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Holidays in Hell

Some years back, a collection of PJ O'Rourke's journalism appeared under that title (and quite entertaining it was too, unlike some of his rather contrived more recent work), with Libya one of the places he was trying to get to. The chapter on his attempts covered his failure to get to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, largely because his travel plans co-incided with cruisue missile strikes on the country. He found the Libyans he dealt with helpful and charming, by the way.

Anyway, should the Sage of Baltimore fancy another crack at it, as "-- According to Phoenicia Group (http://www.phoenicia.ly/), the leading U.S.-Libyan diversified business and consultancy group, tourism infrastructure development is being given national priority by the Libyan government, with the Libyan Economic Development Board, a policy result of the National Economic Strategy, tasked with steering the far ranging initiative".

Phoenicia? Don't 'diversified business and consultancy groups' check their classical allusions? Tunisia has a better claim to Carthage - and Carthage.tn takes you to the office of the Tunisian president. The .com and .ly suffixes look to be available though. Perhaps they would rather irk the Lebanese than the Tunisians. A perusal of the Jana News Agency site suggests that Libyan hacks have been given a furlough from writing about palm and olive trees, for which they are doubtless grateful.

Predictably, it is Libya's coastline that the group is intent on promoting, but a bit of digging suggests that there are some sights worth seeing - Leptis Magna 'the site of some of the most impressive ruins of the Roman period'. There also appear to be some rather good museums in Tripoli. If a day's beach lounging proves too wearing, Libyan TV sounds worth shunning - 'The main output of Libyan television is devoted to showing various styles of traditional Libyan music'.

For those tempted by the Sex Pistols' 'Cheap holiday in other peoples misery!', note that "According to the U.S. Department of State’s annual human rights report for 2004, Libya’s authoritarian regime continued to have a poor record in the area of human rights. Some of the numerous and serious abuses on the part of the government include poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, prisoners held incommunicado, and political prisoners held for many years without charge or trial. The judiciary is controlled by the state, and there is no right to a fair public trial. Libyans do not have the right to change their government. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion are restricted. Independent human rights organizations are prohibited. Domestic violence against women appears to be widespread, and there have been reports of trafficking in persons. Ethnic and tribal minorities suffer discrimination, and the state continues to restrict the labor rights of foreign workers." (Source)


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Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:34 am

Sage of Baltimore

Are we confusing O'Rourke with Mencken or has O'Rourke assumed the mantle?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:20 pm

I thought I would give O'Rourke an upgrade, although I do not suppose many of us would expect Baltimore to be awash with sages.  

Anonymous David Allen said... 2:41 pm

Mr C, with this post, you are confusing me! Where does Carthage come into it? I agree the company seems mis-named _ but only because Phoenicia was at the other end of the Med (the Lebanese coast, surely?) Or did the Phoenicians have something to do with Carthage too.
btw, I have often thought of attmpting a trip to Libya (having been born there and having left at the age of 2) but the food is reputedly the worst in the Med and the hotels seem ferociously expensive. Also, not the easiest place for which to find a travel companion! Leptis is reputedly fantastic _ we have some Roman pots my dad unearthed from the sands there _ and was built by (I think) the only Roman emperor from Africa (Septimius Severus, born at Oeoa, modern Tripoli).  

Blogger Croydonian said... 2:55 pm

David - I had forgotten you were born under the rule of King Idris...

Well, Carthage is rather nearer to Tripoli than Tyre, so if they are going to engage in the appropriation of ancient cultures, that would seem to be more apt.

Septimus Severus was followed at some remove by Marcus Opellius Macrinus, who hailed from further west. Meanwhile, excluding those already named, the only other famous person born in what is now Libya that I have heard of is Eratosthenes.  

Anonymous swift said... 6:25 pm

I visited Libya a few years ago with my grandfather who had spent a large part of the war chasing (and being chased by) Rommel in what is now Libya. It took an age to get visas; we had to use an 'approved' travel company and when in Libya had to travel in an escorted group at all times. Leptis Magna was magnificent - imagine Pompeii without the crowds. Tripoli was smelly and rundown, as was Tobruk. The Libyans themselves were charming.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 6:34 pm

Good to see I have such a well travelled readership. I found that Pompeii (and come to that Paestum) is quite pleasant if you go early enough in the day.

While they are plenty worse than Gaddafi, I wish the unfortunate Libyan people every good fortune in ridding themselves of him.  

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