Tourism News - visa updates and travel
Libyan Visa Update (14):
22 May 2013
The overall advice is: stay away from Libya for the time being. As noted previously,
adventure travellers, taking risks by nature, may enjoy a mix of anxiety and
tranquility to nurture their desire to experience the real thing; so long as
they are insured and warned of the lurking danger. Armed gangs
or militia outlaws could appear anywhere and strike without warning.
Tourist and transit visas
still are suspended by the Libyan transitional government; and all our visa services
remain suspended until the ban is lifted. Please note that due to the volume
of enquiries we may not be able to respond to all the emails we receive.
Security & Safety: the security situation
is worsening, despite the government's claim to the contrary; and the bombing
campaign that was affecting mainly Benghazi has now reached the capital Tripoli.
The Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, in his recent press conference (aired by
Libya.tv, via Alwataniya), said his police and security forces have diffused
a number of car bombs and that the diplomatic community was informed.
Attack on Foreign Visitors: the Libyans'
worst fear is here - the attack on foreign visitors including women was officially
acknowledged to have taken place in Benghazi , when a British family was
violated by an armed group acting outside the law . It is such outlaws
that are now roaming "liberated Libya", seemingly and practically
unstoppable by the law.
Checkpoints: generally speaking
checkpoints are manned by armed officers working for the government, but
there is also the possibility of being stopped by an armed gang or rebels
at a fake checkpoint. Undercover cameramen from Solidarity Press traveled from
Tripoli to Benghazi to investigate the conditions in which checkpoints operate.
The team have discovered that there are 18 checkpoints between Tripoli and Benghazi,
as follows: 5 points in Mesratha, 2 in Sirte, and 1 point for each other town
between Benghazi and Tripoli. They have also discovered that
there was no proper search for identity documents in any of the checkpoints,
except in Mesratha where checkpoint officers conduct vigorous checks on identities
and vehicle documents, as well as search the vehicles for concealed weapons .
The correspondents said the security forces manning the checkpoints were from
the Security Support Units & Military
Police (جهاز الإسناد الأمني وإدارة الشرطة العسكرية).
As reported in one of our previous updates, the Libyan prime minister
Dr. Ali Zidan has assured Libya Herald on the 31st of January 2013 that, “in
a few weeks security will be fine and companies will be back” . A few
weeks later, the Prime Minister himself was called by the GNC for questioning
over the failure of his government to provide security for the GNC, let alone
for the whole of Libya. And a few months later, security worsened, when for the
first time in Libya's history Libyan children were "blown to pieces".
Without any official body to state the law, the Libyans cannot understand how
any decision can be implemented, let alone followed-up. The government, however,
says they are aware of these outlaws, they know who they are, and that they are
gradually building the apparatus to deal with "outlaws". No doubt the
government is having difficulties finding a way out of the chaos, mainly
due to lack of exit strategy.
Libyan Tourism: the Tourism Committee at
the GNC continues to discuss the ministry's development plan for 2013. However,
it is not known what the ministry can achieve with a budget of one million
dinars (around £500,000) - the amount assigned to the Ministry of Tourism by
the current 2013 Budget of 66.8 billion Libyan Dinars. Libya Herald says the
amount given to the tourism ministry is, "the lowest sum awarded to
any ministry this year" .
On Saturday the 9th of March 2013 the minister of tourism, Ikram Imam, held
a meeting in Benghazi with the managers of a number of tourism companies and
tourist offices from Cyrenaica, to discuss the current state of tourism in Libya.
