Ismailiya, Egypt: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unveiled an expanded Suez Canal Thursday in a lavish ceremony, with the first ships passing through the waterway in what Egypt hopes will boost its economy and global standing.
Sisi, dressed in a ceremonial military uniform, arrived aboard a historic yacht at the head of a naval flotilla as fighter planes and helicopters flew overhead.
The former army chief, who later changed into a business suit, formally opened the $9 billion (7.9 billion euro) waterway to the cheers of hundreds of guests, including foreign dignitaries.
“Egyptians exerted massive efforts to offer to the world a gift for the sake of humanity… in very difficult economic and security conditions,” said Sisi in a speech, as the first cargo ships passed through.
He pledged to defeat militancy, which has bedevilled the country since he overthrew his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013.
The event in the port city of Ismailiya attended by heads of state, including French President Francois Hollande, comes two years after Morsi´s overthrow.
Sisi said “terrorist groups are trying to harm Egypt and Egyptians… Egypt´s fight against terrorism is ongoing.”