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Ismailia Yacht Marina: a key player in the new era of the Suez Canal

With its “Green Marina” project spanning 25,000m² (269,000ft²), complete with moorings, hotels and commercial areas, Ismailia Yacht Marina is set to play a significant role in the renewed Suez Canal. The project is one of the measures implemented by Egypt to reduce carbon emissions and promote the use of renewable and alternative energy sources, as part of the National Climate Strategy 2050. Donatella Zucca reports

CGI of the proposed Green Marina Club at Ismailia.

CGI of the proposed Green Marina Club at Ismailia.

Egypt is committed to developing integrated strategies for yachting and the environment, including the construction of marinas and suitable moorings along its coastline: approximately 995km (618mi) on the Mediterranean; 1,941km (1,206mi) on the Red Sea; and a good 72km (45mi) along the international waterway of the Suez Canal.
Since 2021, Egypt has been implementing a national regime aimed at increasing the efficiency of ports and marinas, and building new ones in areas considered important for tourism. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) already uses innovative automated procedures for yachts entering and leaving the marinas located along the Canal, including Port Said, Port Ismailia and Port Tawfiq (Suez). There are plans for an 850m (2,790ft) tourist walkway, a 75-berth marina in Port Said, expansion of Ismailia’s marina from 12 to 65 berths, and the future Green Marina.
The Red Sea is an  increasingly popular tourist destination.

The Red Sea is an increasingly popular tourist destination.

In 2022, Egypt launched its first online digital platform for yachting, allowing owners and yacht managers to send necessary data and documents to apply for entry, pay fixed fees on municipal berths, passenger terminals and tourist ports, and receive invoices in a timely manner.
The journey along the Suez Canal from Port Said to Port Tawfiq (Suez) offers breathtaking scenery, with the desert and Sinai peninsula on one side, and the lands of the Nile delta on the other. The Mediterranean and Red Seas, combined with Egypt’s extensive coastline and beautiful beaches, offer exciting development opportunities.
Mahmoud El Kady

Mahmoud El Kady

The Suez Green Canal strategy includes a commitment towards a green turnaround of the country’s sea and navigation, with the use of hybrid, solar and wind energy being prioritised, along with the creation of 16 traffic monitoring stations, and collection and recycling of the solid and liquid waste from ships in transit. Studies on new fuels and the smart use of new technologies are also underway.
Nikolaos Patsiokas

Nikolaos Patsiokas

This strategy, which started in 2018, has been highly praised by Georgios Plevrakis, vice president of global sustainability at American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the IMO’s Marine Environment Division, and other large maritime organisations. Maersk International is set to support Egypt in its mega green energy development projects, launching 19 ‘eco’ ships between 2024 and 2025 that will lead to a reduction of 2 million tons of CO2 emissions. The first vessel is due to transit the canal this year.
In 2021, the Suez Canal helped reduce CO2 emissions by 31 million tons compared to alternative routes, and increased efficiency is also a focus. A second parallel canal is under construction from markers km 60 to km 95, along with the deepening and widening of the ring roads of the Great Bitter and Ballah Lakes, to streamline traffic and double transits.
Green marina
Ismailia Yacht Marina will be Egypt’s first green marina, and is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and using alternative energy forms such as green hydrogen. Currently serving as an overnight stopover for yachts in transit on the Canal, the Yacht Marina is undergoing upgrades to improve facilities and infrastructure, as a prelude to the creation of its Green Marina for superyachts. Located on the western shore of Lake Timsah, halfway along the Suez Canal and near the town of Ismailia, it is in a strategic position connecting with tourist destinations such as the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, including Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh (450km/280mi away), Port Ghalib (600km/370mi away) and others.
Pontoon arrangement for Ismailia’s Green Marina.

Pontoon arrangement for Ismailia’s Green Marina.

According to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) tourism team, Ismailia Yacht Marina is the first of three yacht reception centres affiliated with the SCA that are expected to be developed and transformed into world-class marinas. It is an important part of the overall development project, whose pillars are the digital transformation of most processes through a platform that allows online bookings, calculation of transit tolls for the canal, knowledge of mooring fees and tourist programmes.
The development strategy includes a range of services, such as an on-site petrol station, supply of drinking water and electricity, toilets, launderette, restaurant, maintenance, boat washing and wintering, as well as recreational amenities like a gym, spa, cafeterias, and free Wi-Fi connection. It is crucial to ensure that this marina becomes a one-stop-shop for completing the necessary paperwork for vessels in transit. In fact, in the yacht transit process, it is and will be a mandatory stop, unlike Port Said and Port Tawfiq (Suez) where it is optional, and where work for the respective yacht clubs will soon begin.
Pontoon arrangement for Ismailia’s Green Marina.

