Egyptians who win a 'lottery' attend New Suez Canal opening

Aswat Masriya , Sunday 26 Jul 2015

The inauguration of the new project will take place on August 6

A cargo ship is seen crossing through the New Suez Canal, Ismailia, Egypt, July 25, 2015 (Reuters)

Suez Canal Authority will hold a lottery to decide who will attend the opening ceremony of the New Suez Canal, the head of one of the companies responsible for promoting the Canal said on Sunday.

Attendees will be selected from a pool of Egyptian citizens who applied to participate in the ceremony, according to Tarek Lasheen, the head of Memac Ogilvy, which is the main partner in the WPP multinational alliance.

The opening ceremony is due to take place on August 6. It will be attended by heads of state from around the world.

Lasheen told Aswat Masriya that applying to attend the opening ceremony was open to all Egyptian governorates and the application could be found on the New Suez Canal's website.

The official Facebook page for the New Suez Canal announced last Tuesday that applications to attend the opening are now available for all citizens.

On Sunday, the site announced that it will no longer accept applications due to what it described as “a massive turnout and a positive response from the people of Egypt."

It was also noted that those citizens chosen to attend the ceremony will be contacted via email and/or phone calls.

"A limited number of invitations will be reserved for representatives from various institutions and civil society organizations," Lasheen added.

Lasheen refrained from disclosing the number of citizens who will be allowed to participate in the opening ceremony, highlighting that this information is "confidential" for security reasons.

"Invitations are free of charge and the interior and defense ministries will coordinate with those chosen to determine means of transporting the citizens to the opening ceremony," he said.

Speaking about the international organizations and institutions, Lasheen revealed that the Egyptian Presidency is the one responsible for their invitations.

The government will fund the opening ceremony through public donations and contributions from the dredging companies responsible for digging the new channel. Funding the ceremony in this manner will avoid any burden on the state budget, said the head of the Canal, Mohab Mamish, last month.

The new Suez Canal project aims to add a new shipping lane to the existing canal, linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. It also aims to develop the surrounding zone into an industrial and commercial hub.

The upgraded canal is expected to speed up traffic along the waterway and to boost its revenues, projected to more than double from $5.3 billion at the end of 2015 to $13.2 billion in 2023, according to official estimates.

Earlier Saturday, Egypt began the first trial of the New Suez Canal, with three container ships navigating through the channel, state news agency MENA reported.

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