Monday, May 01, 2006

An article in the Economist

A few days ago reader 'mb' sent me this Economist article about Libya. Basically it talks about changes since 2003.

There are some points which I believe are slightly innaccurate having lived there myself.
For example:

"From 2003 until his removal this week, a respected American-trained
economist, Shukri Ghanem strove, as prime minister, to shift policy towards free
trade, privatisation and greater openness. As a result of all this, shoppers in
Tripoli, the capital, no longer queue for rations in state-owned stores, but
choose what they like from well-stocked private markets."

Rations ? state owned stores? Yes we did have what we call 'jamiaa' or cooperatives were you buy state subsidized essential food items which are : oil, tomato paste, pasta, rice , semolina and sugar but in large quantities a 30 kg bag of sugar or a box of olive oil . These are so cheap compared to one can of olive oil in the supemarket. We still have those by the way along with the supermarkets or private shops. The private shops have been back along with the supermarkets since the 90s at that time they contained mostly Egyptian and Tunisian imported stuff with the larger supermarkets having everything under the moon for the right prices. So yes maybe not everyone could afford it but we had/have a choice. However, yes lately more markets have mushroomed at every corner and their prices are getting competitive too.

"Since the end of UN sanctions, imposed in 1992 over the Lockerbie affair,
they can fly abroad on holiday. They can even visit the United States, now that
diplomatic ties have been partially restored after a 23-year break."

Ok wait a second, sanctions or not sanctions the Libyans went abroad for holidays, by car to Tunis and Egypt then flew to other destinations or by boat to Malta then flew to other destinations. And even during the sanctions they were able to visit the US if they wished and went through the tiresome process of travelling to another country to get their visas. Well Libyans still need to get their visa via Malta or Tunis anyway.

“'I met a guy who spent 15 years abroad, and he said he recognised the same
potholes as when he left,' chuckles a Tripoli taxi driver".

Come on every Libyan knows that as soon as you learn to avoid a pothole after hitting your car countless time, the next time you will find it not there and there will be an unexpected one a few metres farther ;).
Anyway it was a cool article I just wonder at times were do all these papers get their sources of information from .


khadijateri said...

There are many, many Libyans who would not be able to survive without Jamias. These co-ops offer many of the basic ingredients needed to prepare Libyan cuisine (oil, tomatoe paste, flour, semolina, rice, pasta, as well as tea) Unfortunately the quality of products they are bringing to the co-ops these days is getting very bad and they are also raising the prices. I think they feel that they need to compete with the privately owned supermarkets and they are trying to make omoney off the poor Libyan population.

I was in the supermarket recently and found an old woman begging for the necessary foods to cook herself some lunch. The shopkeeper got a bag and put in it two onions, a can of tomatoe paste and a bag of macaroni. So sad to see, but I am finding an increasing amount of beggars these days. People just can not live off the meager salaries or social security - no matter how wonderful the shops are getting and how many amazing foodstuffs they import it is still not going to feed the 'average' Libyan family who basically live off what they get from the Jamia as well as bread.

God help us all!

Libyan Warrior( The King Of Al-Andalaus) said...

khadijateri:)"GOD HELP US ALL". I couldnt agree more.

removedalready said...

have the Jamia existed long? Maybe I've been to one, were foreigners allowed to do their shopping there as well?

But whatever it is, the situation is better now I hope.

highlander said...

redenclave, I don't think you have been to one .Foreigners could go to the diplomatic suppermarket.