Freitag, 26. April 2013

The Girza have the problem

Have you ever been to Ghirza ?
It is deep inside a valley, about 100 kms from Misrata. And it is not really the Hotspot of the region, but if you are keen on Roman and Byzantinic treasurs, this is the place you would like to visit. Some magnificient roman tombs have been well preserved due to the arid climate in that region. Not far away, a couple of Roman houses and fields offer an insight into life at that time. On the ground one can find remainders of pottery, bricks and probably many hiden treasures.
But what about the people living there now ?
Well, I met them, although looking at the town, it seems you are in a ghost town. Approximately 120 people live at the moment in Ghirza, in houses that were built in the 80ies by Gadaffi. Without electriyity and water. However, the Great Man Made River pipeline is not far away, so at least they found access to water. And electricity is produced througha generator. Every day between 6-10 PM it produces a bit of electricity that lets them feel in civilisation. But otherwise,
"The Girza have the problems",
as one of the elders tells me. No school for their kids, no money, no future. They say they feel miserable.
And they ask me to spread the word....

Donnerstag, 25. April 2013

Misrata Port in action

Misrata is always worth a trip. For me it is always a good indicator how the Libyan economy is doing, as it is the biggest port of Libya. And its people have always been more progressive, independent and looking forward than the rest of Libya. This time I only went to the harbor, but already on the way there I could see the big changes that have taken place in Zliten, around 30 kilometers before Misrata. Now, don´t expect any miracles, but the town looks tidy, cleaned up and organized. And this impression does not change until you get to Misrata. No piles of trash lying around and also most remainders of the fighting which took place here, have been removed.
The harbor is working normally, cranes unloading cargo and putting it on trailers. Below you can see Austrian whitewood being unloaded, most likely arriving from the Slovenian port of Kopa (no, austria does not have its own port). If you want to see Austrian white wood by yourself, just watch out for the blue paint. This is the typical branding of Austrian producers. However, recently I discovered some wood from Slovenia also being painted blue and thus pretending it was Austrian.

In one area the port is even being renovated and some docks built in addition.
Congratulations, Misrata !

Dienstag, 23. April 2013

Series: Famous golf courses of Libya, part II - Mudi GC

After reviewing Ghargharesh Golf Club we continue our tour towards Zawiah, where we find Mudi Golf Club. This is actually the only Golf Course I would consider getting somewhere (and really only somewhere) close to what is called a golf course in the rest of the world. It is actually a farm where some olive trees have been cut to make way for 9 wholes that all have a "brown", made out of sand, instead of a green.
The owner, Mr.Mudi, himself an oil engineer, had the idea of putting up the course and installing a driving range. During the last few years and up to today Mudi GC remains the only driving range in Libya. A bucket of balls is 5 LYD (3 EUR) and if you don´t watch out, you might hit a turkey, a hen or an ostrich off the tee. Although on my last visit I did not see the ostriches any longer.
Mr.Mudi is a bit sad, as business is completely down. Sometimes some Koreans drop by, but otherwise business is dead. He calculates that the revolution has cost him at least 200.000 - 300.000 Dinars. But he adds that it was worth every penny.
With some foreigners returning, he might upgrade the course and do what he planned to do already in 2011 and 2012.
Good luck Mr.Mudi !

How to get there ?
Drive towards Zawiah, about 5 kms before entering into Zawia you find a sign n the main road saying "Mudi Golf" and an arrow indicating a turn to the left. Enter the road for about 500 meters and you will get to Mr.Mudis farm.

Montag, 22. April 2013

Spot the difference

Can you spot the difference ?
Hint 1:  It is not the price
Hint 2: Only one of the two is healthy
Hint 3: One is produced in Austria under strict health guidelines
Hint 4: Only one of the two gives wings ;-)

Sonntag, 21. April 2013

Make your own license plate

 You bought a car recently ?
Congratulations ! You did not manage to get your license plates printed ?
Well, you are probably not alone as thousands of other Libyans also struggle to get their new license plates from a factory that can not cope with the huge demand for new registrations.
The bottleneck comes exactly at that point where you are nearly finished with all the procedures.  So why not make your own license plate ?

