Saudis present high-speed ferries to Egypt

They will operate on a 100-nautical mile water strip in the Red Sea connecting the two countries.

Egyption Ferry 298.88 (photo credit: )
Egyption Ferry 298.88
(photo credit: )
Saudi Arabia has presented the Egyptian government with two high-speed ferryboats intended to improve travel services between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, according to Arabian Business. The vehicle passenger boats, named Riyadh and Cairo were handed over in Jeddah last week over at a ceremony attended by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King 'Abdallah Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz. They will operate on a 100-nautical mile water strip in the Red Sea connecting the two countries. The Australia-built ferries, which were ordered by the Saudi Finance Ministry in 2007, will serve pilgrims traveling from Egypt to Mecca, Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia, businesspeople and tourists, and will reduce travel time from the current eight hours to three hours. Many Egyptians seek work in Saudi Arabia because of job opportunities and higher salaries overseas. The newly acquired vessels are expected to carry around a million passengers every year. The ferry operators will need to be extra cautious, as the specter of one of the worst maritime disasters occurred on the same route remains fresh. In February 2006 the Egyptian ferry A-Salam 98 sunk en route to Saudi Arabia. More than 1,000 people were killed in the disaster, most of them Egyptians seeking employment in the Saudi kingdom. The gift also comes at a time of tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Egypt is angry over the case of two Egyptian doctors who were working in Saudi Arabia and were imprisoned over accusations of medical malpractice. The two physicians were sentenced to long prison terms and 1,500 lashes for trading illegal pharmaceuticals in the kingdom and giving the wrong treatment to a Saudi princess. Egyptian doctors have been calling on Cairo to sever ties with Saudi Arabia until the issue is resolved. Observers say the government does not want to get involved in the case of the two doctors because the person treated was connected to the ruling family and there were political undertones to the case. link