Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Egypt Tourism

Egypt’s economic life-savers are tourism and the Suez Canal

Hazel Heyer, eTN Staff Writer  Jan 22, 2009

Two weeks ago, Suez Canal’s Authority chairman, field marshal Ahmed Aly Fadel called on a number of journalists at his headquarters in Ismailiya at the Convention Hall of the Research Center to announce important decisions related to the year 2009 policy at Suez Canal.

Tolls for 2009 were finalized, however late, due to the uncertainty in the shipping industry caused by piracy and the global financial crisis. Announcements, which were supposed to have been made in December, had been delayed due to "big fluctuations in the shipping market and world commerce,” said Fadel.

Few may be aware, following in close second to Egypt’s robust tourism industry as foreign currency earner is the Suez Canal, the country’s major economic engine. Being a vital conduit linking trade centers of the Mediterranean to the rest of world, Egypt straddles the Suez Canal – the most direct route between Europe/West and China. The Suez makes the national port system vital to commercial and strategic lifelines.

The idea of linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea first occurred during the Pharaonic age. Pharaohs were pioneers in this sphere, as they dug a canal linking both seas through the eastern branch of the Nile Delta. Later, the canal was neglected until the Greeks, followed by the Romans dug it several times; however, the canal was again neglected.

During the time of the Arab conquest of Egypt, the Suez was again excavated. It continued to exist for scores of years but was later filled up. During the French campaign of 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte thought of linking the two seas directly by means of a navigation canal, but the engineers did not support the idea that indeed the Red Sea level was nine meters over that of the Mediterranean.

On November 30, 1854, French engineer Ferdinand De-lesseps managed to sign a concession with the Egyptian government to dig the Suez Canal for the last time. On April 25, 1859, the digging of the canal began and continued for ten years. More than 2.4 million Egyptian workers took part, of whom more than 125.000 lost their lives.

On November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was opened for navigation. It marks a very strategic location. It links two oceans and two seas the Atlantic and Mediterranean via Gibraltar to Port Said, and the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea via Bab Al Mandab and the Gulf of Suez to the port of Suez.

It is the longest canal that has no locks; it can be widened and deepened at any time when necessary.

The Suez Canal’s gateway of Port Said has beaches that are ordinary but less crowded than Egypt's other resorts. The best attraction of the city, however, is the lookout of ships while they enter the canal. “You can do that by standing on the ferry terminal or by getting on the free-of-charge ferry itself few times,” posted a blog adding, “The ferry carries passengers to Port Said's sister city Port Fuad. Port Said's best landmark is the Suez Canal Authority building. It's visible from the ferry terminal and its building is awe-inspiring.”

Almost every one in Egypt knows the Arab District in Port Said. It is the oldest and the most active trade and commercial center in the northern Egyptian coastal city. Every day, thousands of people from all over Egypt visit the duty-free city to do some shopping in this district, where prices are at least 50 percent cheaper than anywhere else in the country. A lightning visit to the district would however reveal the economic and social problems of its dwellers, mostly immigrants from Upper Egypt, previously said Mohamed Raouf from the Egyptian Gazette.

In July 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal after it had been an international company for about 87 years. The Suez Canal's strategic importance lies in the fact that it is essential for world trade. It transports 14 percent of the total world trade, 26 percent of oil exports, 41 percent of the total volume of goods and cargo that reach Arab Gulf ports.

The Suez Canal shortens considerably the distance between East and West, for instance, 86 percent of the distance between the Saudi Port of Jeddah to the Black Sea port of Canstanza is saved, compared to the route round the Cape of Good Hope. The distance between Tokyo and Rotterdam in Holland is shortened by 23 percent if it goes around Africa.

Mubarak’s government has always been keen on improving and developing the performance of the Suez Canal to cope with the steady increase in maritime transport due to the huge capacity of tankers, giant cargo vessels and the ever increasing number of ships crossing the canal. Canal officials say tariffs will be kept almost the same or will be cut down because of the impact on traffic of this worsening recession and the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Lately, arms manufacturers in particular, have rerouted their shipping round the Cape of Good Hope in recent months to avoid the pirates preying on vessels en route between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, said the field marshal of Suez.

Egypt’s government leaves no stone unturned in keeping the canal secured and safe. Unfortunately last year, the State Security Prosecution nabbed Muhammad Tahah Wahdan, professor at the Science Faculty of the Suez Canal University, for manufacturing an unmanned aerial vehicle. Wahdan was accused of forming a committee that coordinates between Hamas leaders in the Gaza strip and Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, said Al Dustur’s Nirmin al Awadi.

Egypt’s economic life-savers are tourism and the Suez Canal
Image via

Premium Partners