In any case better than driving around with a Swiss, or German plate.
So here is an easy "Do-It-Yourself" explanation:

1. Take the number from your car book
2. Print the number out, followed by the word "Libya" in Arabic letters"
3. Cut the paper and plastify it

Freitag, 19. April 2013

ABC - Austrian Breakfast Club

Ein Klassiker unter unseren Veranstaltungen ist der "ABC", der, "Austrian Business Circle", oder "Austrian Business Club". Dieser soll die Niederlassungsleiter vor Ort zu Informationsaustausch unt Networking zusammenführen. Diese Veranstaltungen werden weltweit abgehalten (denn österreichische Firmen gibt es per definitionem ja überall...), so auch in Tripolis, aber eben ein wenig abgeändert (ansonsten wäre es ja nicht Libyen).
So wurde vergangene Woche daraus der Austrian Breakfast Club, zu dem alle pünktlich um 08h morgens erschienen (ok, fast alle). Ehrengast war Heidi Burkhardt, Geschäftsführerin von Hilfswerk Austria International, der Hilfsorganisation, die das Kinder- und Jugendzentrum in Dahra als Projekt führt.
Bei österreichischen Säften und neuerdings auch Milch blieben einige bis zu Mittag. 

Mittwoch, 17. April 2013

Gadaffi´s sons´ villas in Regatta

Well, there is not so much left of all the former houses of Saif-Al-Islam Sadi and Hannibal in Regatta. It used to be an area of Regatta where you could not get very close to. When one of the sons were there, you could were already controlled very thoroughly at the entrance. Coming closer to the houses was not easy, jogging, the security personnel would let you get as close as to see one of the Eastern European beauties sun-tanning on the beach.
These days the villas are still visited by some "Thuars" - provided they are being let in by the guards at the entrance. On one of the parking lots of the villas, one could still see that apparently the Romans were "en vogue" and so were also replicas of roman statues (see picture below).

Some people still enjoy the place and happen to organize picknicks there during the weekends.

Dienstag, 16. April 2013

Libya Build 2013

In my opinion Libya Build has always been best fair in Libya. Already in 2012 ATEX, the organiser, opened its doors again for the revival of the fair. Many countries organized a national pavillion, though 2013 will break a record.
According to an interview by The Libya Report with the CEO of ATEX, Maged Mahfoud, 630 exhibitors from 25 different countries are expected to attend.
And guess what ?
Austria will be there as well! 16 companies registered. If you want to have a preview of those companies coming, please visit
Hopefully it will be the start of old projects as well.

Montag, 15. April 2013

EU Meeting in Tripoli

The European Union consists of 27 countries.
Some of them small, others large,
some rich, others not so rich,
some are under the ESF, others have a budget surplus.
Some joined Schengen, others have the Euro, some have both.
And in Tripoli, like in many other non-EU countries, we meet regularily in order to discuss matters of common interest.
At least in theory. We have some colleagues in that round that share more information than others. During the last meeting some of the group´s anchors were missing as they were on holiday or on a business meeting. From the remaining group (in numbers we were still many), nobody really wanted to share any information, so I guess I had a big share of the total speaking time.
It seemed like a group of hyenas, one observing and waiting for the other.
I hope this remains a one time observation....

Sonntag, 14. April 2013

A Pickup is a great mean of transport

A pickup is a great car. Nearly like a camel - well, some call it the modern camel. In Libya you see often ..

Sorry, technical failure - text is lost. And I forgot what i wrote.

No problem :-)

Samstag, 13. April 2013

Mitarbeiter des Monats

Dieses Foto wurde uns vor einige Tagen zugespielt. Aber dabei handelt es sich um eine kleine Ente, denn eine der abgebildeten Personen arbeitet nicht am AC Tripolis ! Dennoch, er kümmert sich rührend um die weiblichen Mitarbeiter in unserem Büro. Ist ja so, in Libyen braucht man einen männlichen Aufpasser. Und alleine auf die Strasse gehen, einkaufen oder gar mit dem Auto fahren kommt gar nicht in Frage.
Deswegen lassen wir ...... hoch leben und hoffen, dass er sich anstrengt auch im Mai diese hohe Auszeichnung zu ergattern. Aber dann bitte das "W" bei "AC Tripolis" weglassen ;-)  

Freitag, 12. April 2013

Austrian milk arrived in supermarkets

Austrian milk from the heart of the Alps arrived to Libya. We know already from a couple of Austrian producers that have shipped milk into the country where only few cows can be found. However, it is the first tetra pack that I physically hold in my hands.
I guess I don´t have to lose any word about the quality of Austrian milk. But why all of a sudden into Libya ? Well, retail keeps being king in Libya. In our office we receive many businessmen (or "wannabes") who ask about Austrian producers who do not have their Libyan agent yet. A good percentage of those simply want to get their share of the money involved and do not have any experience. Though quite some, on the other hand, can show a good track record and have, in addition, some other brands in their portfolio.
It will be interesting how Monoprix (and other supermarket chain projects that are in the pipeline) will change the landscape.

