Opinion – Daily News Egypt https://www.dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Tue, 22 Jan 2019 20:31:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Attracting right talent for thriving business https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2019/01/16/attracting-right-talent-for-thriving-business/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2019/01/16/attracting-right-talent-for-thriving-business/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:00:30 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687007 Yoga on the office roof, bring your dog to work, lunch by a five-star chef, nap pods for a quick siesta—these playful perks have become an all too familiar approach as a means to entice the very best candidates in the market. Consider these measures a result of an evolving work model, or a shift …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Jones is CEO of Sprii.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mohamed Shirin El Hawary is an expert in political economy

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

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

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

Progress and change

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

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

Seamless customer experience

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

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

Digital maturation

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

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

It’s about family

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

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

Digital toolbox

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

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

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

Challenges to overcome

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahmed Gaber – Visa’s General Manger for North Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mountford – CEO of Riverbed Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Wagner – CEO and Co-founder of INVAO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salah El Din Aloui,Chairman & MD of Jupiter Commz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippe Le Houérou

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

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Education is tomorrow’s gold mine https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/28/education-is-tomorrows-gold-mine/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/28/education-is-tomorrows-gold-mine/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:00:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=682304 Human capital is our most prised resource—an almost infinite resource, if we are capable of developing it to its full potential

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The globalisation of trade and commerce since the late 1980s has led in parallel to a globalisation of the labour market, in order to meet the huge needs of emerging economies. It is what we call today the ‘talent war’. Simultaneously, a global market for higher education has developed, driven by new, common diploma standards determining that schools and universities need to work harder than ever to attract the best students.

Competition is stronger than ever

This competition has become even more intense with the digital revolution and the rise of industry 4.0. Countries and companies the world over are aware that they need to attract those who have the highest potential—in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data, connectivity, cyber security, among others—and train tomorrow’s talents if they want to be leaders on innovation’s forefront.

“Countries and companies need to attract those who have the highest potential and train tomorrow’s talents”.

Emerging countries have long been focused on the construction of their economy, but they are now also beginning to treat education as a priority— often with spectacular results. Thus, China has built one of the most successful university systems in the world with nearly 7.5 million graduates in 2017, twice as many as in 2007. This focus on universities, as well as on heavy investments in R&D, has led to China becoming one of the world’s most innovative economies. The country climbed five places in the 2018 Global Innovation Index. China now ranks ahead of countries such as Canada and Norway, to name but a few.

The governments of India, Brazil and Russia manifest similar intentions – as do all countries that want to accelerate their growth in the coming decades.

Additional education means increased prosperity

Additional education leads to fresh innovation… and therefore, increased prosperity. The 2992 Nobel prize winner Gary Becker was the first economist to establish a clear link between investments in education and income growth, at both an individual and a national level. Relative to companies, his enlightening concept of “human capital” explains why companies who invest more in training experience further success.

Gary Becker’s analysis is obviously even more relevant as the ongoing spectacular digital transformation unfolds; contemporary individuals need to master numerous, diverse and constantly evolving skills, as do companies and modern societies.

Companies have an educational mission

As Chairman and CEO of Thales, but also as a citizen and as a father, I believe more than ever that our investment in human capital needs to evolve and intensify for everyone’s benefit.

How? I will talk about what I know best: businesses. I believe that a company can only exist and remain innovative if it takes its role in education very seriously.

There are different ways to do this. We know the strength of the German model, with its apprenticeship programmes for teenagers starting from the age of 14. A few years ago, the CEO of one of the largest German car manufacturing companies started out as an apprentice – demonstrating if need be, that companies can train and foster talents, setting no limits on their ambition other than their own commitment and desire to learn.

“A company can innovate only if it takes its role in education very seriously”.

Another method that we favour at Thales is to collaborate with academic ecosystems around the world. We support ecosystems with, of course, an aim of economic development, but above all for reasons relating to our most ambitious mission, which is designing, developing and implementing technologies that will concretely improve the daily life of all, i.e. to enable technology to assist mankind.

What we do in Canada is emblematic of this approach. Montreal is a fantastic hub of intelligence and knowledge, structured around prestigious universities and driven by a generous vision – the “Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence”. That’s why we chose to establish a global research centre in Artificial Intelligence eXpertise, CortAIx, and a new extension of our Digital Factory.

CortAIx researchers hence collaborate closely with researchers from the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), the Institute of Data Valorisation (IVADO) and the Vector Institute of Toronto to develop tomorrow’s technologies whilst honouring ethical principles.

Similarly, the company’s commitment to the ENCQOR project (the evolution of cloud services in the Quebec-Ontario corridor for research and innovation) is also based on partnerships with academic and research institutions. The ENCQOR project will boost innovation and enable the successful deployment of 5G throughout all of Canada,

This approach is the model for the dozens of academic partnerships we have established around the world. In France with the CNRS and top engineering schools, in the US with the MIT, in China with several universities in Beijing and Hong Kong, in India with the Institutes of Technology in Bombay and Delhi, as well as in many other countries.

Science has the power to make people speculate

A third way is for tech companies to commit to helping children and teenagers discover the infinite reservoir for amazement and intelligence that we now call STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

When it was launched 20 years ago, I was impressed by the 1992 Physics Nobel prize winner, Georges Charpak’s initiative (“La Main à la Pâte”) to renovate and promote the teaching of science and technology in France’s primary and secondary schools. The initial idea was absolutely luminous: to teach children how to observe and experiment, so that they could develop their understanding of the world, their ability to work together, and ultimately become smarter, more confident, and more creative adults.

It is an ever-inspiring success, and I was very happy to see the Thales Foundation reward an initiative launched by this structure to help students from 12 primary school classes in Châtenay-Malabry build and programme small robots.

“Stimulate the curiosity of young students who may become tomorrow’s researchers and engineers”.

This same societal and educational generosity has led to dozens of Thales technicians and engineers to get involved in projects worldwide. In England, in Crawley, with the Saint Wilfrids school, as part of the Arduino Challenge; in Germany, in Arnstadt and Ditzingen, to introduce children to scientific and technical careers and in the US, in Arlington, to help middle and high school students build mini rockets for the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Because our employees know the emancipating power of scienctific education, engineers and technicians give their time to primary and secondary schools by organising workshops and competitions that stimulate the curiosity of young students, who may become tomorrow’s researchers and engineers.

For a new Age of Enlightenment

In his famous 1784 essay What is Enlightenment? philosopher Emmanuel Kant urged his contemporaries to have “the courage to use their own understanding and reason” to master their destinies. At exactly the same time, mathematician Jean d’Alembert and philosopher Denis Diderot proposed with their Encyclopaedia a prodigious display of the science and technologies of their time, with the same generous ambition of educating and emancipating mankind.

The ongoing digital transformation will require upcoming generations to possess more extensive scientific and technological skills than ever before. As tech companies are full of generous, curious, inventive and very well-trained talents, they must be ever more involved in creating a new Age of Enlightenment, through education and collective research, for the benefit of all.

Patrice Caine is the chairperson, and CEO of Thales Group

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From Hieroglyphs to bits: ICT links ancient Egypt to intelligent world https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/28/from-hieroglyphs-to-bits-ict-links-ancient-egypt-to-intelligent-world/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/28/from-hieroglyphs-to-bits-ict-links-ancient-egypt-to-intelligent-world/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 08:00:45 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=682296 Smartphones resurrect astonishing civilisation of pharaohs

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Egypt has always been the land ancient civilisation of grand pyramids. But there is another impressive site that attracts a substantial number of visitors every year: the mysterious Valley of the Kings. About 700 km south of Cairo, in a patch of desert across the river from the modern city of Luxor, sits the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.

Over a 1,000 years ago, over 60 pharaohs were buried here. These ancient kings include familiar names like Ramesses and Tutankhamun. The pharaohs’ wives were buried in the nearby Valley of the Queens, named Ta-Set-Neferu, meaning ‘the place of beauty.’

For the past two centuries, the Valley of the Kings has been a focus of study for Egyptologists, and visitors have always been stunned by the Egyptian civilisation. But for a millennium and a half, up until the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics in the 19th century, this desert culture, nourished by the Nile, had been unable to tell its story.

 

Then in 1822, French linguist Jean-François Champollion submitted a thesis to the ‘Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres’ in Paris, announcing a breakthrough in deciphering Egyptian inscriptions. Finally, the veil of mystery that shrouded Ancient Egypt has been unveiled.

Over a century later, Claude Shannon published A Mathematical Theory of Communication, in which he proposed a formal definition of “information” and “bit.”

For the first time, information could be quantified, and with that, the information revolution began.

Today, smartphones are resurrecting the astonishing civilisation of the pharaohs. For modern visitors to the Valley of the Kings, the ancient script and the wonders of Egypt are just seconds away, with information and communications technology (ICT) making it all possible.

 

American physicist John Wheeler once suggested that all things are ultimately information. He called the idea “It from Bit.” The hieroglyphics inscribed in the ancient Valley of the Kings carry information across vast stretches of time, down to the present day. Now, atop the Valley of the Kings, a cell tower transmits information across the world, connecting people and enabling conversations between civilisations.

Over a decade ago, Huawei and a local telecom carrier built a cell tower in the Valley of the Kings, providing mobile coverage to the entire area. At the time, there were no roads to the top of the hill where we built the tower, so we had to haul all of the equipment and supplies, including concrete, iron girders, generators, batteries, and microwave equipment, up by horse, camel, or on our own backs.

Since then, Huawei and our partners have built base stations in almost every corner of Egypt, from Abu Simbel in the south, to Marsa Matruh on the northern coast; from Arish in the east to the Sahara in the west. We have connected the heights of Sinai to the deep Valley of the Kings, and the ancient pyramids of Giza to the modern library of Alexandria.

New ICT technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are connecting not just people, but objects as well. They also connect the present to the future, and to the ancient past. Champollion’s decoding of the hieroglyphic code meant that people living in modern times could pass through Egypt’s “gateway to the afterlife,” and uncover the secrets of the past. Today, digital applications enable us to see future vistas, and explore new directions for human progress.

Recently, Huawei delivered a massive computing system for the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new library of Alexandria. The new supercomputer uses high-density Huawei servers to support specialised applications such as bioinformatics, data mining, physical simulations, weather forecasting, oil exploration, and cloud computing.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002, funded by UNESCO and Egyptian donors. It was built on the site of the great classical Library of Alexandria, which 2,000 years ago was one of the greatest cultural and academic centres in the world.

Although the original library and its contents were tragically lost to history, today’s Bibliotheca houses six different collections with over 1m books. Comprising of four museums and 13 research centres, it is a new hub for the production and dissemination of knowledge that will foster dialogue, learning, and understanding between different peoples and cultures.

In addition to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina project, Huawei has also built customised high-performance computing (HPC) platforms for Warsaw University in Poland, Newcastle University in the UK, and Istanbul Technical University in Turkey. We have established joint innovation centres with Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Centre (PSNC) in Poland, as well as other strategic partners.

All great civilisations have one thing in common: the free exchange of ideas and the exchange and evolution of knowledge.

Growth in computing power and artificial intelligence is making cross-disciplinary research and knowledge-sharing ever more popular. In the information age, the Internet and other communications technologies have created unprecedented levels of communication between cultures. This new age is the starting point for Huawei’s new vision and mission which is to extend digitalisation to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world.

Egypt also has its own vision. The country’s ICT 2030 strategy envisages using ICT technology to create a knowledge-based society. This will stimulate the economy, drive social development, and promote freedom and equality. Smart cities, smart campuses, digital education, and smart travel, are all rapidly developing in Egypt. From ancient symbols to modern digital technology, from simple exchanges to dense convergence and the collision of ideas, ICT technology has inspired surges in creativity, and driven the relentless progress of civilisations.

These are the same goals that Huawei has been working towards for the past 19 years in Egypt. Along the road to an intelligent world, information technology extends wings to an ancient civilisation. And we are the wind beneath those wings.

Joy Tan, president of Global Media & Communications for Huawei Technologies

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Opinion: Violence against women is a universal problem https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/25/opinion-violence-against-women-is-a-universal-problem/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/25/opinion-violence-against-women-is-a-universal-problem/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=681983 The post Opinion: Violence against women is a universal problem appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Many Germans like pointing out the mistreatment of women abroad. But in truth, Germany is far from perfect itself, argues Beate Hinrichs.Health Minister Jens Spahn, of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), associates "honor" killings and forced marriages exclusively with immigrants. But is that really the case?

Judging by figures presented by Family Minister Franziska Giffey, domestic violence is in fact widespread in Germany, and not only found among immigrants. Almost 140,000 victims of domestic abuse were recorded by police last year — 82 percent of them were female. The statistics show that 147 individuals died after suffering domestic violence; on average, a woman is killed every two and a half days by a violent husband, partner or ex-partner.

Many cases go unreported. But an estimated one in four women, at some time in their lives, fall victim to physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner, according a 2004 study commissioned by the Ministry of Family Affairs. The stats also show that domestic violence is not limited to any specific societal group, class or age cohort. So the latest figures on domestic violence, though shocking, don't come as a surprise.

Read more: EU, UN vow to fight violence against women

Patriarchal violence a global problem

There is plenty of evidence that domestic violence is a huge problem in Germany. Women's shelters, for example, are at full capacity.

Each year, thousands of women need to be turned away because there is not enough space, because shelters are underfunded or not accessible to all. Germany is permanently breaching the Council of Europe convention on combating domestic violence.

Granted, women's shelters are disproportionately frequented by non-German women. But the reason for this is that they tend to have fewer financial resources and fewer personal resources on whom they can rely for help.

And yes, non-German women do in fact tend to be at higher risk of suffering violent abuse from their partners. On average, one in three non-German women are abused, according to the study by the Ministry of Family Affairs. So does a person's ethnicity or religion explain their propensity for violence? Is Islam to blame? Not at all.

Read more: Amnesty International decries Europe's 'outdated' rape laws

The explanation is much simpler. Men tend to use violence against women when they are unemployed, when money is tight, when the shared apartment is too small or when the future looks bleak. Immigrants in Germany, on average, are more likely to find themselves in grim circumstances like these. #

This does not justify violence against women in the slightest, but does make clear that ethnicity or religious beliefs are not the causal factors at play.

Violence against women can be found everywhere across the world, and it largely correlates with people's material living conditions.

Read more: Rape laws around the world

'Honor killings' vs 'family dramas'

And what about the widely publicized "honor killings" that are sometimes, though rarely, perpetrated in Germany? Those are severe crimes, without question. A study by the Max Planck Institute showed that statistically 12 such murders are committed per year out of jealousy or revenge, in order to supposedly restore one's honor.

Most media outlets, however, offer crude, simplistic explanations when such murders happen. For instance, when a Turkish man kills his wife, newspapers will label this an "honor killing." But when a German man does such a thing, there is either no report or only a tiny article that classifies the murder as a "family drama." Instead, the media should call both types of murders what they are: domestic violence, committed by men against women. Nothing more, nothing less.

Pretending that those who commit violence against women are always non-Germans is disingenuous. We should confront the truth and accept that domestic violence is a widespread problem in Germany that isn't exclusive to any particular ethnicity. And that, unfortunately, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is still a hugely important day in Germany.

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Italy in maelstrom of euro https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/italy-in-maelstrom-of-euro/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/italy-in-maelstrom-of-euro/#respond Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:00:29 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=681459 The country's GDP currently stands at €1.75tn and its growth rates are extremely anaemic, reaching just 0.9%. real per capita gross domestic product (GDP), according to reliable calculations

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Italy joined the eurozone in 1999, with Prime Minister Massimo d’Alema of the ‘Democratic Left’ party. This fateful participation, which entailed the complete loss of independent monetary policy, is undoubtedly the main cause behind the disappointing performance of the Italian economy.

The country’s GDP currently stands at 1.75tn and its growth rates are extremely anaemic, reaching just 0.9%. real per capita gross domestic product (GDP), according to reliable calculations. This increased in the period 1969-1998, when the country had its national currency, the lire, by 104%, while in the period 1999-2016, where the country had already adopted the euro, it fell by 0.75%. On the other hand, in the period 1999-2016, Germany’s real per capita GDP grew by 26.1%, making the citizens of that country the wealthiest among the main economies of the eurozone.

Italy, at the same time, has the third largest state debt in the world after the US and Japan, and therefore its rescue is impossible, since it exceeds the capabilities of European states. The country’s debt, as a percentage of the GDP, currently stands at 132% and in absolute figures to €2,336tn, while in 1999 it was 109,7%. So, one can easily notice a significant increase.

Simultaneously, since 1999, Italy’s steep downhill course in terms of development had begun. Fiat has ceased to dominate the European car market, and the country lost its leading position as a producer of white household appliances. Many factories shut down and several large businesses relocated to other countries. In addition, millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which were based on the periodic devaluation of the currency, to offset the inadequacies of the Italian economic system, could no longer compete outside the Italian border. What are these inadequacies? Labour market problems, low public and private investment in development and research, high government bureaucracy, a dysfunctional, costly and slow-moving justice system, high levels of corruption and tax evasion etc.

Unemployment is about 11% of the labour force, the fourth highest in the EU after Greece, Spain and Cyprus. Meanwhile, unemployment among young people aged between 15 and 24, which, according to the latest statistics from the Istat Statistics, amounts to a very high percentage of 30.8%, clearly reflecting the deep economic and social crisis which swept Italy.

Poverty rose to its highest level since 2005. The latest Istat report registered 5 million people in absolute poverty in 2017. On a percentage basis, 6.9% of Italian households live in absolute poverty, namely, in a situation where it is not possible to cover the minimum monthly expenses for goods and services which, Italian families consider necessary for a minimum acceptable standard of living.

Italy has a largest number of bank branches per inhabitant across Europe, which is an additional characteristic of a faulty business model, surviving only by interest and corporate loans. Thus, given that the interest rates in the eurozone are zero, banks are operating not profiting, having accumulated insecurities (red loans) that currently reach about €260bn (15% of the GDP), of which much is lost.

The Italian economy, the third largest in the woefully-designed monetary union, loaded with debts and red loans of the Eurozone, which is an incredibly rigid system, an iron-clogged space for 19 different countries in productivity, inflation, trade balance and technological progress.

Therefore, the eurozone is nothing else but a field of conflicting interests among its member countries. Thus, what is of great interest to Italy is not of any interest for Germany. However, reconciling interests over the years of the common currency has proven to be impossible. This is because Germany as the primary economic power has managed to rule and dominate, using the euro for its benefit, while other countries instead of resisting and even colliding, bowed and obeyed.

However, the cost of delaying Italy’s exit from the eurozone—which has so far prevented an apparent fear of the Italian political system of any short-term exit negative effects—will ultimately prove to be far greater than the rupture cost in the beginning of the economic crisis.

The recent decision by the coalition government of the Movement 5 stars M5S and Lega, formed in May 2018, to submit a budget for 2019 with a deficit of 2.4% of the GDP is clearly in the right direction, because reinforcing the Italian economy is important by strengthening domestic demand. What is also important is the prosperity of Italian people, and not Brussels’s strict fiscal regulations imposed by Germany and which do not allow it.

Italy must at last cease to succumb to Berlin’s commands and fear a break with the German eurozone because it is able to return to the lire and thus regain its political, economic and institutional sovereignty. Despite current problems, it still has the second largest euro industry after Germany and the fifth largest in the world, with participation of 19% of the country’s GDP. Italy manufactures aircrafts, cars, weapons, electronic systems and perfumes, shoes and clothes. Italy also needs energy, which is cheap oil and gas, and that it does not have. But it could secure oil from its former colony, Libya, and gas from Gazprom. Thus, with low production costs and a flexible national currency, it would become extremely competitive.

To sum it up, Italy, will sink numerically if its political leadership does not take, as long as it is still time, the ground-breaking and dynamic decision to return to its national currency.

Curriculum vitae

Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and columnist. He studied economics and has completed postgraduate studies in the tourism economy. Articles of his have been republished in newspapers, magazines and sites worldwide. His poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish and published in literary magazines and literary sections of newspapers. He has published seven poetry books and two novels. His books have been published in the US, the UK, Spain and Italy.

Email: skarderinis@hotmail.gr              

Facebook: Karderinis Isidoros

Twitter: isidoros karderinis

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Obesity is Serious Threat to Children’s Health https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/obesity-is-serious-threat-to-childrens-health/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/obesity-is-serious-threat-to-childrens-health/#respond Mon, 19 Nov 2018 12:00:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=681455 Rapid development accompanied by decreasing levels of physical activity, increased caloric consumption 

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In many cultures and in older times obesity in children was a sign of good health. This is no longer the case according to a US National Institute of Health study, and because of its serious effects on their health, the global rise in childhood obesity has become an ‘epidemic’. “It is an exploding nightmare in the developing world,” says Peter Gluckman, co-chair of the Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Commission.

