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Egypt quietly celebrates the 150th anniversary of Suez Canal



  AFP

By AFP
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Since the inauguration of the Suez Canal 150 years ago, it has become one of the most important waterways in the world. However, the jubilee will only be visible in Egypt.

The artificial canal was dug out between 1859 and 1869 in an ambitious project to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and shorten shipping times for growing international trade from Europe to Asia.

The Suez Canal is "not a nation's privilege," explained Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat to whom the project was attributed. He drew from the dreams of the Pharaohs, who had dredged a similar channel 4,000 years ago.

"It owes its birth to the aspirations of humanity and is one of them," he said in a speech of 1

864.

One million Egyptians using camels and mules as pack animals worked according to official figures. Experts believe that tens of thousands died.

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The first ships sailed down the 164-kilometer canal on November 17, 1869, hoping that the airstream would allow for a faster route to London and from Asia to a lengthy and dangerous detour over the Escape from the tip of southern Africa.

The history of the waterway, however, followed the turbulent ebb and flow of the volatile Middle Eastern region.

The turn came in July 1956 Iconic President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a staunch defender of Arab unity, opposed British and French interests and nationalized the Suez Canal Company that ran the waterway. Nasser died in 1970.

The decision to increase Nasser's popularity at home sparked an international crisis. About three months later, France and the UK – both countries controlling the company at the time – and Israel attacked Egypt.

The channel also served as a front during the Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973.

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Today, the important sea route is administered by the Suez Canal Authority and expanded in 2015 to include modern, larger ones To pick up ships. It has become a major asset and provides 10 percent of the total international maritime trade passage.

However, the region's volatility is never far away. The channel, which runs along the southern edge of the Sinai, is now heavily backed by the Egyptian army, which is fighting the long-standing uprising against militant Islamists in northern Sinai.

Buried in the 19th century with "rudimentary tools," today The Waterway has become "a lifeline to Egypt," said the head of the agency, Osama Rabie, to AFP.

In 2015, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted a grand ceremony to inaugurate a new 72-km-long site) track parallel to the canal after 12 months of excavation.

Since then, the agency has had new freight and transit records. The new lane has made it easier to cross larger ship convoys and shorten transit times.

In August. "A record 81 vessels, carrying a total of 6.1 million tonnes, crossed the canal in one day.

" Tonnage has skyrocketed, "said Jean-Marie Miossec, ship specialist and professor at Paul Valery-Mont University

He believes that growth is linked to an "increase in container traffic between Asia and Europe, as well as Europe and the Indian subcontinent."

"The extension of the canal offers increased potential for the Egyptian authorities, especially with regard to Revenues for the 2018-2019 fiscal year were $ 5.9 billion ($ 590 billion), up 5.4% over the previous year, the agency said in August.

Egypt plans to raise revenues to $ 13.2 billion in 2023.

During the first inauguration in 1869, lavish feasts and banquets took place, including even the French Empress Eugenie , the wife of Napoleon III., participated.

In strong For the 150th anniversary of the channel, however, no festivities are planned.

Arnaud Ramiere de Fortanier, from the association in memory of Ferdinand de Lesseps and the Suez Canal, considers the anniversary to be "a bit tricky".

Issue of 1956 went awry, "he said The entire Suez crisis had been mistreated on all sides for the company's former shareholders, and constituted a" catastrophe. "

Rather than highlight the history of the channel before 1956, pull The Egyptian authorities intend to underline the Channel's current performance in contributing to the country's ailing economy.

"Everyone writes history in his own way," said French Ambassador Stephane Romatet, noting that the Egyptians did not become nationalized until after their nationalization 1963 benefited from the Canal.

Stamps are used in Egypt and France On the occasion of the Jubilee, images were printed reminiscent of de Lesseps.

And a conference entitled "The Suez Canal: A Place of Remembrance" will be held on 13 May November in the famous Egyptian Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Egypt also consecrated Museum under construction f For the canal in the city of Ismailia in the historical premises of the Suez Canal Society. However, no opening date has been set yet.


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