires self-sacrifice and emotional investment on the part of both spouses. Instead, they emphasise the Inevitability of divorce if the relationship is bringing more sadness than joy, overlooking the devastating impact of it on the psyche of the sons and daughters.

Along the same line, the social media work to foster controversial concepts that cannot be disseminated in society without serious discussions like the concept of “no-fault divorce”, in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require a showing of wrongdoing by either party, and the concept of “single parent”, which gives both men and women a loophole to reduce their sense of responsibility and commitment to the marriage.

Dramatic works, in their turn, compete in representing a false image of children’s lives after divorce, asserting that marriage isn’t what matters so much to a child’s wellbeing.

Florian Zeller’s The Son, translated by Christopher Hampton, currently on Duke of York’s Theatre, London, is one of the few works that swim upstream, asserting that family break-ups due to parents’ divorce are very challenging for young people. It represents the dramatic impact of the divorce on young people’s safe and healthy development, which is an almost untouched topic in drama nowadays.

Most importantly, the play argues that the divorce brings radical changes to parent-child relationships that run counter to our current understanding, affirming that parenting cut loose from its moorings in the marital contract is often less stable, more volatile, and less protective of children.

The play depicts the mental health crisis of a teenager amid his parents’ divorce and his father’s remarriage. The psychological drama focuses on a middle-aged and middle-class divorced couple, Pierre and Anne who are incapable of helping their 17-year-old son Nicolas in his serious psychotic break.

At first, the depressed son reacts to the traumatic change in his family life by ditching school, scribbling meaningless doodles on the walls, making a mess everywhere he goes and displaying symptoms of mild depression. The solution for the boy to live with his father and his new family does not seem to help him much, and his return to his mother’s home only makes matters worse.

Eventually, when he fails to cope with the breakup of his family, the helpless lad engages in extreme acts of self-mutilation and even suicide, and he ends up in a psychiatric hospital with the consent of his irresponsible parents, who regard their son as a heavy burden just because they are no longer married.

Obviously, divorce can save people from a bad marriage, but it can’t save children from a bleak future. The Son, directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst, is not a new story about a dysfunctional family, but it is certainly a significant work in this time, in which we stopped talking about the nuclear family as a primary environment for social integration and personal development.

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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Cybersecurity transformation in 2019 and beyond https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/30/cybersecurity-transformation-in-2019-and-beyond/ Fri, 30 Aug 2019 09:00:14 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706557 I’d like to tell you a short story. When working with a client on its security provision, we discovered that it had only devoted 4% of its total IT budget to cybersecurity. “Let’s develop a solution with this 4%,” said the client. It was only at that moment that I realized that cybersecurity is often …

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I’d like to tell you a short story. When working with a client on its security provision, we discovered that it had only devoted 4% of its total IT budget to cybersecurity. “Let’s develop a solution with this 4%,” said the client. It was only at that moment that I realized that cybersecurity is often considered as something that does not yet exist. This is a common misconception, and in some ways, this is the fault of the cybersecurity industry.

So what is cybersecurity?

For a long time, the cybersecurity industry has been doing what customers needed: offering products to protect them from existing threats targeting their networks. Moreover, customers were ready to pay for it, and this is more than logical – if there is a problem, people are ready to pay for a solution. But, as a result, the industry has made no effort to provide customers with a clear understanding of what cybersecurity actually is. Protection of information systems was perceived as adding layers into the system architecture: build an IT infrastructure, put some security on top and you’ll be fine. IT was something that would speed up and simplify a few business processes, but not yet the backbone of business infrastructure.

Competitiveness, as well as effectiveness and profitability, did not depend on IT. As such, cybersecurity was considered as an optional not obligatory part of your business network, demanding an arbitrary amount of investments. People would only spend 4% of their IT budget on security because there was 4% allocated for ‘additional needs’.

Because of this, the industry just sold utilitarian products that worked with more or less any company servers and computers. The only difference between offerings was the number of endpoints and servers which needed protection, or for which budget was available.

Back then, the answer to the question “what is cybersecurity” was simple: cybersecurity is the software you buy to protect your IT infrastructure from malware. However, the modern business environment – at least when it comes to large enterprises – is transforming and so should the cybersecurity industry.

Today we live in an ultra-connected world. In an era of digital economies, where technology has become deeply entrenched in our lives, modern and efficient IT infrastructure is an integral part of any profitable business. When a business thinks about what kind of IT infrastructure it needs, it doesn’t consider how to apply it efficiently, but rather what business goals can be achieved with the technology.

In other words, businesses know exactly what objectives they are aiming at. They want to use the right tools. But, more than that, they are looking for experts to demonstrate and explain what should be done in order to achieve their needs; not just someone who will propose a unified solution that (supposedly) fits everyone.

Yes, modern cybersecurity solutions protect from all the major sophisticated cyberthreats. But that’s not a killer-feature anymore. Security software is rapidly becoming a commodity. Protection from any kind of cyberthreats is not something that modern businesses are looking for. That is something they already have, so it doesn’t solve their cybersecurity challenges.

What would solve them?

The new ultra-connected and digitalized business environment requires a specific approach not just to cybersecurity, but to the very process of accessing cybersecurity. The latter includes not only finding cost-effective security technology that performs well in security tests but also understands what kind of protection a particular business needs. By default, any business has little insight into what specific protection fences they need to build to mitigate emerging attack vectors.

Should a business prepare itself for attempts by Chinese or Russian-speaking hackers? Should they invest considerable money inexpensive solutions that would protect a particular part of the company from disruption? Or is the probability of such an attack so low, that it would be more profitable to have this risk covered by insurance?

