AFTER 20 years at Arab News in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I'm leaving the green newspaper to join a new English-language newspaper that is being set-up in Abu Dhabi by the rulers of that emirate. I will be the paper's deputy comment editor, working with Robert Cowan who is leaving the Sunday Telegraph to join as comment editor.
The paper is being headed by Martin Newland, who used to be the editor in chief of the Daily Telegraph in London from 2003-2005. The managing editor is Hassan Fattah, who left his job as the Dubai correspondent of the New York Times to join the new paper. I used to work with Hassan as the NYT's stringer in Saudi Arabia, so I look forward to working with him on this new venture.
Ninety editorial staff have already been hired, and the paper is aiming to hire up to 170 staff. The new paper, which has not been publicly named yet, is going to be a quality broadsheet.
Colin Randall, the Telegraph's former Paris correspondent, is going to be the executive news editor. Married to a Frenchwoman and a strong supporter of the Sunderland football club, he blogs here.
Many of the paper's staff are coming from the National Post in Canada, which at one point was part of the formerly Conrad Black-owned chain of newspapers. When I visited the paper's offices in Abu Dhabi last week I met two friendly ex-Posters, Laura Koon and Rob McKenzie. We went out one night for dinner at a pub and we were accosted and "harassed" by drunken Australian soldiers who informed us they were in the UAE on some sort of official mission. After 20 minutes of being asked if we felt intimidated, we decided to move indoors and away from the over-friendly Aussies.
I have already secured a one-bedroom flat in a building leased by our paper, and of course the rent I will be paying in Abu Dhabi will be triple what I'm paying now in Jeddah. Now all I have to do is pack my things, ship them to the UAE and get my dog Nog-Nog microchipped and airlifted to Abu Dhabi and our new life. Wish me luck!