Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English 2017-02-25T17:28:13Z http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/feed/atom/ Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[DNE News Brief: 25 February 2017]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616318 2017-02-25T17:28:13Z 2017-02-25T17:28:13Z The post DNE News Brief: 25 February 2017 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[ITIDA launches seventh “Export IT”]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616304 2017-02-25T15:52:01Z 2017-02-25T15:52:01Z The agency applied electronic signatures for the first time to apply for the programme

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The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) has launched the seventh session of the Egyptian exports support programme, “Export IT,” which includes several information technology (IT) products and services.

The agency has called upon Egyptian companies that export these services and products to apply so that they would benefit from the direct financial support—with a 10% minimum and a 20% maximum—from the value added for exports and the yield collected in 2015.

According to Asmaa Hosny, CEO of ITIDA, the agency has allocated EGP 40m for the current session to encourage domestic companies to increase their exports of IT products and services.

She added that there is a target to increase the number of companies benefitting from the programme to 1,000, especially with the availability of the government’s distinguished support and the efforts exerted by the agency. This includes its sponsorship of innovation and of the youth’s creative ideas, as well as its support of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to penetrate foreign markets.

Moreover, the agency is implementing an initiative for technological learning with a budget estimated at EGP 160m. It aims to educate Egyptian youth who would be familiar with several fields of technology in the sectors of communication, IT, and electronics, such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and embedded software. This takes place along with the implementation of a project to spread technology in several governorates.

Hosny stressed that during this year’s session of the programme, the agency is adopting a new strategy to support exports, mainly aiming to encourage companies to increase their exports of products and services with an increased global demand. In its new session, the programme offers extra support for E-design, E-health, and E-gaming with a 2%-addition on top of the already announced amount.

For the first time in the programme’s history, the agency announced the introduction of an electronic signature so that companies would abandon paper. This aims to help companies provide their documents electronically and issue electronic certificates to each of them, where about 120 Egyptian companies have applied for the electronic signature certificates from ITIDA.

The value added is defined as the difference between the company’s revenues from exporting, collected by the company’s bank account in Egypt in 2015, and the direct costs of exporting, such as the costs of program licensing, the cost of devices and equipment used in the export process, with the aim of maximising the value added of exports of the companies that receive support.

More than 140 Egyptian companies managed to obtain support, estimated at EGP 190m since launching the programme in 2010. This is an encouragement for Egyptian companies in the programme to increase their IT exports, which are worth a total of EGP 3.8bn, according to the programme’s statistics over the past years.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Arab French Dairy uses Gulfood 2017 to ramp up exports to GCC ]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616298 2017-02-25T15:25:19Z 2017-02-25T15:25:19Z AFDPL will be participating in Gulfood 2017 in Dubai to launch ‘Cheeze to Squeeze’

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The Arab French Company for Dairy and Cheese Products (AFDPL) announced that it will participate in the Gulfood exhibition—held in Dubai from 26 February to 2 March 2017.

The company said in a press release issued on Saturday that it is going to launch a new category of cheese snacks for its popular Milkana brand.

“AFDPL will be using the exhibition to ramp up exports to the GCC and beyond. The new product, aptly called ‘Cheeze to Squeeze’, is available via Milkana distribution partners across the Middle East and North Africa,” the report stated.

“We are proud to introduce our new Cheeze to Squeeze product line to distributors and partners at Gulfood 2017, which opens up a whole new snacking offer,” said Ahmed Refaat, marketing director at AFDPL.

He added that the company’s “core cheese brand—Milkana—is popular throughout the region, and the new, convenient single-serve portion Cheeze to Squeeze product opens up a wide range of new consumer and trade opportunities for our distributors.”

The report added that the new Milkana ‘Cheeze to Squeeze’ single-serve format is also a cheese product ideal for convenience stores, hotels, and restaurants sector.

AFDPL said that the “dairy market is growing at a rate of 8% per annum. The company exports its products across the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and it continues to enter new dairy markets as the distribution channels develop and barriers to dairy distribution continue to come down.”

“In addition to solid growth, we have also seen an increased interest in our dairy products from foreign distributors after free-floating the Egyptian pound exchange rates, helping to make our pricing more competitive in export markets. For this reason, we’re planning to meet potential new distribution partners from several new markets at the exhibition,” said Medhat Azer, general manager of AFDPL.

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Farida Ismail <![CDATA[Wadi Degla Developments launches Promenade New Cairo]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616295 2017-02-25T15:21:14Z 2017-02-25T15:21:14Z The new project occupies a total area of 140,000sqm 

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The Egyptian real estate developer Wadi Degla Developments announced on Wednesday the launch of its flagship project, Promenade New Cairo, located in the most affluent area of New Cairo.

Promenade New Cairo is an integrated residential project that comprises more than 1,000 apartments and penthouses.

The fully finished and air conditioned units will be developed and delivered according to the highest quality standards, offering a superior atmosphere, which is incomparable to any other project in the area.

The project includes premium amenities, such as a gym, a jogging track, a swimming pool, a spa, squash courts, and car parking, among other utilities.

The chairperson of the board at Wadi Degla Developments, Maged Helmy, said in a press release, “Promenade New Cairo is the crown jewel of our tireless efforts in the last ten years, and throughout the past decade. Wadi Degla Developments was able to build a stellar reputation and an exceptional market position in Egypt.”

“The prime location, which is only 5 minutes away from Maadi and Heliopolis, is not only what differentiates Promenade New Cairo from other surrounding projects, but also the new real estate mix that the project offers to the New Cairo community. Promenade New Cairo includes premium quality amenities and superior utilities, making it an integrated residential community, where all family members will find what they’re looking for,” he added.

The total investment of the single-phase project is EGP 1.5bn.

Helmy said that, “Wadi Degla Developments owns a land bank of 8m square metres distributed over 20 projects, including projects we’ve already delivered in the past years.”

“In 2017, we intend to launch a number of new residential projects and resorts, as we aggressively implement an ambitious expansion strategy to launch a diversified portfolio of new projects in Egypt’s prime destinations, namely in Ain Sokhna, the North Coast, Hurghada, Maadi, New Cairo, and 6th of October City,” said Helmy.

Helmy also said that Wadi Degla Development’s strategy builds on the tremendous success they achieved in 2016, as their contracted sales reached EGP 4bn. He clarified that their sales target for 2017 is as high as EGP 5bn EGP.

The project will be completed in 2021.

 

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Hossam Mounir http://www.dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[EGP 16bn volume of deals implemented by Abu Dhabi Islamic Capital-Egypt since 2012]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616292 2017-02-25T15:17:26Z 2017-02-25T15:17:26Z The company receives an international award for its role in marketing EGP 2bn worth of funds for the EETC

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Abu Dhabi Islamic Capital-Egypt, the investment arm of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)-Egypt, managed to implement deals worth EGP 16bn since the establishment of the company in October 2012, according to Zeinab Hashim, the CEO and managing director of the company.