Would the NotPetya malware have brought the same amount of damage if the victims had known in advance that – given the global distribution of their business – they should pay more attention to protecting themselves from supply chain attacks?

These and other questions are really hard to answer if you don’t have security expertise. On the other hand, as the experts, the security industry must cease to create one single product that addresses the myriad risks each different businesses face.

That is why the cybersecurity industry is moving from a realm of unified boxed products towards expertise-based, business-needs driven, unique solutions. As an industry, we must start to listen more to what clients are looking for, and we must start putting our knowledge about cyber threats into the context our clients are living in. This means creating specific, tailored and unique solutions to protect businesses from the threats they really risk facing. Not those that would have minimal impact on the performance of the core business IT systems and would be difficult to justify from a budgeting perspective.

The cybersecurity industry needs to learn how to minimize risks based on customer’s goals and desired results, not the threats that customers should be protected from.

Cybersecurity is no longer just about providing software protection from all possible cyber threats, be it malware, spam or advanced persistent threats (APTs). It is not what you buy, but what you get. Previously, a notification from a security product about malware being caught on an endpoint was a sign that you were protected; proof that you made the right investment. Today, a wisely built IT infrastructure armed with specific protection technologies is astonishingly expensive and not cost-effective. It is pointless cybersecurity. A better indicator of cybersecurity is the fact that you didn’t lose a penny due to cyber-incidents in the last quarter.

So, is it realistic to build proper cybersecurity with a limited budget?

Of course, it is. But with one important condition. This budget should be estimated as a result of expert cooperation between a business and an information security vendor. If a company’s IT infrastructure is a vital mechanism that ensures the business functions, then the cybersecurity industry is a vaccine to give this mechanism immunity from problems threatening it without causing any side-effects.

Alexander Moiseev is the Chief Business Officer of Kaspersky

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IMF warns that currency devaluations will not fix a country’s economic problems https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/23/imf-warns-that-currency-devaluations-will-not-fix-a-countrys-economic-problems/ Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:03:16 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705858 Monetary easing can help stimulate domestic demand, which in turn benefits other countries by increasing demand for their goods. The concern, however, is that monetary easing also weakens a country’s exchange rate, making exports more competitive and reducing demand for other countries’ imports as they become more expensive—a phenomenon known as expenditure switching

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IMF – Escalating trade tensions are taking a toll on the global economy and are partly responsible for the recent downward revisions to our growth forecasts for 2019-20.

Facing sluggish growth and below-target inflation, many advanced and emerging market economies have appropriately eased monetary policy, yet this has prompted concerns over so-called beggar-thy-neighbor policies and fears of a currency war. In this blog post, we discuss the implications of recent policy actions and proposals and offer alternative ways to address concerns over trade imbalances that are much more supportive of global growth.

Exchange rates can’t do it all

Monetary easing can help stimulate domestic demand, which in turn benefits other countries by increasing demand for their goods. The concern, however, is that monetary easing also weakens a country’s exchange rate, making exports more competitive and reducing demand for other countries’ imports as they become more expensive—a phenomenon known as expenditure switching. With conventional monetary space limited for some advanced economies, this currency channel of monetary easing has received considerable attention. But one should not put too much stock in the view that easing monetary policy can weaken a country’s currency enough to bring a lasting improvement in its trade balance through expenditure switching. Monetary policy alone is unlikely to induce the large and persistent devaluations that are needed to bring that result.

As we estimated in our 2019 External Sector Report , the expenditure switching effects of a currency weakening are generally small, especially within a 12-month period. A 10 percent depreciation (vis-à-vis all currencies) improves a country’s trade balance by about 0.3 percent of GDP in the near term, on average, with most of the effects coming through a contraction of imports. In part, this reflects the fact that trade is largely invoiced in dollars, which means that for most countries export volumes tend to respond little to exchange rates in the short run. This applies to key US trading partners, where the bulk of exports to and from the United States are invoiced in dollars. It is worth noting that in the case of the United States, the muted impact on the trade balance reflects a weak response of imports.

To be sure, the adjustment becomes more balanced over time as exports respond more meaningfully to exchange rate movements, although the full expenditure switching effect remains relatively modest: a 10 percent depreciation leads, on average, to a 1.2 percent of GDP improvement in the trade balance over a span of three years. So, while exchange rates facilitate durable external adjustment, the expenditure switching effect of a currency weakening, or its negative impact on trading partners, should not be overplayed.

Counterproductive policy options

To tackle currency overvaluation concerns, policymakers are considering several measures. Some involve imposing tariffs on imports from countries deemed to have undervalued currencies. Can they make a difference? One key aspect is worth keeping in mind: tariffs and exchange rates work differently. A 10 percent tariff does not necessarily offset a 10 percent more appreciated (overvalued) exchange rate. Take for example the trade dispute between the United States and China. Since early 2018, the average US tariff on goods imported from China has increased by about 10 percentage points, and it would increase by another 5 percentage points if recently announced plans to impose additional levies are carried out. Meanwhile, the renminbi has depreciated by about 10 percent relative to the dollar, largely as a result of these trade actions and associated uncertainties—the increased flexibility of the renminbi has allowed it to be a buffer against trade shocks.

Gita Gopinath

One might think that the impact of higher tariffs on imports from China would be offset by the stronger dollar, because as the US currency strengthens Chinese goods should become cheaper. But in reality, as discussed in an earlier blog , US importers and consumers are bearing the burden of the tariffs. The reason: the stronger US currency has had a minimal impact thus far on the dollar prices Chinese exporters receive because of dollar invoicing.

