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Cultural Traces Around the World

Suez Canal: Connecting the World through Trade

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On March 23, 2021, the giant container ship Ever Given ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal, the key waterway between the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The incident made international headlines in all major media for over a week and drew global attention. After the event, more than 360 vessels waited to pass through the Canal, a maritime traffic jam that not only worried the Egyptians, as the Canal is a major resource for their economy, but also held up at least US$9 billion in trade per day and caused the world to fear a tight supply of oil as the market reacted considerably.

The Suez Canal is a human-made waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The canal extends 193 km in length from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus in the city of Suez. Owned and operated by the Suez Canal Authority, the Canal took ten years to build and officially opened in November 1869.

In the 1830s, Louis Maurice Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds brought up the idea of a direct route. As a French explorer and engineer who specialized in Egypt, he did a survey to disprove the popular belief that the two seas were at different altitudes, and confirmed the contrary, making the construction foreseeable and feasible. Then in the 1850s, His Excellency Mohamed Sa'id Pasha, Wāli of Egypt and Sudan granted French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps permission to create a company, later known as the Suez Canal Company, to build a canal.

This single blockage caused unexpected delays and economic losses for countries in remote parts of the world, affecting lives millions of miles away. Perhaps the event will serve as an epiphany for humanity that each component, factor or detail, either large or small, contributes to the wellness of the whole. As Supreme Master Ching Hai says: “Because we are all one, there’s no differentiating where the problem will break out. So if somebody does some bad things here, the problem might break out elsewhere.”
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