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Down by the quayside in Port Said, two worlds steam past each other on the waves. One is packed tightly into a squat green ferry: chain-smoking taxi drivers, hollering fish-bait hawkers and countless chattering families. The other – a colossus – yawns silently above them: 100,000 gross tonnes of solid steel, 15,000 cargo containers, and not a person in sight. For a fleeting moment the little passenger vessel locks paths with this hulking backbone of global trade. And then it chugs on, across to the other bank where the next batch of city commuters…



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