Moreover, higher bilateral tariffs are unlikely to reduce aggregate trade imbalances, as they mainly divert trade to other countries. Instead, they are likely to harm both domestic and global growth by sapping business confidence and investment and disrupting global supply chains, while raising costs for producers and consumers.

Another kind of policy proposal aims to weaken a country’s own currency directly by buying foreign currencies or taxing inflows of capital to offset policies adopted by other countries. These proposals are cumbersome to implement and likely to be ineffective, given the depth of markets for reserve currencies such as the dollar and euro. What is more, they have negative implications for the orderly working of the international monetary system.

Policies of either kind will likely encourage retaliation, undoing any benefit for a single country and simultaneously making all nations worse off, while also possibly violating international obligations such as those to the World Trade Organization.

Constructive, shared solutions

It should be stressed that external positions are not grossly misaligned, and policies to weaken currencies by intervening in foreign exchange markets are much less common today than in the past. External imbalances are down sharply from the peaks seen during the global financial crisis, and the dollar was only moderately overvalued in 2018. This is in sharp contrast to the mid-1980s, when under the Plaza Accord major central banks acted in concert to address a large dollar overvaluation.

While external positions do not present an imminent danger to global stability, actions of the right type are needed to sustain the progress made in reducing imbalances over the last decade and also to strengthen global growth. Both deficit and surplus countries should tackle the underlying macroeconomic and structural sources of imbalances rather than adopt ineffective, or even counterproductive, measures such as tariffs.

Deficit countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, should reduce budget deficits without sacrificing growth and strengthen the competitiveness of their export industries; options include investing more in skills of workers and encouraging old-age saving. Surplus countries, like Germany and Korea, should use fiscal policy where possible to invest more in infrastructure and adopt reforms that encourage private investment. Such reforms may include supporting innovation through tax incentives for research and development and lowering barriers to entry in business services and regulated professions.

China, whose external position was broadly in line with fundamentals in 2018, also has a role to play. In particular, further structural reforms are needed to ensure a lasting external rebalancing, as it gradually addresses vulnerabilities from the high levels of private and public debt (see the 2019 Article IV consultation for China ). Steps include reforming state-owned enterprises, enhancing the social safety net, opening up more sectors to private and foreign competition, and removing impediments to trade.

Finally, both surplus and deficit countries must recognize that they share the responsibility to secure a stronger and more balanced global economy. That means finding durable solutions to trade disputes to address concerns about export subsidies and weak intellectual property protection, while also modernizing the international trade system in areas such as services and e-commerce. There are serious problems to contend with, such as rising inequality and sluggish growth. Currencies are neither the hammer nor the nail.

Gustavo Adler is a Deputy Division Chief at IMF’s Research Department.

Luis Cubeddu is head of the Open Economy Division in the IMF’s Research

Gita Gopinath is the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department at the IMF

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“Phantom of the Opera” normalises violence in society https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/21/phantom-of-the-opera-normalises-violence-in-society/ Wed, 21 Aug 2019 20:53:32 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705701 Almost every day we read hundreds of reports of violence triggered by ethnic, religious or cultural hatred all over the world. It was dreadful to hear about the recent massacre at Walmart in Texas

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Violence is the biggest threat to peace and security in today’s world. According to statistics, each year, over 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence.

Almost every day we read hundreds of reports of violence triggered by ethnic, religious or cultural hatred all over the world. It was dreadful to hear about the recent massacre at Walmart in Texas, in which the shooter targeted Mexicans only and let both whites and African Americans live.  Most seriously, we started to discuss the prevalence of violence perpetrated by police officers against unarmed people in established democracies such as France, Spain and Italy. Earlier in August, a local man lost his life in the western French city of Nantes following a violent clash between police and people attending a music festival. These horrific events indicate only one truth that people today, in all cultures and countries, use violence to get their arguments and points across.                      

  

Marwa El- Shinawy

Certainly, violence is not intrinsic to human nature as much as it is a man-made phenomenon. In many ways, violence has been normalised through the pop culture we consume. Arts and drama are among the most effective ways that create a cultural acceptance of violence, promoting a social tolerance of violent behaviour in society. Dramatized violence has been a feature of entertainment throughout history. The realistic portrayal of violence is considered as one of the distinguishing marks of great artists like for example Edward Bond, who legitimised the depiction of violence in drama on the pretext of presenting a realistic image of society. In many dramatic works of high artistic value and massive popularity, brutality appears to be justified, and terrorist acts go unpunished. The history of drama is replete with works that propagate violence that it has become normal for us to see it as a means of gaining power and authority.

   The world’s most famous musical The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrates this year its 31st anniversary on Broadway, and its 33 record-breaking years at the Majestic Theatre in London, is a living example of the great classics that romanticize violence and spread it in society.   

Based on the novel written by Gaston Leroux in 1910, The Phantom of the Opera musical has become one of the world’s most commercially successful theatrical productions that the BBC characterized it as the “most successful entertainment venture of all time.”

The show has travelled the world and entertained millions of people. Most importantly, the play is incredibly popular with both school and college groups. However, The Phantom of the Opera is the story of a disfigured, angry man who lives beneath a Paris opera house and terrorises its cast and crew so that his beloved, Christine, can have a chance to sing the lead part. The play represents gratuitous violence in a romantic mode. The lover- phantom is nothing but a cold-blooded assassin, who does not hesitate to harm other people to assert his authority. The narrative of the play is driven by violence and the desire to dominate over others.      