The meeting was attended by deputy head of the local council of Benghazi Saad
Saaiti; deputy minister of tourism Abdasameea Mahboub; assistant deputy minister
of tourism Khaled Hussein; and director of the Tourism Office in Benghazi Ashref
Ghrour. Like the minister's earlier meetings with similar organisations and companies
in Tripolitania and Fezzan, the ministry reviewed the "action plan" of
the ministry to create "the necessary atmosphere"
for the development of sustainable tourism in Libya, such as "updating" the
institutional structure of the ministry "in preparation for the start" to
take the necessary steps to activate or stimulate domestic tourism and
raise the quality of tourism services in the region. And like most other ministers,
the tourism minister did refer to the "difficulties" the ministry had
endured under the rule of the previous transitional government, such as the non-activation
of the General Board for Tourism (as reported by Temehu.com long before the new
ministry was created) and also the government's withdrawal of the Board's direct
terms of reference (or وسحب مجموعة من اختصاصاتها المباشرة بقطاع السياحة), leading
to, the minister said, obstructing the work of the ministry in relation to the "supervision" and "follow-up" of
A number of managers, however, have expressed their "dissatisfaction"
with the ministry's performance, and accused the ministry of not providing the
necessary support and services required to enable Libyan tourism companies and
organisations to fulfil their role in "activating"
this vital sector of Libya's promising economy - just as the ministry itself
blamed the previous transitional government for not doing enough to re-activate
tourism in Libya. They have also demanded from the minister to provide "opportunities
for young Libyans" to effect and run Libyan tourism investment projects
abroad, in order to benefit from the opportunity to develop their abilities
and expertise in the field of tourism - just as foreign companies (including
some from dictatorial states) are eagerly urged to participate and even
lead. Why not, they asked, why not? At the end of the meeting,
the minister expressed her "understanding" of
the complaints put forward, and confirmed that the ministry "will strive
all the "obstacles" and proposals . Understandably
the minister goes away, meeting with other tourism officials from other towns,
regions and states, re-reviewing her "plan" for activating tourism
There is no doubt that tourism companies and organisations in Libya had suffered
from the day the war began. Without any due support or compensation from
the government to offset the loss sustained during and after the war, many Libyan
tourism companies were forced to close and lay their staff, due to their inability
to cover the incurred costs. Many Libyan tour operators gathered at the tourism
board and demanded news regarding the saga of the "Libya Visa"
and activation of tourism, without of which they cannot survive. In contrast,
the Libyan transitional Prime Minister, Dr. Ali Zidan, had confirmed on the 21st
of February 2013 that Libya will compensate the Turkish companies that were forced
to stop their activities during the war, and that these companies will be offered "incentives" to
encourage their return to Libya  - something most Libyan companies patiently
still are waiting for.
Tourism companies, civil society organisations and charities interested in
tourism from Fazzan (southern Libya) have expressed their deep disapproval of
the current policies of the Tourism Ministry, which they say do not benefit the
nation at this particular stage, and even condemned the current policies of the
ministry as a "waste of state funds". In a protest staged in Sebha,
on Thursday the 14th of February 2013, they demanded from the GNC's Tourism Committee
and from the Ministry of Tourism to stop wasting Libyans' money by participating
in international exhibitions that do not serve the interests of the public at
the present time, and instead called for the government to focus on the
"inner workings of the country" . They have also spoken
of "financial transparency" and the establishment of a "Higher
Council for Tourism" to oversee the development of tourism infrastructure
in the southern region, which they said was previously neglected. Such calls
for transparency were voiced before by the Board of Tourism itself, as reported
in one of our earlier updates, but nothing was heard of the matter since.
For Future Loss: on the 20th of May 2013 Reuters reported a bizarre case
of a Kuwaiti company claiming 930 million US Dollars from Libya as compensation
for the canceling of its planned tourist resort before the uprising broke out
in Libya . The irony is that most of the damages claimed are to cover estimated "future
losses" covering the next 90 years. That is asking for cash for a project
that was never built, does not exist in the real world, and for a whole 90
years (worth of revenues) from the future. Officials at Kharafi (the Kuwaiti
Group in question) "were not immediately available for comment",
Reuters wrote ; while Libya Herald reported that a Libyan senior government
official had warned that "if the award, with its key component for loss
of future income, were allowed to stand, it would be “a disaster”. Libya could
be faced with claims running in to hundreds of billions" . The
Chinese, however, are not only asking for compensation incurred during the war,
but also for the "increased costs of construction" since the
uprising began .