Hashim explained that the activity of the company in the field of mergers and acquisitions, as well as capital markets, has grown significantly over the past few years, noting that the company has paid special attention to organising funding national projects in the field of infrastructure and local industries.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Capital-Egypt has recently received the award of the best speculation deal in 2016 from Islamic Finance News magazine, in recognition of its role in marketing financing worth EGP 2bn for the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC).

The company offers detailed financial solutions to suit all customers, including government agencies, major private companies, and medium enterprises.

The company has provided a distinctive contribution to promote the brand of ADIB-Egypt and support its public image through successful marketing of implemented deals.

In 2016, ADIB-Egypt occupied the first place in marketing Islamic financing in Egypt, and the 11th place in marketing Islamic financing in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa with a 3% market share, where the percentage doubled in 2015.

This has helped the bank climb upwards eight places among other marketers of Islamic financing in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The bank also occupied the 18th place among financing marketers in Africa.

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Mohamed Ayyad <![CDATA[Investment minister studies measures to improve business environment]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616289 2017-02-25T15:12:39Z 2017-02-25T15:12:39Z Potential Lebanese investments in stainless steel and cement sector

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Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said that she is studying new measures to improve the business environment in Egypt and reach the targeted growth rates.

It came during Nasr’s visit to Lebanon last week, where she held seven meetings with a number of Lebanese investors operating in Egypt to review their plans for the upcoming period and remove any obstacles facing their projects in Egypt, according to a statement issued by the investment ministry on Saturday.

Nasr has met Lebanese investor Fareg Sabonegan, who works in the stainless steel sector and has a number of different projects in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait, and seeks to invest in Egypt.

Nasr invited Sabonegan to participate in the Lebanese-Egyptian Business Council scheduled on the sideline of the 8th session of the Egyptian-Lebanese Joint Higher Committee scheduled to be held in Cairo from 22 to 23 March.

Nasr also met Lebanese investor Gehad Al Arab who works in real-estate investment. The meeting tackled the new investment law, as well as investment guarantees and incentives. In addition, Nasr met investor Karim Baalbaki and assured him that the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation is working to resolve all the obstacles hindering Lebanese investors in Egypt.

The minister also met Lebanese investor Wasem Hanina who works in the electrical cables sector. Nasr assured Hanina that her ministry works to develop the investment climate as the government aims to apply its economic reform programme.

Nasr referred to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s report that predicted the Egyptian economy will rank 19th among the world’s largest economies by 2030, with an economy size up to $2tn (based on purchasing power parity), and will rank 15th in the world by 2050, with a size of $4.3tn.

Nasr also met investor Adib Hashim who works in the cement sector and aims to launch new projects in Egypt. Nasr invited Hashim to visit Egypt in mid-March, to learn about investment opportunities in Egypt, especially in the Suez Canal development zone.

Moreover, Nasr met with investors Nageb Hadad and Ghassan Ashkar who have large investments in Egypt in Zara and Virgin Megastores, as well as about 50 shops, with an employment size of about 500 Egyptian workers.

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Mohamed Samir <![CDATA[AmCham MENA Regional Council’s annual forum to launch in March]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616286 2017-02-25T15:03:07Z 2017-02-25T15:03:07Z AmCham MENA is advocating for a more friendly business environment to support SMEs growth, according to regional secretariat of the AmCham MENA Council

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AmCham MENA Regional Council’s annual forum is scheduled to take place from 15 to 16 March. It will be hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain (AmCham Bahrain). The forum, supported by the US Chamber of Commerce, will be organised in close collaboration with AmCham Egypt. The regional secretariat of the AmCham MENA Council aims to promote the expansion of trade and investment between the markets of the MENA region and the United States and will focus this year on the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in unlocking the economic potential of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

According to the press release, the forum will address various topics, like “SMEs as key drivers of economic development in the MENA region;” “The regional SMEs ecosystem: a fresh look at thriving techniques;” “SMEs financing opportunities and export support programs;” and strategies for “the integration of regional SMEs into the supply chain of US and multinational companies in the region.”

Moreover, the forum’s top priority will be the delivery of tangible results for attending companies by connecting them directly with potential partners, investors, and clients. Additionally, it is important to swiftly scale up international investment, trade, and business engagement through a series of focused strategy discussions, business to business (B2B) matchmaking and workshops.

Mr. Qays H. Zu’bi, president of AmCham Bahrain and chairman of the AmCham MENA Council, said, “for more than 12 years, the forum has excelled at bringing together business leaders, associations, and government representatives to create opportunities for new partnerships, expansion of markets, and growth of overall business. We are proud to have developed a strong program for the upcoming forum in March—one that we are confident can help attending companies meet their business objectives and growth potential.” The importance of SMEs cannot be emphasised enough in terms of GDP contribution and job creation, especially in emerging economies, such as the ones of the MENA region. Amcham MENA is advocating for a more friendly business environment to support SMEs growth, said Anis Aclimandos, president of AmCham Egypt and the regional secretariat of the AmCham MENA Council.

The forum is expected to be attended by high-level delegations of business leaders and decision and policy makers from the US and MENA governments, multilateral financing institutions supporting SMEs development in the region, as well as key players from the regional SMEs and entrepreneurship scene.

Furthermore, regarding the private sector contribution, the event will feature representation from AmCham MENA Council’s members from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, in addition to representatives from other regional US business councils and a broad range of international and regional business associations.

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Maydaa El-Nadar <![CDATA[There are more than 50 Indian companies in Egypt: Indian ambassador]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616280 2017-02-25T14:57:40Z 2017-02-25T14:57:40Z By the end of the last year, the Federation of Egyptian Industries paid a visit to India, which quickly responded by the Confederation of Indian Industry paying a visit to Egypt around two weeks ago. 

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Earlier this month, Sun Pharma’s Ranbaxy opened a new factory in 6th of October City. Daily News Egypt sat down with Indian ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya to talk about new Indian investments in Egypt, as well as about the economic and political relationships of the two countries.

Regarding the new factory, the ambassador stated that “opening this factory is a huge step, which achieves India’s desire to be present in the Egyptian market as it will be providing the Egyptian people with high quality and affordable pharmaceutical products.” He added that another benefit is offering Egyptians employment opportunities.

After a tour in the factory, he said that Sun Pharma is commencing operations on a large scale in Egypt. “I have seen that the project was conducted with the highest international standards.”

The ambassador added, “I expect that the Egyptian authorities will give them more facilities to expand their production in order to offer the Egyptian market more needed products.”

Bhattacharyya believes that India makes great progress in the healthcare sector: “we are currently working to provide other healthcare facilities in Egypt, including establishing hospitals in joint ventures with Egyptian companies and improving healthcare education.” This is included in India’s plan to conduct wider collaboration with Egypt in the health sector.

Speaking about bilateral cooperation between both countries on a wider scale, Bhattacharyya said that when President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi visited India in September, he announced together with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi that there will be three main pillars of cooperation, including deepening economic relations “and today we are assuring this economic engagement and taking it to a higher level.”

