Donnerstag, 27. Dezember 2012

Asamer Weihnachtsfeier in Mondsee

 Kurz vor Weihnachten gab es dann noch ein kleines gesellschaftliches Highlight: Die Wihnachtsfeier der Fa. Asamer in Mondsee. Speziell für die von Veranstaltungen ausgehungerten Expats aus Libyen eine Wohltat. Aber, auch jede Menge libyscher Gäste war geladen und so gab es heuer erstmals drei "Libyen" Tische.
Für mich war es das erste mal im idyllischen Mondsee, aber auch bei der Weihnachtsfeier.
 Manfred Asamer, der CEO der Asamer Gruppe leitete den Abend mit einer Ansprache ein, die relativ klare Worte für die schwierige Situation der Bauindustrie fand, aber dennoch Raum für Optimismus offenliess. "Da müssen wir durch" lautet die Devise. Warm anziehen und durchtauchen ist also das Motto für 2013.
Vielleicht kann das Engagement in Libyen ja einen kleinen Impuls zum Aufschwung beitragen. Es käme zur richtigen Zeit.

Montag, 24. Dezember 2012

Happy Independence Day Libya !

On 24th December 1951 Libya gained independence after the events of WW II and the following administration by the UK, France and the US.
Congratulations to this big event !
These days even kites already have Libyan colours, in order to honour the happenings in Libya.

Sonntag, 23. Dezember 2012

Weihnachts Punsch im AC Tripolis

Da darf man sich schon geehrt fühlen wenn die gesamte OMV Truppe (Management Team) zum Weihnachts Empfang des AC Tripolis einreitet. Ok, ok, eine Person fehlt, aber er ist gut begründet entschuldigt ;-)
Ansonsten darf man sich als OMV Manager ja nicht so einfach ausserhalb des Büros oder des gesichterten Camps bewegen. Da sorgen dann auch Begleitpersonen dafür, dass dies eingehalten wird. Es soll bereits Fluchtversuche gegeben haben, aber dem wachsamen Auge des Sicherheitspersonals entgeht nichts. Verdächtige ansammlungen von OMV Mitarbeitern werden sofort aufeglöst und es soll auch den ein oder anderen Unterläufer geben, der über geplante Aktivitäten berichtet.
Besonders hartnäckige Fälle werden für zwei Wochenenden in Palm City behalten.
Somit darf ich den Weihnachtspunsch als "Business Essential" einstufen, ist ja auch kein Wunder, wenn sich die Creme de la Creme der österreichischen Wirtschaftstreibenden einfindet.
Zu trinken gab es natürlich österreichische "Säfte"...

Donnerstag, 20. Dezember 2012

OMV Krampus in Tripoli

Luckily some things don´t change. Mainly if some persons keep old and well established traditions. One of these traditions is the OMV Xmas / Nikolo invitation.
By tradition, Franco Caparotti of OMV comes as "Nikolo" or "Krampus" and gives out presents to persons who have deserved it during the year.
Unfortunately the OMV guest house in Regatta has not been available for this event in 2012, so it was held in a smaller setup.
However, I heard that 2013 will see the return of the BIG Krampus party.  

Dienstag, 18. Dezember 2012

The Future Development in Libya

Just in time for a Christmas gift, Colonel Pusztai makes his analysis on the future development of Libya available to everybody interested.
Above you just see one slide (the one on economy), the full presentation also covers all different kinds of risks.
It that can be downloaded with the link below.
Presentation Col.Pusztai

Sonntag, 16. Dezember 2012

Tripoli´s 9 hole championship course

Many foreigners complain that weekends are boring in Tripoli. Well, I am sure they have not discovered all the beauties here.
Like "Ghargharesh International Golf course" for instance. A true 9 hole championship course, though a bit different from what you might expect.

Starting off Tee number 1 you have a wonderful view to the clubhouse. Ok, at the moment it is still under construction, but one can already now imagine the unique architecture filled with marble, chandellier and state of the art locker rooms with jacuzzi, steamroom and sauna. Overlooking the deep blue mediterranean with the sun setting over the ocean.
Sorry, I got carried away...