Apparently, Reuters said the news were also reported by al-Qabas
and al-Jarida newspapers, according to which the Kuwaiti company signed
a deal with deposed Gaddafi in 2006, and that the group had invested
on "feasibility studies", "design" and "management
contracts up until 2010, until Libya cancelled the deal" . It is
not categorically clear if this means that the deal was cancelled by Gaddafi
or Gaddafi's government in 2010, but if it is so confirmed, then Libya would
appear under no obligation to take any further action, since the NTC categorically
stated that it will honour the contracts struck by foreign companies with Gaddafi,
and not those cancelled by Gaddafi before the uprising began.
Land Borders: the president of the Department
of Cooperation and Relations at the Immigration Department, Nasreddin Ghellab,
has revealed on Thursday the 7th of February 2013 the creation of an electronic
system to document the entry and exit of all foreigners. The system was said
to be linked to all land, sea and air entry points as well as to the Libyan embassies.
The new system will enable any patrol unit to confirm within seconds whether
the provided documentation is legitimate or not. Work is also underway to link
this system with the "residency system" to confirm the legality of
any foreign resident in Libya. The projects are the personal efforts
of the engineers, the technicians and the officers of the Immigration Department,
he said .
However, a month later - on the 7th of March 2013 - senior EU and Interpol
officials were reported to have arrived at Tripoli airport on the 6th of March
2013 to launch the EU-funded border security system at Tripoli airport. The system
will allow Libyan border authorities to verify any given passport against the
Interpol Database, which holds records of 36 million missing passports worldwide
Interim Deputy Ministry of Labour, Abdel Razak Altamtam, has announced
on Thursday the 7th of February 2013 the suspension of all procedures relating
to import of foreign labour into Libya, except those relating to companies already
in contract with the state of Libya to develop and rebuild the infrastructure
of the dilapidated state. He added that these measures are temporary and that
there will be an urgent action in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior,
the Immigration Department, and other ministries to regulate the foreign labour
market in Libya .
Libyan border officials from Emsaad met with their Egyptian counterparts
on the 11th of February 2013 to discuss procedures relating to cross-border movement,
better security, and prepare the border for commercial traffic and tourism. The
meeting was attended by the Libyan committee appointed by the Minister of Interior
to re-organise and prepare the border; some members of the local council of Emsaad;
regional coordinator of information security; and representatives of some of
the agencies operating at the border. From the Egyptian side the meeting was
attended by the director of the Salloum border point; head of the Egyptian customs
and a number of security departments and operators from Salloum .
Local Egyptians have blocked the road leading to the Libyan border in a protest
against the new visa regulation, which requires from all Egyptian nationals to
obtain Libyan visa from the Libyan embassy in Cairo before heading for the border
. According to Egypt Independent , local Egyptians say the decree was announced
on Tuesday (the 19th of February 2013), and that in response,
"demonstrating Egyptians are preventing Libyans from entering Egyptian
territory" and that around "820 vehicles are currently gathered
in and around the Salloum crossing awaiting entry to Libya". Prime
Minister Dr. Ali Zidan has announced that Libya and Egypt will establish consulates
in Salloum and Tobruk respectively. The announcement was made in Cairo during
the PM's visit to Egypt on the 8th of March 2013.
Of course, the story has another dimension. The local Egyptians living near
the border are related to the Libyan tribes living in Cyrenaica by the Libyan
border. During Gaddafi's reign, the Egyptians required visa to enter Libya except
those living by the border. But the current Libyan transitional government re-introduced
the visa without exception. This apparently has angered the local Egyptians,
even though the same procedure applies to all Libyans and to all other nationals,
and even though Local Egyptians were reportedly implicated in illegal cross-border
trade, and according to many eyewitnesses, it is Awald Ben Ali who are
smuggling weapons across the Libyan border.