    Doubtless, this critique does not underestimate this great, timeless play with its high-octane music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his most inspired mode and the brilliant dramatic staging of Harold Prince, who passed away a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, it is necessary to condemn violence in drama, especially the widespread classical works that normalize and romanticize violence and we study them in schools and colleges. In light of the current political and cultural climate, banning violence in the drama is no less important than criminalizing it in constitutions and laws. Violence in media, dramatic arts, and popular culture should be moved onto the public health agenda as the prevention of violence have become the subject of urgent social debate.

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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Egypt faces an enviable economic opportunity but needs to up its game https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/21/egypt-faces-an-enviable-economic-opportunity-but-needs-to-up-its-game/ Wed, 21 Aug 2019 19:12:29 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705699 Saudi particularly is restructuring and rebalancing to create a more sustainable combination of industry, finance and services. So, to one extent or another, are all the Gulf countries. As these economies move towards normalisation, they will understand the vital importance of regional trade and investment

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In the face of sluggish global growth, increased economic nationalism, trade wars, high debt levels and a roll-back in globalisation, investors could be forgiven for being bearish on Egypt. But they shouldn’t be, for three good reasons.

First: Egypt’s near neighbours and allies in the Gulf are changing the models of their economies. The old model of exporting oil and living on the income is over. Saudi particularly is restructuring and rebalancing to create a more sustainable combination of industry, finance and services. So, to one extent or another, are all the Gulf countries. As these economies move towards normalisation, they will understand the vital importance of regional trade and investment. MENA regional trade has the lowest economic share of any region – with no logistical or geographic reason. There is huge potential for growth now the political will is there.

Second: global trade and investment is yesterday’s game. The three decades from 1990 will be seen as the highpoint of globalisation as an economic trend. The rise of China and capital flow and trade liberalisation created a one-off opportunity for companies and financial institutions to globalise. The financial crisis put paid to the global ambitions of many financial institutions and the political turmoil, driven in part by offshoring and production relocation made the continuation of that trend unacceptable to policy-makers in the West (it never really was acceptable elsewhere). Now the focus is on adding value in the domestic economy and very selectively operating businesses in other markets where the profit opportunity of that market is clear. Producing to export is still important – but the trend is towards localisation. This further supports Egypt’s opportunity in regional trade. Tariffs and quotas internationally will reduce competition in some of Egypt’s export markets and it can take advantage of its preferential and politically neutral agreements with major economies everywhere. So far Egypt has managed to maintain good relations with all trading blocs: US, China, EU and Russia. It should continue to do so.

Third: the diversified nature of Egypt’s economy, its size and its population make it uniquely attractive as a destination for FDI in an FDI-challenged world. We’re seeing daily news of new FDI into Egypt, new support and financing from multilateral and regional institutions and the announcement of new initiatives. Whilst Egypt needs to maintain its strategic relationships with its allies and partners – it can be pleased that its structural characteristics make it fundamentally an attractive destination compared with its peers.

However, a note of caution. Egypt can be, to foreign investors, a challenging place to do business. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report lists Egypt at number 120 out of 190 countries. Any foreigner who has done or is trying to do business in Egypt knows this. The policies may be encouraging but the implementation needs to be streamlined. Large companies supported by multilateral in capital-intensive sectors can manage this task. SME investors in employment producing sectors such as services and technology – will find this a bit more difficult. Egypt understands that, to capitalise on the unique opportunity it faces, it needs to step up its game. The rewards will be worth it.

Richard Banks is consulting editor to Euromoney Conferences, the opinions in this article are his own.

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Pseudoscience is taking over social media – and putting us all at risk https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/07/pseudoscience-is-taking-over-social-media-and-putting-us-all-at-risk/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 19:53:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704764 The recent study by Joachim Allgaier of RWTH Aachen University in Germany analysed the content of a randomised sample of 200 YouTube videos related to climate change

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The Conversation – Search for “climate change” on YouTube and before long you’ll likely find a video that denies it exists. In fact, when it comes to shaping the online conversation around climate change, a new study suggests that deniers and conspiracy theorists might hold an edge over those believing in science. Researchers found evidence that most YouTube videos relating to climate change oppose the scientific consensus that it’s primarily caused by human activities.

The study highlights the key role of social media use in the spread of scientific misinformation. And it suggests scientists and those who support them need to be more active in developing creative and compelling ways to communicate their findings. But more importantly, we need to be worried about the effects that maliciously manipulated scientific information can have on our behaviour, individually and as a society.

The recent study by Joachim Allgaier of RWTH Aachen University in Germany analysed the content of a randomised sample of 200 YouTube videos related to climate change. He found that a majority (107) of the videos either denied that climate change was caused by humans or claimed that climate change was a conspiracy.

The videos peddling the conspiracy theories received the highest number of views. And those spreading these conspiracy theories used terms like “geoengineering” to make it seem like their claims had a scientific basis when, in fact, they did not.

Health misinformation

Climate change is far from the only area where we see a trend for online misinformation about science triumphing over scientifically valid facts. Take an issue like infectious diseases, and perhaps the most well-known example of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Despite large amounts of online information about the vaccine’s safety, false claims that it has harmful effects have spread widely and resulted in plummeting levels of vaccination in many countries around the world.

But it’s not just well-known conspiracy theories that are causing a problem. In May 2018, one troublemaker came into his own at the height of the Nipah virus outbreak that eventually claimed 17 lives in the southern Indian state of Kerala. He duplicated the letterhead of the District Medical Officer and spread a message claiming that Nipah was spreading through chicken meat.

