The other side of the Libyan postcard


As a tourist in a foreign country, very often, we are enchanted with what we discover.

Living abroad is different. It's a rich experience but there are also some difficulties to face.

When people ask me for advice on living abroad, I then tend to say that one should also look at both sides of the postcard.

As an expat in Libya, how would you describe the two sides of your Libyan postcard?

Thank you for sharing your experience,


Opportunities VS risk

For me Libya is a land of opportunities, where it is easy to get a job, get a really nice salary and enjoy a comfortable life while saving some money, but it comes at a price: there is always a safety risk in Libya, you never know what tomorrow will bring and you could simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thank you Julien for your efforts to wake up the members of the Libyan forum :)))

Only been here since Jan 7th, so still settling in really. First impressions - mostly good, amazed that you can walk down the street as a white person and not get anyone staring at you or making 'remarks'. Amazed at how much tech you can get - at good prices. Yep, on the whole a really good picture.
Other side of the postcard - went out to get some veg this evening and two cars collided outside the shop. Nothing serious, but saw one man getting out of his car to take a look and swiftly tucking his gun into his trousers as he went .... I didn't stop around to see what went on (thankfully there were no gunshots).
Overall impression - use common sense and you'll be ok.

Guns and heavier weapons are very common in Libya everyone has a gun and travel around with it. I once saw a man coming back home, getting off the car, take his bag, his shopping and his machine gun before going in the house... just another thing to carry around... It's a bit scary at first but you get used to it. Even hearing gun shots becomes "normal" but i'm not sure this is good though...

So as a tourist, will I be able to get a gun to use for my own safety?
Where is the best place to go and how much is the range of costs for a handgun (not a machine gun)?

Don't buy a gun, as a tourist, you'd probably STIR problems with a gun rather than keep safe. Buying guns is fairly easy in some places in Libya but again, as a tourist, especially white tourists, it's better to keep safe by sticking to populated areas, avoid walking alone after dark and so on

Libya is a fascinating country with lot of diversity and varied culture. Libyan people are very nice, friendly,  humble and quite helpful.
Libyan traditional food is quite healthy, especially the greens and 'Basisa' with olive oil.
I feel till the time one is in Libya, should not miss out on liberal helpings of olive oil, that you can get fresh from farms. Also farm-fresh honey is another great natural blessing here.
There are many ancient sites to be seen in Libya, most prominent being Leptus Magna, Roman ruins from 6th century BC. There is Cyrenenica on the eastern side of Libya which is another beholding sight.
Libya is fortunate to have a long Mediterranean coastline with great marine life. One can see a large variety of marine life in popular fish markets here....
The weather here is good with fresh breeze and clear blue skies. Pollution levels are quite low, probably due to less industries and heavy vehicles.
For someone who drives, owning a car is a blessing as Petrol is very cheap. Its best to move around in one's own vehicle.
Its true that after the uprising in 2011, security has been an issue, not just for expats but also for locals. Its best to avoid lonely places and going out after sunset. If one has to go out, avoid secluded places.
There are also lot of guns around, but that does not pose any real threat to people.
Libya has always been a great place to work and live, and there have been many expats who spent major part of their life here. Now after the uprising, job opportunities are plentiful, as there is scarcity of professionals in all fields and newer businesses are opening everyday.
This has not been translated into more expat influx into Libya, probably due to perceived security threats and national warnings.
We all hope that Libya crosses over this turbulent phase and enters the progressive mode with democracy and good governance. Infrastructure boost is a dire need at present, with growing population in the cities. there is a pressure for more housing and better roads and non-existent public transportation in Libya.
Libyan people are strong and united in their zeal to overcome adversity. Economy is strong due to oil exports. Libya shall definitely emerge as one of the finest countries to live & work in the continent.