According to LANA, the movement across the Emsaad border
has returned to "normal"
on the 7th of March 2013, after the Egyptian drivers were issued with temporary
Libyan visa (lasting for 10 days), while at the same time maintaining the earlier
requirement of Libyan entry visa to be obtained from the Libyan embassy in Egypt
from all other Egyptians .
However, on the 30th of March 2013, after weeks
of violence along the border and at the Libyan embassy in Cairo, LANA has issued
a warning to all Libyans to avoid travelling to Egypt via the land border, and
instead urged all traveller to fly to Egypt . The warning came after violence
broke out again in the Egyptian side, when protesters destroyed one of the custom
offices ; leading to a number of Libyan families being
stuck at the border (inside Egypt), unable to return to Libya after they were
prevented from doing so by some Egyptian groups that do not belong to the Egyptian
authorities, unless they raised the green flag and called Gaddafi's name, Solidarity
Press said .
Wazin-Dehiba: the border crossing was
temporarily closed on the 10th of March 2013, after clashes
broke out between Libyans and Tunisian "traders", reportedly in relation
to smuggling and lucrative cross-border trade .
The Libyan Foreign Ministry was reported by Solidarity Press to have barred
visitors who cary Iranian visa in their passports from entering Libya . New
Quryna initially reported the Lebanese newspaper Alakhbar to have said that the
Libyan authorities have informed the Lebanese foreign ministry of their decision,
and that the UN's envoy to Libya, Tarik Metri, said the Libyan authorities banned
specific employees (requested by the UN to work in Libya) due
to their background. But New Quryna  later said that the UN envoy denied he
made the announcement attributed to him by Alakhbar in relation to Libya barring
Lebanese nationals who had Iranian visas from entering Libya.
Both land borders with Egypt and Tunisia will be closed between the
14th and the 18th of February 2013, in preparations for the 17th of February
second anniversary. International flights to Sabha and Abreq airports will be
suspend temporarily, but all traffic through Tripoli, Benghazi and Mesratha airports
will continue as normal .
The spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Magdi al-Arafi,
was reported to have announced that the land border with Egypt will be closed
for all foreigners, except Egyptian nationals. Foreign nationals who have entry
visa to Libya must now travel to Libya by air .
The Ministry of Interior was also reported
to have decided on the 22nd of January 2013 that all foreign visitors to Libya
now require Libyan entry visa, without exception, including Tunisian
and Turkish nationals who previously did not require visa.
. All work applications submitted by Libyan companies will now have
to be submitted to the Interior Ministry for approval and identification,
as well as to determine if such workers are in actual terms "needed" in
The official website of the Ministry of Interior (moi.gov.ly/)
does not seem to provide any news regarding this matter (as of the 27th of January
2013), and government officials are yet to confirm the reasons for
the sudden decision. It was reported however that the decision was intended
to tighten security measures against organised trafficking in "human beings" and
illegal cross-border "culture". New Quryna
 has speculated the unconfirmed rumours that some
"Syrians and Iranians" were implicated in spreading "Shia" in
Libya, after undisclosed number of Syrian and Iranian nationals were arrested
with fake passports.
just a few weeks before the February anniversary,
the sudden decision may well come as a precaution to prepare for a peaceful
celebration. Two days later, violence broke out in Egypt to celebrate the 25th
of January revolution, which many Egyptians say has failed to deliver
their expectations and even called for a second revolution.
With many Libyans feeling about the same, talking about a second no-fly zone
(and all that), the precaution is necessary; but leaving the border open for
Egyptian nationals may not necessarily prevent any of the aforementioned speculations
and other agendas many aggressively push towards the stricken Sahara.
Benghazi: two days later, on the
24th of January 2013, Germany Netherlands and England urged all their diplomats
and nationals to leave
Benghazi immediately - the "free Benghazi" of the Western
leaders who visited the eastern spark of the uprising after the war came to an
end; for which unfortunately only the Libyans now seemingly suffer the blame.