Some studies carried out in Middle Eastern countries show that childhood obesity is a serious problem in the region. The rapid pace of economic development in the region has been accompanied by decreasing levels of physical activity and increased caloric consumption, particularly of ‘junk food’. These are important factors in child and adolescent obesity.

Dr. Cesar Chelala

Children who are obese are likely to remain obese as adults and are at risk for several serious health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart failure. In addition, obesity in children can hinder their educational attainment. It is important, therefore, that public health and school officials develop a series of measures aimed at increasing the level of physical activity among children both inside and outside school, and conduct educational campaigns showing the risks of consuming high calories foods and drinks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) alerts that the rise in childhood obesity in low and middle-income countries is an alarming trend that demands a ‘high level action’. About half of the world’s obese children, 48%, live in Asia. Although many countries in South East Asia have achieved impressive economic gains in recent times, there has been, at the same time, a rise in conditions such as over and under-nutrition, where some children are overweight while their peers may suffer from stunting and wasting.

This ‘double burden’ of malnutrition is happening now in middle-income countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Christiane Rudert, regional nutrition adviser for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific stated in a recent press release, “Asian children are now at risk of malnutrition from both ends of the spectrum”.

In China, a 29-year survey of 28,000 children aged between seven and 18 was carried out in eastern Shandong province. The study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, found that 17% of boys and 9% of girls were obese in 2014. This showed a significant increase from under 1% for both genders in 1985. The study also showed that the increase was particularly more notable in children aged seven to 12 than in adolescents.

 

There is not one factor that explains the high rates of obesity among Chinese children, although there are several contributing factors with varying importance in different settings and circumstances. For example, many formerly poor families are over-feeding their children, particularly when the grandparents are in charge of their care.

Although Japan hasn’t totally solved the problem of childhood obesity, it has made significant advances in its control. One of the strategies used in Japan involved a redesigning of school lunches that are increasingly planned by nutritionists and include a variety of foods such as fresh ingredients and locally grown vegetables.

Increasingly, children worldwide are being raised in obesogenic environments (the obesogenic environment refers to an environment that helps, or contributes to, obesity).

One of the most important contributing factors for obesity is the high consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates and high consumption of sugary drinks. “Children are exposed to ultra-processed, energy dense, nutrient-poor foods, which are cheap and readily available,” says the WHO.

Physical inactivity is another important contributing factor, often associated with a significant increment in television viewing. It has been proven that each hour watching television is associated with a 1-2% increase in the prevalence of obesity among urban children.

Obesity in children can have significant economic costs. Obesity, which affects about 10.4% of children between 2 and 5 years of age and more than 23 million children and teens in total in the US, cost the nation $117bn per year in direct medical expenses and indirect costs, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It is important to educate parents before and during pregnancy for early prevention, and to work with governments to provide weight management resources for children who are battling obesity. As stated by Peter Gluckman, “WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and help give children the healthy start to life they deserve”.

 

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a public health consultant for several international organisations.

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Money smuggled from Africa https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/money-smuggled-from-africa/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/11/19/money-smuggled-from-africa/#respond Mon, 19 Nov 2018 11:00:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=681452 International institutions should review frameworks of combating money laundering

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Tarek Amer, who chaired a meeting of governors of the African Consulting Group in the framework of the annual meetings of the World Bank (WB) and the IMF, urged the return of smuggled money from African countries over the decades, especially the funds collected illegally. He estimated these funds at trillions of dollars. He said that international institutions have a role in the process of regulating the receipt of these funds highlighting the need to strengthen governance and fight corruption.

There is no doubt that this issue, which is being raised for the first time at a global level, is of great importance to the rich and impoverished African countries alike, which suffer from economic and social problems and lack of infrastructure. This happens due to resources erosion by smuggling funds while recipient countries turn a blind eye to them. The recipient countries favour the benefit of receiving the money and employing them to boost economic growth at the expense of hindering the progress of the countries of origin—leaving them poor and asking for aid, grants, and loans, even though these funds, if returned, could be a key to strengthening their economies, developing infrastructure, and spending on education and health care to catch up with the developed countries.

Therefore, international institutions should review the frameworks of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and adding laws and mechanisms which will reduce the continuity of contraband money, whether transferred through banks or across borders. These funds, if transferred through banks or smuggled across borders, despite having some benefits to the countries smuggled to, in countries of weak governance systems and the spread of corruption, may lead to high inflation rates. The desire to legitimise such money is done through excessive pricing of goods, thus creating an unjustified inflation. They also give rise to the informal economy, which distorts the economic system, and negatively affects state revenues and the quality of goods.

There shall be nothing wrong if the UN decided to play a genuine role in this direction by criminalising the receipt of suspicious funds by states, and to ensure the commitment of countries to apply the principles of ‘Know you Client’ to find out the source of this money, and set a set of criteria to classify countries to cooperating countries and non-cooperating countries with regard to ​​preventing the smuggling of money and imposing economic sanctions on the countries violating the laws. Several developed countries have huge funds at banks that can no longer be tracked. These funds are still invested to benefit from revenues and keep them inside these states until they are forgotten, given that nobody is tracking them. Moreover, the UN should establish a mechanism through which it can coordinate with supervisory bodies on financial institutions to find the nature and size of stagnant or rigid funds to send them back to the treasuries of these countries, or transfer them to a fund supervised by the UN to spend on grants and aids for low-income and poor countries.

It is a very dangerous matter. African countries should thank the Governor of the CBE for his initiative and shedding light on this matter. The recovery of these funds will solve a major part of the debt problems in African countries, which exceeded safety levels against the GDP. These countries should also play a role in this regard and do their best to enforce governance, combating money laundering, combating the financing of terrorism, fighting corruption, which will limit money-laundering in the future.

Zakaria Salah El Gendy Banking expert

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Egypt’s New Capital attracts new investments, also locks country into Chinese loans, technology https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/31/679701/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/31/679701/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=679701 ‘Owner’ of New Capital is ACUD with two shareholders, 51% is NUCA, remaining is army, capital is $10.3bn

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Egypt is building a New Capital City on a desert plot, between the Nile River and the Suez Canal, to ease Cairo’s population boom. Labelled “the first smart city in Egypt,” the new, unnamed city, ultimately aims to house nearly 6.5 million people. Chinese bank loans are paying for 50-70% of upfront costs. Across the project’s two phases, total costs will reach US$45bn. This is an ambitious project, and one of several “megaprojects” being pushed by President Sisi, with Chinese backing. 

A loan is a loan

China is not actually paying for anything though. While Chinese bank loans may be big, they are still loans, and they come with strict terms. The New Capital’s electric rail project is typical. Chinese banks are lending funds only to buy Chinese equipment. The Egyptian side needs to fund the remainder. Interest rates are rumoured to be reasonable, around 2-3%, but repayment on the New Capital loans begin in late 2019-early 2020, based on the 36-42-month grace period. 

And three-years grace period is not nearly as much as it sounds, with a project this big.  The country’s economy has bounced back since its November 2016 IMF bailout, but cannot afford an economic slowdown. Egypt’s portion of project costs are to be funded by selling land in the New Capital to property developers.  It is easy to imagine a worst case scenario for the government, where recession hits Egypt in 2019, property developers go bust in the new capital, relocation rates dwindle, and the government has trouble paying back China in 2020, and beyond. Those implications are stark. 

The new capital: phase 1 targets basic infrastructure 

The ‘owner’ of Egypt’s New Capital is the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD). The ACUD is in charge of both initial construction and management. It has two shareholders, 51% is held by an affiliate of the Ministry of Housing, known as the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The remaining share is held by the army. The ACUD was created with an injection of capital roughly worth $10.3bn.

The New Capital has been allocated an area of land roughly equivalent to Singapore, or 170,000 feddan in local terms.  This plot of land is located about 45km east of central Cairo, and 80km west of the Suez Canal. 

For phase one of the New Capital project, only a portion of the land area is being developed. The initial focus is building a central business district (CBD), local and regional transport (roadways, tunnels, bridges, an airport and a light rail to Cairo), residential real estate complexes, and shopping malls. A communications infrastructure is also part of phase one.   

Telecom market liberalising, TE still protected

Egypt’s government has liberalised its control of the sector cautiously over the years. The government retains an 80% stake in Telecom Egypt, 13 years after its IPO.  Since this IPO, competition has been slowly introduced in Egypt, and TE has been protected along the way. Even today, for example, TE is the only operator in Egypt allowed to install or operate commercial fibre networks. 

TE remains the largest of Egypt’s four operating groups, along with the local units of Etisalat (UAE), Vodafone (UK), and Orange (France). The four accounted for a total $3.7bn in telecom revenues for the last 12 months covering the third quarter (Q3) to Q2 of 2018.

Egypt’s incumbent operator retains over a 90% share in the fixed line market. In mobile services, TE was given a 4G license ahead of its rivals, in late 2016, and launched mobile services on its own network a year later.  TE still offers 2G-3G services through Vodafone Orange, in which it owns a 45% stake. The government-TE connection remains an important context for the Egypt telecom market.

TE accounts for over half of Egypt’s capex

Most of Egypt’s communications infrastructure is built and owned by the top four providers. Aggregating capex from 2011-Q2 2018, TE accounted for 29% of the $9.6B total, followed by Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat (26% each), then Orange (19%). TE’s capex has come to dominate in the last two years, fuelled primarily by DSL and 4G-LTE infrastructure buildouts, as well as international transmission (Figure 1). 

Smart city in the desert

Egypt’s New Capital is being built in the desert, in an area with almost no fixed physical infrastructure. The capital’s property developers are eager to boast of advanced connectivity, and services in order to attract new customers. The basic connectivity goal is multiple layers of high-speed broadband access: FTTH-B to every premise, 4G wireless enhanced by small cells, and public WiFi. Project officials have also noted the importance of cloud connectivity, and are interested in attracting more data centre investment to the region, including to the New Capital. This will be a ‘smart city,’ relative to some others in the region, but it will not be comparable to more experimental projects like Google’s Sidewalk Labs.

Earlier this year, an Egyptian firm was hired to come up with a design for the new capital’s telecom network. More will be known about the results in the months ahead. One near certainty is that China will supply most of the technology. Already, Huawei supplied most of the gear used by the University of Canada’s new branch in the new capital. 

China raising its profile with the city’s Phase 2

While the city’s communications infrastructure is unsettled, construction for Phase 2 of the new capital is already underway. China remains the driver. 

For the CBD expansion part of Phase 2, China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) has already won the construction project, as per press reports.  To fund this, New Capital officials have been negotiating with three big Chinese banks regarding a $3.2bn loan package. The actual loan terms are still in flux though, and are apparently to be finalised by end of 2018. That is not stopping CFLD and other Chinese companies from actively pursuing other opportunities related to phase 2, including a petrochemical refinery.  

