News / Middle East

Egypt Plans to Dig New Suez Canal Costing $4 Billion

FILE - cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt.FILE - cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt.
x
FILE - cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt.
FILE - cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt.
Reuters

Egypt plans to build a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old historic waterway in a multi-billion dollar project aimed at expanding trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The Suez Canal earns Egypt about $5 billion a year in revenues, a vital source of hard currency for a country that has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since its 2011 uprising.

The new channel, part of a larger project to expand Suez port and shipping facilities, aims to raise Egypt's international profile and establish it as a major trade hub.

“This giant project will be the creation of a new Suez Canal parallel to the current channel of a total length of 72 kilometers (44.74 miles),” Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told a conference in Ismailia, a port town on the Canal. His comments were broadcast by state television.

He said the total estimated cost of drilling the new channel would be about $4 billion and be completed in five years, though Egypt will strive to finish it within a more ambitious three-year deadline.

The original canal, which links the Mediterranean and Red Seas, took 10 years of intense and generally poorly-paid work by Egyptians, who according to the Canal Authority, were drafted at the rate of 20,000 every 10 months from “the peasantry.”

It took weeks if not months off journeys between Europe and Asia, otherwise necessitating a trip round the tip of Africa.

Egyptian President Adel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief, said the armed forces would be in charge of the new project for security reasons. Up to 20 Egyptian firms could be involved in the project but would work under military supervision, he said.

Last year, Sisi orchestrated the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and oversaw a massive crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

This was followed by a rise in violence from Islamist militants based in the Sinai peninsula, which has stoked some concern about the security of the nearby Suez Canal. The government has since been fighting militants in an ongoing military campaign in which hundreds have died on both sides.

Any disruption to shipping along the canal tends to have a serious impact on trade and oil prices.

“Sinai to a large degree has a sensitive status. The army is responsible to Egypt for this,” said Sisi, who has previously said he would not hesitate to award major projects to help revive Egypt's battered economy to the army.

Memories of Nasser

Sisi's allies and supporters have likened him to Gamal Abdel Nasser, the charismatic colonel who led a coup against the monarchy in 1952, set up an army-led autocracy and rounded up thousands of Muslim Brothers.

In 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, leading to a failed invasion by Britain, which controlled the channel, as well as France and Israel. Nasser was praised by Egyptians for pursuing several big projects during his 14 years as president.

Pro-government Egyptian media did not hesitate to compare the Suez expansion plans to Nasser's own state-led infrastructure projects that were a source of national pride.

Egypt has planned for years to develop 76,000 square kilometers (29,000 square miles) around the canal to attract more ships and generate more income.

Sisi said the new canal was an unannounced part of that project, which Egypt invited 14 consortia to bid for in January.

Reuters reported on Sunday that Egypt had chosen a consortium including global engineering firm Dar al-Handasah, as well as the Egyptian army, to develop the area.

A promotional video played at the launch event suggested the project would cut waiting times for vessels and allow ships to pass each other on the canal.

Mamish, the chairman, said the project would involve 35 kilometers (22 miles) of “dry digging” and 37 kilometers (23 miles) would be “expansion and deepening”, indicating the current Suez Canal, which is 163 km (101 miles) long, could be widened as part of the project.

Among the bidders, according to Egypt's Al Mal newspaper, were a group including state-run Arab Contractors and James Cubitt and Partners, an international consultancy firm. Another included the McKinsey & Co global management consulting firm.

Gulf allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait donated more than $12 billion in cash and petroleum products to Egypt after the army overthrew Morsi. But Egypt remains in dire need of longer-term investments. 

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs