Saturday, November 04, 2006

The sea in winter

The rainy season has begun. Winter will be here soon. School has begun and Ramadan is over, summer is behind us. This is the time of year that I go to the beach. I enjoy feeling the wind whipping around me and watching the waves crashing in along the shore.

A walk along the beach, combing for treasures washed up on the beach. Shells, seaweed, sand polished stones, driftwood, a bottle with a note inside... what do I find ...

Plastic bottles, garbage, paper, torn carpets, chicken bones from long-ago meals, old tuna cans and assorted trash are among the debris washed ashore by the waves.

During the summer months the beach is rented out to people who create temporary beach resorts for the season. They rent tents, beach chairs and palm frond covered shelters to beachgoers. Small cafe's are opened that serve snacks and provide coffee and waterpipes for those that smoke sheesha. Some have play equipment; slides and swings for the children.

At the end of the season they close up shop and leave, leaving behind all the mess that was created by the thousands of people who used the beach during the hot Libyan summer months. Who is responsible for cleaning up this mess?

Every section seems to have some kind of building on it - all of the buildings are made using the cheapest materials available. Unplastered cinder-block, ugly paint.

Many of the places have bathrooms and dressing areas. Old-fashioned hole in the floor toilets...

... with the drainpipes leading directly to the sea. How disgusting! Who would want to swim in a sewer?

Is there a solution for this problem? Who is responsible for cleaning up this mess? It's not only ugly but dangerous and an environmental disaster. Is this a way to encourage tourism in Libya? Are the taxpayers going to foot the bill of the cleanup costs? Or is it just going to be left this way in the hopes that it gets washed out to sea?


  1. some responsible people should be ashamed of themselves if they see these pictures and if they care. That is disgraceful thank you for showing them.

  2. I think this was one of the biggest reasons my son said he hated being in Libya. The trash. Yes, it was everywhere but some areas people actually took the time to clean up and dispose of their garbage. I see it as no different than most big cities. Yes, I hope something is done soon but it has to start at the individual level. When people dont care who is susposed too? And in most places there were garbage cans so what is their excuse not to have used them. Its a issue everywhere and until people teach themselves to be responsible nothing will get better. I had a neice who dropped trash while walking with me I ordered to pick it up and place it in the bag til we could find a trash bin to put it in. I got a funny look but she did as she was told. Sadly the oceans and our lands pay the price. Look at Tripoli in the area were it is like a city dump into a waterbed area. My husband remembers when al wells in his village held sweet water. Who will take the lead? What happened to the white sand beaches that my husband told me of I saw them in areas where it was clean. Libya take pride in your wonderful land and help build your country by making the right decisions for your future. I'll be back and want to see the beach again.

  3. I remember travelling the north-african and other south-mediterranean coasts some 30 years ago, and at that time I was deeply depressed by the rubbish at the beaches.

    It seems that nothing changed so far.

    I remember the beach in Syria as well as in Libya

    I never could understand that people who enjoy their staying at the beach can devastate it so much


  4. Glad to tell I cleaned up the beach of Garahbolli in 1998!!!

    When we had made a HUGE pile of garbage, we burned it and grilled fish on the fire.

    Later someone came along with a bulldozer and we buried the melted plastic remains below the beach sand together with the kitchen garbage from the camp.

    In 1988 I remember I was on a picnic; we drove deep into the desert, very far away from the beach front, there was a small farm where we ate and relaxed. I walked a bit away and found piles of fish heads. Behind a dune I suddenly stubled upon battered fishing ship wrecks. Today I still wonder how the fish heads and the ship wrecks ended up in the desert...

  5. I see the problem always come from the officials who made the contracts to rent the beaches to investors of the beach recreation areas. Also the problem is from the people who rented the beaches themselves. Their contracts should have been made in consideration of protecting the environments. It should have stipulated exactly the conditions of the contracts.

    1 - mandatory clean-up at the end of the season

    2 - use of environmentally friendly materials for recreation areas

    3 - no permanent structure made of concrete or other hard materials should be allowed

    4 - people who rent these places must have training regarding environmental protection and be expected to attend training courses or made to follow a specified plan

    5 - trash bins should be located throughout the area and use of these bins should be enforced

    6 - teams of cleaners need to be employed throughout the season

    7 - portable toilets that meet the health and safety standards should be used and maintained. There should be enough toilets to meet the demands of the crowds

    8 - specified areas for errecting tents and other shelters away from the waters edge so that people can walk and use the area directly next to the water

    9 - entrance areas should be made safe and each area should only allow a certain specified number of people to help control overcrowding

    10 - parking areas should be made safe and kept clean

    I am as a Libyan citizen, living next to the beach all my life and all my families life. I do not want any stupid, ignorant 'shabia' with a Bedouin mentality to rent our beautiful beaches considering that the people of the 'shabia' are not going to benefit from this unjustly obtained money even if it's a billion dollars. I hold the 'shabia' accountable and I'm thinking of taking the 'shabias' to court unless they clean this mess as soon as possible because they are responsible for the public's safety. I also think these pictures should be sent to the world environmental protection agency and invite them to see for themselves.

