Egypt's new Suez Canal will open on Aug. 6, the Suez Canal Authority chairman said Saturday. The inauguration date marks a year since the launch of the national project, which aims to expand Egypt's Suez Canal to enhance the historic waterway and boost the economy.

"The digging and dredging operations will be completed on July 15," chairman and managing director of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mameesh said in a news conference in Ismailiya. He added that 85 percent of the project had been completed so far.

Mameesh said that the new 72-kilometer canal, which will run alongside the existing 145-year-old waterway, would reduce navigation time for ships to 11 hours from about 22 hours, making it the fastest such passage in the world. He added that the main idea behind the expansion of the Suez Canal was to reduce the waiting period of vessels.

"It's not only about excavation and dredging. What we are doing is building a safe and secure path for global navigation. We will not allow any vessel to pass through the waterway unless it is secure," Mameesh said.

The project's plan also includes developing the zone around the canal to create an industrial and commercial hub that would include the construction of ports and provide shipping services as well, according to Ahram Online .

"The entire project is Egyptian ... the idea, the planning, and the funding" and it will "once again put Egypt on the world investment map," Mameesh said.

The Suez Canal is a vital path for international trade, as it is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes. Not only is the Suez Canal a vital source of hard currency for Egypt, it is also a symbol of national pride.