Egypt has unveiled a major extension of the Suez Canal billed by its President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as a historic achievement needed to boost the country’s ailing economy after years of unrest.
Sisi, wearing his ceremonial military uniform and trademark dark sunglasses on a sweltering August day, flew to the site on Thursday aboard a military helicopter and immediately boarded a monarchy-era yacht that sailed to the venue of the ceremony.
A visibly triumphant Sisi stood on the vessel’s upper deck, waving to well-wishers and dance troupes performing on shore. At one point, a young boy in military uniform and holding an Egyptian red, black and white flag joined him on the deck.
|Historical facts: the Suez Canal|
Later in the day, the president changed to a dark grey business suit and took his seat at the main stand for an elaborate ceremony in the canal city of Ismailia, attended by foreign dignitaries and organised amid tight security measures following a series of attacks by armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula and the capital, Cairo.
“Egyptians have made a huge effort so as to give the world this gift for development, construction and civilization,” Sisi said at the ceremony. Egyptians, he added, “showed their ability to efficiently make history and leap to the future for the prosperity of humanity”.