In reality, the scientifically established view is that the fruit bat is the host for the virus. As the unfounded rumour went viral on WhatsApp in Kerala and neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu, consumers became wary of consuming chicken, which sent the incomes of local chicken traders into a tailspin.

The effects of misinformation surrounding the MMR vaccine and Nipah virus on human behaviour should not be surprising given we know that our memory is malleable. Our recollection of original facts can be replaced with new, false ones. We also know conspiracy theories have a powerful appeal as they can help people make sense of events or issues they feel they have no control over.

This problem is complicated further by the personalisation algorithms underlying social media. These tend to feed us content consistent with our beliefs and clicking patterns, helping to strengthen the acceptance of misinformation. Someone who is sceptical about climate change might be given an increasing stream of content denying it is caused by humans, making them less likely to take personal action or vote to tackle the issue.

Further rapid advances in digital technologies will also ensure that misinformation arrives in unexpected formats and with varying levels of sophistication. Duplicating an official’s letterhead or strategically using key words to manipulate online search engines is the tip of the iceberg. The emergence of artificial intelligence-related developments such as DeepFakes – highly realistic doctored videos – is likely to make it a lot harder to spot misinformation.

So how do we tackle this problem? The challenge is made greater by the fact that simply providing corrective scientific information can reinforce people’s awareness of the falsehoods. We also have to overcome resistance from people’s ideological beliefs and biases.

Social media companies are trying to developing institutional mechanisms to contain the spread of misinformation. Responding to the new research, a YouTube spokesperson said: “Since this study was conducted in 2018, we’ve made hundreds of changes to our platform and the results of this study do not accurately reflect the way that YouTube works today … These changes have already reduced views from recommendations of this type of content by 50% in the US.”

Other companies have recruited fact checkers in large numbers, awarded research grants to study misinformation to academics (including myself), and search terms for topics where misinformation could have harmful health effects have been blocked.

But the continuing prominence of scientific misinformation on social media suggests these measures are not enough. As a result, governments around the world are taking action, ranging from passing legislation to internet shutdowns, much to the ire of freedom-of-speech activists.

Scientists need to get involved

Another possible solution may be to hone people’s ability to think critically so they can tell the difference between actual scientific information and conspiracy theories. For example, a district in Kerala has launched a data literacy initiative across nearly 150 public schools trying to empower children with the skills to differentiate between authentic and fake information. It’s early days but there is already anecdotal evidence that this can make a difference.

Scientists also need to get more involved in the fight to make sure their work isn’t dismissed or misused, as in the case of terms like “geoengineering” being hijacked by YouTube climate deniers. Conspiracy theories ride on the appeal of certainties – however fake – whereas uncertainty is inherent to the scientific process. But in the case of the scientific consensus on climate change, which sees up to 99% of climate scientists agreeing that humans are responsible, we have something as close to certainty as science comes.

Scientists need to leverage this agreement to its maximum and communicate to the public using innovative and persuasive strategies. This includes creating social media content of their own to not only shift beliefs but also influence behaviours. Otherwise, their voices, however highly trusted, will continue to be drowned out by the frequency and ferocity of content produced by those with no concrete evidence.

Santosh Vijaykumar is the Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in Digital Health at Northumbria University, Newcastle

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AI can be the key to improve government services https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/07/ai-can-be-the-key-to-improve-government-services/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 19:30:54 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704727 Governments must be able to separate the relevant from the insignificant and the public from the confidential to ensure effectiveness and excellent stewardship. Analytics is the key to unlocking the true AI value hidden in this ever-growing data.

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Governments across the region are being challenged to deliver digital services and meet citizen expectations, often even before the citizenry realise the need. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be the key.

One of the maxims of governments all over the world has long been ‘doing more with less’. To strengthen their competitiveness, nations today are under pressure to adopt the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation more effectively. Why do Governments need to be competitive? They compete to attract investment, as well as to consistently deliver on an ever-widening range of services to an increasingly tech-savvy population.

There is one key resource, however, that governments don’t lack; and that is data.

According to projections by Seagate in its recent research, Europe, Middle East and Africa, datasphere will increase to 48.3 Zettabyte in 2025. To visualise the vastness of this number, think of it as greater than the estimated number of grains of sand in the entire Arabian Desert! That the region will generate this much data from everyday citizen actions should not be surprising – the Middle East is one of the most digitally connected regions in the world, with smartphone penetration above 100% in some GCC states and some of the world’s highest social media usage rates.

Governments in the region have plenty of big data to work with, and doing more with it requires the power of advanced data analytics. Put simply, big data analytics enables governments to examine large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and other insights, and effectively convert the swathe of data into a platform for AI.

Governments must be able to separate the relevant from the insignificant and the public from the confidential to ensure effectiveness and excellent stewardship. Analytics is the key to unlocking the true AI value hidden in this ever-growing data.

While governments have been collecting data for years, they have been slow to realise the benefits they could realise from it. The opportunity is in unifying data silos so that government leaders can pinpoint the intelligence in their data. The AI capabilities that are now enabled on big data – the big-picture view of what is happening, why it happened, and what is likely to happen next – enables authorities to build connections across agencies that help to better serve citizens.

A recent example is how the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) applied AI-based analytics solutions to make the most of its data and deliver value by enabling quicker and better decision-making. The department implemented machine learning capabilities to easily identify and segment customers, process their requests promptly, enable more informed decision-making using analytics, improve access to data, enhance the quality and consistency of its judgements, and prepare customised, real-time reports for the management and customers.

