Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is inaugurating on Thursday the “New Suez Canal”, in an anticipated celebration which Egypt has long been campaigning for.
The inauguration ceremony will be attended by a number of world leaders, most notably French President François Hollande. Celebrations are due to begin Thursday afternoon, with the president expected to deliver a speech at around 4 p.m.
The Suez Canal Authority conducted a test-run for the new canal on July 25, allowing a flotilla to cross the canal for the first time.
Dubbed by Sisi’s government as the “New Suez Canal”, the project is made up of two aspects.
One involves building a 35 –kilometers-long canal parallel to the current Suez Canal, to minimize the amount of time ships spend crossing the canal. Additionally, the Suez Canal was made deeper and wider to admit larger ships.
This aspect, launched on August 5, 2014, is the one being celebrated today, after a year-long construction.
The other aspect of the “New Suez Canal” is meanwhile the longer-term development of the canal region.
The development aspect is planned on to take place over two phases, the first of which is due to be initiated within 2015 and will be completed by 2030. The second is set to be completed by 2045.
Overall, investments surpassing $US 100 billion are expected to be poured in the two phases and they are slated to provide a million job opportunities.
On the long-run, the project aims to develop the entire region surrounding the Suez Canal, turning the strategic waterway into a comprehensive global business center, which provides maritime transport services.
The services include repairing ships, refueling, towing and rescuing, painting and cleaning ships and loading and unloading them.
The project will see the creation of industrial and logistical centers, as well as centers for packing and packaging.