Beyond the New Capital, Chinese banks are active investors in Egypt, which has accelerated with Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” campaign (aka Belt and Road Initiative). For instance, the National Bank of Egypt borrowed $600m from the China Development Bank last month.  However, Chinese interests have not taken over, as multilateral institutions remain crucial. Most importantly, the IMF continues its support for its original $12bn bailout package. The World Bank loaned Egypt $1.15bn earlier this month.  Numerous private banks around the Middle East and beyond are important creditors to the Egyptian government as well. China Inc, though, is making a concerted effort to convert its investment into local political influence – through promotional videos. Most tactics are less visible.

China is working hard to reassure OBOR countries that its intentions are pure, focusing on the positives of such projects as the New Capital, minimising such risks as debt traps. Until mid-2018, it was working very well, but more attention is being paid now.  Technology suppliers eager to have a fair shot at projects like the New Capital will have to pay attention, too.

Matt Walker is a recognised expert in the areas of telco-cloud strategy and finance; technology vendors; network and IT capex-opex; and industry M&A.

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Honouring the Enemy https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/31/honouring-the-enemy/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/31/honouring-the-enemy/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 10:00:24 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=679696 “I dreamed that one had died in a strange place, near no accustomed hand”: William Butler Yeats

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In these times of so much civil strife, internecine wars, and racial and political intolerance, it is good to remember an episode involving Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. It shows the power of words to console the grieving, and to bring closure to a painful history.

Usually, in April, Turks, as well as people from Australia and New Zealand gather in north western Turkey to render homage to their ancestors, brave young soldiers, who lost their lives on the fields of Çanakkale, in what is known as the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I.

The Gallipoli Campaign took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, between April 1915 and January 1916. A joint British and French operation was conducted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, and secure a sea route to Russia. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or Anzac, formed the foundation of a 200,000 British-led army which landed at Gallipoli. The operation failed, with thousands of casualties from both sides.

To each of the ANZAC soldiers, one could apply the words of William Butler Yeats,

“I dreamed that one had died in a strange place

Near no accustomed hand”

Painful as the losses of young soldiers’ lives were, however, this episode fostered the creation of national identities, and laid the foundations of friendly relations among the people from Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. The battle was also a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people, laying the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence.

It was during that campaign that Mustapha Kemal, who would later be known as Kemal Ataturk, counterattacked the heroic Anzac soldiers’ advance, and reached unparalleled prestige among his compatriots. Mustapha Kemal, then a 34-year-old Lt.-Col., was familiar with the Gallipoli Peninsula from his operations against Bulgaria during the Balkan War.

The prestige this military leader gained during the Gallipoli Campaign allowed him to create the Republic of Turkey as a secular nation with Western values, revitalising it from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. After the Gallipoli Campaign, he proved to be as generous in peace as he had been daring in war.

Dr. Bülent Atalay, president of the Ataturk Society, recounted how in 1930, 14 years after the Gallipoli Campaign, and as president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk was given a letter by his aide-de-camp. In the letter, the mothers of the Anzacs fallen at Gallipoli were requesting permission to visit the graves of their sons.

Ataturk pondered how to respond. His aide told him, “warn them if anyone invades us again we’ll break off their legs.” Ataturk responded, “I cannot do that.”  Instead, he sat down and wrote to the mothers,

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side, here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

The words are now inscribed in the Memorial of Anzac Cove, which commemorates the loss of thousands of Ottoman and Anzac soldiers who gave up their lives at Gallipoli. They reveal that Kemal Ataturk wasn’t only an excellent politician. He was a great statesman as well.

Dr. César Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award for an article on human rights, and two national journalism awards from Argentina. He is the foreign correspondent for The Middle East Times International (Australia).

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The Rise of Artificial Intelligence – Part 2.1:The Nexus Between Computer Learning and Human Intelligence https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/17/the-rise-of-artificial-intelligence-part-2-1the-nexus-between-computer-learning-and-human-intelligence/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/17/the-rise-of-artificial-intelligence-part-2-1the-nexus-between-computer-learning-and-human-intelligence/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 06:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=677855 In the first part of this article, we talked about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents the new power that is currently transforming major industries and professions, and how such a power can be readily affordable with the right knowledge and data. We further explained that AI cannot flourish without human knowledge, and that data is …

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In the first part of this article, we talked about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents the new power that is currently transforming major industries and professions, and how such a power can be readily affordable with the right knowledge and data. We further explained that AI cannot flourish without human knowledge, and that data is a critical component for many AI-powered applications.

In this second part, we will scratch the surface a little and go one small step forward towards the world of AI. We will cover the meaning of AI, the difference between AI and other concepts that may correlate or differentiate with AI in the business world and academic circles. For example, Business Intelligence (BI) applications or solutions which are only based on data analytics can sometimes be confused with the AI field. We will also explain the difference between AI and AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) and will briefly cover the meaning of some interesting terms such as “Singularity” and “AI Conscious”, which is an important concept for the issue of “ethics and privacy” that will be covered in one of the coming parts.

Finally, we will present an outline of the main branches of AI such as machine learning, knowledge representation, and actuators (robotics), and will briefly cover each of them in a simplified manner.

What is AI?

AI is a colloquial and broad term that has many aspects. The answer to this question depends on who will give it. If you ask the question to a software developer, Google deep learning expert, robotics engineer in Boston Dynamics (a firm specialised in the development of robots) and business executive using AI, each one is likely to answer the question from the perspective of their own specialisation. However, there will clearly be a meeting point where every one of these experts agrees on; AI is the computer’s ability to understand certain data sets (inputs), stimulate one or more intellectual tasks, and make an intelligent decision (outputs) without being specifically programmed. This meeting point forms the basis of the meaning of AI, but does not provide an accurate description of how complex sometimes the decisions computers can make to provide an output. This will be explained in more details when we talk about machine learning.

This AI definition would suggest that computers could be as intelligent as humans. This statement is partially true but is partially false too. It is partially true because the computer can learn from specific (and not all or any) data sets a certain pattern, behaviour or function, to provide a human-like outcome correlated with such pattern, behaviour, or function. On the other hand, the statement is partially false because computers do not function the same way as a human brain does. AI computers understand the data and provide the intelligent output by applying certain statistical, mathematical, and algorithmic operations. Applying the wrong algorithms to the right data or vice versa will not lead to the desired intelligent output. Human brains function in a totally different context in terms of acquiring knowledge, experience, context, learning speed, intuition, and observation. However, human brains have been a source of inspiration for one of the most important machine learning types; deep learning.

As we will see later, machine learning is one of the key branches of AI. Deep learning is a subset of and one of the most important and promising branches of machine learning.  Deep Artificial Neural Networks is one of the deep learning showcases, and is an evolved version of Artificial Neural Network (ANN).

ANN is a computational system that was roughly inspired by the information processing system found in biological neural networks in the human brain. Using the biological neural networks, human learning emerges from a myriad number of neurons in the brain. Such neurons are used to identify patterns and classify various types of information. Our brain usually deciphers the information it receives, and does this through labelling and assigning the items into various categories. Likewise, deep learning algorithms can be taught to accomplish the “same” tasks for computers. However, the “infrastructure” of deep neural networks and brain neurons are not the same, at least for the present time. Dr Janet Bastiman, chief science officer of Story Stream explained in a podcast interview last year that ANNs are very simple models of biological neurons – in that you have a number of inputs that go into a central place, just like the cell body of a biological neuron, and then you have a single output, like from the axon of a biological neuron. This is fairly fundamental to how neurons work. However, the connections between neurons in the brain are chemical rather than electrical. In addition, while ANNs consist of thousands of neurons, the biological neural network of the human brain consists of billions.

The conclusion here is that the intelligence of computers in the AI era cannot be assimilated to human intelligence at least for the present time. Deep learning is the most important and productive area of machine learning in recent years, and continues to evolve and contribute to successful AI applications. Our next stop in the AI journey will be the branches of AI, and the relationship between AI, AGI, business intelligence, and data analytics. 

Hani A. Rasoul Chief Executive Officer & Chief of Legal Tech. & Analytics at Brightiom

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US policy towards immigrant children is not Policy, it is cruelty https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/us-policy-towards-immigrant-children-is-not-policy-it-is-cruelty/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/us-policy-towards-immigrant-children-is-not-policy-it-is-cruelty/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 19:00:50 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=677086 Immigrants come to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America try to escape abject poverty and food insecurity in their own countries

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New York – On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy to the presidency and set the tone of his priorities. The elimination of illegal immigration to the United States, mainly from refugees fleeing from poverty and violence in Mexico and Central America was one. He didn’t say at the time that his policies included separating children from their parents, some of whom might never meet again.

Immigrants come to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America try to escape abject poverty and food insecurity in their own countries. In Mexico, 2016 data reveal that 52.3% of children over 11 years old live under the poverty line, and 9.7% live in extreme poverty. Among indigenous children, the figures are more startling. Near 80% of them live under the poverty line, and 18.9% show symptoms of chronic malnutrition, a reflection of their unhealthy quality of life.

In Guatemala, indigenous populations in rural areas are affected by lack of food and economic burden. Guatemalan children have the third-highest rate of stunting worldwide, an effect of chronic malnutrition. It is estimated that 49.8% of Guatemalan children are undernourished, a figure that increases to 69.5% in children living in rural, indigenous areas.

As in other Central American countries, stunting and malnutrition in Honduras children are major concerns, particularly for those living in rural areas. It is estimated that 75% of the Honduran population live in extreme poverty and 12% of households are food-insecure. In rural areas, chronic malnutrition can be as high as 48.5%.

In El Salvador, 16.3% of rural Salvadoran families cannot cover the costs of basic needs. 18.9% of children under age 5 experience chronic malnutrition, a figure that increases to 25.6% for those children living in rural areas. In addition, El Salvador is one of the countries with the highest presence of violent juvenile gangs called “maras”.

Nicaragua, which is going presently through a time of considerable social unrest, is considered one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Approximately 29% of households live in poverty, and 8.3% live in extreme poverty. The highest rates of child chronic malnutrition occur in what is called the northern Dry Corridor, with rates of almost 30%. According to the World Food Programme, 300,000 people are in need of food assistance.

Poverty in Central America is due to factors intrinsic to the countries themselves such as a modern form of feudalism, profound inequality, rampant government corruption, and to foreign interference. The U.S. has influenced their political and economic situation by helping to overturn democratic governments, as in Guatemala and Honduras, or supporting anti-democratic elements, as in the case of the death squads in El Salvador and the “contras” in Nicaragua.