Reuters has said that the German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters
that "The warning was made because of a series of bits of information",
which he declined to reveal because "security is the most
important thing" . The stability of Libya and the security
of the Libyans themselves beg for
such "information" to be shared
with the Libyan authority and, if transparency is what they claim, with people
Devastated Libyan Interior Ministry was flabbergasted when
it was reported by LANA to have not received any notification from the British
Foreign Office (FCO); and its humble request for an "explanation" from
the British Embassy was met with no answers . The deputy interior minister
for security affairs was also astonished by the allies' decision when he suggested
the British could have withdrew their nationals discreetly without
creating such "unjustifiable" provocation .
According to Libya Herald, however, the British embassy
felt it was not "an over-reaction"
; even though Air Malta was reported elsewhere to have cancelled its scheduled
flights to Benghazi in response to the "advice" given by the British
the sensitive bits of information, it was reported by Libya Herald, five days
later (on the 27th of January 2013), that the British Ambassador Michael Aron
has said that
"the Libyan government . . . [has] the same information that
and that “We understand that the majority in Libya and Benghazi
are against terrorism" . This confirms that according to British
"understanding" there is an unspecified minority in Libya that is not
On the 27th of January 2013, Reuters reported the threat is
targeting specific Westerners, when it wrote:
Qaeda is plotting to kidnap German and British citizens in Libya, the Spiegel
weekly magazine quoted German intelligence sources [BND] as saying" .
On the 28th of January 2013, the British Foreign Office had announced that its
embassy in Tripoli may face a terrorist attack [13 ].
Italy has already withdrew
its diplomatic staff from Benghazi last week, after its consul
was reported to have been attacked but was unhurt. Spain
on the other hand had advised its nationals in Algeria to be "vigilant" when
venturing outdoors; with
urging its community not to fight in Syria neither for nor against the "Lion";
and with Japan closing its embassy in Mali.
Tourist visa still is suspended.
Transit visa still is suspended.
visa on arrival is now (said to be) available only from the embassy.
Tripoli airport remains open to foreign nationals, with Benghazi airport
remaining an optional risk, with the Libyan government stating that security
measures are implemented in the city.
Land border with Egypt is closed for all foreigners except Egyptian nationals.
Unpredictable land border with Tunisia remained open only for Libyans and
Tunisians (once proper documentation is provided), until the 27th of January
2013, when LANA  reported that the border is now open for travellers
in both directions, once more.
Southern borders are closed after declaring the region a military zone, with
prime minister Zidan is out to blast outlaws exploiting Libya's fragile and unfolding
Security remains a (predictable) consequence, rather than an issue, ever since
the presumed liberation was declared prematurely while homes were still
Road accidents are on the increase.
Crime and corruption are sky rocketing, with shoulder rockets rather than
with tiny pistols, with some branches, according to Libya Herald and others,
rising by nearly 500%, such as theft and murder ; as well as financial
corruption, officially blamed for admitted "lack of bureaucracy".
Libyan leaders however are unable to secure the country, draft a constitution,
build a government, reinstate the army, form a police force, or establish
security. On the 31st of January 2013 the Libyan prime minister
Dr. Ali Zidan told Libya Herald that, “the phrase lack of
security is wrong. If there was no security we would not be here now. But I want
to assure you that in a few weeks security will be fine and companies will be
On the 31st of January 2013 the international media was heard for the first
time to use the phrase, "the frontline is being
moved from Afghanistan to North Africa" - a frightening concept
to come to terms with, after having suffered for 42
years from imposed tyranny.
