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the lighter note-Ships of the desert

THE festive season might be over, but the Note was pleased to see that the spirit of giving hasn’t ended. In the Middle East, the Saudi Arabian government has taken delivery of two, 88 metre, high-speed ferries made by local ship builder Austal and intended as a gift to its neighbour across the Red Sea, Egypt. The vessels are to be called Cairo and Riyadh, which is fitting in a diplomatic sort of way, though as destinations go the monikers may be slightly deceptive. In fact the ferries will ply a route between the Egyptian harbour at Safaga and a Saudi port about 185 kilometres to the west. Austal is also building two 69 metre ferries for the Saudi kingdom, adding to some 16 vessels operating around the region. The Note has to ask: does that make them ships of the desert?

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