By using tools such as AI and machine learning, administrators can gain deeper insights across a wide spectrum, and go as specific as individual sectors and even organisations. For instance, healthcare authorities are using AI on data gathered from hospitals, research institutes and other bodies to nip epidemics early, by detecting patterns in reported illnesses, determining the best response and care, and enforcing preventive measures.

The amount of data available to governments is only going to increase. Interconnectivity and interoperability between smart devices are growing and producing even more data, helping to drive the Internet of Things (IoT). We are moving from smart devices to smart cities, with Dubai and other cities in the region focusing on digitizing their services. The young, tech-savvy population in the region increasingly expect government services to provide the same level of service they receive from the private sector. Governments’ investment in infrastructure must include smart technology to promote AI-enabled efficiency, to deliver quality, digitally-powered citizen experiences.

One of the big fears around a growing reliance on AI is the potential impact on jobs, with the very mention of automation immediately throwing up fears that long-held jobs may be eliminated. While this may be true in certain instances, it is by no means at the scale that many fear. According to Gartner, AI will stimulate 2.3 million new jobs by 2020, while HSBC Bank has identified several new job titles – including algorithm mechanic, conversational interface designer and digital process engineer – that could become commonplace in the future.

Whether spurring the Government to take action in preparation for the labour market of the future, or preparing employees for tomorrow’s work environment, we once again turn to analytics to understand the best tasks to automate, the processes to digitise, and the roles to modernise.

A recent EMEA survey commissioned by SAS states that nearly three-quarters of organizations (72%) claim that analytics helps them generate valuable insight and 60% state their analytics resources have made them more innovative. Greater use of analytics-powered intelligence in workforce planning will enable government employees to serve the public more effectively.

Across sectors and focus areas, AI is slated to be a tremendous disruption to the public sector. Whether tackling national health issues, responding to a local disaster, protecting against the loss of sensitive information or intellectual property, or simply making government more efficient, the analytical insights you can gain from your stores of big data can improve outcomes that have a direct impact on citizens.

The data revolution has transformed the world as we know it. It’s disruptive, exciting, and, let’s face it, a bit overwhelming! It is, however, a significant opportunity for governments to become more data-driven and forever change the way they serve their citizens.

Shukri Dabaghi is the Vice President for the Middle East and Eastern Europe, SAS Institute

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Cleopatra causes controversy in Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/07/cleopatra-causes-controversy-in-edinburgh-festival-fringe-2019/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 18:25:10 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704724 This extraordinary commencement gave the festival its distinctive identity, transforming it into an attractive space for creative experimentation in the arts, and a platform for the budding artists to be discovered and to make a name for themselves.

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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is considered to be one of the most famous celebration of the arts and entertainment in the world. Undeniably, it is the world’s largest arts festival that takes place annually in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the month of August.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe was founded in 1947 when eight theatrical groups arrived in the capital city, uninvited, hoping to showcase their productions in the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival. Failing to get a spot on the programme, they decided to perform in whatever venues they can find on the ‘fringes of the festival’.

This extraordinary commencement gave the festival its distinctive identity, transforming it into an attractive space for creative experimentation in the arts, and a platform for the budding artists to be discovered and to make a name for themselves.

Till today the festival is well known for being a place for new artists to catch the critics’ eyes. Numerous brilliant performers found their fame at the Fringe like Robin Williams, Steve Coogan, Miranda Hart, and Rachel Weisz who first attended the fringe in 1991, where she was spotted by an agent to star in “The MUMMY”  and “The Constant Gardener”, which earned her an Oscar in 2005.

One could argue, that most of today’s leading writers, directors, and actors have started out in the Fringe.

Similarly, several shows have deputed at the Fringe and then gone on to wider fame like “The Play that Goes Wrong” by  Henry Lewis, and ” Black Watch” by Gregory Burk, which portrays soldiers in the Black Watch regiment of the British Army serving  in Iraq during 2004 on Operation TELIC(the codename under which all of the United Kingdom’s military operations in Iraq were conducted between the start of the Invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003 and the withdrawal of the last remaining British forces on 22 May 2011).

This year the Fringe keeps its commitment to enrich the artistic field with multi-talented artists by presenting the Olivier award-winning actress Sheila Atim as a playwright for the first time. Atim’s first-ever written play Anguis is an experimental play in both style and subject matter, which tackles the life of the great pharaoh Cleopatra.

As is known, Cleopatra VII, often simply called “Cleopatra,” was the last of a series of rulers called the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. She was also the last true pharaoh of Egypt, who ruled an empire that included Egypt, Cyprus, part of modern-day Libya and other territories in the Middle East.

Cleopatra is mostly remembered for her beauty and love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and for her dramatic death as well. However the play does not tell the life story of the last queen of Egypt in a traditional way, taking the well –known facts in literature about Cleopatra as indisputable facts.

On the contrary, Anguis takes place in the modern day ,in a broadcast recording studio, where an interview between Cleopatra  (Paksie Vernon) and a contemporary virologist, Kate (Janet Kumah), calls to question all what we think we know about the memorable queen.

Considerably, the play adopts a critical approach to reinvestigate the common myths of Cleopatra’s story, especially her death by an asp, highlighting the distinction between the fictional character of the Egyptian queen that is firmly anchored in the people’s minds and her real identity, which is still mysterious until now.

The play also discusses several current issues from the same critical perspective, emphasizing our shared responsibility to seek out the truth. The play is directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson and is listed as one of 12 plays to watch in the festival.