This dismal picture of poverty and violence explains the desire of those people to seek better conditions for them and their children. “We leave our countries under threat. We leave behind our homes, our relatives, our friends. We are not criminals, we are people living in fear in our countries,” told Maritza Flores, a Salvadoran woman, to the BBC.

It is in this context that families come to the U.S., where children are separated in the border from their parents, in some cases permanently. More than 2,300 children were removed at the border between 5 May and 9 June 2018. Children are placed in shelters where they do not always receive the care they need. Separating from their parents produces considerable anguish and depression in those children, many of whom become violent and suffer psychological effects. The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics calls these policies “child abuse”.

President Donald Trump doesn’t hide his dislike for immigrants, both legal and illegal, and forgets the contributions immigrants have made, in all fields of activity, to the US. In the meantime, children become pawns for his policies on immigration. In his infantile view of the world, President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to realize that his decisions on immigrant children are not a policy, they are cruelty.

César Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.

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New look of Agora, Tahrir Squares https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/new-look-of-agora-tahrir-squares/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/new-look-of-agora-tahrir-squares/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 18:00:17 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=677091 Social media is contemporary face of public space

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The French philosopher, Michel Foucault, stated that “space was treated as the dead, the fixed, the undialectical, the immobile. Time, on the contrary was richness, fecundity, life, dialectic.”

He also went on to say, “our era is the era of space, unlike the nineteenth century that was dominated by time.”

According to scientists and philosophers, there are different kinds of spaces, such as physical, psychological, social, inner, private, and public spaces. Public space is a space where people can communicate with each other, such as streets, transportation, and squares. The internet is recognised as a public space, as everyone has access to it. In the Victorian age, i.e., the period of colonisation, space was considered as a symbol of power; the more space you had, the more powerful you were. Recently, virtual space is seen as a metaphor for technology. Indeed, social media platforms like Facebook are conceived as a public space, much like Agora and Tahrir Squares, where people can find, or practice democracy, art, and a sense of community.

Hannah Arendt states that, “the political realm rises directly out of acting together, the sharing of words and deeds. Thus, action not only has the most intimate relationship to the public part of the world common to us all, but is the one activity which constitutes it.”

According to Arendt, Athens was the first city that supported the concept of public space, where people discussed everything about life such as politics, democracy, art, etc. Lately, Tahrir Square (Egypt), is considered one of the common typical representations of public space in the world.

During the current decade— ordinary Egyptians— not just the elite, gathered in Tahrir Square, to revolt twice against the corruption of the Egyptian governments, at the time of the 25th of January, and 30th of June revolutions.

Arendt also says that, “the polis was supposed to multiply the occasions to win “immortal fame”, that is, to multiply the chances for everybody to distinguish himself, to show in deed and word who he was in unique distinctness,” and, it is the space of appearance in the widest sense of the world, namely, the space where I appear to others as others appear to me, where men exist not merely like other living or inanimate things but make their appearance explicitly.”

In the light of these words, Tahrir Square is a typical example of a public space. For instance, after Mubarak’s departure, the square was filled with celebrations, and national songs. Also, poets started to participate making use of their talents, such as Hisham Jakh, who was the revolution’s most prominent poet.

Moreover, youth shouted phrases such asLift your head up, you are Egyptian,” and Everyone who loves Egypt, come and rebuild Egypt.”

Furthermore, women and men came to clean up the square, with the aid of the volunteers who brought food, tea, water, and medication for the protesters. This means that being part of public space is being part of existence.

Similarly, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are considered a public space, although they could be seen as a private space, since people choose their friends, posts, photos, and thoughts.

The convincing argument about considering social media as a public space, is that the main goal of social media is sharing information, and making new friends, among different cultures, from all over the world.

First, through Facebook, people in certain countries can protest against any government, or recommend successful strategies to help their communities.

For instance, a certain hashtag may exceed 10m shares in a few days. Additionally, skilled people share their talent, and distinctiveness on their profiles. For example, if they are singers, they can upload their videos to their Facebook friends. Moreover, similar to Tahrir Square, where no one can pass through it without thinking of the Egyptian revolutions, social media is a public space where people can eternalise themselves by typing posts in prominent pages, with a large number of followers ,to display their true responsibility towards their nations.

Unfortunately, a well-educated person who does not recognise social media as a public space may be wasting his or her time instead.

For example, a student, researcher, or professor may seclude himself or herself in a private room to conduct a research paper, however, ironically enough, he or she may receive frequent Facebook notifications every 30 minutes, or, he or she might even intentionally access his or her account to check what is going on in the world.

In conclusion, social media is the new look of public space .

Work citation:

Hannah Arendt, 1958, The Human Condition.

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Making the benefits of technology accessible for youth in Egypt https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/making-the-benefits-of-technology-accessible-for-youth-in-egypt/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/11/making-the-benefits-of-technology-accessible-for-youth-in-egypt/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 14:00:15 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=677068 Microsoft remains committed to upskilling youth through its YouthSpark cash grants

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Digital skills are becoming essential for the jobs of today and tomorrow. From digital literacy to computer science education, these skills can open the door to greater economic opportunities, in future workplaces. Unfortunately, these skills are beyond the reach of countless young people in Egypt.

Microsoft believes in a future where every young person has the skills, knowledge and opportunity to succeed, and has made a commitment to impart digital skills to 10 million youth in the Middle East and Africa, in the next three years.

Its long-lasting initiative, YouthSpark, helps bring this to life by working to empower all youth to imagine and realise their full potential, by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The initiative achieves this through unique programmes and partnerships with governments, business and nonprofit organisations, such as Code.org.

For example, Microsoft partners with Code.org annually, during the Computer Science Education Week for Hour of Code (a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools, and increasing participation by women, and underrepresented minorities). This is a global movement attracting over 100 million students in 180 countries, and is an effort to spark an interest in coding. Hour of Code encourages students of all ages to try their hand at coding for an hour. For the past three years, Microsoft has released Minecraft tutorials, which students can make use of, to learn the basics of coding.

Partnering with the nonprofit sector

Across the Middle East and Africa, the nonprofit sector is playing an integral role in upskilling the region’s youth with the resources they need to be empowered in the digital economy. Through its YouthSpark cash grants, technology and resources, Microsoft helps these organisations to provide digital skills, and computer science education for all.

In keeping with this, Microsoft is partnering with 15 nonprofits, in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa this year, to install the resources and training needed to upskill 1.4 million youth in computer science.

YouthSpark cash grants are awarded to nonprofits with a mission that aligns with Microsoft’s focus on computer science education. The aim is to help increase the number of teachers and youth-serving organisations, which have the capacity to bring digital skills to youth. Over 13,000 educators will receive training to teach digital skills to youth, with the intention that at least 80% of the beneficiaries will represent underprivileged communities, and 50% will be females.

The proof of this approach lies in the nonprofits that have previously received YouthSpark grants, and as a result have been able to introduce new, or develop existing computer science education programmes, training and activities, for the youth they serve. With continued investments, they have also been able to expand these offers to reach a greater number of youth, and inspire excitement about computer science.

Driving CS education policy

The UNDP Egypt’s objective is to support Egypt’s vision for sustainable development for everyone, without exception, by developing innovative, people-centred solutions. The nonprofit was founded in 1953, and first partnered with Microsoft in 2003.

Since 2012, Microsoft Egypt partnered with the UNDP and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to launch the ‘Tawar w 3’ayar’ (develop and change) campaign, as part of the global YouthSpark initiative to upskill trainers and underprivileged youth, by providing access to digital skills, CS training, soft skills, and business training. It also provides continuous support for basic digital literacy training at youth centres, IT clubs, and schools in underdeveloped communities, all while creating awareness, and excitement for the digital era through youth empowerment.

Since the launch of the ‘Tawar w 3’ayar’ campaign, over 1,300,000 youth gained access to educational and employment services, more than 480,000 youth were trained, and over 130,000 available jobs were made available through 400 youth centres, across all Egyptian governorates.

The nonprofit plans to use this year’s grant to tutor more than 1,000 trainers in 500 centres, which will result in 300,000 youth being trained in CS technologies, 30,000 receiving digital literacy training, and 30,000 attending business training, to encourage them to start their own businesses.

Empowering youth to achieve more

In a world where digital skills are fundamental to success in so many environments, leaving people in the dark about this major part of their world amounts to an unacceptable gap in their education. 

Microsoft believes technology should be an equalising force in the world—inclusive, not divisive. Therefore, the company is investing its greatest assets—its technology, grants, people, and voice—to advance a more equitable world, where the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone.

For more information on Microsoft’s Digital Skills programme, YouthSpark cash grants, click here.

Khaled Abd El Kader, is the General Manager, Microsoft Egypt

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Opinion: 1.5 degrees — do we want climate catastrophe or not? https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/08/opinion-1-5-degrees-do-we-want-climate-catastrophe-or-not/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/08/opinion-1-5-degrees-do-we-want-climate-catastrophe-or-not/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 11:25:00 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=676588 The post Opinion: 1.5 degrees — do we want climate catastrophe or not? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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A new global warming report shows it’s still not too late to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It just boils down to whether we can muster the will to do so, thinks DW’s Sonya Diehn.The IPCC report is pretty clear: Half a degree makes a huge difference.

We've already warmed the world about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times — with disastrous effects. Our coral reefs are dying, sea levels are rising, species are going extinct and extreme weather is on the rise.

In 2015 with the Paris Agreement, virtually all the world's countries agreed to limit further warming to a maximum of 2 degrees, preferably 1.5 Celsius.

The new report, unveiled after years of crafting by the United Nation's scientific body, outlines how keeping further warming under 1.5 degrees could still save our coral reefs. The Arctic would only be ice-free one summer every hundred years, instead of every decade. Sea level rise by 2100 would be 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) less.

Overshooting 1.5 degrees would mean a vast difference in the frequency and severity of extreme weather — think back to the heat waves that scorched the Northern Hemisphere this summer. That could become the new normal.

In short, Earth systems we depend upon to sustain us would remain largely intact under 1.5 degrees of warming. Under 2 degrees, there's no certainty of that.

So, can we manage it?

Making it possible

The IPCC report outlines very clearly what steps would need to be taken to stick to that lower limit of 1.5 degrees. It's nothing short of a massive transformation.

Globally, we'd need to cut our carbon emissions nearly in half over the next decade. We'd need to reach "net zero" emissions by mid-century.

Energy production would have to shift quickly to renewables. Fossil fuels — especially the dirtiest, like coal — would need to stay in the ground.