Tourist visa is still suspended. Some Libyan companies are "talking" about the
likelihood of the tourist visa being reinstated very soon, and
although there is no official confirmation of the rumours, the
Libyan minister of tourism, Ikram Imam, had revealed on the 5th of January 2013
that there will be an "adjustment" and a "simplification"
of the visa and tourist procedures . Let us all hope that the saga of
the "Libya Visa" is simplified and adjusted to stay that way for good
Upon her return to the capital, she further held a meeting
with the departments of the tourism ministry from across
Libya, on Monday the 7th of January 2013, to explore
the means for them to commence implementing the "work plan", or
the "strategy", proposed by the Tourism Ministry to the GNC.
apparently includes creating a "distinctive" tourist identity to put
Libya on the map of international tourism, and to provide quality service according
to the values and traditions of Libya . According to Solidarity Press
, there are 23 offices in Libya which are currently implementing the programs
of the tourism ministry.
(1.2): Business Visa:
The expensive business visa is still available for those
wishing to do business in Libya. However, it was reported that the number of
business visas processed by the immigration authorities in Tripoli shortly after
the suspension of tourist and transit visas has shot
up to 200 business visas per day. As a result the authorities have introduced
strict procedures to process the business visa on arrival. By the end of
2012 it became apparent that the one-month business visa on arrival has been
suspended, and now it is available only via Libyan embassies.
(1.3): Fake Visas:
History is abundant with examples of products and services
banned by the law only to proliferate underground, where corruption, greed
and absence of law empowers the emerging warlords. The member of
Benghazi's Local Council, Tareq Bouzriba, told Solidarity Press that the problem
starts at the Libyan embassies, especially those in Egypt, Tunisia and Chad.
By refusing the visa application the embassies force
workers to pay 6,000 pounds for the visa elsewhere, instead of the 50 Egyptian
pounds they need to pay the embassy .
He also pointed out that the ease with which some Libyans
secure legal permits to establish certain projects, for which they receive 6,000
Dinars from the government to cover the cost of importing 20 workers, had resulted
in some Libyans setting up fictitious companies to import the workers. Since
the fictitious companies do not provide any jobs for their workers after arrival
in the country, the immigrants end up jobless in Libya, likewise many Libyans
who were previously sidelined to live on "handouts" -- apparently not
for being unemployed but for "lack
The illegal network appears to involve flying out blank
visas from Libya to be sold where others are ready to pay. In one of the recent
incidents the Egyptian authorities arrested a Libyan passenger at Cairo Airport
after arriving with 492 blank visas . Another group, reported on the 26th
of December 2012 to have been arrested by the Supreme Security Committee (SSC),
appears to have made a copy of the official "plate seal" and
also copies of the stamps used to approve Libyan visa approvals .
the 24th of October 2012 three Libyans were arrested with 684 fake passports in
Bangladesh . Three African
women were arrested in Tripoli on the 3rd of January 2013 for possessing a fake
Ministry of Health "stamp",
used to issue forged "health
certificates", required by immigrants in order to enter Libya . And
on the 8th of January 2013, LANA reported that an armed group attacked the "Work & Training
in Ejmeil and stole the official stamp of the bureau, after intimidating
Rivalry between Manpower Agencies and other unknown
groups competing for the inflicted chaos has also resulted in a number
of reported scams, some of which had attempted to implicate the Libyan consulate
in the illegal trade; eventually leading the Libyan government to stop issuing
visas to Bangladeshi workers
from Tuesday the 4th of December 2012 . To further tighten security, the
immigration department has announced it will create a new branch inside
Tripoli Airport itself.
Strict procedures were also
applied to Egyptian applications, and according to the Egyptian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Egyptian nationals were warned
not to enter Libya without a visa or without a passport, due to "the
risk of road accidents, “which has resulted in the deaths of a number of Egyptians
(1.4): Work Visa:
The chaos of work visa and the illegal trade in migrants has
resulted in a number of incidents and border clashes with slave bandits trafficking
in African and Arab migrants from all sides of Libya. The most bizarre story
we have come across is the story of "Sudanese For Sale". On
the 30th of August 2012 al-Ahram revealed details of the "Hell-Journey" undertaken
by Sudanese get-rich "dreamers", and operated by armed-groups who sell
their lured victims in a market reminiscent of medieval "slave markets".
