Egypt has inaugurated an $8bn extension of the Suez Canal that is parallel to the current waterway, offering a significant platform to strengthen the country's economy.
The opening ceremony of the new canal was marked by the first ship, a container ship called CMA CGM TITAN, officially passing through the waterway. Egypt started trial runs through the new canal in July.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We promised a gift to the world and we accomplished it in record time, an additional artery for prosperity and for connecting civilization to enhance the movement of international trade."
The new canal is expected to boost trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. It is estimated that the new multi-billion dollar canal extension will boost the country's annual revenues to $13.5bn by 2023.
Carried out by the country's armed forces, construction on the project started in August last year.
Built by a consortium named Challenge Coalition, the new canal connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
The project included 37km of dry digging, expansion and deepening of the existing canal by 35km in order to help vessels to increase their movement speed.
Meanwhile, Egypt is planning to construct another canal near the East Port Said Port on the Mediterranean Sea that is expected to begin soon after the inauguration of the new Suez Canal.
The proposed project, which would see the construction of 9.5km-long route, is expected to cost around $60m.
Image: The Suez Canal extension is expected to increase the country's annual revenues to $13.5bn by 2023. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.