Donnerstag, 11. April 2013

Did you ever wonder what happened to Regatta ? Over two years after you have lived there and left from one day to the other ?
The good news first: You don´t have to worry about your things anymore. There is absolutely NOTHING of it left anymore. Although 90% of the houses are not inhabited anymore and Zintanis have moved out from the houses, time has erased all physical memory.
And now the bad news: Regatta is not yet ready for you to move back in again. Some houses (most of the new former Repsol houses for instance) have been repainted and quickly renovated, but the vast majourity remain empty and are in urgent need of renovation. However, since the new year, some cleaning up activity can be noticed.
And for those of you who used to sit in the seaside pizzeria and waited for at least one hour for your pizza to come - I guess you recognized the restaurant again on the first picture.

Mittwoch, 10. April 2013

In Libyen wird Deutsch geschätzt

Wenn man am Flughafen in Tripolis ankommt, so findet man Gepäckswagen vor, die zweisprachig beschriftet sind.
Aber nein, nicht Arabisch/Englisch.
Oder Arabisch/Italienisch.
Englisch/Deutsch heisst hier die Devise.
Und liest man den Bügel wie es hier so üblich ist von rechts nach links, so ist die Dominanz der deutschen Sprache noch eindeutiger erkennbar.

Ist ja auch klar, ist die deutsche Sprache ja viel wendiger, geschmeidiger und ausdrucksstärker als ihre Verwandten. Der Dank geht heute an die Civil Aviation Authority und den Flughafen Tripolis, die diese Fakten sehr rasch erkannt, und daraus ihre Schlüsse gezogen haben.

Dienstag, 9. April 2013

Austrian Soft Drinks

Libya is one of the first few countries that has adopted and put into practice the new international regulation about selling soft drinks in restaurants. The rule goes that in case you offer Austrian drinks, which by any means are superior to their competitors from other countries, you should clearly point them out to your customers.
Thus, the restaurant "Chateau" on Ghargharesh has fulfilled international standards and clearly differentiated Austrian soft drinks from the rest. Due to their high quality they could easily be sold for double the price of their competitors. However, Chateau is selling them at a real bargain of only a 1/2 Dinar higher price.

Montag, 8. April 2013

GECOL and the Electricity Network in Libya

Something is moving in Libya. At least in the electricity sector. Those living in Libya will have noticed hat blackouts have become much less frequent. The winter before was a nightmare: cold, dark and no sign of improvement. During last summer daily shortcuts were also common. Three international companies, Alstom, ABB and Siemens are servicing the "General Electricity Company" also called "GECOL" and are trying to make the network more reliable. The next big test will be in summer, when aircondition units will test the maximum capacity of the network.
On the pictures you can see the main storage facility for french Alstom, I just happened to bump into it. But don´t worry my french friends, your secret location is safe with me...
And readers form GECOL: Did anybody tell you that I got really annoyed after you cut electricity at my home for not paying my bill within a week after delivery of the invoice ?

Sonntag, 7. April 2013

Cheap copper

Seven USD / Kilo, this was today´s quote for copper on the world markets. Well, not so bad if you have a  couple of hundred kilos. During the early days after the revolution copper cables were dug out of different areas of Tripoli. I did not see copper thieves since quite some months, but apparently somebody knew exactly where to dig in order to find the precious metal.
If some of the copper cables where responsible for Internet and/or telephones I now know why the reliability is so poor.

Freitag, 5. April 2013

Thuwar from Mansur

How could I forget! I promised the two men from Mansur (Tripoli) that they would be present on my blog. I met them during a walk through the Tripoli neighbourhood of Mansur, already some weeks ago. They thought I was a journalist as I was walking around with my camera and so they insisted I must take a photo of them. They said they played a majour role in toppling the Gadaffi regime in 2011.
Well, that´s what I call a real discovery of some Tripoli Thuwars !
(For those of you unfamilar with the expression Thuwar: It is the Libyan-Arabic expression for the opposition fighters during the revolution.)

Donnerstag, 4. April 2013

Letztlich am Flughafen

Da ist man einmal kurz nicht da, und schon wird das ganze Land umgebaut. Am Flughafen werden die Einfriedungen der Palmen neu errichtet und auch eine neues System der Flughafenzufahrt wird getestet. Es ist dies wahrscheinlich die 10. Änderung in wenigen Monaten, aber bitte, es tut sich zumindestens etwas.
Bleibt zu hoffen, dass bei den Projekten die Dynamik auch bald einsetzt.