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Egypt's President Abdelfattah el-Sisi attended ceremony yesterday to unveil major extension of Suez Canal. original canal was completed in 1869 and took 10 years to build. new, $8.5 billion canal was constructed in just under 12 months, beating all predictions by industry experts that it would take five years. canal provides passageway between Mediterranean and Red Seas. President Sisi sailed up canal in his presidential yacht, El Mahrousa, wearing military fatigues to attend inauguration. The El Mahrousa was first ship to officially sail through original canal nearly a century-and--half ago. President Sisi described the new canal as Egypt's "gift to world".

Egypt's government hopes new canal will provide much-needed boost for country's economy. The head of Suez Canal Authority, Mohab Mamish, said new canal was important to ensure Egypt earns revenues from its waterways in future. He told reporters: "If I can't handle this and turn it into revenue for Egyptian treasury, alternative routes will emerge." He hopes revenues will increase from current annual $5.3 billion to $13.2 billion by 2023. That means shipping traffic would need to grow from 49 per day at present to 97 by 2023. This would entail nine per cent increase in global trade. Some economists have cast doubt on whether these figures can be met.

 
 

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