Egypt's second economic lifeline
There are specific events of seismic significance in the history of each nation that will remain ingrained in the minds of successive generations, irrespective of whether they are painful or are a source of fresh joy. The defeat on June 5 of the Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day War, or the September 11 attacks in New York are a few examples of painful events.
The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's accession to power as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi on August 6, 1966 is one of the most pleasant events in the UAE that will always be remembered by successive generations of Emiratis. This is because the credit for the creation of the Union goes to the late Shaikh Zayed, who led the unparalleled march of development and construction boom.
Fortuitously, August 6 this year marks the opening of the new Suez Canal, which is an economic and strategic milestone not for Egypt only but also for Arab countries, especially those that stood by Egypt in this vital project and provided all forms of financial and moral support, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.
The flagship project - which will be inaugurated today (Thursday) in the presence of many world leaders - will add greatly to the Egyptian economy, which was significantly affected by various events over the past five years and by the poor economic management of former president Mohammad Morsi, as well as by the ongoing terrorist attacks carried out by Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The new shipping route will increase Egypt's annual Suez Canal earnings from the current $5.3 billion to $11 billion (Dh19.5 billion to Dh40.4 billion). While much will depend on growth in global trade, the new canal's revenue generation will undoubtedly reach this level over the next few years. It will raise the capacity from the current 50 commercial and non-commercial vessels to 100 daily, thus doubling the annual revenue to $11 billion.
In the meantime, the new canal will offer thousands of jobs for Egyptians, and the canal's additional revenues will make up a proportion of the losses that resulted from the deterioration in the tourism sector so vitally important to the economy, which has not fully recovered yet due to acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks in Sinai and other tourist areas.
In addition, the opening of this mega project in the global spotlight and represented by many dignitaries, representing the highest levels, will offer moral support to encourage domestic and foreign investors to invest in Egypt, thereby boosting its stability gradually and lead to optimum growth rates.
New domestic and foreign funding will thus join those deployed by Gulf investments in the past two years, which means Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi's economic policy is in the right direction.
The opening also signposts to the importance of the alliance between Egypt and the GCC countries, which resulted in many important projects for Egypt's economy that will result in achieving high growth rates and providing millions of jobs and improving living standards. They are in contrast to the economic sabotage operations carried out by some countries like Iran in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon through the funding of sectarian organisations that have led to the destruction of the economies of these countries and setting them back by many years.
August 6, 1966 marked the historical start of the establishment of a modern and economically advanced country, with the UAE now a model for other developing economies. Hopefully, August 6, 2015 would form a strong beginning for the Egyptian economy, similar to the historical period that was witnessed by Egypt after the opening of the Suez Canal more than 150 years ago. In fact, the Arab world is now in need of more than August 6 events, whether by the emergence of leaders who are keen to develop their countries and provide a decent life for their citizens or to implement vital development programmes that contribute to overcoming the aftermath of sabotage, providing job opportunities and putting Arab economies back on the track of economic and social development and progress.