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Libyans Look to Economy as They Build Their Future

  • Al Pessin

A Libyan woman sells traditional products at a stall along a street in downtown Tripoli, Libya, October 30, 2011.

A Libyan woman sells traditional products at a stall along a street in downtown Tripoli, Libya, October 30, 2011.

As Libyans try to resume their normal lives after the uprising that ended Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule, many hope for economic improvements and more jobs. In Tripoli, people are starting to once again go about their business.

At one of the capital city's modern shopping centers, repair work was under way to fix the damage caused when the city became a battleground just a few weeks earlier.

Inside, it was a normal shopping day, but people could hardly contain their feelings.

“I smell the freedom all the time, and all the minutes and all the seconds because my freedom and all the people’s freedom was captured for 42 years,” said one man.

“Thanks to God and thanks to the rebels now we are free. We’re feeling indescribable happiness about that,” said one woman.

Not far away, in the old city bazaar, fabric salesman Siarraj Bashir Ayad said there was almost no business during the revolution. Now he said, things are a little better, and he hopes for even more business in the coming months.

“One hundred percent for sure tourism will be much, much better than it used to be. In the past, tourists were monitored by security forces. Now they will have more freedom,” said Ayad.

Gold shop owner Abdul Hamid Sadiq Abeyah also has hopes for the tourist trade.

“We have tourist sites that were neglected during Gadhafi’s time. We hope the new government will take better care of these areas,” he said.

He is talking about sites like this Roman ruin just 100 kilometers east of Tripoli on the shore of the Mediterranean.

Tour guide Osama Mohammed Krema gives his perspective. "I’m a guide on the site of Leptis Magna. Leptis Magna is one of the best heritage sites still preserved right now. The work in the city is only 30 percent done, and 70 percent is still under the sand.”

Much of Libya’s income will continue to come from its oil exports.

But journalist Fathi bin Isa said Libya’s future prosperity will depend on what kind of country Libyans decide to have.

“When we determine the nature of the state, then we will determine what kind of economy we will have, whether it will be a directed economy or an open market economy,” bin Isa said.

That will be among the many questions facing Libyans as they work on their political and economic future.