Hi Julien,

Well I am in Libya with my family since 2006. No doubt, there is a big difference between since & now. I see people moving freely and enjoying shopping, picnics etc. I do travel across too but always there is a fear around. You don't know, anything can happen any time. The Daily life is running but the progress rate is not good enough.

Any how Hope for the best,

I am nearly 8 years in Libya. Have been in Iraq during revolution in Libya. I feel this country like a second home to me. If you have chance to spend time you will meet with very nice people. Yes there are security concerns and u must be careful and try to let this period pass. I am sure at some point people will react to these problems and will clean the trouble makers. As of now I know Misurata and Tobruq are the safest places. If you get a job offer from these places don't think about safety too much. Regards to all.

i agree, Misurata is the best place to be in Libya not just for safety but also for the quality of life

The other side of the postcard
If you care to print it.
For a British Engineer working in Libya I certainly found a different side to the postcard
My most dubious agent ETOS was based in Libya
The promised and contracted taxis and collections from International airport to National airport did not exist.
They used their own cars when available on a route that always included their office and left you waiting endlessly
They insisted on retaining a British passport before sending you into the interior claiming no danger.
Fortunately I got out just before the civil war although my friends did not
Their original contract to work in Tripoli turned out to be El Brega  East of Sirte
This contract included hotel accommodation where none existed, only work accommodation in two classess. These were forty year old decrepit  filthy and disgusting Sirte Oil Company accommodation at site 2 or reasonable accommodation at site 1 preferred for their own nationals and visitors. The first two trips started in site 1 hovels and I had to argue to get out after a day. The third trip they would not move me so I gave a weeks notice  before leaving as ETOS were breaking their contract.
When I left I was owed work time  and full travel expenses which ETOS refused to pay.
Libya is not a country where you can argue contracts  against a Libyan company , that is if you can find a Libyan solicitor who will represent you.
I have on site on my bicycle been stoned by children of the operatives.
Cleanliness and hygiene in site restaurants is unacceptable
Refineries are dangerous without the required safety controls of most international refineries and are rotting and falling to pieces. We surrounded by a huge lake of crude oil where a 42" pipe had corroded through and could have been incinerated. Navigation  by pickup trucks  along unmarked routes in the Sahara were subject to weather and sandstorms.
This was a filthy unsafe place which gets Brits by lying and false representation
It is geared for low class Asian engineers who need these jobs and not for professional western engineers or their required minimum standards. I found the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Northern Mexico, luxury to this dreadful place.
The company ETOS on behalf of Sirte Oil Co conned me out of £3000 plus massive time wastage and appears to be well known for it. There was no dispute. They just did not respond. I cannot imagine it is any better  after the war and I would not touch this disgusting place with a bargepole

Well now I'm super excited to go! ;)
in all seriousness, Stav, I appreciate the post. I don't mean any disrespect to the Libyans, but every area has bad aspects and depending on where you are from, and your adaptability, it can be a paradise or unbearable.

I have been getting the impression that people are scared to speak the truth on here.
It appears there are some Libyans posing as expats.

So these are the very specific details that we need to hear and be prepared for.

Do you know anyone, possibly working for another oil company, that was satisfied?

Any advice on how to know if what is promised can be enforced or what companies to deal with?

Now I am concerned because the company providing the tour group has promised certain things like refunds if a visa is not received, and I wonder if I will have the same trouble.

For being a country that isn't exactly a hotspot for tourism, I must say the prices were shocking. I never expected them to be so high.

Again thank you for  your honesty.
I kept hearing things like "libya is safe", then I would hear "don't go out at night".
I kept thinking, if it's safe, and they people are friendly and wonderful, why can't you go out at night?
It makes you think.... :)
Thanks again, I hope we hear more from you.

I've been in Libya since 2006 ... some facts are obvious: the society is in anarchy, although most of hte people try to live normal life. Everyone is scared from what future brings, what is reasonable .... who can bring the light in here ?   Good question. I do not know the answer.   It is not brilliant situation, and any progress is hardly expected.  I just hope that good people will prevail ..

