The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is considered the most famous waterway in the world and the most important as well. As it is a double industrial corridor linking the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea at the city of Port Said in Egypt. 


The Suez Canal corridor is subject to the authority of the Egyptian government. The Suez Canal Authority is located entirely within the borders of Egyptian territory. It is more than 193 km long, connecting the Red and Mediterranean Bahrain. 


The global importance of the Suez Canal lies in its being considered the fastest sea passage It connects two continents in the world, as thanks to the distinctive strategic location of the canal, it can save more than two weeks of travel time for ships to circumvent via the Cape of Good Hope route, which means circumventing the continent of Africa completely.


It is divided longitudinally into two parts, north and south of the Lakes, and transversely it is divided into two separate corridors in most of its parts to allow ships to cross in both directions at the same time, as it is the most densely used navigation channel.


The Suez Canal as an idea and its establishment:

Napoleon Bonaparte is considered the first to think about building the canal in 1798 with the arrival of the French expedition to Egypt, but the idea was not crowned with success at that time due to a mathematical error in the water levels of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Until the arrival of the Frenchman De Lesseps, who was able to convince Muhammad Said Pasha of the project in 1854 and was able to obtain the approval of the Ottoman Sublime Porte. Accordingly, the French company headed by De Lesseps was granted the privilege of digging and operating the canal for a period of 99 years.

Work on constructing the canal began in 1859, and it took ten years until it was completed in 1869. They built the canal on a system of forced labor, especially in the drilling operations, in which about a million Egyptian workers participated.

A large number of them died as a result of hunger, thirst, and epidemics that destroyed the workers, in addition to the ill treatment there.
The canal was opened in 1869 in a large and solemn international celebration with a very huge budget.
In 1905, the French operating company tried to extend the concession for an additional 50 years, but the proposal was rejected, and these efforts did not succeed and were doomed to failure.


Opening of the Suez Canal:

De Lesseps inaugurated the digging of the canal during the reign of Khedive Said, and work on it was completed ten years later during the reign of Khedive Ismail, who worked to hold a legendary opening ceremony, as he traveled to Europe to invite kings, princes, heads of government, men of politics, science, art, literature, and other symbols to attend the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal, which the Khedive initiated. Ismail is preparing for him. He brought in 500 chefs and a thousand servants to serve the guests, who were estimated at about six thousand invitees. 


The celebration activities began on November 16, 1869, amid a large and huge festive atmosphere in the city of Port Said, which witnessed the celebration. At sunrise on November 17, 1869, ships began to pass through the Suez Canal.


Selling Egypt’s share in the channel:

In 1875, Egypt went through a severe financial crisis, forcing Khedive Ismail to sell Egypt’s share of the canal’s shares to Britain for 100 million francs. Egypt also lost its share of the profits after that due to the continuation of the crisis.
Thus, Egypt lost its profits and its share in the canal’s shares within 6 years of its opening.


Nationalization of the Suez Canal and the repercussions of the decision:

The Suez Canal was nationalized in July 1956 by the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, which led to Britain, France and Israel declaring a tripartite aggression against Egypt. The war against Egypt began, which witnessed valiant resistance from the people of the Egyptian Port Said Governorate, which helped in the withdrawal of the aggression under international pressure and resistance. Valiant popularity.

The war in 1967 caused the closure of the Suez Canal for more than 8 years until President Sadat reopened it in 1975 after the end of the war between Egypt and Israel.
After that, several projects began to develop and expand the course of the canal and reduce transit time until the opening of the new Suez Canal in 2015 during the era of President Sisi, making it one of the most important seaways in the world, as 8 to 12% of the volume of global trade passes through the canal.


New Suez Canal:

The New Suez Canal is considered an important and ambitious project to develop and expand the Suez Canal, in addition to expanding and deepening the branches of the Bitter Lakes, as the project was opened in August 2015..
The goal and purpose of this project, which was completed in a very short period of time, was to avoid the old problems of stopping the northern convoy in the Bitter Lakes region for more than 11 hours. However, the construction of the canal has radically reduced this period of time.


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