A Rare Ray of Light
Egypt Opens New Suez Canal

Egypt’s “New Suez Canal” extension project opened amidst great fanfare today. The $8.5B, largely self-financed project offers both symbolic and substantive hope for Egypt. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The 120-mile canal is already the fastest route between Asia and Europe and accounts for 8% of the world’s sea trade, according to the Suez Canal Authority. The canal’s improvements, including the building of a 23-mile parallel channel, will allow two-way traffic for the first time and reduce waiting times by as much as eight hours for ships traversing the waterway.

As the Journal makes clear, however, not everyone agrees on the long-term economic impact, largely due to disputes over the future volume of global shipping.

Nevertheless, the project is highly popular in Egypt. As one of our Middle Eastern contacts remarked to us, the Egyptians know that tourism can come and go, but the canal is forever. It also has huge symbolic, historical significance for Egyptian nationalism. It’s no surprise that the Sisi government decided to make much of this project—but it is somewhat surprising that it came in on time.
This won’t solve all of Egypt’s problems or turn the country around. But these days any positive news is welcome, and the project is a good sign, a rare ray of light for a country with many recent problems. It’s good news for world trade, and good news for Egyptians.
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