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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IMF says it cares about inequality. But will it change its ways? https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/31/imf-says-it-cares-about-inequality-but-will-it-change-its-ways/ Wed, 31 Jul 2019 18:45:10 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704097 lender of last resort, the IMF provides countries in economic turmoil with financial support. In return, borrowing countries must often commit to far-reaching policy reforms

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The Conversation – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become increasingly infatuated by the negative consequences of excessive inequality. This new-found mission is laudable, but neglects the manifold ways its own policy advice contributed to growing income inequality.

Thomas Stubbs

As lender of last resort, the IMF provides countries in economic turmoil with financial support. In return, borrowing countries must often commit to far-reaching policy reforms. While some view this so-called ‘conditionality’ as a necessary instrument to address the root causes of economic crisis, others point to its adverse social implications.

We examined how policy reforms prescribed in IMF lending programmes affected income inequality for developing countries between 1980 and 2014. We found increases in income inequality by on average 6.5% a year once the programme commenced. These effects persisted for three years.

Our measure of income inequality was the Gini coefficient. A score of 0 means income is equal for everyone in the country; 1 indicates one person earns all the income. For example, the US had an income Gini of 0.379 in 2014. During the period we studied, the Gini coefficient for developing countries with IMF programmes ranged from 0.228 (Belarus, in 1996) to 0.571 (Papua New Guinea in 1996).

Our research advances our understanding of the causes of income inequality, one of the most pressing issues of our time. In particular, we highlight an important yet insufficiently understood international-level determinant of inequality in the developing world: structural adjustment programmes by the IMF.

The impact of IMF programmes

In our work, we detail how IMF lending arrangements affect the income distribution in borrowing countries.

First, the IMF set expenditure reduction targets for borrowing countries. These so-called austerity measures were meant to balance the budget. But cuts in government spending can widen income inequalities because low-income households often depend on government transfers. For example, a lending programme with Togo mandated such reforms between 2008 and 2011. Over this period, income inequality rose by 3.7% (from 0.379 in 2007 to 0.393 in 2012).

Second, the IMF repeatedly mandated the removal of restrictions to trade and financial flows. Policies promoting international economic openness can increase demand for skilled labour in developing countries. But low-skilled labour typically loses out, and income inequality increases. Financial development and capital account liberalisation also favours individuals with access to financial capital and services.

Bernhard Reinsberg

In developing countries, these tend to be people with high incomes. For instance, Sri Lanka had to establish a flexible exchange rate regime to qualify for financial assistance in 2001 (which lasted until 2005). Under the tutelage of the IMF, the Gini coefficient of disposable income increased by 5.6% between 2000 and 2006.

Third, the IMF typically called for reforms on monetary policy, initiated the privatisation of financial institutions, and specified targets for the inflation rate. These measures can increase investor confidence, the benefits of which are mostly felt by individuals with high incomes. For example, in 1982, a lending arrangement with Guatemala included restrictions on the growth of bank lending to the private sector, domestic credit, and credit to the public sector. One year after the programme ended, in 1985, the income Gini was 0.482. This was 0.8% higher than when Guatemala negotiated lending terms with the IMF in 1981.

Finally, IMF targets limiting the provision of new external debt can force governments to reduce social spending since they are unable to fund it. These lower the income share of poor populations who depend disproportionately on government transfers. For instance, IMF-designed reforms for Indonesia in 1998 included criteria to limit external debt. In 2004, after the programme terminated, income inequality had increased by 1.6% .

These findings show that the policy reforms prescribed in lending programmes affect income inequality in multiple ways. Indeed, the Fund appears to have heard the criticism of its policy prescriptions and now devotes considerable attention to inequalities.

But an Oxfam report evaluated IMF pilot projects that were supposed to incorporate inequality analyses and failed to find evidence of policies promoting lower inequality.

Timon Forster

More work to be done

At their most recent annual Spring meeting in April, the IMF and World Bank hosted a seminar ‘Income Inequality Matters’, discussing ways to achieve inclusive growth.

If the IMF is serious about reducing inequality, then it needs to carefully consider the types of conditions included in lending programmes. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which the Bretton Woods institutions remain committed, offer a window of opportunity to address what is one of the most pressing issues of the day.

With just over a decade left to achieve the SDGs, it’s high time the IMF put words into practice regarding tackling inequality to right its wrongs of the past.

Timon Forster is a doctoral candidate in International Relations, Freie Universität Berlin

Bernhard Reinsberg is a lecturer in International Relations, University of Glasgow

Thomas Stubbs is a lecturer in International Relations, Royal Holloway

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Future of US dollar between Trump and the Fed https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/31/future-of-us-dollar-between-trump-and-the-fed/ Wed, 31 Jul 2019 14:00:50 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704069 The view of the Secretary of Treasury is based on the fact that the service sector represents 19.4% of the structure of the US economy, while exports represent 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP), but they directly affect the unemployment rate.

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The risks of the decrease in the value of the United States dollar in the future has become more realistic, according to the forecasts of investors after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that the dollar would be assessed higher than its actual value from 6% to 12%, and according to the view of President Trump, to support the export sector in a short time.

Ehab Zakaria

This view contradicts with the Secretary of Treasury who sees that the power of the US dollar shall remain for a long time. The view of President Trump depends on decreasing the value of the dollar in order to stimulate the US export sector, which was accompanied by the tendency of the Federal Reserve (Fed) to decrease the interest rate. Also, the stall in the commercial negotiations between China and US are considered a reason for the Fed to decrease the interest rate.

