Suez CanalApprox. Time: 4 hours
Activity Level: Moderate

The idea of linking the Mediterranean and Red sea first occurred during the Pharaonic age. Pharaohs were the pioneers in this sphere. They dug a canal linking both seas through the eastern branch of the Nile Delta. Later the canal was neglected until the Greeks, followed by the Romans dug it several times but it was again neglected.

The canal was dug once again at the time of the Arab conquest of Egypt. It continued to exist for scores of years but was later filled up.

During the French campaign of 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte thought of linking the two seas directly by means of a navigation canal, but engineers did not support the idea of believing that the Red Sea level is nine meters higher than that of the Mediterranean.

On November 30, 1854 the French engineer Ferdinand De-lesseps managed to sign a concession with the Egyptian government to dig the Suez Canal. On April 25, 1859 the digging of the Canal began and continued for ten years. More than 2.4 million Egyptian workers took part, of which more than 125.000 lost their lives. On November 17,1869 the Suez Canal was opened for navigation. The Suez Canal has a strategic location. It links two oceans and two seas the Atlantic and Mediterranean via Gibraltar to Port Said, and the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea via Bab Al Mandab and the Gulf of Suez to the port of Suez. It is the longest Canal that has no locks, it can be widened and deepened at any time when necessary In July 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal after it had been an international company for about 87 years. The Suez Canal's strategic importance lies in the fact that it is essential for world trade. It transports 14% of the total world trade, 26% of oil exports, 41% of the total volume of goods and cargo that reach Arab Gulf ports. The Suez Canal shortens considerably the distance between East and West, for instance, 86% of the distance between the Saudi Port of Jeddah to the Black Sea port of Canstanza is saved if compared to the route round the Cape of Good Hope. The distance between Tokyo (Japan) and Rotterdam (Holland) is shortened by 23 % if it goes round Africa.