The first cargo ships passed through Egypt’s New Suez Canal on Saturday in a test-run before it opens next month, state media reported, 11 months after the army began constructing the $8 billion canal alongside the existing 145-year-old Suez Canal.
The new waterway, which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hopes will help expand trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, will be formally inaugurated on Aug. 6.
Sisi wants the canal to become a symbol of national pride and to help combat Egypt’s double-digit unemployment. The old Suez Canal is already a vital source of hard currency for Egypt, which has seen tourism and foreign investment drain away in the years of turmoil since a 2011 uprising.
Three container ships crossed the new waterway, state news agency MENA reported. One was an American ship heading to Egypt’s Port Said from Saudi Arabia, another was a Danish ship sailing to the United States from Singapore, and a Bahraini ship going to Italy from Saudi Arabia.
The exercise took place amid tight security. An insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders on the Suez Canal, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since 2013. State television said there were helicopters circling above and showed naval vessels escorting the ships.
Full article: Ships cross Egypt’s New Suez Canal in first test-run (Reuters)