 Later on, my golf buddy Stefan and me found out that hole no 1 is actually hole no 5 but we probably missed the signs that pointed towards the starting tee.
Two dogs showed us the way and we thought they must know it. On the first T-box an old shoe was waiting already to be used as a tee.

And what a golf course the "Gharghares championship course" is: If you are not playing accurate, you easily end up in the rough. And believe me, you don`t want to to be in the rough on that course. Very challenging to get out again, and no "ground under repair sign which would let you have a free drop". Also no red stakes which would let you drop with a penalty, so one must play the ball as it lies.

Even on the fairway you sometimes make acquaintance with objects that do not belong to the course.  According to the rules, man made objects can be removed without penalty, or you have a free drop. So I could move the broom without penalty and luckily the tablet blister did not hinder my swing.

Finally we arrive at the signature hole. "The brown double monster" it is called. Always well protected by a local dog who takes away each and every ball that does not land on the green. 

Stefan is playing a very ambitious round. No wonder, after the first few wholes he is only very few shots over par. But then the unavoidable happened: The ball goes into the heavy rough. Very heavy rough. But he does not give up. Do some of you still remember the French Jean Van de Welde? Who did not give up at the 18th hole, played into the water and then even out of the water (where he actually lost it). Not giving up is also Stefan´s thing.

 Finally we meet the "real guys" Those local golf fanatics that would come every weekend to play a round on this challenging course. On the picture we see Ramadan, doing his last business call before starting off tee number 1.
And those guys really know how to play.
Of course, golf fashion is slightly different than in Continental Europe: The revolution left its footprint and thus military look is very much en vogue.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell the best thing about golf in Tripoli: It´s completely free of charge... but I guess not for long anymore.

Freitag, 14. Dezember 2012

Post aus Feldkirch

Na das ist ja eine Überraschung! Da flattert doch tatsächlich ein Brief aus Feldkirch im Büro ein. Naja, fast - denn eigentlich flatterte er beim Hauptpostamt (äh, soll heissen DEM Postamt) in Tripolis ein. Dieses befindet sich unweit unseres Büros am Midan Jazair (Algerien Platz), aber auch das ist schon eine kleine Sensation, denn bisher haben Briefe entweder monatelang gebraucht bis sie angekommen sind (eine Weihnachtskarte aus dem Jahr 2011 erhielt ich im Juli 2012)  oder sie kamen überhaupt nicht an.
Aber die eigentliche Situation kommt erst: Der Postbeamte rief bei uns im Büro an und teilte mir persönlich mit, dass ein eingeschriebener Brief gekommen sei. Ich solle binnen der nächsten Stunde unbedingt kommen, dann könne er mir den Brief persönlich übergeben.
Und jetzt kommt noch die dritte Sensation: Der Brief hat von Feldkirch nach Tripolis nur 17 Tage gebraucht !!!
Schön auch in diesem Bereich kleine positive Veränderungen zu sehen.  

Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2012

New parking technique in Tripoli

There are various explanations why you would park your car like this:

1. You want to prevent your car from being stolen
2. You figured out the parking slot was just the right size for you
3. Nobody told you this was a "Handicapped only" parking space
4. You woke up one day and realized there was a revolution

Montag, 10. Dezember 2012

Nobel Prize for the EU

When it was announced in autumn this year that the EU will be awarded the Nobel prize for peace, it took many by surprise.
On monday, the prize was officially handed over to the EU in Oslo. This needed to be celebrated, also in Tripoli. So I followed the invitation of the EU Ambassador to Libya to hold a ceremony at the Corinthia hotel. Peter Zsoldos told the audience about the European sucess project of maintaining peace in Europe for so many years and about assisting other countries in need.

European politicians stressed out during the last few days that the prize was awarded to each and every citizen of the EU and it was also those people who deserved the prize.
So I was confident that also the prize money (roughly 1m million Euros) would be distributed among the EU citzens. I took my wallet with me, but figured out that in the end the  money went elsewhere.
Too bad......
I guess I will have to win the prize myself.

Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2012

Corinthia vs Radisson Blu in Tripoli

Interestingly, when it comes to hotels with international standards, Tripoli can offer only two of such kind:
The Corinthia Bab Africa hotel and the Radisson Blu. Of course, if you ask the management of either hotel, then the reply must be "There is only on hotel fulfilling international standards".
For me, it is still an open battle. At the beginning of the economic boom (2006/7), Corinthia was the only top end hotel in town. That´s also why they could charge rates of 350 EUR and above. No discount. For anybody. However, as of 2010 other hotels entered the market: Intercontinental with the Waddan, Rixos (Al Nasr), Four Points by Sheraton Hai Andalus and of course Radisson Blu Mahari. Oh, I nearly forgot, Mariott also opened a hotel. Actually it was opened on 17 February 2011. Great day for a grand opening. Too sad it was closed the next day again. I dont want to give a Tripoli hotel history lecture here, but rather compare the two only remaining int´l hotels in town:
When it comes to price, Radisson is up by at least 10-20% over Corinthia. However, I consider amenities more or less the same. In both hotels you have gyms, spas, outdoor pools, restaurants, etc. Radisson claims to have the best Italian restaurant in town (I must admit, it is good...) while Corinthia has the largest buffet style lunch and dinner (and a brunch at weekends). From the location it depends what you need to do. Traffic has become a nightmare and both hotels are equally convenient located. However, Corinthia definitely does have better parking facilities. If you have an appointment in Radisson, you rather go by Taxi, or you have to take the car with you inside the lobby.
During the sunny months, Radisson has a nicer atmosphere, sitting on its terrace either overlooking the pool (in the restaurant) or just having the chillout feeling on the outside terrace in the coffee shop. But this was not always like this, as it opened only 2010 after a complete refurbishment of the old Mahari hotel.
And the future ?
Well, lets see: Two days ago I was attending the handover ceremony from the current Marketing & Sales Manager, Unay Turkoz and his succesor Silvia Jurecka (see also photo). Listening to the words of the Director Generall of Radisson, Silvia shall continue the succesful way of her predecessor who started in Libya over a year ago.
I wish her good luck.
She will need it. 

Samstag, 8. Dezember 2012

Manner at Tripoli International Airport

Arriving at Tripoli International Airport is a rather disappointing experience. No wonder, the airport was supposed to be out of service already, and a new building, with a capacity of 20million passengers should be in service. But, like with almost all other projects, no decision has been taken which project shall be restarted first. In addition, some projects are considered to be politically induced, so it might happen that they might be cancelled.
This means it will still be some years that visitors to Libya arrive at the old airport. However, at least the arrival hall is a provisional building, meant so serve 2-3 years, as the old arrival hall was completely unacceptable.
But this time I saw a nice surprise: On (Libyan) passenger had a "Manner" bag as his handluggage. Luckily Manner is widely available in Libya, so the publicity and demand for Manner by this bag can be fulfilled. 

Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2012

Der Krampus kommt nach Tripolis

Da erzähle ich meinen Kindern immer, wenn sie schlimm sind, kommt der Krampus, und dann kommt der tatsächlich zu mir nach Tripolis.
Im Tag hat er sich nicht geirrt, und er wird schon wissen wo seine "Pappenheimer" zu Hause sind. Also darf ich mich nicht weiter wundern wenn er es dann auch über das Mittelmeer schafft, denn ursprünglich kommt er ja aus den alpinen Ländern Mitteleuropas.
Heisst das jetzt, dass morgen der Nikolo nicht mehr kommt? Das erinnere ich mich nicht mehr so genau. Aber das werde ich ja auch in wenigen Stunden wissen...

Dienstag, 4. Dezember 2012

What REALLY happened

Three weeks ago I tweeted I would leave the country due to a security incident. Many of you asked what had happened. However, it was not the right time to give the full version in order not to make the story bigger than it was.
Since then I have heard many stories through many different channels. Some of them seem to come back with amendments. In order to keep the truth, I decided to write the sort version on my blog:

"I was kidnapped, held hostage for three days, tortured, beaten"

"I had a rave party with loads of alcohol. In the morning, my Libyan friends who I invited, got very annoyed as there was no alcohol left. So they beat me."

