File - In this Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, speaks with an official during his visit to the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)
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Bulldozers push earth and dredgers spit mud round the clock at Egypt's Suez Canal in a race to quickly expand the strategic waterway for two-way traffic, a project trumpeted by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to revive both the country's damaged economy and visions of nationalist glory.Sisi, who was elected president last spring, has risen on promises to stabilize the country and rebuild the economy. In a dramatic move after his election, he ordered that the Suez Canal expansion, envisaged as a three-year project, instead be completed in one year.The canal has long been tied to Egyptian national pride.With the expansion, the canal authority projects it can double the number of ships transiting daily to 97 by 2023, boosting toll incomes to $13.2 billion that year.The European Union, the destination for most ships passing through the canal, forecasts its economy will grow by a mere 1.7 percent this year, and 2.1 percent in 2016 – hardly enough to boost canal traffic significantly, shippers say.In 2014, container tonnage transiting the canal grew 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, authority statistics show.
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