Spokesman of the Indonesian Embassy Windratmo Suwarno stated here on Wednesday that Shihab arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to attend the new Suez Canals inauguration ceremony.
Suwarno remarked that Shihab is representing the Indonesian head of state on the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to a grand event for the busiest waterway in the world.
"This is the second time that Alwi Shihab, as the special envoy of President Jokowi, is visiting Egypt, following the first visit in last March to meet President Al-Sisi," Suwarno noted.
He noted that the main mission of President Jokowis special envoy is to strengthen bilateral relations between Indonesia and Egypt.
During the time of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonos government, Shihab also held the same position and had visited Egypt several times on a similar mission.
The local media reported here on Wednesday that the participants from 121 countries will attend the opening ceremony of the new Suez Canal, which is to be centered in the city of Ismailia.
At least 26 heads of state/government, including President Francois Hollande of France, President Omer Hassan Al Bashir of Sudan, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, President Mohamed Fuad Maksum of Iraq, and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, among others, are invited by President Al-Sisi to attend the ceremony.
According to an AFP report, Sisi broke ground on the project last August after winning the presidential election on promises of strengthening security and reviving the ailing economy.
The new 72-kilometer (45-mile) waterway, built in less than a year at a cost of US$9 billion, or 7.9 billion euros, runs partly alongside the existing canal connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
It will shorten the waiting period for vessels from 18 to 11 hours.
By 2023, the number of ships using the canal will increase to 97 per day from the current 49, according to the Suez Canal Authoritys website.
"It sends a message to the public and foreign investors that the government is capable of accomplishing something in a set time period," Amr Adly of the Carnegie Middle East Center stated as quoted by AFP.
"Since (former president Mohamed) Morsi was ousted, the new regime is engaged in a political conflict to prove its legitimacy within and outside Egypt," Adly said, adding that the ability to accomplish such an economic project is part of the efforts to cement this legitimacy.