Our transport would have to shift to e-mobility, powered by renewable electricity. We'd need to use our agricultural lands much more efficiently. We'd have to construct our buildings and our cities to be more energy efficient.

And of course, we'd have to change our lifestyles — especially in industrialized countries — to consume and waste less. It's all possible — the report outlines a roadmap for making this happen.

So actually, the question is not can we keep global warming under 1.5 degrees. The real question is, do we want to.

Wanting versus doing

The fact is, it won't be easy. Policy has not moved in step with science. Governments have demonstrated a pathetic lack of political will around climate action. There's been a disturbing global trend of people electing right-wing populists. Climate denialists are sitting in cabinets in some of the most powerful countries today.

Some say it will require nothing less than a mass popular movement — to elect politicians who prioritize climate change, to hold elected officials accountable, to block the power of the fossil fuel lobby, to pressure companies to divest.

Of course, many of us will have to make trade-offs as well. Fewer vacations involving flights; a smaller car; eating meat less often.

But when you really boil it down, do we actually have a choice? Do you want millions of people to lose their homes and their livelihoods? Are you and your family ready to personally face ever more heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall and flooding? Are you ready to see your own food security at risk?

If you care at all about the future, you should be ready to make some sacrifices now and take action to hold politicians accountable.

Are you?

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The Rise of Artificial Intelligence part 1:The New Power Within Reach https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/04/the-rise-of-artificial-intelligence-part-1the-new-power-within-reach/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/10/04/the-rise-of-artificial-intelligence-part-1the-new-power-within-reach/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 15:50:51 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=676150 Each daily minute, 3.9m Google searches, 4.3m YouTube videos,13m text messages, 2.1m snaps, 1 million passengers on aeroplanes, $ 330,000 Amazon sales, 73,249 online retail transactions, 750,000 songs streamed, 49,380 Instagram photos, 159m emails sent 

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From truck drivers to lawyers, security guards to chief executive officers, web-marketing to neuroscience, artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to change people’s lives, major professions, and industries. It is happening, and is scaling up every day. Designing and developing AI solutions is becoming increasingly affordable, and it is not limited to any location, business discipline, or patented technology.

The ability to get actively engaged in the field of AI simply comes down to the fundamental capabilities that any established society, business, or group have access to; human intelligence, knowledge, and ability to make sense of available data. This might seem to be an oversimplified statement, but this is the reality that every individual engaged in a discipline affected or likely to be affected by AI should realise. However, this article is not intended to advocate the school of thought which warns that robots will take over the world, or that interest groups that think AI are a threat which will drive people out of their jobs. It is rather an attempt to put the topic into a reasonably realistic context, away from the hypes driven by some of the colloquial noises surrounding the topic.

This 10-part article also attempts to map out the topic in a simplified manner, and tackles the fundamentals of some issues that impact our daily life, or come to our news platforms, with respect to AI. It also encourages readers and professionals interested in the field to think of possible ways to take an active role in the field of AI, rather than wait for the winds of change to come. In other words, how do we start thinking of AI when dealing with business challenges and opportunities that we encounter every day?

The New Electricity?

Running a cooling system or a factory is impossible without electric power. By analogy, developing an AI-powered solution is nearly impossible without data. We are living in the age of the internet and big data. The world exchanges 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily (according to IBM data insights).  It might be helpful here to give the reader a sense of what this number means in terms of statistics. Each minute of the day, 3.9m Google searches are conducted, 4.3m YouTube videos are watched, 13m text messages are sent, 2.1m snaps are shared by Snapchat users, 1 million people are passengers on aeroplanes, $ 330,000 are spent on Amazon sales, 73,249 online retail transactions are made, 750,000 songs are streamed on Spotify, 49,380 photos are posted on Instagram, and 159m emails are sent around the world. 

The term AI was not invented recently and dates back to 1956 when it was first used by John McCarthy during a conference held about the subject. However, AI has made breakthroughs in many fields only over the recent years and is ongoing. Such AI significant advancement is due to two main factors.

First is the increasing quality and size of available big data. Second is that the computational power of processing and storing data have dramatically increased and have become extremely powerful. In addition to these two factors, algorithmic operations (we will talk about these later in detail) which are the key driving forces behind AI solutions have significantly improved.

In the past, success and accuracy rates of algorithmic operations on available data were running low due to limited computational powers. Now with increasing computational powers, AI algorithms’ performance is delivered with higher success, and efficiency rates.

Increasing the availability of data and computer powers helped the creation of very successful AI-powered solutions in many industries, and professions. AI has been recently described as the ‘new electricity’ by Professor Andrew NG, one of the leading AI scientists and the co-founder of Coursera (the popular open education platform).

In his analogy, he explained that a hundred years ago, when electricity first developed, it transformed many major industries. Nowadays, AI is forging the same impact, as it is transforming several major industries. It is very hard to imagine any significant industry immune from the influence of AI.

While the analogy seems to be perfectly vivid in our minds, I personally believe that big data is the new electricity and not AI. Without big data, which is now available in many different forms (as explained earlier), AI’s impact would have been limited. For example, some of Google’s outstanding AI achievements in deep-learning related projects (such as Google image recognition and Google translation) would not have become so successful without the billions of files, pictures, and videos available on Google’s platforms.

Likewise, Siri (Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant) has significantly improved because of the gigantic size of audio files available for processing using AI’s algorithms.

The robot Sophia, that has been recently introduced in many conferences giving logical answers to many basic questions, is powered with a cloud-based search platform, which helps the robot find the right answer to the question asked. These are just a few examples out of a myriad more. Imagine if today, all these applications are no longer updated with new data.

Most (if not all) of the sophisticated AI-powered applications cannot efficiently perform and evolve without continuing analysis of an update with new data. If new data is no longer available, an efficiency gap would exist between the evolving data, and AI performance.

This gap is likely to lead to decreasing efficiency of AI solutions over time, or cause the AI’s performance to become static at some point. Tackling the point from a different angle, the big data which AI needs to accelerate is mainly the work product of human intelligence. Therefore, simply put, AI evolves and become better as long as our human intelligence continues to feed it. Human intelligence also needs AI to become smarter and more efficient.

Therefore, the interface between human intelligence and artificial intelligence is a cycle that should contribute to a better future of humanity, if used properly.

Next Part: Meaning and Branches of AI.

Hani Abderasoul

CEO and Chief of Legal Analytics at Brightiom, California.

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Capital perplexed by world’s woes https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/capital-perplexed-by-worlds-woes/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/capital-perplexed-by-worlds-woes/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 12:00:48 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=673875 Technology seen as only profitable acquisition for investors in response to China’s achievements

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Any observer of the recent updates concerning the world’s economy will surely realise the extent of market grievances and investors’ concerns regarding their performance. The crisis was mainly triggered between the United States and China, where the latter launched on 28 March 2018 what is known as the petro-yuan, a gold-backed futures contract. That is why the US launched its firm policy to acquire as much as possible of the investors’ funds.

       

To be or not to be

The petro-yuan’s success became a matter of life or death issue for the US and China. Since the beginning of March, 14% of the market share of crude oil sales was acquired, then the currency war erupted.

Subsequently, the US’s attitude can be dealt with from two perspectives in my opinion: a reaction and a defence policy. As a reaction policy, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates, despite it being steep for the US because due to its positive reciprocity with interest on debt and its negative effect on the economy as a whole. Thus, what is the catch, you may ask? Raising interest rates was an incentive to attract capital, in fear of investments retreating towards China’s market or to emerging economies. This explains why the Fed indicated a gradual increase in interest rates of 3.5% by early 2020, in addition to an increase of 2% in the current year. In addition to the impact caused by raised interest rates, the US stock market is overvalued and faces high inflation rates. 

Bitcoin as Plan B

I believe that bitcoin is a US idea—where the US claims its inventors are anonymous—can be used as a Plan B in the event of US dollar depreciation. This can be argued by the unjustified increase in this currency specifically, unlike the rest of cryptocurrencies. Notably, there is a significant correlation between the virtual currencies and the dollar, depriving them of the most important feature, which is their independence from any economy.   

On the other hand, China encouraged dealing with virtual currencies and the government listed a ranking, where bitcoin came in number 11, signifying its unpopularity, whereas the cryptocurrency Ethereum topped the list. 

Currency war, future steps

The current currency war between the US and China resulted in the withdrawal of capital from both emerging and developing economies, due to the US’s high interest rates. In return, this pressured some countries to raise their interest rates, in order to reduce the withdrawal of the US dollar from their markets, such as Argentina. Another example of an emerging market was Turkey, which faced the same obstacle in addition to the US sanctions. Moreover, Venezuela’s currency is no longer in demand, until its value became worth zero, owing to a high inflation rate, which is expected to have a percentage to reach 1m.          

Where is the Capital heading?

In the chart (1), a sample of available investments was selected from: stock exchanges in China, the US, London, Egypt, and Argentina, with products such as oil and gold, in currencies such as the dollar against the euro, the sterling, and Argentina’s peso. The rate of return was selected as compared to the volatility or risk of each type of investment as of the beginning of the current year. Based on the aforementioned affiliations and economic problems of the currency war between China and the US, we find in all investments varying volatility rates in prices compared to negative rates of return, except for the US, China, Egypt, and oil in general. However, the rates of return in the stock markets of Shanghai and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, London’s stock market, the bitcoin, and currencies such as the sterling, euro, peso, and gold were all negative.

The investor is most likely to compare the return on investment to the risk-free rate, based on the volatility, also known as risk adjusted return. This enables investors to analyse from among various investments based on the Fed risk-free interest 2% rate. The following chart clarifies the investments based on the risk adjusted return:

From chart (2), we can examine that the highest risk adjusted return and the best investment opportunity are the futures of the petro-yuan contracts. This is owing to return rates reaching up to 71%, followed by crude oil up to 38%, trailed by the US stock exchange with 29% and 5%, respectively. Meanwhile, the return rate is expected to decline in the US stock market in the coming period, due to the overvaluation as previously stated.   

Analysing deeper, technology emerged as the best sector in the US stock market this year as Netflix, Twitter, and TripAdvisor are among the best performing companies according to S&P 500, while Microsoft, Apple, and Visa are the best performing companies, stated the Dow Jones. This explains the US’s reaction to China’s attempts to control US technology.
Technology, and its ancillary companies, is currently the only profitable acquisition for investors and the country, in response to what China is now achieving by acquiring increased crude oil through petro-yuan futures, representing 71% of worldwide crude oil market shares.

