Egypt issues a public holiday for Suez Canal opening

Published August 5th, 2015 - 08:41 GMT

Egypt's state, bourse and bank employees will be given an official holiday next Thursday which coincides with the ceremony to launch the "New Suez Canal."

The Suez Canal, which was launched in 1869, is a strategic waterway for Egypt and it brings the state billions of dollars annually.

On Aug. 5, 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched a mega project to deepen the Suez Canal and dig a parallel canal to admit larger ships and reduce navigation time, thus reducing costs. 

The digging has been completed, a year after the green light to start project was given, and Egypt will host a ceremony in celebration next Thursday, Aug. 6.

The state has for weeks been publicizing the upcoming celebration, which will be attended by global leaders. The event is being organized by a consortium led by British advertising firm WPP which has been tasked by Egypt.

The project launched by Sisi, has another aspect, a developmental one.

On the long-run, the project also aims to develop the entire region surrounding the Suez Canal, turning the strategic waterway into a comprehensive global business center, in which maritime transport services are provided. 

The development work is slated to be completed over two phases, the first of which is due to be initiated within 2015 and will be completed by 2030. The second is set to be completed by 2045.  

To fund the project, the Egyptian government collected from citizens $8.17 billion (64 billion Egyptian pounds) within eight working days by issuing five-year investment certificates, offering an interest rate of 12 percent. 

Deepening the waterway and drilling a parallel canal cost around $4 billion (31.3 billion Egyptian pounds).

The remainder of the sum that was collected was directed toward constructing six tunnels underneath the canal. 

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