"I was abducted, questioned and tortured for the role that Austrian companies played during Gadaffi time"

I went running in the early afternoon in an area I use to run regularily and that I consider "safe" (no, not Regatta).  People there know me already. After approx. half an hour a car approached me in high speed, honking and shouting towards me. After stopping and getting out they immediately slapped me in the face. I decided to run away. They followed (chased) me in their car and managed to catch me after a couple of minutes.
They drove me away, towards their house, where we got out of the car again. One of the guys was very drunk and did not stop shouting at me that I was an Israeli spy. 
After some time and after I could have a closer look at some weapons, I was delivered at a nearby militia, where  I was handed over as an Israeli spy. The militia (Kateiba) treated me very nicely, sent the guys that brought me there away, and brought me home. The whole thing took about 2 hours.
At the end everybody apologized and said the usual "Mafish Mushkila"....

Freitag, 30. November 2012

New Libyan Government

Better late than never...
The new Libyan government, however changes are under way

Sonntag, 25. November 2012

Presentation and discussion at "Kremser Nahost Forum"

For the Libyans in Austria among you, my dear readers, meaning those who have a Libyan way of live and decide on a rather short notice how the daily schedule looks like, there might be something in for you today:
Tomorrow at 5 PM there will be a "Kremser Nahost Forum" lecture and discussion on Libya "Libya, the richest economy in Africa in transformation"
Details to be found on:

Donnerstag, 22. November 2012

Libyan Railways and Intergeo´s bankruptcy

What a nice train ! It started in the nowhere of Tripoli and lead into nowhere. Fabricated by the Italian Finemccanica group´s company "Ansaldo". It was actually a present from Ansaldo to Libya. Well kind of - actually it was handed over to Muammar Gadaffi around the 40th anniversary of the revolution. Well, and as there were no rail tracks at that moment, Ansaldo also build about 1.000 meters of them. Italy´president, Silvio Berlusconi handed over the train to his friend Muammar Gadaffi and together they inaugurated the masterpiece of italian civil engineering.
At the same time a tender was opened fo the delivery of rolling stock (trains & wagons) for Libya´s new railway that should start at the Tunisian border and run all the way to Egypt. A special line was also leading to Sebha.
Too bad that Ansaldo did not comply with the specifications set forth in the tender. The technicians at Libyan Railroads did not know what to do: The whole railway industry had its focus on Libya, as it had at that moment the biggest railroad project in the world. And they were all very curious how Libya would solve the project, because the leader wanted by any means the Italian train. Even though it did not meet the tender criteria. And even though it had a different track size than the one built by the Chinese and Russian general contractors.
However, whenever I met an Italian diplomat, they were smashing it into my face: "The train is ours!"
Luckily for the employees of Libyan Railroads the revolution came...

The railway project did not end that luckily for some other companies. The Austrian company "Intergeo", for instance,  had to file for bankruptcy earlier this week: The company entered Libya in 2010, providing engineering works for the Russian part of the railway project, with its headquarters at Ras Lanuf. Unfortunately they did not receive a single cent for their works in Libya so far. The company said the outstanding debt amounted to approximately 1 Mio Euros.
12 employees and about 80 creditors are affected by the liquidation of the company. If you know german, you can read up the whole article here:

Sonntag, 18. November 2012

Deutsche Schule Tripolis

 Das waren eben noch Zeiten: Schuljahr 2009/2010 in Tripolis. Mit ca. 55 Schülern in der Deutschen Schule, und das auf alle Alterstufen verteilt. Manche Klassen waren dann nur 3-4 Kinder groß, aber das haben einige Kinder dann auch als sehr angenehm empfunden.
2009/10 soll dann auch das letzte Schuljahr gewesen sein, denn im Februar 2011 reisten ja bekanntlich nahezu alle Ausländer aus. Die Schule hat die Revolution gut und unbeschadet überstanden und wäre wieder bereit für neue Schüler.

