Oil Tanker in Suez Canal
Oil Tanker in Suez Canal Reuters

Egypt is testing out its "new" Suez Canal, having sent the first cargo ships through today (Saturday) in a trial run.

The 72 kilometer-long canal lies close to the original route but will be able to handle larger ships and two-way traffic. The project has been moving quickly. Construction began less than a year ago, compared to the 10 years it took to build the original.

Out of concern over Islamic militants spread throughout the Sinai peninsula, today's test was held under strict security, involving naval ships and helicopters.

The Suez canal is one of the most heavily trafficked paths in the world, hosting seven percent of all seaborne business. It is also one of Egypt's main sources of income. According to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the new additions will increase trade and employment.

The second route is expected to cost about $8.5 billion, and is being carried out by the Egyptian military. The opening ceremony will be held on August 6.