The view of the Secretary of Treasury is based on the fact that the service sector represents 19.4% of the structure of the US economy, while exports represent 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP), but they directly affect the unemployment rate.

The revenues of US companies depend on the local market by 70%. If we assess the percentage of the dependence of sectors on the local market, we would find that the communications’ sector depends on the local market by 96%, while the utility sector depends on local market by 95%. These sectors would not benefit from the decrease in the currency value.

But, the technological sector, which depends on the local market by 59%, and also the raw materials sector, which depends on the local market by 51%, are the beneficiaries. Thus, China thinks that the decrease in the currency value is considered a currency war within an economic war.

A research issued by Morgan Stanley Bank reports that the dollar reached the top, and accompanied by the decrease of the stock price and the beginning of the increase of the revenues of the treasury bills, the expected slowdown would affect the growth of the US economy (the growth is expected to be by 2.3% next year, while the growth this year is by 2.9%).

Thus, that would lead to the decrease in the value of the dollar, and would be an optimistic view, regarding developing markets. A similar research by City Group stated that the dollar would be liable to decrease from 2% to 10% during a period from 6 to 12 months, while researches by JPMorgan Chase stated that the dollar would decrease in 2019, and would continue to decrease for many years if the growth rate of the US economy stayed below 2%.

Goldman Sachs emphasises that the probability of the decrease would be high in a year, while the ING Investment Bank asserted that the actual value of the dollar is less than expected. Moreover, Bloomberg Agency confirmed the expected decrease.

At the end of the second world war, and the rise of the US as a superpower, and according to the Bretton Woods Agreement for the cash management of the exchange rate signed in 1944, the US dollar became the currency of the cash reserves of countries. It was connected to the price of the gold, provided that the US shall be committed to replace the dollar by gold if necessary.

That framework continued until 1971 when US President Richard Nixon declared the cease of the replacement of the dollar by gold. The US dollar represents 60% of the cash reserves of countries and 40% of the transactions worldwide. Moreover, 85% of the commerce is based on the dollar and also 39% of the debts. In addition to that, the oil and gold trade depend on the dollar.

The expected decrease in the value of the US dollar may be an objective of Trump’s administration in order to stimulate the US export sector, and the increase of the interest rate may affect developing markets and would ward off the investments from them.

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

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British Labour Party caught between 2 generations https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/31/british-labour-party-caught-between-2-generations/ Wed, 31 Jul 2019 13:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704090 Young people can be socialised to adopt a certain political agenda through simple conversations with family that disclose the parents' political affiliation, and influence their children's attitudes toward life.

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We are socialised into our political environments through school, our peers, and the media. Each of these agents plays an important role in shaping our political identities, but it is the family that appears to trump others.

Indeed, the greatest amount of influence in the political socialisation process occurs within the family.

Young people can be socialised to adopt a certain political agenda through simple conversations with family that disclose the parents’ political affiliation, and influence their children’s attitudes toward life.

In fact, dinner table conversations are the richest and most powerful political experiences of young peoples’ lives through which they gain an understanding of the political world in their interaction with adults.

However, political socialisation is never entirely a one-way process, and it does not always go smoothly.

Young people can and do actively promote their own political learning, and they can challenge and refute the views of adults correspondingly.

Marwa El- Shinawy

Usually, the conflict begins when young generations decide to support a set of beliefs different from the outlook of their parents due to the ever-changing nature and growing complexity of the political environment.

These common family quarrels at the dinner table may be relied upon to discuss highly serious issues in the society, and to produce guffaws and howls of laughter as well, are an inspiration to the prolific playwright Jack Thorne in his new serio-comic play The End of History, currently on the Royal Court Theatre.

The play is based entirely on Thorne’s own family, particularly his parents, who used to spoon-feed him all their socialist ideals at every meal. Hence, the play tackles the theme of growing up in a household where the political principle is one of the most important issues around the dining table every day.

It takes place in the dining room of left-leaning parents, who do everything possible to pass on their political ideology to their children. Ironically, they have Carl (after Manifesto writer Karl Marx), Polly (after social anthropologist Polly Hill), and Tom (after political revolutionary Thomas Paine).

Doubtless, they decided to name each of their kids after a famous socialist figure to urge them to live up to their names

Ostensibly, the play tackles the conflict between the parents and their children over political matters through three family dinners in three consecutive decades.

Beginning in 1997, the play focuses on Sal and David, the old style labour activists, who are hostile to the new policies of Tony Blair, and reluctant to accept the relationship between their son Carl and his upper-class, rich girlfriend due to their political views.

However, it is very clear that the play addresses another parallel theme in an allegorical way.

Apparently, the play documents the British Labour Party’s transition from Socialism to Capitalism, and the rise and fall of New Labour, using the relationship between Carl and his affluent girlfriend as an unambiguous symbol.

This metaphoric level of the play is indicated by the play’s title that refers to a book by American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, in which he asserts the triumph of liberal democracy.

It is also emphasised by the author’s choice to dramatize each of the years 1997,2007,and 2017 to show the contrast between the leadership of Blair and  Gordon Brown, who coined the term New Labour and attempted to provide a synthesis between Capitalism and Socialism,  and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn who abandoned the New Labour’s policies and moved the Labour Party’s political stance further to the left.

Actually, in this play the writer managed in integrating the political issues into the daily conversation of the family to write a political play without politics, summarising three decisive decades of the history of the Labour Party in separate but related three acts, doing a successful theatrical triptych. The End of History stars David Morrissey and Lesley Sharp, and is directed by John Tiffany.

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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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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