On the eve of the much-anticipated opening celebration for the New Suez Canal, the state’s biggest challenge at the moment is to prevent any potential terrorist attacks that may interfere with national festivities due to take place on Thursday.
According to media reports, the day-long events will consist of morning and evening celebrations held at the site of the new canal in Ismailia, in addition to festivities in neighboring canal cities and the rest of the country.
The first formal celebration is slated for early Thursday afternoon, and will include the official inauguration, followed by the passage of two ships through the new canal.
The list of attendees for the event includes French President Francois Hollande and leaders of several Arab states, including Kuwait, Palestine, Bahrain and Yemen, as well as a representative from the Saudi royal family.
The event will also include speeches by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other officials, as well as the screening of a documentary on the project.
The festivities will continue into the evening with a presidential dinner, followed by a performance set to take place in a new stage currently being erected by the Cairo Opera House at the site of the event.
Police and military forces have been announcing their joint security plans for the day, aiming to strictly secure the site of the main celebration as well as other vulnerable areas nationwide.
Ministry of Interior officials announced that they will focus on the canal governorates, with 250,000 members of the military and police securing the event. Images of large numbers of armored vehicles and security forces heading to the site of the new canal have accompanied official announcements.
According to state-owned Al-Ahram, officials are also making a concerted effort to spruce up the canal governorates for the occasion.
The governor of Suez told Al-Ahram that the governorate has embarked on its biggest cleaning and beautification campaign to date, in collaboration with the military. The paper reports that highways connecting Cairo, Suez and Ismailia have also been renovated in preparation.
Security presence has increased in several areas in Cairo starting Wednesday, including Tahrir Square, in light of potential terrorist threats.