||the start of the sixteenth century saw the Red Sea in the throes of a clash between the old commercial world of both Asia and Europe on the one hand and a new presence in the Indian Ocean, the Portuguese, on the other hand. But historical evidence shows that the Red Sea was beyond Portuguese reach. Suez and Jedda functioned as the premier base for the Ottomans. The possession of those place-forts offered them the possibility of challenging Portuguese dominance in the Indian Ocean. The Ottoman establishment of that time in relation to maritime affairs in the oceanic arena showed conflicting patterns in its official behaviour. On the Ottoman side, not all statesmen were in favour of the expensive project of a canal in Suez. On the European side, it was too difficult to realize a scheme of a land in enemy hands. Despite the Portuguese discover of the new route passing the Cape of Good Hope, the old route passing through the Red Sea maintained its attractiveness. Suez functioned as the main base for the Ottoman fleet and arsenal. The idea of the Suez Canal was shot several times during all the century, since Mamluk times, but all these plans came to nothing because of financial, technological and technical limits: The Red Sea level was considered as some thirty feet above that of the Mediterranean, and the project consequently had to be dropped. Anyway, the question of a Suez canal in the sixteenth century is worth analyzing in more detail and needs an in-depth study to open the subject to recent developments in comparative historiography. The idea of a waterway in Suez has attracted the interest of historians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with respect to national history, as the cases of the French and Italian historiographies demonstrate,61 almost ignoring Ottoman context.