An Egyptian woman waves a national flag as trucks and heavy machinery are driven during an upgrading project on the Suez Canal, in Ismailia port city, northeast of Cairo in this August 12, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files
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Egypt unveiled on Thursday a major extension of the Suez Canal that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has billed as an historic achievement needed to boost the country's ailing economy after years of unrest.The unveiling of the $8.5 billion extension has been trumpeted as a historic achievement by pro-government media and has revived the nationalistic personality cult built around the 60-year-old Sisi, who as army chief led the overthrow of an Islamist president in 2013 and was elected to office last year.The project was initially estimated to take three years, but Sisi ordered it completed in one.The government says the project, funded entirely by Egyptian investors, will more than double the canal's annual revenue to $13.2 billion by 2023, injecting much-needed foreign currency into an economy that has struggled to recover from the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and the years of turmoil that followed. Thursday's ceremony was partially overshadowed by an ISIS affiliate's threat to kill a Croatian hostage kidnapped in Cairo last month -- a grim reminder of the threat posed by Islamic militants to Egypt's stability.
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