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Egypt Security on High Alert Ahead of New Suez Canal Opening Thursday

© Wikipedia / AashayBaindurCapesize bulk carrier, approaches the Suez Canal Bridge
Capesize bulk carrier, approaches the Suez Canal Bridge - Sputnik International
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The opening ceremony of a new shipping canal between the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, which will take place on Thursday, will be secured by 10,000 army and police personnel as many world leaders are expected to attend.

CAIRO (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — Security measures will include increased police and army presence in the six closest canal governorates, including Port Said, Suez, Sharqiya, Qalyubia, Cairo and Ismailia, the Interior Ministry of Egypt told Sputnik Wednesday.

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According to the press attache of the Egyptian Embassy in Moscow, Ayman Mousa, the new 72-kilometer [44.7-mile] channel parallel to Suez Canal, which was originally built 146 years ago, will increase the capacity of the old waterway, and enable more ships to travel between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Hundreds of guests have been invited to attend the opening ceremony in Ismailia governorate.

French President Francois Hollande, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, Chinese Culture Minister Luo Shugang, as well as several African leaders, are expected to attend the New Suez Canal opening ceremony, Mousa told Sputnik.

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A delegation from the Vatican, chaired by Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, will attend the festivities despite the fact that Vatican City does not usually send representatives to participate in the opening celebrations of commercial ventures.

A flotilla of ships led by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi on the Egyptian Royal Yacht "Mahroussa" is expected to pass through the New Canal to mark the occasion.

"Mahroussa" was built in England in 1865 in a form and likeness of the British royal yacht. The vessel played a significant role in the original Suez Canal opening ceremony, one of two ships leading the procession, along with the imperial yacht of Napoleon of France.

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In conclusion of the festivities, the guests will attend the opera "Aida," first performed in Cairo in 1871.

The famous opera was not an accidental choice. Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was commissioned to write "Aida" to mark the original opening of the Suez Canal. According to popular myth, the composer failed to come up with his new opera in time for the celebration and "Rigoletto" was performed instead.

The New Suez Canal is part of a plan to develop the surrounding area into an industrial, commercial and logistic hub that will include the construction of additional ports and improved shipping services.

The new waterway is expected to decrease the transition time for ships from 22 to 11 hours, and provide more jobs in Egypt.

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