  6. Once again you hit the score. Thank you for your courage and determination. Some people must feel really ashamed, but we should all share the blame. And thanks to concerned citizen.

  7. Did you say tax payers? I bet that sounds like a relevant, perhaps even logical, expression to a lot of people. But it is far off the mark. What tax payers? How can anyone pay taxe when they don't even get paid their salaries? Who paid for the Lockerbie compensations, and the UTA, and LaBelle, and more to come. Did anyone really consult the "tax payers" on those expenditures? Paying taxes does not in itself give people a sense of ownership, a sense of citizenship. This is what happens when people feel like slaves in a big prison with no say whatsoever in the management of their country's resources.

    Sorry, my friend, but you are only dealing with superficial symptoms, not the real problems by any means.

    I wish you would take a tour of Tripoli one day and take pictures of all the Brother Leader's billboards. Let the readers see how many (or how few) of them suffer from such delapidation. Without that the picture is incomplete.

  8. What a pity! Where was the pic taken?

  9. Sooooooooo sad! Can anyone organize a "help clean our beach" day???

    Very well said Suliman.

    I visited in 1995, they were a disaster then. What a pity.

  10. I think lack of awareness and a no sense of pride is a huge issue in Libya. Socially its still "OK" to throw away things and pollute something beautiful with out any sense of guilt. Of course this is further cemented by the fact there is no penalty for littering. People have an enormous lack of respect of how clean there country is, just as long there house and property is clean it does not matter at all. I remember in Tripoli, in some areas people would dump their rubbish just out side their childrens schools, just because its convienient!!! Despite these areas being cleaned repeatdly, people would still do the same all over again!! Its shocking behaviour and shows a total disregard not only for the school but for their childrens health! One further thing I would like to warn people about....which should hold true for people all over, not just Libya, is that people should be careful when walking on beaches esp if they are doing so barefooted, the beach has always attracted ilicit drug users who may dump there needles there! The last thing you would want is a needle stick injury from a Hepatitis/HIV infected person!!
    Finally I pray that people would begin to start feeling proud of their country and start treating it with a bit of respect.....but alas national pride in Libya is a rare thing and is often misinterpreted! Thanks Khadija for this wonderful Blog...long it may continue....God Bless You.

  11. Suliman - Libyans do in fact pay taxes - taxes are deducted from their pay before they even receive it. Shopkeepers and other business owners must pay taxes in order to keep their businesses open - unpaid taxes means no business license, so yes dear, Libyans definitely pay taxes.

    Safia - did you do the clean up by yourselves or was it an organized event??

    Concerned citizen - go for it!

  12. I feel so sad when I see how people destroy their own place, city, country etc. I'd willingly participate if we'd organize a "clean up the beach" day like Safya did a couple of years ago! We could also gather enough money among us to rent a truck that could take the garbage away to be buried far from the beach. Who would join to this campaign? By the way I'm Amna and Teri you know me. I don't have my own blog but I like to read Teri's :)))

  13. I didn´t "organize" a beach clean-up; it was an organized Leejan al-baladiyah event, not very voluntary and I was only one among several people.
    But we took it like a contest and soon we competed who had gathered the most trash - although I have to admit I sometimes picked up trash from other people´s trash piles in order to be quick....;-)

    I still think about all that trash being buried below the beach! That would have been illegal in Europe. But in Libya the most important thing was to get the trash out of sight; maybe in 20 years or so ocean waves will bring it back...

    ....come to think of it, I haven´t been back to the beaches of Garahbolli since ;-(

  14. KT: Yes, I know Libyans pay individual and corporate taxes. At one time they had something called a "rifle tax" or something similar, supposedly collected by the government to pay for rifles and create what the government propaganda calls the "armed people." All the Libyans got were receipts. When I aksed a family member what he would do if burglars broke in, he said he'd pull the receipt on them! I think Libyans should be allowed to use those receipts for free passage to Oak Ridge to view the scrap metal they paid for.

    And yes, I know that from the point of view of the Libyan citizen those taxes amount to a lot, especially in proportion to the meager salaries they receive discontinuously.

    But the revenues from taxes don't amount to a hill of beans compared to what the state collects from oil sales and foreign investments, both of which are expressedly out of the citizens control.