Ahmed Ezz is a financial and economic analyst

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What will future universities look like? https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/what-will-future-universities-look-like/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/what-will-future-universities-look-like/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:30:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=673874 Many years ago, people started looking for online learning solutions to replace or complement their on-campus education. However, there are some trends that started to rise in the past 10 years that worsens the status even more.

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Education is back as one of the hottest and widely discussed topics around the world. Since 2010, there has been more than $2.3bn invested in education technology companies in the US alone, while global investment within the sector reached over $9.5bn.

With almost 40% of American employers saying they cannot find people with the skills they need and UK. organisations spending almost £6.3bn on temporary workers, recruitment fees, and training, as a result of skills gap in the UK market, it is clear to everyone that the current education system is broken and needs a clear and deep fix. An action needs to be taken!

Many years ago, people started looking for online learning solutions to replace or complement their on-campus education. However, there are some trends that started to rise in the past 10 years that worsens the status even more.

Information overload and content explosion

More than 3m blog posts are published daily, and content is expected to increase 600% by 2020. It is crystal clear that there are huge amounts of content and that people have limited time and resources to make use of it all, simply because the average learner devotes less than one hour a week to reading.

Clickbait

Unfortunately, a huge portion of this content is not even meant to live beyond the moment in which it appears. Spam is everywhere and many authors and publications aim solely at taking a few shillings out of the public’s pocket. Some statistics claim that 9/10 of our present online literature is clickbait.

Rise of recommendation engines

Why listen to the same old radio if you can listen to personalised programmes and music with Spotify and Apple music? People are increasingly loving customised content and services as they do not have the time (nor the mental capacity) to choose for themselves. People value the context and relevance offered by recommendation engines and products, especially in the learning and knowledge discovery spaces.

These trends are set to accelerate now with the explosion of MOOCs and online education (supply) and the fact that professionals need to redevelop their skills every 12-18 months to cope with the market change and technology advancement (demand). Around 90% of CEOs believe that their company is facing disruptive change driven by digital technologies, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends.

It is clear now to everyone that the whole education ecosystem needs a fundamental rebuild. The learning experience has to cope with the dramatic shift in market demands and technology advancement. It has to be adaptive and personalised to the learner’s needs and goals and most importantly, it has to reduce the time wasted going after good quality content buried under layers upon layers of spam and clickbait. On top of all that, the learning journey has got to have a materialistic goal that can be used to measure the effectiveness of the learning process.

A career-oriented learning model that focuses on the right and relevant skills needed for the different career goals is what the world needs. And it started to turn into reality with many initiatives led by big names like Google, Coursera, and rising start-ups.

These initiatives are not just trying to fix a learning problem. They are creating a new university education model. A university for a better future for the upcoming generations. So the next time you are looking for a new lifelong learning app or a product to try, make sure this product is free of clickbait, serves a goal that you can measure and that it is personalised to your learning style and relevant to your own personal experience.

Ahmed El-Sharkasy is the co-founder and CEO of Knowledge Officer

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Afghan morass: how Afghan government controls 56% of country, Taliban controls rest of it https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/afghan-morass-how-afghan-government-controls-56-of-country-taliban-controls-rest-of-it/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/19/afghan-morass-how-afghan-government-controls-56-of-country-taliban-controls-rest-of-it/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:00:53 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=673821 More than 2,200 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, and the US has spent more than $840bn fighting the Taliban and paying for relief and reconstruction

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On learning that he was from Afghanistan, I asked my Afghan taxi driver in New York his opinion about the situation in his country. “Americans don’t get it,” he said adding, “they are not going to succeed in Afghanistan. My father was a warlord who fought the Russians, and I grew up in Afghanistan, so I know the situation there. I have a lot of respect for the Russian soldiers, who fought us fiercely. But I don’t have the same respect for the coalition soldiers who always overprotect themselves. They don’t seem to understand that we have fought for centuries against foreign occupation in my country, and we have always succeeded.”

The taxi driver’s assessment confirmed the strength of the Afghan soldier, able to fight with the most primitive weapons against the greatest empires on earth. When these soldiers feel their land usurped by foreign forces, their strength is multiplied. And this is just one of the obstacles confronting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a former Foreign Service officer and former Marine Corps captain who became the first US official to resign in protest over the Afghan war, had declared, “upon arriving in Afghanistan and serving in both the East and South (and particularly speaking with local Afghans) I found that the majority of those who were fighting us, and the Afghan central government were fighting us because they felt occupied.”

More than 2,200 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, and the US has spent more than $840bn fighting the Taliban and paying for relief and reconstruction. The amount of money the US has so far spent in Afghanistan is higher than what it spent, in current dollars, on the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after World War II.

Despite all these financial resources spent in Afghanistan, and even though the American military says that the Afghan government “controls or influences” 56% of the country, this control is limited to district and military quarters, while the Taliban controls the rest.

According to Afghan official statistics, the Afghan security forces outnumber the Taliban by 10 to 1. However, as recently as the second week in September, dozens of police officers, soldiers, and civilians were killed by Taliban insurgents in four well-coordinated attacks which even included one in Kabul.

 In the deadliest attack, the insurgents killed over 30 members of the government security forces in Baghlan Province, located in the north of the country. The casualties among the Afghan security forces have been significant. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a US government agency, 6,785 Afghan police and soldiers have died in the first 10 months of 2016.

As there are increasing calls for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the real dilemma for the US is if it is worth to persist in what increasingly seems like an unwinnable war on this natural resources-plentiful country. The Taliban have indicated that they are ready for a second round of talks with the US.  

It is now time for both parties in this cruel war to put an end to what has been like a haemorrhage in the body of the Afghan people. Those who have failed in the past should be a sobering reminder to the troops now fighting in that country. Afghanistan has been called the graveyard of empires. It should more properly be called the end of an illusion.

César Chelala, MD, PhD, a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award, is the foreign correspondent for The Middle East Times International (Australia)

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‘Back to modernism time concept by Mr president’ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/12/back-to-modernism-time-concept-by-mr-president/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/12/back-to-modernism-time-concept-by-mr-president/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 07:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=672847 Modernism is the modern period of time in the European history that begins at mid-late 18th century. It was a time of great social, political, and economical changes.

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Throughout history, the concept of time has constantly been changing. It differs from culture to another and from age to another. Scientists and philosophers have discussed the concept of time, whether it is linear or circular, with an end or without, or subjective or objective. Moreover, in the topology of time, there are questions always raised for study and discussion. For instance, can time be represented as a line, if it is, where does it begin and where does it end? Is it only one line or not?…etc. Indeed, the concept of time is dealt with differently in these two philosophical movements: modernism and postmodernism. The last four years are seen as a revival of modernism concept of time, which has been adopted by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Modernism is the modern period of time in the European history that begins at mid-late 18th century. It was a time of great social, political, and economical changes. It witnessed many revolutions, such as the French (1789-1799), American (1775-1783), and industrial (1870-1920) revolutions. The industrial revolution switched the agricultural society to an industrial one. Besides, rational thinking and scientific knowledge were regarded as the route to happiness, progress, and development. The modern concept view of time was linear and unidirectional, as modernists depended on the Newtonian vision of the universe as a giant clockwork mechanism with time marching forward. This means that everything progresses straightforward from past to future. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam advocate linear time, as they believe in the idea of the afterlife. Some writers and philosophers approved this approach, such as Seneca, Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, and St Augustine who emphasised that human experience is a one-way journey from genesis to judgment, regardless of any recurring patterns or cycle in nature. Linear time dominated science and philosophy in modern time. Scholars of modernism tried to analyse this movement with relation to social life. They reach the result that, if time progresses, there should be civilisation represented in happiness, freedom, and development. At that level, human beings should serve time, not time should serve them, ie there would be no new day without any successful achievements. Accordingly, human beings worked like machines, which were the typical representation of the industrial revolution in England.

On the other hand, postmodernism, the period we are in now, is argued by some to have started after WW2, whereas others situate its beginning in the 1980s or even 1990s (Virginia Matteo). According to Bauman, postmodernism time is the passage from solid times to liquid times. Accordingly, time is not considered as a linear progression; it may be repetitive, cyclical, and circular. Unlike modernists, postmodernists do not believe in the idea of progress of the world by the passage of time. For instance, postmodernism scholars can see Hiroshima’s bombing as a backward step that damaged humanity in Japan (1945). Furthermore, according to postmodernism, we should not serve time, ie what it is not done today, it can be finished by tomorrow.

President Al-Sisi always advocates the modern view of time. He determinedly asks the senior officials to finish their tasks at a definite time; and they do. There are many situations that reflect his approval of that movement’s concept of time. The first example is shown in Al-Sisi’s speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Suez Canal and Suez Canal Development Projects on 5 August 2014 at Ismailia governorate with General Kamel El-Wazir, president of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces about the timed duration: only one year to finish the project. The president also, at that ceremony, said verbatim, “we have to race time as we are so late. We need to build up our country, and have a real hope of progress.’’ The second example is his discussion with the Minister of Transportation Hisham Arafat in a conference took place in 10th of Ramadan City about 700 meters left of the axis of Tema on the Nile. The minister’s answer was that “the completion of the axis should be during February, to be left 700 meters in the axis of the problem of expropriation.” The president did not agree with his answer and said, “will I be late for a full year because of 700 meters?!” and ordering, simultaneously, El-Wazir to finish the problem in one month. The third example is his speech with El-Wazir in another conference held in 2016 about finishing the Cairo airport development project after three months, rather than four months. Those are few examples that show that adopting the modern concept of time by our great president is the only survival method to save our economic ship from drowning in the horrible ocean of politics. He always says, “if we organise our work, we will finish it in the nearest time.” His words typically represent the modern view of time, which was an essential element in the British Empire ruling the world for two centuries.

Overall, the reader can approve any kind of these two approaches of philosophy. Our president adopted the modern view concept of time, which needs time’s service and hardworking persons. After serving and respecting time, Egyptians would achieve progress, civilisation, and freedom, which are our dreams in the upcoming years.

Ahmed Ramadan Abdraboh is a writer in Elfajr newspaper, and is in the third year at the English Department, Cairo University

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Memories of 9/11 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/11/memories-of-9-11/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/09/11/memories-of-9-11/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 20:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=672848 That day, about an hour before the attack on the Twin Towers, he had finished his shift

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I remember vividly the terrible day when our lives (our world) changed forever. I was listening to the radio in my apartment, a few blocks from Ground Zero, when the plane hit the first tower. I could hear the cries from the street below: “Oh, no, no, no!” “Oh, my God!” I ran downstairs just in time to see the second tower crumble like a sand castle. It was 9:59 am. I joined others rushing to the spot when a large group of people came running back shouting: “Go back, go back, for God’s sake, go back!” We rushed back only to discover later that it was a false alarm, that there would be no more attacks on the towers after the second plane hit. Without fully understanding the significance of events, I felt that a relatively peaceful way of life had been replaced by a darker, more sinister one. A great sadness came over me.

