Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al -Sisi on Thursday officially opened a new shipping route of theSuez Canal.
At a lavish ceremony attended by a host of foreign leaders, Sisi inaugurated the project, which the government hopes will double Egypt's Suez Canal earnings from the current $5.3 billion per year to some $13 billion annually.
"We, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, give the permission for the opening of the new Suez Canal," he said to the applause of attendees at the ceremony.
Originally planned as a three-year project, Sisi ordered the route to be completed in one year.
The mega-project includes a 35-km (22-mile) parallel waterway flanking the existing 145-year-old canal. It also includes a deepening and widening of 37 km of the existing canal, which will cut transit times and allow larger vessels easier passage.
The mega-project brings to the canal's length to 120 miles and its depth to 78 feet, allowing it to accommodate the world's largest vessels.