    The term "tax payers" is a misnomer when applied to Libyans because the implication that those taxes amount to a significant portion of state revenues is simply unfounded. What pays for nearly everything in Libya is oil, oil and more oil. Referring to Libyans as tax payers is as far off the mark as calling them the Libyan electorate.

    Please don't get me wrong; I am not saying that Libyans do not pay for social services. They do, but not through taxes. The situation in Libya is abnormal. Calling Libyans tax payers makes thing sound normal, which is misleading.

  15. About 10 years ago, we had almost the same problem in Brasil and we decided to take some action without wait for the government, since we love to go to a clean beach.
    I was an art education teacher with 16 classes, about 30 students by class from middle to high school, plus a literacy adult class that I was teaching on Friday nights as volunteer work. Also I had got a scholarship and I was doing a research at the university. So, I had a good group to start talking about recycling and I did. On weekends we used to get together with the surfers and ecological groups and we started collecting the trash on the beaches and also asking those many people who daily frequent them in Brasil to take their trash home. Someone contacted the local environment office and it sent a truck to pick the trash up and delivery it to the proper place.
    What I mean is, we made “the habit” on people! Of course we still have some trash on the beaches and outside it in Brasil, but also we have all over there groups that tireless do this job! Today Brasil is the world leader in aluminum recycling, and holds the world's first carton packaging recycling facility.
    I’m so proud of the non-governmental recycling action we take in Brasil
    I, particularly, I recycled since 1993. The recycle truck came once a week to get only my stuff. I made a handwriting flyer, xeroxed it and delivered it door by door. It was about a 500 doors! Things got a lot better!
    BTW, I was with a Libyan friend on my car here in Europe and he threw a candy paper out of the window. I stopped my car, went out and I got the candy paper and I smiled at him saying: “Look you dropped it!” He said I was crazy and I explained to him that I was crazy about good and healthy environment. I showed him the trash bag, placed in the stick shift (those car’s trash bag are donned by some shops in Brasil). He laughed good when he saw it, but he used it very often then!
    I’m sorry to use your comment space this much!

  16. This is a sad state of affairs, unfortunately, it is all too common in the Middle East, North Africa, and the wider Islamic world.

    It would seem, at times, that liter and trash is a cultural tradition.

  17. Step 1. In many countries when you rent a place.. any place, you pay a cleaning deposit before you move in and can get it all back if after moving out you leave the property in the same condition you found it in. No add-ons no improvement just the same as you found it.

    Step 2. Littering. Laws are made all the time in all western countries that outlaw littering of all kinds. Make a law then start charging folks for their littering. Bet things change FAST!

  18. The corperate taxes can be and are stagering for a small business especially when it is an arbitory decission regardless of the laws governing the amounts .There are littering laws , sadly unenforced in Libya.There is a law from the 70's that says ALL BEACHES must stay accessable for the general public ; may not be built upon within 1000 meters of the shore line . All laws are voted on by the Congress of the People , of course they are "sheparded into the proper course " .

  19. Why would the arabs care about Libya. Its not even theirs. look at the Imazighan in kabyle, riffians, zuwara, ect. they are very protective of their country, because its their inherant birth right. but arabs well they could care less, its someone elses property.

  20. I wanna clean this up. I am coming to Libya for winter break after I am done with my finals. If anyone on this blog wants to organize something, then hit with a email. This crap is ridiculus.

  21. angry american libyan is libyan warrior, the same person always spreading hatered against arabs, he has been banned by many bloggers for his vile ideas and hatered and racism(check highlander & Leiluta).

    Real Libyan

  22. Thanks Khadijateri for this civic action , maybe just maybe we can inculcate some sense into our people !

  23. You are God Damn right I FUCKING HATE ARABS. Your people are scaring my people away from Islam to Christianity with your racism, and you extreamism. May Allah destroy your people you arab dog, and may allah never forgive you.
    GO HOME SAND NIGGER. And let me try to fix that which you, the Pan-Arabists, and the GIA have tried to destroy.

  24. Hi everyone, I am new here and like to say hi to the crowd,

    It is true the pictures published here show a great deal of sadness, no doubt.

    What I like to add is this: the worst mess is the rubbish that has been planted in the souls of the human. The human beings, once they feel “ why bother?”, or “ why should I care?”, then that becomes a tragedy and very difficult to cure. It may take a week, a month, or even a year to clean the mess on the Libyan beaches, but the mess inside our souls takes much longer to deal with,, it may even take more than a generation.

    Anyway,, if we could talk freely about our problems, if we could talk openly and politely I am sure the future will be better

    The coffee man


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