Pontoon arrangement for Ismailia’s Green Marina.

Construction of the Green Marina superyacht marina, which will use only renewable and alternative forms of energy, including green hydrogen, is underway and should be ready within the next two years. It is an important piece of the puzzle to attract international players and will bring tourists closer to the various cultural facets of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Since 2019, Red Sea Week has been the world’s number one yacht event for high-net-worth individuals. In Port Said and Port Tawfiq, European companies are building infrastructure and have offices and products such as travel lifts, floating or fixed pontoons, cranes, and more.
Transiting the Canal
There are currently limited mooring options in Ismailia. The Green Marina will greatly enhance its destination appeal.

There are currently limited mooring options in Ismailia. The Green Marina will greatly enhance its destination appeal.

The Egypt-based service agency of BWA Yachting is strategically positioned to assist vessels transiting the canal. Did the company choose the Suez Canal because of its planned developments or because of the number of its customers that cruise through?
“BWA Yachting has been assisting loyal customers in Egypt and through the Suez Canal via trusted sub-agents, for more than a decade. Like Gibraltar, Egypt is a gateway to the Med, and the Suez Canal is the shortest and safest route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea,” explained BWA Yachting chief operating officer Nikolaos Patsiokas. “Over the last five years, we have experienced a steady increase in the frequency of the requests and crossing operations. A clear pattern is emerging in the greater region and it is in our DNA to anticipate the needs of our customers at all levels and act accordingly.”
Transiting the  193km/120 mile long Suez Canal.

Transiting the 193km/120 mile long Suez Canal.

This growth will further increase when Port Said and Port Tawfiq offer the same basic characteristics as Ismailia, in terms of boat and guest reception and eco-friendly approach. “Egypt’s vision to boost yachting in this region is in line with the directives of Egypt’s President El Sisi to promote yachting tourism,” noted Mahmoud El Kady, managing partner BWA Yachting Egypt.
“Egypt wants to position itself as an emerging magnet for nautical tourism on a global scale. The Mediterranean is a hot spot for this sector and we have tourist places near historical and touristic cities, and prime and popular diving spots for marine sports. Egypt is also particularly popular with our friends in the GCC (Arabian Gulf) and yachting provides a great window to double the number of those visiting the Red Sea. It should also be noted that Egypt is giving considerable attention to promoting maritime tourism through offering incentives to vessels that stop at an Egyptian port, including the canal yacht reception centres of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez.”
And there is more to come. BWA has signed a partnership with Kadmar, the main port agent for the Suez Canal and a platform for yachting, offshore marine, brokerage, travel services and much more throughout Egypt and elsewhere. El Kady explained that via this partnership, the team is able to take the administrative burden away from captains and management companies by offering the following services: Suez Canal transit, bunkering, fresh provision and supplies, husbandry services, spare parts delivery, port and marina arrangements, anti-piracy security services, parcel and courier services and tourism arrangements.
Also, as a reflection of the demands of a growing business, BWA Yachting has announced the official opening of new offices in Egypt. From the head office in Alexandria and branches in Cairo, Port Said, Damietta, Suez, Sokhna and Safaga on the Red Sea, the agency operations can cover over 13 ports and marinas across the Red Sea and Mediterranean coastline, including Alamein, Marassi, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurgada, Gouna, Marsa, Alam and others.
With the online platform aimed at facilitating transit via the canal recently launched and subject to continuous improvement, and agencies such as BWA working round the clock to assist with yacht transit, is the canal a destination or just functional?
“Small yachts normally need to fuel up at Port Said or Suez before heading to the Arabian Gulf or the Maldives, etc,” El Kady confirmed. “Some yachts stay at their yachting destinations in Egypt, such as Marassi Marina, located by the amazing North Egyptian coast, and others prefer Sharm El Sheikh, known to be the best for diving activities.”
And what are the most requested services by customers crossing the Canal and heading into the marinas?
“In this order: transiting the Suez Canal – 193km (120mi) and a duration of 12-16 hrs – fuel supply, provisions and security services.”

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