Bhattacharyya was very optimistic about deeper cooperation between India and Egypt, as he expressed that “the first element of the economic engagement is the economic investments. There are more than 50 Indian companies present in Egypt, with investments that now exceed $3bn,” adding that “this means new companies are coming in constantly, and the existent ones are expanding their operations.”

Although last year was difficult regarding the economic situation, the ambassador believes that towards the end of the last year, there were very positive sides, including the reforms announced by the Egyptian government. “A good sign was that the investment law is under discussion, so several areas will attract Indian investors to Egypt.”

Taking part in the mutual economic cooperation was the Federation of Egyptian Industries, visiting India by the end of the last year. Something which the ambassador considers a very big step, as it was an invitation welcoming India to the Egyptian market.

“We quickly responded; and around two weeks ago, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) made a very successful visit to Egypt. The delegation met with Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade, Tarek Kabil; Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr; Minister of Transportation, Saad Al-Geioushy; and Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla.

Commenting on this visit, Bhattacharyya expressed that “they had initiative discussions with possible Egyptian partners. Their view for future investments in Egypt was very optimistic.”

 

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Taha Sakr <![CDATA[Coptic families arrive to Ismailia from Al-Arish after militant’s threats ]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616284 2017-02-25T14:36:18Z 2017-02-25T14:36:18Z Al-Azhar institution expresses support for Copts, demands security protection

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The governorate of Ismailia was crowded on Saturday after dozens of Coptic families arrived from Al-Arish City, North Sinai, fearing for their lives after threats by militants increased.

Following the rise of militant operations that targeted Coptic citizens inside the North Sinai city of Al-Arish, 90 Coptic families decided on Friday to leave the city, heading to Ismailia governorate, a source from the Diocese of North Sinai told Daily News Egypt.

The Egyptian Al-Azhar institution said Friday that it strongly condemns threats against Copts, demanding a tight security grip, state-media reported Friday, adding that the three Egyptian churches were working on sheltering the families until they could return home.

Members of parliament, political parties, and reporters went to Ismailia on Saturday to visit the families. According to state-media, the Diocese of Ismailia announced hosting and supporting the families that arrived. There were calls on social media from people who visited families, complaining about the lack of provisions, including mattresses and blankets.

The families’ decisions came after facing a clear and direct threat to their safety from militants who are believed to be members of the IS affiliated group ‘Sinai Province’ that recently launched intensive operations targeting Copts in Al-Arish.

Murders of Coptic citizens based in Al-Arish have reportedly been on the rise directly after the issuance of the footage from the ‘Islamic State’ that included threats to the Copts in Egypt and showed scenes of the perpetrator of the Cairo Church attack that led to the death of 29 Copts.

“The families are now heading to Ismailia. They left behind them expensive properties and their good memories in the city. They do not want to be slaughtered or burned to death,” the source said.

Directly following the release of the IS footage that carried clear threats to the Copts of Egypt, several anonymous militants stormed the residences of a number of Copts in Al-Arish and either kidnapped or killed them.

On Thursday, it is believed that a number of the ‘Sinai Province’ militants chased a Coptic citizen in Al-Arish named Kamal Rouef, slaughtered him inside his house, and then burned it, a local journalist asserted to Daily News Egypt on Friday on condition of anonymity.

Since the beginning of February, seven Copts have been killed in Al-Arish through direct shooting, while two others were burnt to death. On Wednesday, two Coptic citizens were found killed in Al-Arish. Their corpses had been thrown behind a state-run language school.

The two corpses belong to an elderly Coptic man named Saied Hakim—65 years old—and his son, Medhat Saied—45 years old. The father was killed by gunshots to his head, a local journalist said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, his son was burnt alive. The two are believed to have been subjected to a kidnapping conducted by anonymous militants days before the killing took place.

In response to the recent and escalated assaults against the Copts in North Sinai, the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement on Friday that asserted that Pope Tawadros II is following the current updates about the situation in North Sinai, also issuing a condemnation of the killings.

“The Coptic Orthodox Church is in continuous communication with the assigned officials and the archbishop of North Sinai to control the situation and mitigate the negative effects of these assaults,” the Orthodox Church’s statement read.

Daily News Egypt made several attempts to get a response from the Ministry of Interior about what is taking place in North Sinai regarding assaults against the Coptic residents there and their displacement, however, no responses were received.

“We will not wait until the IS affiliated militants storm our residences and kill us. Recently a number of Coptic residences in Al-Arish were subjected to burnings and their owners either shot, burnt to death, or slaughtered. The security presence is weak and cannot suspend the militants’ movements,” a guardian of a Coptic family that left Al-Arish said on condition of anonymity.

He added, talking to Daily News Egypt, that no instructions from the Orthodox Church or the government were issued for them to abandon the city, but the departure was their own decision, as their lives are in real danger.

“Till now there are 90 families left in Al-Arish. These 90 families are representing the majority of the Coptic residents in Al-Arish, whose numbers amounts to 100 families. With the emergence of Saturday’s first morning light, the city will be without Copts,” he stressed.

Some of the families that left Al-Arish headed back to their original governorates, from where they came to North Sinai either for the sake of studying or work; however, a number of other families are considered to be original residents of the city and face problems of finding and affording new homes, said Mina Thabet, program director of minorities and vulnerable groups at the Egyptian Commission for Human Rights [ECRF].

Last week, under the name of the “Islamic State in Egypt” and with the headline of “Fight All Infidels,” the IS-affiliated group released a new video, issuing fierce threats against the Coptic citizens of Egypt, accusing them of insulting Islam, and threatening to carry out more attacks against them.

The Observatory for Extremist and Takfiri Thoughts, affiliated with the Dar Al-Ifta, considered the released video from IS in Egypt an incitement of sectarian strife between Muslims and Coptic citizens, attempting to repeat in Egypt what took place in Syria and Iraq.

“It is now necessary to say that the security forces are not able to eliminate the militants’ presence in the city of Al-Arish, so the rapid and immediate interference from the army is now vital to keep safety within the city,” a source from the Diocese of North Sinai concluded.

On a regular basis, Coptic citizens inside North Sinai are being subjected to kidnapping by militants and are brutally killed. The main goal of these operations is to force Coptic citizens in Al-Arish to leave, member of parliament representing Al-Arish Hossam El Refaay told Daily News Egypt previously.

El Refaay asserted to Daily News Egypt on Wednesday that the kidnappings conducted by “Sinai Province” target both Coptic and Muslim citizens, adding that these operations are furthermore aiming to create sectarian strife between Muslims and Copts in North Sinai.

On the other hand, Thabet disagreed with such argument, saying that “the IS affiliated group of ‘Sinai Province’ is not aiming to create sectarian strife as promoted, but instead it targets the full displacement of Copts not only from the Sinai Peninsula, but also from all parts of Egypt.”

