The Port of Alexandria handles three quarters of the foreign import and export trade of Egypt, with the port city as the second most important city in the country after Cairo. Alexandria is located on the western end of the Nile delta between the Mediterranean and Lake Mariout at position 31°11′ North, 29 °56′ East. The Port of Alexandria Authority (APA) is the most important port authority in the country, the others being the East Port Said Authority, Damietta Port Authority, the Suez Canal Authority and the Red Sea Port Authority.
The Port of Alexandria actually consists of four ports, the main Western port originally known in ancient times as Portus Eunostus, the Eastern port known in ancient times as Portus Magnus or the Great Port and today not navigable by vessels and used only by yachts, and El Dekheila Port lying almost twenty kilometres to the west of the main port, and the very small Abu Qir Port to the north east as a commercial port handling general cargo and phosphates.
One of the most famous sons of Alexandria was the film actor Omar Sharif, born in the city on 10th April 1932 and who died in Behman Hospital in Egypt on 10th July 2015 at the age of 83 years. His most famous films were ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ of 1962 in which he acted alongside Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness. Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle and Jack Hawkins, as well as the films ‘Dr. Zhivago’ of 1965 and ‘Funny Girl’ of 1968. Omar lived mostly in Cairo and also in his houses in Europe and a large white house in a desert area near Teguise on the Canary island of Lanzarote. The famous film with Alexandria in the title was ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ of 1958 which starred John Mills, Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews, and was about the battle fatigued survivors of tank and ambulance crews who attempted to drive an ambulance over sand dunes to reach Alexandria to have ice cold beers in the many bars of the port.
HISTORY OF ALEXANDRIA
The city was founded by the great Greek hero Alexander the Great in 332 BC, Alexander commanded armies raised from Macedonia and Greece that conquered most of the Middle East including Egypt, as well as present day Iran and Iraq and continued onwards to take parts of present day Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the death of Alexander in 322 BC, the city was ruled by Pharaoh Ptolemy I until the Greeks finally departed in 30 BC, and the city then came under Roman rule in a time known as the ‘Golden Age of Egypt’, until the city was forcibly overthrown by Arab armies in 642 AD.
The Arab armies introduced Islamic culture and the Arabic language and number system into the country, with the Al Azhar Koranic University established in Cairo in 988 AD and is the oldest university in the world. The great Arab leader Saladin led his armies to conquer the Western Crusaders from Britain, France and other European powers, and he established himself on the throne of Egypt in 1171 until the Marmeluke Army of slaves from Circassia in the Caucasus seized power in 1250. Eventually, Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, until Napoleon Bonaparte landed at Alexandria and conquered Egypt in 1798. Napoleon was ousted three years later by British and Turkish forces in the great sea battle of the Battle of the Nile, with Mohammed Ali established as the Ottoman Governor in 1805. Mohammed Ali reopened access to the Nile from the Port of Alexandria with the Al Mahmudiyah Canal of length 45 miles in 1820. Egypt was brought to the verge of bankruptcy in the great civil engineering construction of the Suez Canal by French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps, and Britain stepped in to rescue the country from financial ruin in 1875 by purchasing the controlling shares of the Suez Canal.
In 1882, Alexandria and Egypt had been occupied by British forces after the Orabi Revolt against the Egyptian Khedive, but remained under British control even after the formal recognition of Egypt as a member of the British Empire, although it was never formally occupied as a colony, but with the Suez Canal heavily guarded by British troops. The British governors then ruled Egypt as despotic leaders, with Egypt declared a British Protectorate on 18th December 1914, becoming an independent sovereign state on 28th February 1922. The British rulers dominated the political life of Egypt and fostered fiscal, administrative, military and governmental rule over the whole of the country. The Port of Alexandria became the great Eastern Mediterranean strongly fortified base for the Royal Navy, to protect the vital British sea link of the Suez Canal for her huge Merchant Navy. During World War I, the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that took part in the ill fated Gallipoli campaign used the Port of Alexandria as its main base for troops and supplies bound for the landings at Cape Helles.
The Egyptian Railways were supplied with coal from the U. K. for many decades, with a jointly owned company formed in 1931 by Watts, Watts & Company Ltd. of London and the Alexandria Navigation Company S. A. E. The company was known as the Red Rose Line with a green swallow tail houseflag and ‘ANC’ in white, with many owned steam tramps all with black hulls and a black funnel with two central white bands separated by one green band, anda ‘Star’ prefix to their names e.g. Star of Alexandria, Star of Assuan, Star of Cairo, Star of Luxor, Star of Suez and Star of Egypt.
ALEXANDRIA HARBOUR IN WORLD WAR II
Subscribe today to read the full article!
Simply click below to subscribe and not only read the full article instantly, but gain unparalleled access to the specialist magazine for shipping enthusiasts.