New column

This comes a little bit late, as I've been in the mountains of Northern Morocco for the last few days, in a tiny village where there is no mobile phone reception or internet.

I have started writing a weekly column for al-Masri al-Youm English (which will hopefully also soon start to be picked up in the Arabic edition). The column, out every Tuesday, will cover a very wide variety of issues, both Egyptian and regional. I'm sure it will cover some of the big themes and crises of the region, but one thing I want to focus on from time to time are issues not often discussed elsewhere in the Middle Eastern media or indeed in the blogosphere: the intersection of politics, business and science and the environment.

My first column is about something I've been thinking about ever since last April: the wide-ranging ramifications of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the oil industry, and what it means for countries like Egypt where deepwater fields are the next frontier (many such fields will go online in the next decade) after the exhaustion of traditional shallow water fields in the Gulf of Suez. One aspect of this issue is that there is a brewing energy crisis in Egypt; the other is that one cannot help but think of the consequences of an accident like Deepwater off Egypt's coast, where the government is much less prepared than the US and much less able to put pressure on companies. I finished writing it on Sunday, and by coincidence two news items put the column in a new perspective: one is that the first rig to leave the Gulf of Mexico because of the ban on deepwater drilling started to head to Egypt, and the second is that BP announced a $9 billion deal to develop gas fields off Egypt's Mediterranean coast. So my column was quite prescient!

You can read the column here.