As the Suez Canal opens on Thursday 6 August 2015 for the third time in its history, this time as a fully two-way 165km-long course joining the Mediterranean and Red Sea, vessels at sea or in ports the world over will join in a cacophony of horn blowing all at once to greet the event. The move is unprecedented; the only action remotely similar would be the blowing of ship horns on New Year Eve to greet the New Year, but even this is not the same given that the New Year comes in at different hours around the world.
The day will honoured by a public holiday, and Egyptians in every governorate will be able to use an online profile picture of the new Suez Canal logo. The profile pictures, one unique for every governorate, have been made available to the public by the media apparatus of the Egyptian Police.
The opening ceremony will be aired live on TV, broadcast by Egyptian Television. According to Safaa’ Higazy, head of the TV news sector and member of the committee that plans and prepares for the new Suez Canal opening ceremony, more than 50 cameras and 10 TV outside broadcasting trucks will be used to relay the event from land, sea, and air. Some 120 correspondents will cover the ceremony.
Two statues will greet the guests to the opening ceremony. One is Tareq al-Koumi’s Umm al-Dunia (Mother of the World) located in front of Ismailiya the toll station on the Cairo Ismailiya road. The other, Hariss al-Tareekh (Guard of History), was sculpted by Saïd Badr and stands at the end of ring road overlooking the Canal. Both statues were unveiled last Saturday by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab together with a number of State ministers and senior officials.
President abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will lead his guests through the opening, aboard the Egyptian royal-turned-republican yacht Mahroussa. Invitations have been extended to world leaders, prominent among whom are Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande who have accepted the invitation.
On opening day, a surprise awaits the fishermen in Ismailliya. President Sisi will be granting 12 fishermen fishing boats as gifts. This is only a start; more fishing boats will be granted to local fisherman in turn. The same day will see the opening of some 500 fish culture basins in the Canal.
Once the new Canal is in operation, the New Suez Canal development project should start right away. The project aims at turning the Canal zone into a world-class international trade, logistics, and industrial hub. Vice Admiral Mohab Mameesh, Chairman and Managing Director of the Suez Canal Authority, said the project will begin with establishing six new ports and two industrial zones. “It’s like a beehive on these sites,” he said, alluding to the work going into preparation for the launch of construction.
In appreciation for his efforts on the New Suez Canal project, Vice Admiral Mameesh was awarded the Seatrade Personality of the Year for 2014. Seatrade Reefer Chartering operates the widest variety of fully refrigerated vessels, aka reefer vessels, purpose-built ships for ocean transport of perishable and frozen cargo.