“What’s happening in Sinai is a first step, nobody knows what will follow,” Thabet added.

Since 2013, state security forces, represented by both the army and police, have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province,” known previously as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation to IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.

Over the course of the last two years, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched counterattacks against militant stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula where the group is based, particularly in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish.

Some names were removed for the sake of the safety of sources.

 

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[No waiting lists for dollar, we provided $71bn since November 2015: CBE Governor]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616282 2017-02-25T14:15:56Z 2017-02-25T14:15:56Z Egypt will pay $1.5bn of foreign oil companies arrears in 2017

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Tarek Amer, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), said that Egypt is set to pay $1.5bn as part of the foreign oil companies’ arrears.

Dues owed to foreign oil companies operating in Egypt have gradually been falling from $3.6bn in September to $3.5bn in December 2016.

Amer said in a television interview on Friday that banks have already begun to repatriate dividends.

He pointed out that Egypt is due to receive $2bn from the World Bank in March, which is the second tranche of a $3bn loan to support the government’s economic reform programme.

Egypt started to implement an economic reform programme, which included the liberalisation of the exchange rate, restructuring fuel subsidies, and the application of the value-added tax, in addition to signing a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The CBE had floated the pound in November 2016 to attract foreign investments, which prompted the IMF to greenlight the $12bn loan agreement.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said earlier this month that Egypt is working on a serious mechanism to cut the rest of the entitlements of foreign oil companies.

Asked about the impact of the flotation, Amer said that banks gathered $13.5bn since the flotation, most of which was from Egyptians.

Egypt’s core inflation rate jumped to its highest level in more than ten years at 30.86% in January 2017.

The flotation led to a depreciation in the value of the Egyptian currency, falling from EGP 8.8 per dollar to EGP 20 in December, before gaining ground recently, jumping back up to EGP 15.85.

Amer stressed that the flotation will not have any further impact on inflation.

He noted that foreign currency in the banking sector increased tenfold since the flotation, adding that the value of imports since November amounted to $15bn, while he expected them to decrease by 20% this year.

He said that Egypt has provided $71bn to different economic sectors since November.

Amer predicted the external debt to reach 30% of GDP in June—equivalent to approximately $60bn—and stressed that the debt-to-GDP ratio is now safe and that the budget is now under control.

As for the big hikes in prices following the flotation, Amer said that the negative impacts of the flotation were “better than I expected.”

“We made a change in the structure of growth—decreasing consumption growth to 40%—and raised investment growth to much higher ground,” he said.

Amer pointed out that Egypt’s imports of fuel are estimated at $1bn per month, while remittances from Egyptians abroad now reached $19-20bn—up from $9bn in January 2011.

He refuted rumours that the CBE had intervened in the exchange rate, saying ”there are no instructions from the CBE to banks in terms of the exchange rate, but we called upon them to not discriminate.” He stressed that, by the end of 2017, citizens will be able to freely buy dollars at banks.

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Mohamed Adel <![CDATA[Eni starts extraction of 200m cubic feet of gas per day from Zohr in October]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616278 2017-02-25T14:07:21Z 2017-02-25T14:07:21Z Company to rent a temporary gas processing plant until the completion of the permanent unit, says source

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The Italian company Eni aims to begin pumping 200m cubic feet of gas per day from the deep-water Zohr field in the Mediterranean by October, through a temporary ground gas processing station.

A source at the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) told Daily News Egypt that Eni will rent a temporary station until it completes the establishment of the permanent treatment plant.

He added that Eni is set to complete the first phase of the treatment plant with a capacity of 650m cubic feet of gas per day by the end of 2017.

He noted that Eni completed the drilling of six wells in shorter time than expected and will be linked to the treatment facility by the end of 2017.

The source estimated investments of the treatment plant at $4bn, which will have a total capacity of 2.7bn cubic feet of gas per day.

The total investments in the Zohr field amounted to $12bn and are expected to reach $16bn throughout the life of the field.  The estimated cost of drilling one well in Zohr field is around $100m.

Eni aims to link 900m cubic feet of gas per day to the national gas pipeline grid by the end of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018. The project is expected to produce 2.7bn cubic feet of gas by 2020.

The Shorouk Concession Development Agreement stipulates that Eni sets aside 40% of the total value of gas produced to pay back foreign partner’s investments, including costs for research and development.

The remaining 60% is to be distributed among the government and Eni—at 65% and 35% respectively.

The 40% repayment value will be provided to the foreign partner after finalising its investments, according to the agreement between EGAS and Eni.

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Ahmed Farahat <![CDATA[AFREXIMBANK plans to increase its capital to $400m during 2017]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616266 2017-02-25T14:01:12Z 2017-02-25T14:01:12Z The African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) aims to increase its capital by $300-400m in 2017. The bank’s director of banking operations, Heba Aboul Ezz, noted that the bank’s capital was at $12bn in December 2016. She said that Egypt is a key partner in the bank, along with Egyptian banks, including the National Bank of Egypt, …

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The African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) aims to increase its capital by $300-400m in 2017.

The bank’s director of banking operations, Heba Aboul Ezz, noted that the bank’s capital was at $12bn in December 2016.

She said that Egypt is a key partner in the bank, along with Egyptian banks, including the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and Banque du Caire.

Aboul Ezz added that the credit portfolio granted to Egyptian authorities directly and indirectly in 2016 reached $4.2bn.

She pointed out that the bank is working to boost the effectiveness of the trade infrastructure between African countries.

She said that the bank is considering financing four investment projects in Egypt and Africa in the fields of real estate, industry, and clean energy, noting that one of the projects is estimated to cost $500m, while the other three are at around $233m each.

Moreover, Aboul Ezz noted that the bank is studying financing requests worth $500m from banks in Egypt.

The chairperson of the bank, Benedict Okey Oramah, said that the bank’s profits in 2016 were expected to amount to $40m.

He noted that the bank intends to establish a regional headquarters in east Africa this year, as it prepared to launch a new strategy in December—spanning until 2021—to support exports.

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Sarah El-Sheikh <![CDATA[Shoukry to meet British, US counterparts in one week ]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616276 2017-02-25T13:52:39Z 2017-02-25T13:52:39Z Both meetings will focus on bilateral relations, regional issues, and counter-terrorism

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Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry is to hold a number of significant meetings this week that will start with a meeting with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, who arrived in Egypt on Saturday, followed by another meeting with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Monday.

The officials will also discuss ways to enhance their relations in all fields, including political and economic, along with issues of mutual interest, including the crises in Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

Moreover, they will also review the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and the regional and international efforts for the resumption of negotiations.

After meeting with Johnson, Shoukry will visit the US for two days and will meet Tillerson to discuss bilateral relations between both countries and ways to advance them. It will be Shoukry’s first meeting with Tillerson since the latter’s appointment to the position in early February.

