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Egypt’s Substantive State Outside the Shell of Politics


While the rest of the world continues to focus on the Egypt that is bogged down in a quagmire of political disintegration, I choose to focus on the parts of Egypt that remain and continue to function throughout, not in a sedentary fashion, but in a stabilising state-building fashion.

At this point, when the political discourse is so damaged and bruised that optimistic suggestions of reform etc will be blown away on the collective exhale of held breath, we must look to the other side of the equation too: the side that constitutes the State away from politics. This might seem like a foreign concept to many, and certainly in formal terms the definition of a ‘State’ is not settled; but in simple terms, and in Egyptian terms, the State is far more, in fact is spectacularly more, than mere government and its bureaucracy.

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People OF Egypt, Save Egypt: Everyone else, keep yourself in check


As I write this there are reports of Muslim Brotherhood supportive militias armed and shooting from bridges at the Egyptian Security Forces etc etc. All news. All events actually happening. Yet I am also sitting with headphones on listening to music and writing this on my laptop in my flat in central Cairo – this is also actually happening.

How can these be reconciled?

To me the answer has been clear from the start. They can’t.

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Flying: supporting development, or cultural cover-ups & democratic deficits?


The view from the panoramic windows of Cairo airport reveal great stretches of grey tarmac fading out into beige sand and vague desert in the distance. Perched on the grey tarmac are 3 winged creatures, sometimes the odd little yellow and black van skirts across the expanse like a bee from flower to flower, and sometimes a cockroach-like flat yellow machine appears from under the planes, before creeping across the tarmac and attaching itself to another. The view is too big for humans, it feels too big to exist within, and its more than I can take in. Yet rely on it we do.

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Some talk about damned dams

Whilst leaders in the neighouring Nile countries of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan bicker over the building of a dam by the Ethiopian Government, lets lay down some facts.

The dam in Ethiopia is rumoured to restrict or according to some, cut off, Egypt from Nile water, leaving it without access to the main source of bounty and green in this country. This is not true. The Ethiopian dam will use a tributary of the Nile and because it is a power dam (i.e not a drinking water or agricultural dam) it will not lead to the consumption of the water, but the use of its mass as it is rerouted through the dam, to create electricity. Except for the evaporated water (which is half the level in Ethiopia than it would it would be in Egypt: 10billion cubic m/year v 5million cubic m/year), there will be no less water coming out than went in, like the technique used by the Egyptian Aswan dam to create sustainable reserves of water through good water management.

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Talking Tactics : What’s in a vision?


What does that word mean to you? My instinct these days would be to think of the supernatural.
But no, it is not to the supernatural that I refer; it is to the blue-sky thinking, soul-driving, passion-making, enthralling third space of visioning your ideas, ethics, projects and desires intertwining in one heady projection. It is the (sometimes) dangerously infectious picture of what it is you want to achieve.
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