Opinion and Editorial

New Suez Canal boosts Egypt-UAE ties

Ahmed Mokhtar
Filed on July 5, 2015

It will increase revenues by 259 per cent to reach $13.226 billion per year by 2023, up from the current $5.3 billion.

On August 6, Egypt will unveil the new Suez Canal to the world during a massive ceremony. Though it is being dug on Egyptian soil, the new navigation canal has been supported by the GCC states, especially the United Arab Emirates, after plans for it were announced in August 2014.

The mega project is expected to provide promising opportunities for the development of the Egyptian economy. The “challenge coalition” led by a UAE dredging company was ahead with its offer to dredge the new canal that is 72 kilometers long, with 35 kilometers of dry drilling and 37 kilometers of deepening and expansion at a cost of $4 billion, making it the largest dredging operation in history.

The importance of the project is not limited to economic benefits to Egypt or international trade. It will also give breathing space to the suffering Egyptian economy and looks to harvest the fruits of other major projects — the executive plan includes developing the Suez Canal Axis by establishing factories for car assembly, electronics, petroleum refining, petrochemicals, logistics distribution centers, construction and repair of ships, container manufacturing, furniture and textile manufacturing, and glass industries. According to Egyptian government estimates, these projects will generate about one million job opportunities and $100 billion of revenues per year.

At the international level, the new Suez Canal project will allow passage of 45 ships both ways, while reducing transit and standby time to 11 hours and three hours respectively, down from 18 hours and eight hours. It will also increase revenues by 259 per cent to reach $13.226 billion per year by 2023, up from the current $5.3 billion.

Additionally, the mega project is a proof on the ability of Arab states to challenge the odds and accomplish wonders. The project was initially estimated to take three to five years for completion, but that was reduced to one year, making it a tough test for the companies involved in the dredging efforts. Other works being done and linked to the project include delivering electricity, water and gas to the eastern side of the canal, in addition to establishing 460 fish tanks and 320 water-lifting stations.

After completing about 85 per cent of works in the new Suez Canal, dredging should be finished as per the plan by mid July. Meanwhile, Egyptians are getting ready to celebrate the operation of the new canal, remembering the 100,000 martyrs who died during dredging the Suez Canal after Ferdinand de Lesseps began work on it in 1856.

Apart from its economic importance, the new canal is a successful example of Arab cooperation, after the National Marine Dredging Company of the United Arab Emirates and two Dutch firms and one Belgium company, won the tender to dredge four areas of the project, or about 60 per cent of all dredging works. The Suez Canal Authority, along with an American and a Belgium company will complete the rest of the project.

The project will help increase global trade and will boost UAE’s economy and seal its leading position on the global trading map, while taking the special relations between Cairo and Abu Dhabi to a new level.

When Egypt celebrates the new Suez Canal, everyone will know how the Egyptian people and their leadership appreciate the UAE’s role in its development. This project is also expected to open more channels for Emirati businessmen and investors in establishing several projects which will stimulate the Egypt’s economy.

Ahmed Mokhtar is the managing editor of Al Ahram Al Massai.

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