Egypt steps up efforts to maintain Suez Canal’s transport advantage

Egypt steps up efforts to maintain Suez Canal’s transport advantage
New incentives, projects and services are being provided to ensure the Suez Canal remains superior to its alternatives. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 30 January 2021

Egypt steps up efforts to maintain Suez Canal’s transport advantage

Egypt steps up efforts to maintain Suez Canal’s transport advantage
  • “So far, no project has appeared to compete with the Suez Canal,” Rabie said
  • “In the far future, the Ashkelon road and railway project will appear; it will take five years to construct,” he said

CAIRO: The head of the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie, has said that new incentives, projects and services are being provided to ensure the canal remains superior to its alternatives.
“So far, no project has appeared to compete with the Suez Canal,” Rabie said. “In the far future, the Ashkelon road and railway project will appear; it will take five years to construct,” he said.
Israel is working to establish the Ashkelon project, which is 254 km long, from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and which will provide a parallel route to the Egyptian Suez Canal through a network of pipelines that will transport oil and gas not only to the region but to many areas in Europe and Asia.
“Egypt is considering alternatives to this project, which will affect the oil ships passing through the Suez Canal by about 16 percent.”
He stressed that any project in maritime transport parallel to the Suez Canal would affect it.
“Egypt has entered into a partnership with China in maritime transport on the Silk Road, which consists of three land, air and sea lines. The ships passing on the Silk Road will pass through the Suez Canal.”
Rabie said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was in constant touch with him to keep up-to-date about developments regarding the Suez Canal due to its importance.
Speaking about the Egyptian fishing fleet, Rabie said that Egypt had not previously owned a fishing fleet. However, President El-Sisi had ordered the procurement of 100 fishing boats to be used in the employment of young people and to support the fishing fleet.
He said that the fishing boats carried equipment including a water desalination plant, an ice-production machine and an ultrasonic device to locate fish.
The cost of a ship was about 18 million Egyptian pounds ($1.15 million) and the fleet would cost 1.8 billion Egyptian pounds, Rabie said. The first phase of the project had ended and 34 ships had been built, while work was underway for the second phase, he said.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has praised the Suez Canal Authority as its revenue has increased by 8 percent, despite the pandemic causing the global trade to decrease by 16 percent.
The organization attributed the increase in the Suez revenue to the canal’s incentive measures and management.


UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 5 min 18 sec ago

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
  • The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463

DUBAI: The UAE confirmed 2,692 new coronavirus cases and 16 deaths on Wednesday as the Emirates continues to expand its testing of citizens and residents for the early detection of the highly contagious disease.

The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463, with a total of 1,269 fatalities related to coronavirus.

Health officials have conducted 218,351 additional COVID-19 tests overnight, state news agency WAM said, with the total number of tests now over 31 million.

The UAE leads the world in terms of conducting coronavirus tests relative to the size of population, with infection rates compared to the total tests being among the lowest in the region and the entire world, WAM earlier said.

It is also tops the global tally on COVID-19 vaccinations after implementing a vaccination campaign to for residents and citizens to achieve mass immunity. More than six million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been provided and 3,614,070 people have been vaccinated to date, which accounts for 46.61 percent of the target population.


Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack
Updated 03 March 2021

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis said Wednesday he still expected to make his historic visit to Iraq in two days time, after a rocket attack on a military base hosting US-led coalition troops.
"The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much," the 84-year-old Francis said in his weekly Wednesday address.
The Argentine pontiff asked for prayers for the trip, the first ever by a pope to Iraq, through which he hopes to encourage the dwindling Christian community to remain in their ancient homeland while broadening his outreach to Islam.
"I ask you to accompany this apostolic journey with your prayers so that it may take place in the best possible way and bear the hoped-for fruits," the pope said.
He added: "The Iraqi people are waiting for us, they were waiting for Saint John Paul II, who was forbidden to go. One cannot disappoint a people for the second time. Let us pray that this journey will be successful."
At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops earlier on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead.
The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq's western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Francis said the pope would be travelling by armoured vehicle and that he would not be meeting crowds.
"This is a particular situation, that's why the transports will all be in a closed vehicle, meaning it will be complicated to see the pope on the streets," spokesman Matteo Brunei said.
"There will be a number of meetings but none will be more than a few hundred people," he said.


New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir
Updated 03 March 2021

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

New government takes oath before Kuwait emir

DUBAI: Kuwait Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah called on the executive and legislative authorities in his country to cooperate as a new government took oath before him, according to state-run news agency KUNA. 

Sheikh Nawaf received at his Bayan Palace the prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to swear-in as head of cabinet.
Ministers of the new government were also sworn in.

The previous government had resigned in January.
Oil Minister Mohammad Abdulatif Al-Fares, Finance Minister Khalifa Hamade and Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah were reappointed in the new cabinet.

 


COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population
Updated 03 March 2021

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population

COVID-19: UAE soon one of first countries to vaccinate most of population
  • The UAE has been ranked as one of the top countries in coronavirus jabs by Our World in Data
  • It has also approved four coronavirus vaccines

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will soon be one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate most of its population against coronavirus, TV channel Al-Arabiya reported.
“With the dedicated effort of the UAE government to combat the pandemic – for which we are truly thankful for, and the willingness of the general public to support the programs led by the government, UAE may soon be the first country to vaccinate its entire population and hence, reach herd immunity,” specialist in emergency medicine at Bareen International Hospital Fouad Al-Rahal told Al-Arabiya English.
The UAE has been ranked as one of the top countries in coronavirus jabs by Our World in Data, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Oxford and the non-profit Global Change Data Lab.
According to Our World in Data, UAE has administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 60 percent of its population.
The Gulf state’s National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority reported that over six million vaccine doses have been administered across the seven emirates, with a rate of 60.82 doses per 100 people.
(embed tweet)
The UAE has approved four coronavirus vaccines, the Chinese Sinopharm, US-German Pfizer-BioNTech, UK-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca and Russian Sputnik V.


One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops

One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops
Updated 31 min 21 sec ago

One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops

One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops
  • Comes just two days before the first-ever papal visit to the country

BAGHDAD: At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead.

The attack on the sprawling Al-Asad base in Iraq’s western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.

It also comes just two days before the first-ever papal visit to the country by Pope Francis, who said he would still make the visit so as not to “disappoint” the Iraqi people.

Al-Asad hosts both Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight the Daesh group, as well as the unmanned drones the coalition uses to surveil militant sleeper cells.

Coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the base at 7:20 am (0420 GMT) while Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which 10 “Grad-type rockets” hit the Al-Asad base.

Western security sources told AFP the rockets were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in similar attacks.

“One civilian contractor died of a heart attack during the attack,” a high-level security source told AFP, adding that he could not confirm the contractor’s nationality.

The death marks the third fatality in rocket attacks in recent weeks, after rockets targeting US-led troops in the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil left two people dead.

Days later, more rockets hit a US military contracting company working north of the capital and the US embassy in Baghdad, but only injuries were reported.

In response, the US carried out an air strike on February 26 against Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary force stationed along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Washington says it struck on the Syrian side of the border but Kataeb claims one of its fighters who was killed in the bombardment was protecting “Iraqi territory.”

Analysts have pointed to both domestic and international reasons for the sudden rise in tensions.

Hard-line Iraqi groups have an interest in ramping up the pressure on Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi following his pledges to rein in rogue militias.

They may also carry a message from Tehran to Washington, which under US President Joe Biden is offering to revive the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018.

Iran is demanding the US lift sanctions immediately, while the US wants Iran to move first by returning to previous nuclear commitments.

Tensions between the two rivals peaked in January 2020, following a US drone strike on Baghdad airport that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and top Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

In response, Iran launched ballistic missiles on Al-Asad and Irbil, wounding dozens.

Over the next 10 months, dozens of rockets and roadside bombs targeted Western security, military and diplomatic sites across Iraq — some of them deadly.

Iraqi and Western officials have blamed hard-line pro-Iran factions, some of which have established “front groups” to avoid being directly accused of violence.

Last year’s attacks came to a near-complete halt in October following a truce with the hard-liners, but they have resumed at a quickening pace over the past three weeks.

Despite the recent escalation, Pope Francis is determined to go ahead on Friday with the first-ever papal visit to the country.

“The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much,” the 84-year-old Francis said in his Wednesday address.

He added: “The Iraqi people are waiting for us, they were waiting for Saint John Paul II, who was forbidden to go. One cannot disappoint a people for the second time. Let us pray that this journey will be successful.”

While he is not scheduled to visit western Iraq, Francis will spend time in Baghdad and Irbil, both hit by rocket attacks last month.

Iraq is simultaneously gripped by a second wave of the coronavirus, which is seeing more than 4,500 new cases a day in the country of 40 million.

To stem the spread and control the crowds during the Pope’s visit, Iraq is set to extend its weekend lockdowns to include the entirety of the papal visit from March 5-8.