Amen to that, Zlatan!
The only thing needed for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing.~I don't know the author

Let our voices speak the truth, even when we may be punished for it.
Let our hands be used to help others
and let our souls be guided by God and protected from our enemies.

How we can say it an ideal situation when we hear gun shots every where, how we can say that there is rule of law when we see clear violations of traffic rules and policemen standing helpless and ignoring, how we can say going out is safe when we see even locals contain themselves in their houses after dark.
Why the beautiful beach of tripoli is deserted, why no one being seen in any park.
I am not talking about the life inside five star hotels.
Fact is fact one says it or not, one accepts it or not.
Best Regards
R S Javed

Hello friends. Can we go out in nights? Yes until 23.00 I had no problem,  Can we go to parks? There are not so many but Yes locals and expats can go, Can we go to the beach? Yes, last summer  and even with family. Do we hear gun shots? Not every night only on Thursdays at weddings or time to time at local problems. Do we see traffic police working and arranging traffic? Yes. Do I have a risk to be kidnapped? I dont know exactly but I dont feel threatened and I did not hear any cases. Do I have a risk to be robbed? Not in the main parts of city but at certain areas after 23.00 Yes there is risk as much as many other cities of the world. That's why I said in my message Misurata is safer then other cities. So when I feel safe I say so.

Hello rasmis,
Thahk you very much for the informations.
Best regards,
R S Javed

I think we must remember that the situation is not the same everywhere in libya. In zawia gun shots r heard everyday but it's true in misurata it was only on thursday night.
There are more problems n fighting in zawia but we still go out we even go to the beach with the children.
As for kidnapping n armed robbery it is a fact it exists in zawia although the problem seems to have been addressed a few months back n it's been more quiet lately

It is hard to explain the situation to ppl who r not in libya because this is chaos n how exactly can we describe chaos?

Where are the posts that I have just published. Do you consider that your vetting of my notes is justified because YOU  don't like them?
How pathetic.
Maybe the Libyans are controlling this site.
I  wont bother with this false and contrived site again.
Any white English Christian is obviously not safe in Libya.
That is a fact and is not prejudice  in any way at all.
For those with lesser standards of safety and responsibility to their children and those who can mingle in by colour or religion, you pays your money and takes your choice.

@ Stavangerfisherman,

i think it was a glitch because when i received the email notification and i clicked on it, the page was blank with an error message. As you can see your message is here now.

I kind of agree with you that Libya is dangerous, but on the other hand, what place on Earth is totally safe? People coming to Libya have many different reasons to and i don't agree with your snap judgement on us who have chosen Libya. (I'm NOT libyan by the way and i don't control this site).

I'm white and British and French and i've been here for one year and i'm still safe. Noone has ever tried to harm me personally because i was white or non libyan. The security problem in Libya is a Libyan problem, expats are not concerned or especially targetted. Out of the many incidents which happen in Libya, many of the victims are Libyans and not expats... they are at war with each other over politics, clan feuds and more...

Libya IS dangerous, many places are best avoided... yet can you put a blanket ban on the whole country??? i don't agree sorry

ETOS is in touch with me for a possible job offer for maybe Sirte Oil in Mersa Elbrega. My reading your email it appears to be scary. Can you please tell me some more about the accommodation and food. Thanks


I feel like, as an outsider, I could come in to help form deals between factions and companies that have a historical conflict between them as long as they consent to judgment and a willing to give something up in return to work together ultimately for the betterment of the country... I wonder if the culture and security climate would really get in the way of that, though...

I have a lot of friends in Libya that are Libyan I know the past few years what they been going through I'm very active in Benghazi situation among other places.  I see most all these posts are in 2014.  I'd like to hear what these people have to say about it now as the Libyan army has been fighting to make the city safe again  but lots of hard work to eradicate the terriorists. I still want to go to Benghazi to meet my friends and family.

please check your PM , :)

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