In line with Mohab Mamish, the head of the Suez Canal Authority who said that "Suez Canal is Egypt’s gift to the world," the British newspaper The Independent reported that the Suez Canal remains a “symbol of national pride” to the Egyptians beyond its economic capabilities and a symbol of what the country is capable of.
The reporter featured its tour in Suez Canal showing the Egyptian national sentiment towards the new canal, holding up the two fingers peace symbol and Egyptian flags along with a shiny silver metal statue of Isis the goddess of protection.
Various statues are being erected on the canal’s banks including Isis (the goddess of protection), a shiny silver metal globe and a 20ft-high rendering of a worker digging the soil. Photo by AFP.
“Mega-project of this magnitude has stoked nationalist sentiment as a time when Egyptians hope to see the end of four years of economic turmoil,” the article said.
“The project moved several hundred million cubic meters of soil in order to create a 35km second channel allowing parallel traffic through the Suez Canal, besides 37km of already existing waterways dredged to create extra space for ships traffic,” the article said.
The Independent mentioned that the Egyptian government has ambitious projections for the new project which include increasing the canal’s traffic from 49 to 97 ships per day, which is expected to raise the annual revenue from US$5 billion to $13.3 billion n by 2023.
However the newspaper dashed the government’s expectations considering them far more ambitious than might be expected, explaining that Trade through the canal depends largely on exports of oil and liquefied natural gas, of which are globally in decline.
Speaking to Timothy E Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, he said that the canal is a symbol of the strategic importance of Egypt which built its importance on it. “For many, it’s why so many powers take an interest in this country, it’s a kind of leverage,” Kaldas said.
He pointed that Sisi is trying to channel the charisma and memory of Nasser as a strong military political leader, one who can deliver to the country.
While Peter Hinchcliffe, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping said that a growth of about 3 percent year on year in global trade is expected, and the Suez Canal will see some growth in accordance the these figures.
Visual reminders of the canal's strategic importance to Egypt are not in short supply. One bank has been taken up with a large sign saying “Welcome to Egypt”. Photo by Reuters.