 

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Sarah El-Sheikh <![CDATA[Defendants in Rabaa dispersal case receive one-year prison sentences, except Shawkan]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616274 2017-02-25T13:42:27Z 2017-02-25T13:42:27Z The initial trial was postponed to 21 March

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On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court, headed by Judge Hassan Farid, handed more than 700 defendants involved in the Rabaa dispersal case one-year prison sentences with labour for insulting the judicial system, lawyer Karim Abdelrady, who is following the case, told Daily News Egypt.

The initial case of all the defendants has been postponed to 21 March, Abdelrady clarified.

After the recent sentence, a huge number of the defendants are now facing a new case for chanting inside the court cage, claiming that the session is invalid. This was seen by the judicial panel as a violation of the court system.

The outburst of the defendants, allegedly belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, came after their defence team requested the court to view CDs and a flash memory as documents that would benefit them in the case, but the panel rejected.

The panel responded to the request saying that the technical committee will review them and will forward reports to the panel later; however, the lawyer continued insisting on their request, which led the judicial panel to refer them to disciplinary court, the lawyer explained.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abo Zaid, who completed over three years in pre-trial detention, and a further 19 defendants are not among those who received the aforementioned sentence, as they only saw the case’s postponement, he added. This came after their lawyers urged that their defendants did not chant, since they don’t have CDs.

Among the defendants are top members of the outlawed brotherhood, such as its supreme guide, Mohamed Badie; its vice-chairperson, Essam El-Erian; brotherhood politician Mohamed El-Beltagy; and others.

A number of defendants in the case were granted medical release.

All the defendants are facing charges of vandalism, attempted murder, planning an armed insurrection, and belonging to an outlawed group.

This case started following the Rabaa Al-Adaweyya sit-in in 2013 that was violently dispersed by security forces. It was held in opposition to the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi by the armed forces.

 

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Al-Sisi makes another surprise visit to police academy]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616252 2017-02-25T11:18:59Z 2017-02-25T11:18:59Z The Egyptian state has regained its prestige, Al-Sisi claimed 

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President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi conducted a surprise visit of Cairo’s police academy early on Friday that came in attendance of Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, according to a presidency statement.

During his visit, the president inspected the military morning queue for college students and inspected their physical exercises and martial arts skills. Following the queue, Al-Sisi joined the students in a bicycle tour around Cairo’s streets and then had breakfast with them.

The president also discussed security efforts with the students and praised them for their efforts, also asserting that the Egyptian state has regained its prestige. He also thanked interior minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar and the members of the academic staff for their efforts with the students and for protecting the country.

Earlier this month, Al-Sisi made a sudden visit to the Cairo-based Military College and inspected the physical preparation and training programs that are being carried out by students at the military college. During this visit, he was accompanied by Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi, in which both of them joined the students on a bicycle tour around Cairo.

The president also made a surprise visit to the academy in December 2015.

Since taking office as president in 2014, Al-Sisi made a number of visits to these colleges to inspect the students’ conditions.

 

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Sarah El-Sheikh <![CDATA[Merkel to officially visit on 2 March to meet with Al-Sisi  ]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616242 2017-02-25T11:00:02Z 2017-02-25T11:00:02Z This is Merkel's first visit to Egypt after meeting Al-Sisi in Berlin in 2015

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German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in Egypt on 2 March for an official visit. She will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, accompanied by a high-level business delegation, according to state-run media outlet Egy News.

The chancellor’s visit was confirmed by German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert, announced during a press conference in Berlin on Friday. This was the first confirmation of the visit after rumours about Merkel’s visit to Egypt arose at the end of 2016 and Egyptian ambassador Badr Abdelatty’s claims in early February that the visit would take place in March.

The chancellor will hold bilateral talks with Al-Sisi, which will include the economic relations between both countries, the situation in Libya, the fight against terrorism, regional issues and Africa’s security, as well as illegal migration.

Merkel is scheduled to meet with the prime minister as well to discuss cooperation between both countries and will also meet with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II.

This will be Merkel’s first visit to Egypt after Al-Sisi was elected president. She previously visited Egypt in 2008 and 2009 and she also had received both his predecessors, Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak, in the German capital.

Following her visit to Egypt, Merkel is scheduled to visit Tunis and meet with the Tunisian president and his prime minister.

Previously, a number of Egyptian political experts encouraged the visit, saying that it is important for supporting Egypt in different fields. Relations between Egypt and German have improved again in recent years—especially in the economic sector—after initial tensions following Al-Sisi’s election as president.

 

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Amira El-Fekki <![CDATA[Press Syndicate leaders’ verdict adjourned to 25 March]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616243 2017-02-25T10:41:02Z 2017-02-25T10:41:02Z Syndicate elections will take place before the verdict is being issued

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The Qasr El-Nil Misdemeanours Court decided on Saturday to postpone to 25 March the issuing of a verdict against Press Syndicate president Yehia Qallash, secretary-general Gamal Abdel Reheem, and head of the Freedoms Committee Khaled El-Balshy.

Legally, the trio was sentenced in November to two years in prison with a bail of EGP 10,000 each, on charges of harbouring two wanted suspects.

El-Balshy was present at the Press Syndicate on Saturday morning. After hearing the court order, he commented to journalists that although he had been expecting to be jailed, he will deal with the current situation as it is.

El-Balshy is running for the syndicate’s elections in early March—before the scheduled verdict date—for a position in the syndicate’s board members’ council, of which he is currently a member.

“We will continue our battle to defend the rights of journalists,” he told reporters Saturday.

However, journalists and press freedom defenders have argued that the case has a political dimension of the case stemming from a negative state approach towards freedom of the press, amid a general security crackdown on freedom of speech and expression especially since the syndicate witnessed large protests in April in objection to the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation agreement of two Red Sea islands.

As so, the press syndicate case was considered to be a historical unprecedented assault on the press, beginning with the police raid on the syndicate under the pretext of arresting journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Saqa, wanted for accusations of incitement against state institutions. The two had decried the maritime demarcation agreement as well.

Although legal procedures would have required coordination with the syndicate over the two journalists’ situation, on 1 May, police forces stormed the syndicate. Not only was the raid one of its kind in the history of the Egyptian press, but so was the trial of its leaders.

Despite a united stance among journalists at the beginning of the crisis, with large assemblies held at the syndicate and condemning headlines demanding the dismissal of the Minister of Interior, the case developed with the division of journalists as several pro-state national and private newspapers and media turned against the syndicate and supported the state narrative.

That is the scene currently marking the upcoming elections of the president of the Syndicate and board members, which seem to be definitive in shaping the future of the syndicate and journalism as a profession in Egypt.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Shoukry asserts support to Palestinian cause, will meet British FM]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616196 2017-02-24T14:07:16Z 2017-02-24T14:07:16Z Shoukry is further expected to travel to the US for meetings with American diplomats

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Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat confirmed on Thursday, during his meeting with  Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, the importance of Egypt’s role in supporting the Palestinian case, .

Erekat briefed Shoukry on the latest Palestinian diplomatic activities. Shoukry on the other hand asserted Egypt’s support to the Palestinian cause.