Deswegen gab es dann auch einen Informationsabend für deutschssprachige Botschaften, Firmen und sonstige Einrichtungen. Es stellte sich wieder die Henne/Ei Frage. Denn war es jetzt, dass keine Kinder in der deutschen Schule sind, weil die Lage nicht so rosig ist und keine Firmen vor Ort sind, oder kommen keine Familien weil die Deutsche Schule nicht geöffnet hat ?
Mein Empfinden ist eindeutig ersteres.
Ein kurzer Gegensatz bei der Beurteilung der Sicherheitslage konnte zwischen zwei Diplomaten von deutschsprachigen Ländern festgestellt werden: Vertrat der eine die Ansicht, dass man noch weit von einer normalen Lage entfernt sei, so propagierte der andere eine "Mafish Mushkila" (no proplem) Stimung.
Als Österreicher verhält man sich in so einer Situation am besten ruhig,und schliesst sich nach erfolgtem Meinungsbildungsprozess der Mehrheit an. Zu blöd, dass es in diesem Fall keine Mehrheit gab, aber mein Erlebnis der letzten Woche lässt mich eher zum "es ist nicht alles in Ordnung" Lager tendieren.
Aber zurueck zur Deutschen Schule: Man hat alles parat, Gewehr bei Fuss und ist bereit bei entsprechender Nachfrage sofort den Schulbetrieb wieder aufzunehmen.
Die Direktorin der Schule, Christel Ostermann-Latif präsentierte entsprechende Pläne und hoffte (wie wir alle) auf eine baldige Rückkehr der Firmen.

Die Deutsche Schule ist übrigens im Internet unter 

Mittwoch, 14. November 2012

Yefren in the Nafusa Mountains

Yefren, probably one of the nicer towns of the Jebel Nafusa. And definitely worth a visit (and a blog entry). Sitting majestically on the edge of the western mountains, overlooking the plains that lead to the coast. The town is very hard to spot form the plains, but once you are up a pleasant countryside feeling sweeps through the streets. There is also a small hotel with a restaurant. We were just a bit unlucky, because when we visited the town, they had all the local big shots for a lunch over. This led also to the situation that when we wanted to leave, half a dozen of cars blocked our way out.
There is also a small old revitalised house with a typical berber mansion to be visited. Guilhem (see photo) helped out with tea cooking. The owner of the house, who tricked us into his home by promisingto show us the way to the Roman ruins took about an hour to cook tea. Luckily we managed to continue to the Roman mausoleum, about 20kms to the east of town (in Yefren they told us: 3-4 kilometers), because otherwise we would have missed another wartime memorial with loads of old ammunition and ammunition boxes. We could have taken away all of the ancient Roman stones, but were denied an empty RPG box.

Montag, 12. November 2012

Beach retreat of Gadaffis sons

If you have visitors these days, you must show them all the treasures of Tripoli. This includes also fallen treasures, or sights from the revolution. One of them are the beachhouses of the sons of Gadaffi in the former foreigner compound "Regatta".
The poshest of them is one directly on the sea, with an own little bay, an infinity swimming pool and lots of amenities, such as Gym, etc.

I do not remember anymore if it was Saadi's, Hanibal's or Muatassim's villa, which anyhow does not matter anymore. It is a spooky atmosphere, as the house was burnt down and hardly any other people are around, as the whole compound is closed for the public.
One can see the remainders from more glorious days, I am sure some of the revolutionaries still had fun driving around with the jet ski.

Sonntag, 11. November 2012

New time schedule Austrian Airlines / Lufthansa

With the change of Libya´s time zone to Central European Time (and the adaption of summer time as of coming spring), airlines also had to change their time schedule for flights to/from Libya.
Hence find in the following the new time schedule for Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa.

