Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Currents events and information about Libya

I got a comment from someone who is thinking about cancelling their trip to Libya to see the eclipse next month because of the recent events in Benghazi. That makes me sad - I think that there were some problems, but for the most part the media has blown them out of proportion as usual. I feel safe here and many of my friends are planning to work as guides for the event. I certainly wouldn't let the incident spoil your maybe one chance in a lifetime to see a total eclipse. Many people in Libya think Chicago or New York is a dangerous place to go - 'How can you even think to go there? There are mafia there and gangs!' Of course, if you are from any big city you know that's silly, but if you've never been there it's easy to be influenced by what you see on TV.

I got the following letter from Nathan with questions about Libya. I've tried to answer his questions, but if you have anything to add please click on comments.

Hi, my name is Nathan and I am very interested in Libya. I have never been to Libya, and there isn't a lot of information available. Would it be okay if I asked you several questions? Thank you.

1. Is there a supermarket in Libya? (something like Walmart or Kroger???)
There is no Walmart or Kroger here, but there are plenty of supermarkets, the Mahari for example. Libya imports most of it's food from Europe or other Arabic countries and also the far east. You will find a wide selection and most of the name brands as well. Frozen foods are lacking though, but Libya makes up for that by having wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fresh meats, chicken and fish (no pork though).

2. Is there a golf course? Tennis Club? Horseriding Club?
There is a golf course of sorts in Tajoura. Many people play golf and find it challenging as the course is sand and rocky. Tennis is available in Reggata, the Diplomats club in Ain Zarah as well as other places. Horseriding is also available in Janzour and also in Tripoli.

3. Any nice hotels besides the Corinthia?
Other hotels are The Grand Hotel, Bab Bahar, Mahari and others.

4. Thing to do in Tripoli? (at night or day)
While there are no nightclubs here in Tripoli you can find many cafe's. Walk along the seafront on the cornishe, restaurants . . .

5. Places to visit??? (other than Leptis)
Sabratha, the beach - Nagaza and Farwa Island as well as many other beautiful places along the coast, the old city in Tripoli, a drive in the mountains, the qasrs in Gharian, and Nalut, Ghadames and a visit to the dessert . . .

6. Are there any restaurants? Chinese? Italian? or even Fast food?
Restaurants are abundant. Chinese, Turkish, Lebanese, Italian, Seafood, pizza, fast food as well as restaurants that serve traditional Libyan cuisine.

7. Where are the young and upcoming hip neighborhoods in Tripoli? any cool shops?
Gargaresh and Benashur (Jaraba Street). Many foriegners are choosing to live in Janzour and Siraj areas.

8. How about an art museum, art gallery, or movie theater?
The main museum located in the castle next to the Green Square is wonderful. There are movie theatres around the city but most people prefer to rent videos or DVDs and watch at home.

9. Is it safe? at night? for women? for foreingers?
Tripoli is very safe, for women, foriegners and at all times of the day or night. As in any city you should take care when shopping or visiting the bank or ATM machines. The driving is probably the most dangerous thing about Libya. No traffic laws are followed - drive or ride at your own risk.

10. Does Libya have highspeed broadband internet?
ADSL is available: http://www.lttnet.com/ and dial up is also widely available. There are internet cafes all over.

11. Is it easy to purchase everyday items such as food and clothes?
Food and clothes are everywhere and bargains can be found.

12. Last but not least, is English spoken and understood around Tripoli?
Many people speak English in Tripoli. For a while English was banned in the schools but now it is being taught again. Many Libyans take courses in English and they are trying to catch up with the rest of the world. They know that to get anywhere in the future they need English. One problem is that Libya has NO signs in English - only Arabic. This is a headache for anyone visiting that doesn't know Arabic. But it is common for even Libyans (the older people) not to know how to read - so no one thinks it strange if you ask them 'What does this say?'

Once again thank you very much.

Please readers - if you have anything to add, please click on comments.


  1. Eclipses seem to haunt me in Libya. Some years ago I was a guide for some foreign tourists from Spain. It was my responsibility to bus them into Tripoli, follow them around to make sure they had a good time and then get them backto the bus and "home" to Janzour.
    Around 30 happy Spanish tourists strolled around the old city and finally I collected them all, got them on the buses...time was almost 2300 in the evening and I had had nothing to eat nor drink the last few hours. I was really looking forward to the ride back to Janzour, when one of the tourists on the stairs of the bus pointed to the sky and shouted: "A lunar eclipse!".
    All tourists flew out of the bus and around Green Square oohing and awing at the dark clouds and the silver moon. It took me a full hour to get them bak onto the bus, just to find that a group of 4 had gone missing. We waited and waited for them to show up, time was soon half past one in the night. I sent the chauffør back to Janzour with the busload, hoping he would manage to get them back into camp while I and a collegue had to wait for the 4 missing tourists.
    Around 3 o clock (a woman standing on the Green Square that long!!!) we finally decided to take a car back to Janzour. All the way I was terribly worried to have lost 4 people. Arriving at the camp in Janzour I found the missing 4 - they had simply shared a cab ride home!
    Since then I have avoided eclipses in Libya - but it seems they happen all the time ;-)

  2. Khadijia, you forgot about the only real risks a touritst may incur in Tripoli....driving and falling into the holes in the street.

    Another hotel I really like is the Yosser hotel in Dahara

  3. What exactly happening in Libya because I am supposed to be coming to Libya next week in business trip !? Do you think it safe to travel as European !?

  4. Oh God !You know we in Libya had no idea that there was even trouble in Ben Ghazi until we turned on the " international news " channels .It's business as usaule here ! Come on down and relax.

  5. Khadija,

    Your dismissal of the recent events in Benghazi as a mere exaggeration by the media surprised me! What happened, have you been in Libya that long to lose compassion and adopt the strategy of "as long as it's not my head, I don't give a damn!"

    You can't brush aside the killings of at least 11 people most of whom are minors (15 years) and consider it business as usual. It's not business as usual when a whole city is under siege with curfew and all.

    Sadly, things seem to be under control now and will eventually go back to normal and people will continue living like nothing happened, but some won't forget it and some don't even have a life anymore.

  6. Thank you for the quick response. Hopefully I'll learn more about Libya through your blog.


  7. Thanks Hanu ! for saying what is in my mind

  8. I haven't lost compassion for people that have needlessly lost their lives. I think it is horrendous that demonstrators were fired upon by live bullets. But I think that this event probably won't happen again.

    I don't feel like my life is in danger if I go out walking down the street. Certainly I wouldn't join in any demonstration - but then I never did before and I always tell my kids that they are to escape and come straight home if they are at school and there is any kind of demonstration that they are told they must attend. Not because I fear for their lives. Usually if they are taken to any demonstrations they bus them out to the event but they never make sure any of the kids get home safely - and many kids end up walking miles and miles to get home. They are usually hungry, thirsty and in need of a bathroom. And the girls are usually harrassed by the boys too.

    When demonstrators loose their lives is a very sad thing.

  9. Hello Hanu,
    Sah lasank ya Hanu; you really made my day.
    Kisses to the kids

  10. I have booked my flight to Tripoli but I am thinking to cancel my trip for the solar eclipse. I have read that Tripoli is safe now, disorders were in Bengasi only. The desert-camp was 80Km South of Jalu and we had to stay in bengasi before reaching Jalu... but I had planned to go with an Italian friend and now we are a little scared and we are thinking of cancel. I will wait another week and check if protest will progress or not, then I'll decide.


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