Ships successfully cross Egypt's New Suez Canal in first test-run

Three cargo ships passed through Egypt's New Suez Canal on Saturday in a test-run before it is formally inaugurated on August 6, state media reported.

Asmaa Waguih/Reuters/File
A boat is pictured as construction continues on Egypt's New Suez Canal project at the Suez Canal zone, Egypt, June 13, 2015. Three cargo ships passed through Egypt's New Suez Canal on Saturday in a test-run before it is formally inaugurated on August 6, state media reported.

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.

Mohab Mameesh, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority overseer of the project, told state television that this test-run had been a success and that more would follow.

At a later news conference, Mameesh said construction of another canal near the East Port Said port on the Mediterranean Sea would begin as soon as the New Suez Canal had been inaugurated.

A senior Suez Canal Authority source told Reuters that the canal is expected to cost around $60 million and will be 9.5 kilometers (6 miles) long, 18.5 meters deep, and 250 meters wide.

It will take around seven months to build, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The existing canal earns Egypt around $5 billion per year. The New Suez Canal, which will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $15 billion.

It should also reduce navigation time for ships to 11 hours from about 22 hours, Mameesh said last month, making it the fastest such waterway in the world.

The government also plans to build an international industrial and logistics hub nearby that it hopes will eventually make up about a third of the Egyptian economy.

Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.