Suez - Egypt's Lifeline

Jason Larkin

Since its completion in 1869 the Suez Canal has revolutionised shipping from Europe and the Middle East to Asia and beyond. For Egypt, it is a national treasure, and a vital part of its currently flagging economy.~~The Suez Canal, one of the most vital waterways for international shipping and one of its most lucrative, is a 192 km passage dividing Africa from the Middle East. Carved out of the desert in 1869, the canal processes 3.35 million tonnes of cargo per day, 7% of all the sea-transported trade in the world.~By offering an enormous shortcut to a long and expensive course around the Cape of Good Hope, Suez has transformed the international exchange of goods over the past century since its completion in 1869. It has also provided a financial lifeline to the largest country in the Arab World.

Shipping companies shell out an average of USD 250,000 to make a single trip between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, and the resultant revenues – around USD 400 million a month in 2010 – are a crucial source of income and foreign exchange for Egypt, especially following the Arab Spring upheavals which have buffeted the economy badly. ~Beyond its strategic and economic value to the country, however, the canal also bears another significance for Egyptians. 'It's part of our identity, woven into the fabric of who we are as a country,' says one former sailor who used to pilot tankers through Suez. 'Without it, we’re nothing.'~~The history of the canal provides a kaleidoscopic window onto the trials of modern Egypt, from its messy entanglement with European colonialism to the vast wars which have shaped the country's post-independence existence. Controlled by the British within a few years of its opening, Suez later became a symbol of the country's bold makeover under the charismatic leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who unilaterally nationalised the waterway in 1956 and held it aloft as a symbol of Third World determination in the face of imperial aggression.~~Egypt is waking up to a new dawn of possibilities, and the fate of the Suez Canal will play a crucial part in determining which of them unfolds. The country's future governments need to reposition this remarkable asset to stop it being cast adrift in troubled global waters; the real challenge now is to find a way of doing so that ensures the people who have played such a part in the history of Suez are not left behind in its future.

 

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      EGYPT

      Containers and cranes inside an Emirati (UAE) owned...

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      Ships, of all sizes, await repair in the dry docks...

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      Ships, of all sizes, await repair in the dry docks...

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      A Chinese owned container ship sails north passing...

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      Ships, of all sizes, await repair in the dry docks...

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      A group of Indian sailors relax during leave from...

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      A passenger boat is moored in a huge container ship...

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      Men play backgammon at a cafe near to the entrance of...

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      Small fishing boats moored along the Suez Canal in...

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      Dock workers, at the Dubai Ports Sokhna container...

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      A fisherman at the passenger ship terminal in Port...

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      A military memorial statue in the town of Suez. The...

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      The contents of several containers at DP World Sokhna...

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      The Suez Canal Bridge, also known as The Mubarak...

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      A carpenter at a ship building yard where ships of...

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      A dock worker, at the Dubai Ports Sokhna container...

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      A crane's jaw rests on the dockside, at the terminal...

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