On the eve of the highly anticipated and hyped celebration of the inauguration of the New Suez Canal on Thursday, some have chosen to join the party and others have yet to be persuaded.
The Ministry of Endowment:
A unified sermon on the inauguration of the New Suez Canal was distributed to all mosques on Monday, to be used during Friday prayers, privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
The sermon compared the canal project to The Battle of the Trench, a crucial turning point in early Islamic history, considering the new canal a gift from God to Egypt and a sign of impending victory over its enemies. It claimed the canal is of no less importance than breaching the Bar Lev Line during the October 1973 War.
It also called the new canal the third largest and most important project in Egypt’s modern history, after the Original Suez Canal in 1965 and the High Aswan Dam.
Spokesperson for the Cairo Governorate Khaled Mostafa told Mada Masr that, while all Egyptian governorates are taking part in the celebrations, Cairo is in an especially celebratory mood, as the Capital is preparing to receive all the visitors joining the inauguration ceremony from all over the world.
Since Saturday, Mostafa added, extra work has been done to clean and maintain the streets, fairy lights have been put up along main streets and cars have been decorated with flowers and blasting patriotic music.
Daily “carnivals” have been carried out in some of Cairo’s main squares, like Qala’a, Abdeen and Talaat Harb, as well as touristic attraction sites like Moez Street.
Mostafa added that the authorities are also keen to involve citizens in the celebrations, so access to public transportation and public parks will be free on Thursday.
Private companies have also been doing their part. Facebook user Khairiya Samir wrote a widely shared post claiming that she received a fax from the Cairo Governorate asking her company, which runs a hotel in the city, to hang Egyptian and Suez Canal flags to promote the event, as well as offer free drinks to hotel guests and decorate the hotel with flowers.
Samir said that she contacted other hotels in the neighborhood who confirmed that they had received the same fax.
When asked whether private institutions were celebrating the inauguration of their own accord, Mostafa said some have volunteered, and that the governorate has been “coordinating with others to make sure the city looks its best on this historic day.”
In addition to giving citizens free access to public transportation on Thursday, official spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, Ayman al-Sheraie, announced that a “train of surprises” would take off from Ramsis Central Station on Thursday at 7.20 am, headed for an unannounced destination. “This is the surprise, even the train driver won’t know where it’s headed until it actually moves from the station,” Sheraie said.
Getting on the air conditioned train will cost LE10-20, according to class, and it will arrive back in Cairo at 7.15 pm.
The Interior Ministry:
Even the Interior Ministry has joined the celebrations, as the entrance to fortress-like Basateen police station in Maadi has been decorated with an inflatable fluorescent bear/rabbit hybrid balloon.
The ministry also announced that they will issue official records (passports, driving licenses, work permits, ID cards) for free to the first five citizens who apply on Saturday, the first working day after the ceremony, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Rest assured, however, as deputy Interior Minister Ali al-Azazi told privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper that the security plan they have for the day of the inauguration will be a surprise to everyone. Police forces will use advanced surveillance and search technologies, and “if anyone even thinks about ruining the party, we’ll slit their throats,” he added.
The Education Ministry:
Despite it being the summer vacation, schools have been in full celebration mode, as reports of instructions to school administrations to prepare their buildings for the highly anticipated day surfaced. In Beni Suef, deputy Education minister Nabawi Mohamed told privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper that “the costs of the celebrations are not coming out of the state treasury, but are being covered through direct contributions from citizens of the governorate.”
Cairo International Airport:
A folkloric dance group made an appearance at the airport today, dressed in an array of outfits, ranging from pharaonic costumes to pseudo-traditional mid-century dresses and Tannoura skirts. Head of the EgyptAir for Tourism company Safwat Mosallam told privately owned Youm-7 newspaper that the company will be offering a 20 percent discount on its tourism programs for those interested among guests of the inauguration ceremony. They’re also offering a 25 percent discount on products sold at their outlets in duty free.
Newspapers have been inundated with messages of support for the new canal project from some of Egypt’s biggest banks and companies, some of which are offering considerable discounts on their products to celebrate the occasion.