Egypt's President Sisi has attended a ceremony to open an extension of the Suez Canal. The original canal was built in 1869. It took 10 years to build. The new, $8.5 billion canal was built in 12 months. It beat predictions by experts that it would take five years. The canal is a passageway between the Mediterranean and Red seas. President Sisi sailed up the canal in his presidential yacht, the El Mahrousa, to attend the opening. The yacht was the first ship to officially sail through the original canal a century-and-a-half ago. President Sisi said the new canal is Egypt's "gift to the world".
Egypt's government hopes the canal will be a much-needed boost for the economy. The head of the Suez Canal Authority said it was important to ensure Egypt earned money from its waterways in the future. He said: "If I can't handle this and turn it into revenue for the Egyptian treasury, alternative routes will emerge." He hopes revenue will increase from $5.3 billion now to $13.2 billion by 2023. That means shipping traffic must grow from the current 49 ships per day to 97 by 2023. This needs a nine per cent increase in global trade. Some economists doubt whether these figures can be met.