Egypt re-opens Port Tawfiq-Jeddah line after 14 years

Port Tawfiq-Jeddah navigation line between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is being opened after a 14-year hiatus. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 23 February 2019

Egypt re-opens Port Tawfiq-Jeddah line after 14 years

  • Port Tawfiq was a private maritime port for travelers between Suez and Jeddah until 2006
  • The line was suspended after the sinking of the ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, in which 1,000 people died

CAIRO: The Egyptian Red Sea Ports Authority has announced the re-opening of the Port Tawfiq-Jeddah navigation line between Egypt and Saudi Arabia after a 14-year hiatus.

Prior to 2006, Port Tawfiq was a private maritime port for travelers between Suez and Jeddah. 

The line was suspended in that year, however, after the sinking of the ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98. About 1,000 people died in what was described as one of the worst maritime accidents in history. 

Most of the passengers were Egyptian nationals working in Saudi Arabia, while others were pilgrims returning home from Hajj. 

Malak Youssef, spokesperson for the Red Sea Ports Authority, told Arab News that the tragedy has caused much of the passenger traffic between the two ports to come to a halt.  The Red Sea Ports Authority and Maritime Safety Authority have been in talks in recent years about the reopening of the line, he said.

The decision, according to Youssef, will attract companies and investors, and will boost trade. The Tawfiq line will be provided with up to six vessels.

The reception halls of Port Tawfiq can accommodate 2,500 passengers. A series of police checks will be implemented to ensure the security and safety of passengers.

Suez MP Abdelhamid Kamal had submitted a request to the head of Parliament in Cairo to consider the re-opening of the Suez navigation line. The closure had deprived Hajj and Umrah travelers and unofficial or unlicensed workers of an important route. 

“Operating the port is one of people’s major demands in Suez, following its closure in 2006,” Kamal said.

Ayman Saleh, of the Red Sea Ports Authority, said in a statement that the operation of the navigation line will open door to thousands of jobs for the youth of Suez Governorate. The project will also benefit the area with the upgrade of its infrastructure, its docks and reception halls.

According to Saleh, a completion date for the launch of the line has not been set yet. 

The Red Sea Authority and Maritime Safety Authority are still working on the details of the reopening. “We will provide services to the public and provide them with security and protection,” Saleh said.

Wit and grit: Algeria's sizeable youth lead fight for change

Updated 23 April 2019

Wit and grit: Algeria's sizeable youth lead fight for change

  • More than half of Algeria’s population are under 30
  • Young protesters say they are able to receive diplomas but unable to find jobs

ALGIERS: They’re on the peaceful front line of the protest movement that toppled Algeria’s longtime ruler, facing down water cannons with attitude, memes — and fearless calls for shampoo.
Oil-rich Algeria is one of the most youthful countries in the world with two-thirds of the population under 30.
They are politically engaged, educated, on social media and funny. And they initiated nationwide protests in mid-February that toppled the only leader they’ve ever known — former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999.
“Only Chanel does No. 5,” read the placard of a young Algerian protesting against Bouteflika’s failed bid for a fifth term. “Love the Way You Lie,” read another, referencing Rihanna’s hit song. Yet another, featuring the “Ghostbusters” movie poster, was a humorous rebuke to the infirm 82-year-old who’s rarely been seen since a 2013 stroke. And when police unfurl the water cannons, they start to sing in rhyming Arabic: “Bring me some shampoo and I’ll feel good!“
A quarter of these under-30s are out of work, creating a deep well of frustration against the North African country’s veteran rulers and the policies that have left them behind.
“I came to protest against this power structure because we, the young people, we are the main victims,” said Belkacem Canna, who just turned 30, and works for the local water company on what he described as a miserable salary. “We get diplomas but can’t get jobs.”
For two decades, Algeria has been ruled by Bouteflika and other survivors of the 1954-1962 War of Independence against colonial power France.
“Algeria’s leaders have one foot in the War of Independence and the other foot in the post-colonial period. This is a generational problem. Algeria is a gerontocracy that can’t represent the country’s majority,” said Rachid Tlemcani, political scientist at Algiers University.
Bouteflika had for years used Algeria’s oil and gas wealth to fund affordable homes and handouts. The country escaped the Arab Spring uprisings that began in Tunisia in 2010. But tensions began simmering after oil prices slumped in 2014, exposing a country blighted by youth unemployment where more than one person in four aged under 30 doesn’t have a job.
Over a decade ago, Bouteflika’s government made a half-baked attempt at helping the country’s youth by creating a funding initiative for young entrepreneurs. However, it only stoked further anger amid perceptions it was a handout scheme, after borrowers who didn’t repay debts faced no consequences.
“Mentalities have to change,” said Imad Touji, a 22-year-old geology student at Bab Ezzouar University. “It’s not just about going out and shouting. We really need to change things in a concrete way.”
In February, it was clear that many Algerians were aghast at their plight.
Many trapped at home with their parents and with seemingly little to lose, took to the streets some ten days after Bouteflika announced he would seek a fifth term. Students and professionals such as doctors, lawyers and magistrates all joined in.
Bouteflika’s replacement, the 77-year-old Abdelkader Bensalah, is yet another veteran of the War of Independence. It’s an open question if fresh presidential elections announced for July 4, will appease the vociferous movement.
“We are raising awareness, all the youth is,” said Sofiane Smain, a 23-year-old computing student. “We are trying to make all the Algerian people follow us so we can be unified to make a better Algeria, God willing.”
Social media instructions told protesters to come equipped only with “love, faith, Algerian flags and roses,” and to remove trash. In a poignant detail, many of them were observed cleaning up.
“Algeria’s youth are an example to the world of what a smiling and peaceful protest movement can achieve,” Tlemcani said.
Though the protests have been largely judged to have been peaceful, they have claimed their first casualty. On Friday, an unemployed 19-year-old from a town south of Algiers was buried. Police say he died after falling from a truck, while his friends say he was beaten by police with truncheons.