Bizarre ways Egypt has celebrated 'new' Suez Canal

Bizarre ways Egypt has celebrated 'new' Suez Canal
Blow-up teddy bears, film directors, unified Friday sermons, "surprise" trains, government-backed hashtags and lavish ceremonies have all come with the grand opening of Egypt's "new" Suez Canal.
2 min read
06 Aug, 2015
The new parallel waterway has cost Egypt $8.2bn [Facebook]

Egypt celebrated the opening of the new Suez Canal on Thursday with a lavish ceremony decked out with naval and air shows, fireworks displays, an opera performance and a music concert.

As Egyptians enjoy the national holiday, al-Araby al-Jadeed takes a look back at some of the bizarre ways Egypt has prepared for this day.

Firstly, Egyptian authorities placed large creepy inflated teddy bears with a banner commemorating the new canal in Tahrir Square, the location of the demonstrations that led to the 2011 revolution.

And to accompany the giant teddy bears - around a dozen songs, composed specifically for Thursday’s grand event, including a catchy tune made by the military. If you’re searching for that one, it’s called “You Have A Navy”.

There have been rumours that film director Danny Boyle, best known for his work on Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting and the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, has had a hand in the inauguration festivities in the port city of Ismailiya.

A state issued Friday sermon to be delivered the day after the ceremony will reportedly compare the canal to a trench during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, which his forces dug to prevent their enemies from entering Medina.

The Cairo metro and non-first class train cars operated at no charge for three hours, and a “surprise” train took off from Ramesses Station.

Although the train’s destination was supposed to be unknown, authorities were forced to announce where it was going over fears no one would book tickets.

Egypt advertised the canal as its "gift to the world", with a cover on a limited number of copies of The Economist and a banner in New York’s Times Square.

And there was even a state-sanctioned hashtag on Twitter, #EgyptRejoices, where users could praise the project, although many social media users took the opportunity to make fun of the government festivities.

“Egypt rejoices with a 13.4% unemployment rate," and “Egypt rejoices with a 2 million street children” read two of the critical tweets.

Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi opened the ceremony, attended by several heads of state including French President Francois Hollande, by joining a naval parade with some 10,000 policemen standing guard across six provinces in the country.