Entirely funded by Egyptian investors, the Suez Canal has been extended at a cost of US$8.2 bn, which will bring much-needed foreign currency into an economy which has struggled from violent political unrest since 2011. While the Egyptian government has forecast the canal's annual revenue to more than double by 2023 to US$13.5 bn, the country's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, conceded it was the first of a 1,000-step journey to economic recovery. Dubbed a megaproject and a source of deep national pride by proponents, some economists and shippers have questioned the value of the project, sighting unrealistic growth expectations in international trade for the canal to achieve traffic and revenue targets.
Last year the canal achieved a record US$5.3 bn in revenue.
Unveiled on Thursday 6th August 2015, the extension accommodates two-way passage for the world's largest ships (draught up to 20 m). During the yearlong enlargement project which stretches 72 km along the 193 km canal, the waterway's depth was increased to 24 m using (at peak) 43 massive dredging machines and countless other heavy digging and transport equipment.
Approximately 10% of the world’s trade flows through the Suez Canal.
An artificial sea-level waterway linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal is located in Egypt and was originally opened on the 17th November 1869. Hailed as a leap forward into the modern age, it took 10 years to complete initial construction, allowing ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa.