An expansion to the Suez Canal opens with great fanfare. Egypt hopes it will revitalise the country's economy but as Joel Flynn reports some fear the project may fail to meet expectations.
In 1869, Egypt did something many thought impossible - cutting off a continent. The building of the Suez Canal was a huge boon to the world economy, meaning ships no longer had to travel around the great expanse of Africa. 146 years on, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expanding it. He's heralded the 8 billion dollar project as historic. SOUNDBITE: Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying (Arabic): "Not only has Egypt presented this project in the last two years, but history will show it fought against the most dangerous and extreme ideology to do so." International leaders arrived in Ismailia with Sisi to celebrate the expansion. Egyptians in Cairo were proud too. SOUNDBITE: Cairo Resident, Essam Nour Eldin, saying (Arabic): "This is a great leap forward in Egypt's history and civilisations, and proves it is at the centre of the Middle East." Many in Egypt are also happy about the potential for profit. Daily canal traffic will reportedly grow from 49 to 97 vessels. By 2023 the Suez Canal Authority expects revenue to hit 13 billion dollars - compared to 5 billion last year. But, says ETX Capital's David Papier, it's not just Egypt that will benefit. SOUNDBITE: ETX Capital Head Of Sales Trading, David Papier. saying (English): "They are looking to increase infrastructure, housing, healthcare, the opening of this canal could bring these things to Egypt, and it also could increase exports from other nations and other multinational companies." There are questions about whether the money might have better been invested elsewhere. For now though Egyptians will see the new canal as a path to the future.