The two diplomats also discussed the upcoming Arab League summit which will take place in Jordan next month.

Shoukry is expected to travel to the US to meet with US-American officials. Also, according to MENA news agency, he is expected to meet with British foreign minster Boris Johnson in his first visit to the United Kingdom.

 

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Deutsche Welle <![CDATA[Israel denies Human Rights Watch visa over ‘bias’]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616200 2017-02-24T13:00:31Z 2017-02-24T13:00:31Z Israeli authorities have rejected a request from Human Rights Watch (HRW) to grant a work visa to the watchdog's regional director. The state officials accused HRW of being "hostile" and serving Palestinian propaganda.

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HRW was informed of the Israeli decision some six months after its representative, Omar Shakir, applied for the visa, the organization said on Friday.

“The denial letter came as a shock, given that we have had regular access to Israel and the West Bank for nearly three decades and regularly engage Israeli authorities,” Shakir told the AP news agency.

Shakir is a Stanford-educated lawyer and a US citizen of Iraqi descent, whose mandate as the “Israel and Palestine Country Director” in HRW officially started in October.

On Friday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed that Shakir would not be given a work visa. Nahshon also slammed HRW as a “blatantly hostile anti-Israeli organization whose reports have the sole purpose of harming Israel with no consideration whatsoever for the truth or reality.”

The activists “have engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights’,” he added.

‘We are not masochists’

According to Nahshon, the group itself was not banned in Israel and its local staff would be able to continue their work. However, he said it was pointless to give visas to people who only aimed to “besmirch” Israel.

“We are not masochists and there is no reason we should keep doing that,” he said.

The US State Department said it did not agree with Israel’s perspective on HRW, which is based in the US and has its headquarters in the Empire State building in New York.

“HRW is a credible human rights organization and even though we do not agree with all of their assertions or conclusions, given the seriousness of their efforts, we support the importance of the work they do,” State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said.

‘Joining the list’ of oppressive regimes

The global watchdog has investigated human rights abuses in many crisis areas worldwide, and published a string of reports that were critical of Israeli policies. Last year, they compiled a report titled “Occupation Inc” on companies contributing to abuses in the West Bank.

Also in 2016, the group slammed both the Palestinian Authority and the militants Hamas, accusing them of arbitrarily detaining journalists and activists. It also alleged Hamas was conducting illegal executions.

However, Israel has repeatedly accused the organization of unfair treatment. On Friday, HRW officials urged the foreign ministry to reconsider its position on granting a visa to Shakir.

“We have little relations with governments in North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Venezuela where there is zero appetite for human rights engagement,” Shakir said.

“With this decision, Israel is joining the list.”

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Deutsche Welle <![CDATA[Iraqi forces claim key Mosul base, eye victory against ‘IS’]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616197 2017-02-24T12:13:55Z 2017-02-24T12:13:55Z Government troops have taken Ghazlani army base, an important launch pad for pushing "Islamic State" militants out of the city. About 750,000 civilians are still trapped in the western part of Mosul.

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Iraqi troops have successfully taken the whole of Mosul airport back from so-called “Islamic State” (IS) terrorists, the army said on Friday. Their forces have also moved into the first neighborhood in the west of the city since IS overran Mosul in June 2014.

Lieutent General Sami al-Aridhi told the press that special forces had also taken over an army base that is considered key to the success of the offensive to recapture western Mosul and free the 750,000 citizens estimated to be trapped there.

“We have attacked and fully control Ghazlani base, we have also taken Tal al-Rayyan… and we’re attacking Al-Maamun neighborhood,” he said.

IS on the run

The multi-pronged assault on the strategic targets began earlier this week, backed by US airstrikes and coalition soldiers. After making significant advances in the eastern half of the city in recent weeks, the Iraqi military look poised to push the terrorists from their last stronghold in Iraq. If victorious, this would likely signal the beginning of the end for the so-called “caliphate” which the militants proclaimed in 2014 after taking over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Fighting in the older western half of the Mosul is especially difficult, however, as its narrower streets make it nearly impossible to use armored vehicles and terrorists have been using small drones and suicide attacks to stop the Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) from advancing.

“There is a resistance there. The drones are particularly annoying today,” said al-Aridhi.

Under IS occupation, Iraq’s second city has been subjected to a number of war crimes such as forced sex trafficking, ethnic cleansing of Christians, and the destruction of ancient heritage sites such as the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[DNE News Brief: 23 February 2017]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616315 2017-02-25T17:25:40Z 2017-02-23T17:16:44Z The post DNE News Brief: 23 February 2017 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Daily News Egypt.. Egypt in focus]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616312 2017-02-25T17:21:35Z 2017-02-23T16:09:34Z The post Daily News Egypt.. Egypt in focus appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Our Wedding Carnival season 5, bigger and better]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616048 2017-02-22T16:36:22Z 2017-02-23T16:00:10Z After four consecutive years of bridal extravagance, brides-to-be were once again on a date to meet the world’s latest trends in jewellery, fashion, furniture, and even entertainment—all designed for that one special day. Our Wedding Carnival (OWC) is one of the most prominent annual events in the bridal field. For their fifth season, OWC brought …

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After four consecutive years of bridal extravagance, brides-to-be were once again on a date to meet the world’s latest trends in jewellery, fashion, furniture, and even entertainment—all designed for that one special day.

Our Wedding Carnival (OWC) is one of the most prominent annual events in the bridal field. For their fifth season, OWC brought together a wide diversity of related suppliers and brands to help put all wedding-related details under one roof. With more than 150 exhibitors, this season did not leave anything to imagination.

“We have been building on the successes of Our Wedding Carnival year after year; and as we celebrate OWC5, we are proud to host over 150 exhibitors from Egypt and abroad, which only proves that OWC is truly Egypt’s number one wedding destination,” said Sherif Ashraf, managing director of Red Square and organiser of OWC.

Aside from the festival’s wide scope of exhibitors, it is also notoriously known for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) aspect, as the festival aims to continuously link major brands to brides that are in need of financial aid to attain their bridal dreams.

“We also continue to grow our commitment to social responsibility by sponsoring 30 brides bags in collaboration with the ‘Egyptian Clothing Bank’s organisation,” Ashraf added. “We have to thank Luminarc for providing 100 orphan brides with 100 wedding sets.”

El Esseily put a dance-fulled ending to the bridal extravagance  (Photo Handout)
El Esseily put a dance-fulled ending to the bridal extravagance 
(Photo Handout)

Throughout the day, young couples flocked into the Fairmont Heliopolis and Towers hotel to get a glimpse of all that is new in the bridal scene. Furthermore, many were interested to witness the extravagance that took place during the night’s runway shows and performances.

The night started with ten aspiring designers, who impressed the attendees with their creative designs. Furthermore, it was not long until Mohamed Abdel Hamid took the stage to unfold his secrets to perfect bridal make up by means of a live demonstration on models.

Syrian designer Ayman Lahomouni, a regular guest at OWC, came back for a new season of couture intricacy and elaborate details. While his wedding gowns took many people’s breath away, the night only continued to further amaze the attendees.

Few designers dominated the runway to showcase the latest bridal trends (Photo Handout)
Few designers dominated the runway to showcase the latest bridal trends
(Photo Handout)

Tiara Bridal boutique brought modern princesses to the centre stage with their dreamy bridal gowns. Meanwhile, Kriss came back once again for one of his theatrical on-stage demonstrations. The hair guru showcased the beauty and charm of cheeky hair bangs for the 2017 bride.

After years of mentoring and teaching Egypt’s promising generations of aspiring designers, Stefania Gulina celebrated the launch of her new haute couture line, SG, on OWC’s runway. With that said, the true spectacle was courtesy of Luminarc. The renowned household-supplies brand offered a runway show in all colours of the rainbow.

The event was far from ordinary, thanks to Ahmed Essam’s fireworks show and Mahmoud El Esseily’s moving performance. Furthermore, Esseily was also joined by the saxophonist Ramy Samy and English singer Juleen Evans; together, they effortlessly made the event one of a kind.

On the other hand, Lydia Shohdy and Dina Faltas from Zeena Events took care of every minor detail of the event. The majestic hall was transformed into a space worthy of fairytales and queens.

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Mohamed Samir <![CDATA[EGP exchange rate against USD remains stable]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616155 2017-02-23T15:26:45Z 2017-02-23T15:26:45Z Settles below EGP 16 for first time since December 2016

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The Egyptian pound continued to stabilise against the US dollar on Thursday, at its lowest level in two months, settling below EGP 16 for the first time since 8 December 2016.

During the last month the Egyptian pound regained some of it’s value against the dollar, after losing  more than 50% of its value following the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) decision to free float the currency in Novemeber.

The price of the US dollar at the CBE reached EGP 15.7512 for buying and EGP 15.8518 for selling on Thursday, slightly down from EGP 15.7382 for buying and EGP 15.8394 for selling on Wednesday.

Its value at the five largest banks in Egypt—the National Bank of Egypt, Qatar National Bank, Banque Misr, CIB, and the Arab African International Bank—remained between EGP 15.7 and EGP 15.8 for buying and EGP 15.8 and EGP 15.9 for selling.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[Ministry of Trade and Industry approves 226 new industrial projects with EGP 8bn investments]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616153 2017-02-25T10:43:09Z 2017-02-23T14:47:13Z Positive indicators reflect ministry’s strategy to promote development until 2020: Kabil

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Tarek Kabil, Minister of Trade and Industry, announced on Thursday that 226 industrial projects have received approvals during the month of January, with total investments worth EGP 8bn, compared to 180 projects with total investments of EGP 3bn during the same period in 2016.

Moreover, the new projects are spread among different industrial sectors—71 are for the food manufacturing sector, 44 for chemical engineering, 33 for textiles, and the remaining projects are distributed among mining and pharmaceuticals.

Kabil said that these positive indicators reflect the ministry’s strategy to promote industrial development until 2020, along with adopting new strategies to encourage industrial production activities in promising industrial sectors in order to raise the industrial growth rate to 8% and increase its contribution to the total GDP by 21% instead of 17.7%.

He added that the ministry has launched the first phase of the investment map, which includes the available investment opportunities in some provinces, stressing that this map will increase industrial investment rates during the next period, since they are based on accurate information about the supplementary industry projects needed by the industries to replace imports.

The ministry is prioritising the development of the micro, small, and medium enterprises sector, as well as an engine for development and creativity, said Kabil. He pointed out that the new strategy is to transform small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship as the corner stone for increasing Egypt’s industrial output, employment, and exports, adding that Egypt’s 2.5 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises employ 75% of the total workforce, while 17% of them export abroad.

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Mohamed Samir <![CDATA[Flotation, economic reforms mark the start of a new beginning: PwC Middle East]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616149 2017-02-23T14:18:33Z 2017-02-23T13:56:32Z New wave of economic reforms, liberalisation of EGP are huge leap towards luring foreign investors back to Egypt and strengthening economy, says PwC report

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The Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) decision to float the Egyptian pound in November 2016 is a step in the right direction towards a free and growing economy, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)-Middle East’s report, titled “EGP Devaluation: Economic Reforms Mark the Start of a New Beginning”, published on Wednesday.

The report indicates that positive influences on foreign and local investments, coupled with increased global competitiveness, are among the key long-term effects that are likely to be felt across the country.

“The current economic reforms, in particular the draft investment law and the flotation of the EGP, mark the start a new era for Egypt. Now is the time to expand your businesses and the time for foreign companies to invest in Egypt,” said Maged Ezzeldeen, Egypt Senior Partner and Deals Leader at PwC-Middle East.

He added that domestically manufactured goods can be an alternative for imports and provide high-quality competitive products to both local and foreign markets by leveraging the various trade agreements that are already in place. He emphasized their optimism in regards to Egypt’s long-term economic prospects.

On the other hand, Maye Ayoub, Egypt Deals Partner at PwC-Middle East, said that Egypt has currently regained its position as a promising market on the investment front due to the currency devaluation and the adopted economic reform programme, in addition to its strategic location.

She added that an inflow of foreign currency and foreign direct investments will revive the economy in the long-term. This positive effect is of course contingent on the stabilisation of the EGP-USD exchange rates—which PwC argues is only a matter of time—until speculation and volatility settle down, and investors obtain a clearer picture of how the flotation will evolve.

Moreover, the report cites that the new wave of economic reforms and the liberalisation of the EGP are a huge leap towards luring foreign investors back to Egypt and strengthening the Egyptian economy in general, explaining that the liberalisation of the EGP is only one of many steps being taken by the government against a wider economic reform agenda. Agreed reforms include a set of tax and non-tax incentives, currently under consideration, for the benefit of foreign investors, along with a clear road map for profit repatriation.

The report concludes that, post-flotation, there is tremendous potential for local manufacturers in both the domestic and international markets, since Egyptian products can now be competitively priced abroad. This is in addition to the fact that there is an opportunity to expand the local market share for these products, given that imports are becoming more expensive in terms of the Egyptian pound.

PwC also expects exports to pick up from the exploration of new gas fields, competitive gains from the pound devaluation, and a more attractive investment climate.

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Farida Ismail <![CDATA[Immigration Minister hosts Egypt’s first workshop on harnessing migration for development]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616146 2017-02-25T10:44:17Z 2017-02-23T13:12:48Z Abdel Shahid chaired the event in Cairo, attendees included representatives of over 20 embassies and development agencies

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The Egyptian Ministry for Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have hosted Egypt’s first international partners round table on harnessing the development impact of migration.

Noting the government’s ongoing cooperation with relevant international partners, including IOM, Immigration Minister Nabila Makram Abdel Shahid said, “The Government of Egypt is committed to continue its efforts to engage Egyptian expatriate communities in development initiatives in Egypt, while ensuring protection of their rights, through the development of a comprehensive policy framework and the undertaking of concrete initiatives to foster engagement.”

A number of initiatives are anticipated to be developed in the context of the policy framework, including encouraging the return of qualified nationals to contribute to specific sectors of the Egyptian economy, promoting investment in local and national development plans, encouraging expatriate contributions to trade development, and protecting expatriates’ rights abroad.

IOM Egypt head of office, Amr Taha, said that, “Egypt’s USD 20 billion in remittances received in 2015 made it among the top 10 recipients of remittances worldwide. But Egyptians abroad contribute in many more ways. They also support trade and business networks, invest in their communities of origin, and transfer knowledge and expertise.”

The government’s commitment to support migrants and migration—made under the country’s 2014 Constitution and 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy, as well as the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals—will be advanced with the expected initiatives.

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Daily News Egypt http://dailynewsegypt.com <![CDATA[UN envoy doubts ‘breakthrough’ at Syria peace talks]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616141 2017-02-23T12:49:34Z 2017-02-23T12:49:34Z The UN-brokered Syria peace talks are set to resume in Geneva on Thursday. But with a fragmented opposition, Staffan de Mistura questioned how much progress could be made in the initial talks.

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Talks to end Syria’s six-year conflict restart in Geneva on Thursday. They will be the first United Nations-mediated negotiations on Syria in almost a year, during which time the geopolitical and military situations have massively changed.

Despite these changes, UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday cast doubt on a “breakthrough” ahead of the discussions.

“Am I expecting a breakthrough? No, I am not expecting a breakthrough,” de Mistura told reporters in Geneva. “But I am expecting and determined to keep a very pro-active momentum.”

The veteran diplomat said that Moscow had asked the Syrian regime to halt bombings during the talks.

Russia entered the conflict in September 2015 in support of Syrian government forces, and was considered a key diplomatic ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime long before military intervention.

“Russia announced to everyone that they have formally asked the Syrian government to silence their own skies during the talks,” de Mistura said.

The talks are expected to be framed by UN Security Council resolution 2254, which describes the establishment of “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance” in Syria.

Fragmented opposition

The upcoming round comes nearly a year after peace talks broke down when the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a Saudi-backed alliance of rebel groups, walked away from the negotiating table.

Since then, government forces backed by Russia and Shiite militias have recaptured the former rebel bastion of eastern Aleppo. Islamist militant groups have also attacked so-called moderate rebels in a sign of a fracturing opposition movement.

“The obstacles are clear and one of them is that there is no advance in consolidating the ceasefire,” said HNC adviser Yehya Aridi, referring to an agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since 2011, when government forces launched a brutal crackdown on protesters calling for Assad to step down.

“I have never seen a war so cruel in my life,” De Mistura, who has worked on conflict resolution for the UN for decades, said earlier this week.

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Deutsche Welle <![CDATA[Deadly blast rocks upscale market in Pakistani city of Lahore]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616117 2017-02-23T12:47:41Z 2017-02-23T12:47:41Z An explosion at a shopping area in Lahore has killed at least eight and wounded dozens in the country's latest surge of violence. The blast came a day after the military announced the start of an anti-terror operation.

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At least 20 people were wounded and another eight killed when a blast ripped through a building in a market in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, officials said.

The explosion was caused by a timed device that was placed in a building that was under construction, Punjab police told television channel Geo News. Police further told the channel that between 8-10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of explosives were used.

“It was a bomb attack,” Nayab Haider, a spokesman for the provincial Punjab police told news agency AFP.

The blast took place in the particularly upscale Defense Housing Authority suburb of the city, home to boutiques, coffee shops, banks and an academy for the international hair salon Toni & Guy.

Security forces are not allowing people to enter or leave the market as they believe the bomber is still alive, authorities said.

Television footage and images posted on social media showed a charred building, cars with their windows blown out and bodies on the street.

One witness who works at a bank near the bomb blast told Reuters news agency that his workplace was rattled by the “frightening” explosion.

“We left the building and saw that the motorbikes parked outside were on fire and all the windows in the surrounding buildings were shattered,” the witness, Mohammad Khurram, said.

Surge in attacks

The blast in Lahore came one day after the Pakistani military announced the start of a nationwide anti-terror operation in the wake of a surge of assaults that have killed more than 130 people in the past two weeks.

The recent deadly attacks in Pakistan include a previous bomb blast in Lahore last week that killed 14 people.

One of the worst attacks took place at a Sufi shrine in the southern Sindh province that left 90 people dead.

The attacks, which were carried out by militants with ties to groups including the Pakistani Taliban and the so-called “Islamic State,” have damaged optimism about the country’s security after it appeared to be making gains in its war on militancy.

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Deutsche Welle <![CDATA[Iraqi army storms Mosul airport in key attack on ‘Islamic State’]]> http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=616115 2017-02-23T12:33:12Z 2017-02-23T12:33:12Z Government troops and local fighters were on the cusp of pushing the terrorists out of their last stronghold in the city. Losing Mosul could spell the end of IS' power in the country.

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The Iraqi military said on Thursday that special forces were closing in on “Islamic State” (IS) terrorists in the city of Mosul. State television reported that government soldiers had stormed the airport and a military complex in the western half of the city. Later, the army confirmed that it had taken the runway amid a fierce firefight.

“Our forces started a major operation early this morning to storm the airport of Mosul and the Ghazlani base to dislodge Daesh (IS) terrorists. We can confirm that the Mosul airport militarily has fallen and it’s a matter of short time to fully control it,” said Sabah al-Numan, a spokesman for the counter-terrorism service.

Some officials later told the Associated Press that some soldiers from the US-led coalition were amongst the advancing troops, but did not say which country they came from. On Lebanese television, live footage from the perimeter of the airport showed a military helicopter firing on IS targets amid blasts of gunfire.

At Ghazlani, heavy clashes continued into Thursday afternoon. But according to Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, Iraqi forces had been able to enter the base and hoped to take it soon.

The end of the “caliphate”?

Since successfully ousting the extremist fighters from eastern Mosul last month, the Iraqi army has sought to control the airport as a base for finally pushing IS out of the country’s second-largest city.

IS overran Mosul in June 2014, when a lack of troops and infighting among military personnel led to the abandonment of the city. Under IS occupation, the city has experienced a number of atrocities including ethnic cleansing of Christians, human trafficking mostly of young women, and the destruction of ancient heritage sites such as the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.

A 100,000 strong coalition of government troops, Kurdish fighters and local militias, backed by the US airstrikes, has made rapid advances in retaking the city since January. If IS loses its territory in Mosul, that may well herald the end of the terrorists’ self-styled caliphate which at its peak straddled large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Taking the western half of the city is likely to pose more of a challenge, however, as its roads are narrower and older than in the east – soldiers will likely be forced to abandon their armored vehicles and fight in the streets.

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