Samstag, 10. November 2012


Da war aber noch etwas... Ach ja, die Benzinkrise, die eigentlich gar keine war.
Eines Tages (eigentlich kann man das ziemlich genau sagen, es war vergangenen Samstag) beschlossen ein paar Dutzend Bürger aus Zawiah, eine der Geburtsstädte der Revolution, die Raffinerie in ihrer Stadt zu besetzen. Der Grund? 150 Verwundete und Versehrte aus der Revolution sind durch den Rost gefallen und haben nicht von der grosszügigen Aktion der Regierung, diese Personen nach Europa zur Behandlung zu schicken, profitiert. Gefordert wurde, dass diese unverzüglich zur Behandlung nach Europa geschickt würden. Man hat sich einen neuralgischen Punkt ausgesucht,  denn die Aktion machte sofort die Runde in Westlibyen und binnen kürzester Zeit bildeten sich lange Schlangen an den Tankstellen. Die Bevölkerung fürchtete, dass das flüssige Gold versiegen würde, solange die Zu- und Abfahrten der Raffinerie blockiert sind. Die Regierung verlautbarte, dass die Reserven für mehrere Wochen halten würde, bis dahin sollte man eine Lösung parat haben.

Donnerstag, 8. November 2012

Ein kleines Gefecht zum Wochenbeginn

Das hat es ja schon länger nicht gegeben: So ein richtiges kleines Gefecht mitten in der Stadt. Dabei ist das ja so eine willkommene Abwechslung im trüben Büroalltag: Da knallt es wenigstens wieder einmal ein wenig und man braucht dann auch schon ein paar Stunden um herauszufinden was wirklich los ist. Wo man besser nicht hinfaehrt das hört man ohnehin, und wenn man zu nahe ist, sperrt ohnehin die Polizei die Zufahrten ab. So ein wenig wie in Hollywood, wenn eben gerade wieder ein Film gedreht wird. Auch diesmal brodelte die Gerüchteküche: Von einem Gefangenen, der freigeschossen werden sollte, über zwei Milizen die durch einen Zufall begonnen aufeinander zu schießen bis zu den üblichen Hochzeitsfeierwerken war diesmal wieder einiges "drin". Das ganze spielte sich ca. 500m von unserem Büro ab, weshalb die Lärmentwicklung und der Hall relativ laut waren.  Aufregen hilft da auch nichts, denn einen halben Tag später war alles wieder vorbei. Selbst während des kleinen Gefechts (es kamen auch RPGs - Raktene zum Einsatz) sassen nur zwei Strassen weiter Tripolitanier ungestört bei ihrem Capuccino und beschwerten sich wahrscheinlich über den Hintergrundlärm.

Dienstag, 6. November 2012

Visit to Zintan

Bored during the weekend ? Why not go to Zintan ? About two hours easy drive away from Tripoli, Zintan makes a great excursion destination. Passing Ghariyan, the first settlement in the Jebel Nafusa (Western Mountains) one imagines why the troops of Gadaffi found it so hard to take the territorry. I was surprised how few checkpoints there were, the only majour one we encountered at the entrance to Zintan itself.
There a young men saluted us and wanted to chit-chat with us. (Us: a group of European colleagues)

Of course we were shown the Zintah museum, with some impressive paintings, and a lot of old ammuntion, weapons, tanks, etc.
A colleague asked if we could see Seif - but the response was just a laugh.
At the end we managed to see one of Gadaffis buses. But it seemed to be an old model, a bus that he might have used in the 70ies or 80ies.

Sonntag, 4. November 2012

Land Rover and Jeeps on the beach near Khoms

"You should not take your Landrover to the beach!" I will write this 500 times this week. Or maybe I should keep trying, until one day it works ? Anyhow, it is a bit frustrating getting stuck every time I go on the beach. And yes, I did let the air out of my tires. But the electronic in this ultra modern car, combined with a weight of nearly two tons, does not make it the ideal vehicle for Libyas beaches.
Luckily, within one hour, many friends came and tried to rescue us. It was a trial, at first, because you cannot pull out a Landrover with a Jeep Liberty. No way.
At the end, a Cheep Grand Cherokee with a 4,7l Turbo engine saved us from having to sleep on the beach.
Thanks Nasr !