DUBAI - Egypt's petroleum ministry launched an international bidding round on Monday for exploration in 23 open blocks, with the offer deadline set for Feb. 25.

The round includes 10 areas in Egypt's Western Desert, two in the Eastern Desert, seven in the Gulf of Suez and four in the Red Sea, the ministry said.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has sought to position itself as a regional energy hub.

(Reporting by Sarah El Safaty Writing by Nayera Abdallah Editing by Louise Heavens and David Goodman)