It should have come as no surprise that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chose to board the former royal yacht al-Mahrousa to inaugurate the New Suez Canal. Al-Mahrousa is one of the longest, largest and most prestigious yachts in the world, leading Sisi to deem it appropriate for the occasion, one of the biggest events in Egypt’s modern history. The president had to assume the ceremony would make international headlines, displaying Egypt’s greatness to the world.
On July 31, al-Mahrousa set sail from Alexandria for Port Said to await the Aug. 6 inauguration of the waterway's new lane. It was the first vessel to pass through it. Al-Mahrousa is the only vessel to have been present at the inauguration of both canal lanes. Khedive Ismail Pasha was on board the yacht Nov. 16, 1869, along with invited European leaders, when it became the first ship to pass through the original canal at its opening ceremony. The ship would traverse the canal again 146 years later, the first after the canal's reopening on June 5, 1975, following its closure in 1967 as a result of the June War against Israel.