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Egypt's harbor cities: What is happening?

A State of Emergency has been declared in three governorates that hold harbors on the Suez Canal – Egypt’s main revenue-provider, besides Tourism.

Suez, Port Said and Ismailia have been witnessing deadly clashes in the past week, and President Mohamed Morsi even declared a curfew in those areas, after over 70 people were killed and several hundreds were injured.

Posts on social media and TV-reports show that the curfew is casually ignored by the citizens of the governorates, as they remain on the streets afterhours and go about protesting, singing, dancing – and even playing football.

Theories of international conspiracies have been discussed, blaming countries that are trying to harm Egypt of causing uproar in the country’s strategic cities, in order to weaken its economy. Whether they are true or not, it is important to understand the value of these governorates and the importance of the Suez Canal.

In December 2012 alone, Egypt gained $424.6 million through the Suez Canal, since trade-ships use it as their main route between Asia, Africa and Southern Europe. Having stable “port-cities” is an essential factor for growth, as the Suez Canal is Egypt’s biggest income source and economic pillar, alongside with Tourism.

The most important governorate would be Port Said as it is Egypt’s third most important economic city – after Cairo and Alexandria. It has been on complete trade-standstill since the clashes, according to the governorate’s official website

Online news portal Masrawy explained that Port Said gained its importance due to its location at the entryway of the Canal, its activities in the Tourism sector and its free trade zone, which – among other benefits - offers job opportunities to the young people in neighboring governorates.

The Port Said harbor can receive up to 12,175 million tons annually, with an area of 3 km².

The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1986, and nationalized by former President Gamal AbdelNasser in 1956, in an act that would change international logistics and global trade forever.

Egyptians feel very strongly about the Canal. They strongly refuse any activity that could let other countries interfere or gain any profit from it and see it as a point of security: as long as the Suez Canal is working fine, Egypt will be fine.

The economic and financial effects of current happenings in Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia will probably not be visible until after matters calm down and the curfew is annulled after 30 days.