Soon after, we learned the details of what had happened, and heard stories and saw pictures of those who had thrown themselves voluntarily to their certain death rather than remain trapped inside an inferno. Richard Drew, who photographed one of the iconic images of that fateful day, the “Falling Man,” the lonely image of a man falling to his death with one of the towers in the background, said recently that for him it was the image of the Unknown Soldier. An estimated 7% of those killed in the attack on September 11 did so by jumping into the void from their offices.

We also learned of the heroic behaviour of hundreds of firefighters who risked their lives and of the many other people who lost theirs. One of the firefighters was a 34-years-old Argentine by the name of Sergio Villanueva. That day, about an hour before the attack on the Twin Towers, he had finished his shift. But, like on so many other days, he had stayed behind to have breakfast with his colleagues. When they heard news of the attack, he decided to join his fellow squad members and went with them to the towers to help in the rescue efforts. Neither he nor his fellow brigade members ever returned.

We also heard heartbreaking stories about people we knew who were killed in the towers. One, the son of friends, had just enough time to call his brother and say, “Please tell Mom and Dad that I love them a lot as I love you,” before the line went dead. To this day his parents have not regained their joie de vivre. Or the employee of a large company who left the towers, called his wife to say he was fine after the first tower had been hit, then returned to retrieve documents from his desk and died when the fire ravaged his office.

What promised to be a peaceful September morning turned into a nightmare. As usual, that day (a beautiful diaphanous day with a very clear sky) my wife and I woke up about 7:00 am.  We had breakfast and she left for work on Long Island, about 45 minutes from home. I was planning to have a working lunch at United Nations headquarters.

After the second attack on the towers I tried to contact my wife at work. It was impossible to communicate by phone with her. I learned, however, that I could call Queens, where a medical colleague, Dr Juan Rivolta, lived. I wanted to see if I could communicate with my wife through him. I summarised what had happened. He thought I was joking, but changed his attitude when he heard the desperation in my voice and finally was convinced when I told him to turn on the TV.

Juan was able to communicate with my wife and told me that she was safe. When we spoke later that day she explained that soon after arriving at her college someone had called the office, so they turned on the TV and were able to witness the horror of the events taking place. Since virtually all roads leading to New York City were closed, my wife stayed at a colleague’s house for the next three days.

Satisfied that my wife was safe while I was still in a state of shock, I went to a nearby square and sat on a bench watching people hurrying to the scene. That state of shock stuck with me, like with many other New Yorkers, for months after the attacks. We could smell the pungent odour of burned materials, some of which certainly came from the incinerated bodies of the thousands of people who had perished there. One was Sean Rooney, whose last moments were described by his wife, Beverly Eckert. He called her from the 105th floor; he was unable to find an escape route; the flames were approaching ominously and, during his last minutes of life, he only managed to say “I love you, I love you.” Then, when the smoke prevented him from speaking, Beverly heard the terrible noise of something cracking, followed by the sound of an avalanche and a groan.

It seems impossible that anyone trapped inside the towers could have survived. Yet that is what happened to 20 people, including some firefighters and police officers and an administrative secretary of the Port Authority, Genelle Guzman-McMillan. As Matthew Shaer tells it in New York magazine, Genelle followed a group of colleagues to the smoke-filled stairway. As they descended, Genelle was certain that she would survive and could go down and meet her boyfriend, as they had planned. However, when the building collapsed, she suddenly lost her balance and was dragged to the ground floor surrounded by tons of cement and steel. Finally, she stopped, and felt something soft and warm under her—it was a dead person. She remained silent for 27 hours, praying and asking God for her life. A German Labrador named Trakr found her.

The shock people experienced as a result of the attacks perhaps mirrored the shock that Americans felt after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Such was the state of fear that the noise of aircraft crossing the sky was enough to frighten New Yorkers. Such fears led to unexpected reactions. A friend, an art teacher at a university in New York, told me recently: “Although I am a total agnostic I must confess that after the attacks I felt something strange, as if my house had been invaded by ghosts whose steps I seemed to hear at night. I was so frightened that I asked a Buddhist priest to exorcise my apartment and assure me that I was not going crazy. “

The attacks on the Twin Towers produced the most concentrated response to an emergency in the history of the United States. It is estimated that at least 100 emergency units and dozens of private ambulances headed to the scene to pick up the wounded and take them to nearby hospitals. At the same time, more than 2,000 police officers searched the towers and rescued survivors. But the weight of the response fell to the New York Fire Department, whose response to the events was truly heroic.

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance. Unless there is a new approach to preventing terrorist acts we will continue to live under the threat of terror. Confrontation is not the answer. While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict, and honour the desire for peace and security of all people in the world.

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Life devoted to searching for her abducted granddaughter  https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/08/29/life-devoted-to-searching-for-her-abducted-granddaughter/ https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2018/08/29/life-devoted-to-searching-for-her-abducted-granddaughter/#respond Wed, 29 Aug 2018 10:30:09 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=671029 On 20 August 2018, María Isabel Chorobik de Mariani (“Chicha”) died in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province. She was 94-years-old and for 42 years had been searching for her granddaughter Clara Anahí. On 24 November 1976, Clara Anahí had been abducted by the military when they took away her parents and later killed them. Since …

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On 20 August 2018, María Isabel Chorobik de Mariani (“Chicha”) died in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province. She was 94-years-old and for 42 years had been searching for her granddaughter Clara Anahí. On 24 November 1976, Clara Anahí had been abducted by the military when they took away her parents and later killed them. Since the day of her disappearance  De Mariani had been trying to find her granddaughter, and died without seeing her again.

De Mariani was one of the founders of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group of grandmothers united in their search for their disappeared grandchildren. They were victims of the reign of terror in Argentina under the military regime of General Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981). The organisation was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize five times for their humanitarian work and achievements.

 

I met De Mariani in New York, shortly after the organisation was created, and where she had come looking for support for the group’s activities. In a dark winter afternoon, I asked her to give an example of the group’s activities in their painful search. She told me this,

 

“If a woman who has given birth in an Argentine concentration camp is ever liberated, the first thing she will ask her parents will be: Where is my child? So, what do we tell her; what do we tell our sons and daughters if we have not been able to find their children, from whom they have been separated? That is why this is a very intense and meaningful search for us. More than just based on our beliefs and sense of justice, our search is to a large extent motivated by the responsibility we feel towards our sons and daughters, the parents of our missing grandchildren.”

 

Many of the disappeared children were born in concentration camps to women who were pregnant at the time they were abducted by the military. Other children disappeared along with their parents. Many of the captured children were later put up for adoption, often to members of the same repressive military or police forces that had kidnapped them.

 

Since its inception in 1977, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo have been relentlessly looking for their grandchildren and successfully located 127 children. I asked De Mariani to tell me about one of the cases they had solved. Her face lit up. “It was Beto!” she said and proceeded to tell me Beto’s story.

 

“Approximately a month ago, a man named Juan Carlos Juárez came to our headquarters in Buenos Aires to ask for our help in trying to locate his nephew, nicknamed Beto.” The child, whose real name is Sebastián Juárez, had disappeared in 1977, when he was three years old. At the time, Beto had been living with his mother, Lucinda, in Buenos Aires Province. When paramilitary forces abducted Lucinda at gunpoint, they left the child in a neighbour’s house, an older man fond of Beto. He kept Beto with him for a few days, and then took the child to a Juvenile Court Judge, who gave Beto to a foster family living in the area.

 

“We put together the information Beto’s uncle had gathered and what we found out” explained De Mariani, “and after an intensive search we were able to locate the old man who had sheltered the child after his mother’s abduction and disappearance. He told us what he knew of the child’s whereabouts, and with that information we were finally able to find out where Beto [now 10 years old] was. We went there with his uncle, and asked the woman who was taking care of Beto to let us see and talk to him. She didn’t allow us to talk to him, but we were able to see him through a barred window, a timid child with a sad face.”

 

After that initial contact, the Grandmothers made a series of inquiries and visited several judges to ask for their advice on the best way to deal with the case. By that time, Juárez’s sister, nicknamed Chichi, went to Buenos Aires and the judge gave her permission to talk to Beto. He developed a warm relationship with his aunt, who eventually collected all the documentation necessary to be granted custody of the child. After much travail, Beto was returned to his family.

 

“On the same day that Beto was back with his family,” continued De Mariani, “Chichi brought him to the Grandmothers’ headquarters in Buenos Aires. When Beto arrived, we gave him our corporate stamps to play with. He was playing with them when all of a sudden he saw the picture of a little girl we had been trying to locate. We were doing press releases about her case, which is very important because we found out that she had been adopted by a man who was the head of one of the most infamous death squads operating in Argentina. That man is now a fugitive, and has taken the girl and the rest of his family with him,” De Mariani paused for a few seconds and the continued.

 

“I was sitting next to Beto when he asked who this girl was. His aunt, with great sensitivity, told him, ‘she is a girl who has disappeared, and the Grandmothers are now looking for her as they were looking for you.’ He didn’t say anything, continued stamping papers and said, ‘First they get rid of them [the children] and then they look for them.’ I was taken aback by Beto’s words. I explained to Beto that this girl had never been abandoned by her family, and that her grandmother had been desperately looking for her. He continued playing silently, occasionally looking at me with those big, wonderful eyes of his. I then took a picture out of my wallet and told him, ‘See? I am also looking for my granddaughter; her name is Clara Anahí. I love her dearly, but I cannot find her and bring her back to me.’ I said to him that many nights I cry out of frustration, and then I explained to him as clearly as possible the process, by which children were made to disappear. He listened to me attentively, but still he did not say anything.

 

He then went to an office next to ours, where our secretary [Nora] works. Beto saw her typing on a big electric typewriter, something he had never seen before. Our secretary is not an abuela [grandmother]; she is the only young person working in our headquarters. They quickly developed a good rapport.

 

Nora asked Beto if he would like her to type his name. He agreed, and for the first time in his life Beto saw his full name in print. He looked at it with curiosity, and asked Nora if she would mind adding something after his name. She said that she would not and Beto asked her, “Please write ‘Now’”. Because the word by itself didn’t have any meaning Nora proceeded to ask him, “Now what?” Lowering his head, Beto responded, “Now Beto is free.” 

César Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award for “Missing or Dead in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims,” which was published as a cover story in The New York Times Magazine.

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