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Egypt Ready To Celebrate Opening of New Suez Canal, Ready for Part Two of Project

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EIRNS—Preparations are moving forward rapidly for the grand opening of the New Suez Canal Project on August 6, exactly one year after the construction begun under orders of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. Dignitaries from all over the world have been invited. The celebrations include a fireworks display, a naval and air show, and a performance of Verdi’s opera Aida, which was commissioned for the opening of the Khedival Opera House, as part of the celebrations for the 1869 inauguration of the Suez Canal (the opera was not able to premiere in Cairo until December 1871). The ceremonies will be streamed live on mega-screens around the world, including in New York and Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, and London. There will also be a distribution of 50 fishing boats to locals and the opening of 460 fisheries.

Speakers will include both President el-Sisi and Adm. Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), who is in charge of the project.

According to the daily Al Ahram, the ceremony is a major project in itself and is designed to show Egyptians and the world the great accomplishments the Egyptian nation is now capable of.

"It is a message to all humanity," declared Sami Abdel-Aziz, a media expert and member of the group planning the event. Underlying the fact that the new Suez Canal is a "unique endeavor" he said, "There were two core messages we wanted to convey. On the local level, we wanted to build a sense of pride and trust in the project; that the people had invested their money in the right way." The message on the regional front is that "Egypt is a key player in the economy of the region, using sound facts and figures." Meanwhile, "to the world, we wanted to show the impact of the new canal on the global economy, in terms of minimizing shipping time and cost."

The ceremony itself has been financed by private donations from wealthy Egyptians and corporations.

Following the first trial run of several large container ships through the canal, Mamish told a news conference last July 31,

"Everyone can now see a reality that showcases the ability of Egyptians to make progress and make miracles....The idea, decision, planning, funding and execution of the project are entirely Egyptian, with the help of Egypt’s patriotic youth. This endeavor is a rebirth for Egypt."

With the widening of the southern part of the canal and the building of a new parallel channel in the northern part, waiting time to pass through the canal has been reduced from 22 to 11 hours. With an expected doubling of ships passing through the canal, revenues are expect to increase from $5 billion to $13.2 billion from transit fees.

Of course, the project is not over: There are proposed development projects across the entire canal zone. "We have to keep the momentum going for all the other projects that will surround the new Suez Canal," Abdel-Aziz said. At the July 31 news conference Mamish announced that el-Sisi had directed SCA to oversee development plans for East Port Said, and that work will begin on developing the Suez Canal region on Aug. 7, the morning after the celebrations.

The "Port Said East Container Terminal," on the northern entrance to the canal, will be an extension of the current container terminal and allow for the largest size container ships to load and unload containers. The project is being carried out by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), while the design and engineering is being done by AECOM, a large American corporation specializing in infrastructure and large engineering projects. The project includes construction of a 3,937-foot (1,200-meter) extension to the existing deep-water berth for next generation container vessels.