The Egyptian Tourist Authority has announced that construction on the future Suez Canal Museum in Ismailia has begun.
Ismailia is a city in northeast Egypt which was founded at the start of construction on the Suez Canal, and which remains the site of the canal's administrative headquarters.
According to the press release, the main purpose of the museum, on which construction began late in 2013, is to "highlight the sacrifices made by the Egyptian people during the building of the canal," as well as recounting the struggle of the local population to gain control over the passageway.
With the ambition of becoming "a cultural reference in Egypt," the museum expects to attract visitors from within the country as well as from abroad, contributing to the economic development of Ismailia, a city rarely visited by foreign tourists.
The project to build the Suez Canal, the first link between the Mediterranean and Red Seas, was spearheaded by French diplomat-turned-developer Ferdinand de Lesseps. Built between 1859 and 1969, the passageway was controlled by France and Britain before Egyptian president Nasser reclaimed it in the name of the Egyptian people in 1956. The strategic and economic importance of the Suez Canal, which considerably shortens sea routes between Europe and Asia, remains palpable today: revenues from the canal were equivalent to over $5 billion in 2012, representing 10 percent of the Egyptian government's budget.