The Presidents of Egypt and the Soviet Union, Anwar Sadat and Nikolai Podgorny, officially inaugurated the 300 million sterling Egyptian-Russian built Aswan High Dam on Friday (January 15) - the 53rd birthday of the late President Nasser.
The Presidents of Egypt and the Soviet Union, Anwar Sadat and Nikolai Podgorny, officially inaugurated the 300 million sterling Egyptian-Russian built Aswan High Dam on Friday (January 15) - the 53rd birthday of the late President Nasser. It was he who forced the mammoth project through with huge Russian help.
There was sadness behind the inauguration ceremony, as Mr. Sadat, Nasser's old friend and army colleague, joined with Mr. Podgorny in the inauguration. President Nasser died of a heart attack in September shortly after the last of 12 giant turbines were installed in the dam - a dam which is revolutionising Egypt's agriculture.
President Sadat handed Mr. Podgorny - who headed a large Russian delegation - a pair of golden scissors to cut a green silk ribbon beneath a ceremonial arch on the 365 feet (110 metres) crest of the dam.
Doves were released by Egyptian and Russian schoolgirls as the pent-up waters of Lake Nasser, stretching 300 miles (480 Kms) south into the Sudan, thundered out of the huge turbines, sending a wave of spray into the air and forming a rainbow.
After formally declaring the dam completed, the two leaders unveiled a memorial plaque to President Nasser, who won the support of the Soviet Union to build the dam after the United States and the World Bank decided not to go ahead with their aid.
To chants of "Long live Arab-Soviet friendship" from watching crowds, the Presidents walked along a 130 feet (40 metres) wide roadway over the dam to the power station.
There again, the two Presidents cut a green ribbon formally inaugurating the station.
The dam took a force of 37,000 Egyptian and Russians 10 years to build and its power and irrigation potential has already given Egypt a glut of electricity and two or three crops a year. The dam has also eliminated the once disastrous flooding of the Nile.