With much pomp and fanfare, Egypt yesterday unveiled a major extension of the Suez Canal billed by its patron, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as a historic achievement needed to boost the country’s ailing economy after years of unrest.
El-Sissi, wearing his ceremonious military uniform and trademark dark sunglasses, flew to the site aboard a military helicopter and immediately boarded a monarchy-era yacht that sailed to the venue of the ceremony.
The yacht was flanked by navy warships as helicopters, jet fighters and military transport aircraft flew overhead. A visibly triumphant el-Sissi stood on the vessel’s upper deck, waving to wellwishers and folklore 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 deck.
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 Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula and the capital, Cairo.
Among those at the ceremony were French president Francois Hollande, King Abdullah of Jordan and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Kuwait’s Emir sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras also attended.
The unveiling of the $8.5bn extension has been trumpeted as a historic achievement
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved