Suez (Arabic: السويس as-Suways) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 as of August 2018) in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez (a branch of the Red Sea), near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez Governorate. It has three harbours, Adabiya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities. Together they form a metropolitan area.



Satellite view of the port and city that are the southern terminus of the Suez Canal that transits through Egypt and debouches into the Mediterranean Sea near Port Said. (Up is north-east).
Location in Egypt
Suez (Lower Egypt)
Coordinates: 29°58′N 32°33′E
Country Egypt
Governorate Suez
  GovernorAhmed Hamid
  Total250.4 km2 (96.7 sq mi)
5 m (16 ft)
  Density3,000/km2 (7,700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EST)

Railway lines and highways connect the city with Cairo, Port Said, and Ismailia. Suez has a petrochemical plant, and its oil refineries have pipelines carrying the finished product to Cairo, in the flag of the governorate: the blue background refer to the sea, the gear refer to the fact that Suez an industrial governorate, and the flame refer to the petroleum firms in it.



Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions were texts written in Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian and Egyptian on five monuments erected in Wadi Tumilat, commemorating the opening of a canal between the Nile and the Bitter Lakes.[1]

The best preserved of these monuments was a stele of pink granite, which was discovered by Charles de Lesseps, Ferdinand de Lesseps's son, in 1866, 30 kilometers from Suez near Kabret in Egypt. It was erected by Darius the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire (or Persia), whose reign lasted from 522 BCE to 486 BCE. The monument, also known as the Chalouf stele (alt. Shaluf Stele), records the construction of a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal by the Persians, a canal through Wadi Tumilat, connecting the easternmost, Bubastite, branch of the Nile with Lake Timsah which was connected to the Red Sea by natural waterways.[2] The stated purpose of the canal was the creation of a shipping connection between the Nile and the Red Sea, between Egypt and Persia.

Text of the Suez Inscriptions

Partial transliteration and translation of the inscription:

Transliteration of the Old Persian text: xâmanišiya \ thâtiy \ Dârayavauš \ XŠ \ adam \ Pârsa \ amiy \ hacâ \ Pâ rsâ \ Mudrâyam \ agarbâyam \ adam \ niyaštâyam \ imâm \ yauviyâ m \ katanaiy \ hacâ \ Pirâva \ nâma \ rauta \ tya \ Mudrâyaiy \ danuvatiy \ ab iy \ draya \ tya \ hacâ \ Pârsâ \ aitiy \ pasâva \ iyam \ yauviyâ \ akaniya \ avathâ \ yathâ \ adam \ niyaštâyam \ utâ \ nâva \ âyatâ \ hacâ \ Mudrâ yâ \ tara \ imâm \ yauviyâm \ abiy \ Pârsam \ avathâ \ yathâ \ mâm \ kâma\ âha

English translation: "King Darius says: I am a Persian; setting out from Persia I conquered Egypt. I ordered to dig this canal from the river that is called Nile and flows in Egypt, to the sea that begins in Persia. Therefore, when this canal had been dug as I had ordered, ships went from Egypt through this canal to Persia, as I had intended."

Early Islamic era

In the 7th century AD a town named "Kolzum" stood just north of the site of present-day Suez and served as eastern terminus of a canal built by Amr ibn al-'As linking the Nile River and the Red Sea. Kolzum's trade fell following the closure of the canal in 770 by the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansur to prevent his enemies in Arabia from accessing supplies from Egypt and the lands north of it. Nonetheless, the town benefited from the trade that remained between Egypt and Arabia.[1] By 780 al-Mansur's successor al-Mahdi restored part of the canal.[2] The Qarmatians led by Hasan ibn Ahmad defeated a Fatimid army headed by Gawhar al-Siqilli at Kolzum in 971 and thereby captured the town. Following his defeat in Cairo by al-Siqilli at the end of that year, Hasan and his forces retreated to Arabia via Kolzum.[3] Suez was situated nearby and served as a source of drinking water for Kolzum according to Arab traveler al-Muqaddasi who visited in 986.[4]

The Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, Saladin, fortified both Kolzum and Suez in to defend Egypt's eastern frontier from Crusader raids by Raynald of Chatillon.[5] Between 1183-84, Raynald had ships stationed in the Red Sea to prevent the Ayyubid garrison at Kolzum from accessing water. In response, Saladin's brother al-Adil had Husam ad-Din Lu'lu built a naval fleet which sailed to the southern port of Aidab to end Raynald's venture.[3] By the 13th century it was recorded that Kolzum was in ruins as was Suez which had gradually replaced the former as a population center.[1] According to Muslim historians al-Maqrizi and al-Idrisi, Kolzum had once been a prosperous town, until it was occupied and plundered by Bedouins. Arab geographer al-Dimashqi noted that Kolzum belonged to the Mamluk province of al-Karak at the time.[3]

Ottoman and Egyptian rule

To prevent Portuguese attacks against Egyptian coastal towns and the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Qansuh al-Ghawri the last Mamluk sultan ordered a 6,000-man force headed by Selman Reis to defend Suez in 1507, which in turn limited the Mamluk military's capabilities against the Ottomans in the Mediterranean sea.[6] Following the Ottoman's conquest of Egypt at the beginning of the 16th century, Suez became both a major naval and trading station. The Ottoman fleets at Suez were instrumental in disputing control with the Portuguese over Indian Ocean trade.[1]

German explorer Carsten Niebuhr noted that in the 18th century a 20-vessel fleet sailed annually from Suez to Jeddah—which served as the Islamic holy city of Mecca's port and Egypt's gateway for trade with India. However, by 1798, during Napoleonic invasion, Suez had devolved into an unimportant town. Fighting between the French and the British in 1800 left most of the town in ruins.[1] Its importance as a port increased after the Suez Canal opened in 1869.

Modern era

The city was virtually destroyed during battles in the late 1960s and early 1970s between Egyptian and Israeli forces occupying the Sinai Peninsula. The town was deserted following the Six-Day War in 1967. Reconstruction of Suez began soon after Egypt reopened the Suez Canal, following the Yom Kippur War with Israel.

Suez was the first city to hold major protests against the government of Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and was the scene of the first fatality of that uprising.[7] On account of this, it has been called the Sidi Bouzid of Egypt, recalling that small town's role in the 2010–2011 Tunisian revolution.[8]

City districts

The city is divided into five main districts:

El Arbaeen District

It is most populous district of the city. It has most of the government buildings and public institutions. It also has the city's main fruit and vegetable markets in addition to other markets and stores selling various commodities.

Suez District

It is more modern than El Arbaeen District in terms of how the buildings look. The real estate there is significantly more expensive than any other district in the city. Suez district is considered the most affluent area in the city. It includes the affluent neighbourhood of Port Tawfik, which directly overlooks the Suez Canal. Port Tawfik includes some old-style houses that date back to the era of English occupation. The district also includes two of Egypt's most important oil refineries; El-Nasr Petroleum Company and Suez Petroleum Company. Also, Suez Port, one of Egypt's main ports, lies within the perimeter of Suez District.

El Ganayen District

That district stretches all the way to the border with Ismailia Governorate. It has all the rural areas of the city and can be thought of as the city's "countryside".

Faisal District

It includes the newer neighbourhoods of the city. Most of the areas at Faisal District were established after the 1973 war, which had destroyed vast areas of the city. Examples of neighborhoods in Faisal District include Al-Sabbah, Al-Amal and Al-Mushi, to name a few.

Ataqah District

It is characterised by the existence of many industrial areas. Plants and factories working in various fields are located in that District. There are factories specialised in fertilisers, cement, steel, cooking oil, flour products, oil rigs, ceramic tiles, sugar, and many other products. There is also Attaka Power Plant. The district also includes Ain Sokhna, one of Egypt's most important sea resorts, overlooking the Gulf of Suez. Ain Sokhna has got numerous high-class sea resorts and is frequented by many tourists, Egyptians and foreigners, all over the year due to its warm weather. The district is also home to Ain Sokhna Sea Port, one of Egypt's main sea ports. The port is operated by the Dubai-based DP World Company. Also, the district includes Al-Ataka Fishing Port, which is the city's main fish production port.

Suez Canal

There was a canal from the Nile delta to the Gulf of Suez in ancient times, when the gulf extended further north than it does today. This fell into disuse, and the present canal was built in the nineteenth century.

The Suez Canal offers a significantly shorter passage for ships than passing round the Cape of Good Hope. The construction of the Suez Canal was favoured by the natural conditions of the region: the comparatively short distance between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the occurrence of a line of lakes or depressions which became lakes (Lake Manzala in the north, and depressions, Timsah and the Bitter Lakes, part way along the route), and the generally flat terrain. The construction of the canal was proposed by the engineer and French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, who acquired from Said Pasha the rights of constructing and operating the canal for a period of 99 years. The Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez was formed. Construction took 11 years, and the canal opened on 17 November 1869. The canal had an immediate and dramatic effect on world trade.

In July 1956, just a few days after the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, the Egyptian government under President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal Company, which had been run by the French and owned privately, with the British as the largest shareholders. The Israeli–British–French invasion of Egypt which followed is known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression but elsewhere as the Suez Crisis. Following Israel's invasion and occupation of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the Six-Day War of 1967, the Canal was closed, and did not reopen until 1975.

Today, the Canal is a vital link in world trade, and contributes significantly to the Egyptian economy; in 2009 the income generated from the canal accounted for 3.7% of Egypt's GDP.[9]


The Isthmus of Suez is considered the boundary between Africa and Asia.[10]


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as a hot desert (BWh).

The hottest recorded temperature was 49 °C (120 °F) on June 14, 1965 while the coldest recorded temperature was 1 °C (34 °F) on February 23, 2004.[11]

Climate data for Suez
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.4
Average high °C (°F) 19.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.8
Average low °C (°F) 10.5
Record low °C (°F) 4.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 0.6 0.1 0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.3 1.7
Average relative humidity (%) 58 56 53 45 44 47 52 54 55 57 58 60 53
Source: NOAA[12]

Twin towns and sister cities

Suez is twinned with:

Notable people

  • Ismail Yassine (Arabic: إسماعيل ياسين IPA: [esmæˈʕiːl jæˈsiːn]) (1912-1972) was an Egyptian singer, comedian and actor[14]
  • Ebrahim Nafae: was an Egyptian journalist and a former editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram Newspaper.

See also


William Matthew Flinders Petrie, A History of Egypt. Volume 3: From the XIXth to the XXXth Dynasties, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 0-543-99326-4, p. 366 Barbara Watterson (1997), The Egyptians, Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 0-631-21195-0, p. 186

  1. Chisholm, p.22.
  2. Houtsma, p.498.
  3. Houtsma, p.1115.
  4. Forgotten Books, p.61. Quotes al-Muqaddasi.
  5. Houtsma, 1993, p.341.
  6. Brummett, p.85 and p.115.
  7. Suez: Cradle of Revolt Archived 2012-03-09 at the Wayback Machine. Al Jazeera English. 2012-01-17. Retrieved on 2012-03-10.
  8. Could Suez be Egypt's Sidi Bouzid? Archived 2014-11-26 at the Wayback Machine. Reuters. 2011-01-27. Retrieved on 2012-03-10.
  9. The Economist, July 17–23, 2010, A Favored Spot: Egypt is making the most of its natural advantages.
  10. Hughes, William (1908). The advanced class-book of modern geography, by W. Hughes and J.F. Williams. By W. Hughes. p. 332. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  11. "Ismailia (Port Taufiq), Egypt". Voodoo Skies. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  12. "El Suez Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  13. "Official portal of City of Skopje - Skopje Sister Cities". © 2006-2009. Archived from the original on 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
  14. Ismail Yasin Archived 2016-04-20 at the Wayback Machine at (Arabic)


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