Egypt said on Tuesday it plans to build a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old historic waterway in a multi-billion dollar project to expand trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
The project, to be run by the army, is a major step by new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stimulate Egypt's struggling economy and recalled some of the grand national programmes of one of Sisi's predecessors, army strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Sisi, a former army chief, took power last year after ousting elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and has since overseen a massive crackdown on Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.
The Suez Canal earns Egypt about $5 billion a year, a vital source of hard currency for a country that has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since the 2011 uprising that preceded Mursi's presidency.
Egyptian President Adel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army general, said that the army would have control of the project, but that 14 consortia had been asked to bid for it in January. Among the bidders were a number of state-run Arab contractors as well the US based global management consulting firm, Mckinsey & Co, and the architects James Cubitt and Lebanese engineering firm Dar al-Handasah will also be involved in the project.