The disturbing report then continues by saying that the "slaves" were
displayed in the market for the buyers to select for the mere price of 150 Libyan
Dinars, and that the "bought-slaves" end up working all day without
getting paid .
Presumably many of the illegal immigrants would stay and work
in Libya, while others will ultimately continue their adventure to Europe across
the Libyan sea, with some drowning in the way, and with some being left to drown
in the sea.
It was also reported that many of them have returned home according
to their own will; while according to the latest statistics from the Libyan committee
for the prevention of illegal immigrants the number of illegal immigrants deported
so far during the second half of 2012 is 13,100 immigrants, including 2813 from
Niger, 4583 Egyptians, 1007 Sudanese, and 4052 other Africans, while surprisingly
only 23 immigrants were deported to Tunisia .
2: Land Borders:
The land borders of Libya have been hit with "frequent closures"
and the occasional "trouble" ever since liberation day.
Each "closure" seems
to have a different reason including transporting vehicles across both borders
without any documentation; transportation of humans without ID's or passports;
clashes over personal and social matters; and trafficking in alcohol, narcotics,
petrol and weapons as well as in outdated and poisoned food. In conclusion, it
is impossible to predict what will happen next, or when the borders will re-turn
to their pre-war state - or shall we say: pre-UN-protection state!
(2.1): Western Borders: Ras Ejdir:
The Ras Ejdir border has been through quite a number of
closures in the past 14 months, the last of which has ended on the 10th of December
2012, when the border was reopened once more. The border was closed again on
the 13th of December 2012, only to be partially re-opened on
the 15th of December 2012.
After his meeting
with the Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, on Monday the 7th of January
2013, the Libyan Prime Minister Dr. Ali Zidan had ordered the border to be fully
re-opened. The earlier partial closure was applicable only to lorry and truck
drivers. However, according to Radio Tataouine ,
violence continues in Bengerdan - a Tunisian village close to the Libyan border,
for the third day running, and that the border is still closed as of the 8th
of January 2013 despite the aforementioned decision to re-open the border by
the Libyan PM.
Initially the road was closed from the Tunisian side to
prevent Libyans passing through, and there were reports of Libyans being attacked
and "robbed" of
their belongings. The attacks followed strict border controls that were applied
by the Libyan authorities to cross-border trade. Apparently some
lorry and truck drivers wanted to operate freely without paying any attention
to health regulations concerning food importation, and without paying any custom
On the 21st of November 2012, the forces of Libya Shield
had arrested an armed group stationed at a fake check point between Ras Ejdir
and Zuwarah, near Zulthen (not to be confused with Zliten); stopping foreign
visitors and Libyans and confiscating their passports and personal belongings.
The Libya Shield was alerted when one Libyan telephoned the forces to verify
the legality of the check point .
(2.2): Eastern Borders: Musaid:
The situation at the other end of the coastal highway is not
much different. On the 17th of December 2012 the Egyptian government closed its
border with Libya after a confrontation between locals and Egyptian police.
Seven people were injured in this latest incident. The reason, apparently, is
the same as the reason causing the trouble at Ras Ejdir border with Tunisia,
namely the refusal to pay the custom duties required from cross-border traders.
The traders were reported to have attacked the Egyptian police with stones, leading
to the latter retaliating with tear gas . Attacks on Libyan drivers inside
the Egyptian border were also reported a number of times. The Libyan border point
itself came under attack several times including being shot-at by "arms"
criminals and "human" traffickers. Land travellers using the long road from Tobruk
to Ejdabiyah are warned to take extra care or to avoid the road altogether, as
Solidarity Press reported  that the Libyan authority had arrested two members
of a gang which was carrying out armed attacks along the Tobruk-Ejdabiyah
(2.3): Southern Borders: Fezzan:
The transitional government had declared south Libya a "military
temporarily closed its borders with Sudan, Niger, Chad and Algeria. (See below
for more on this.)
speaking Libya is far more safer for visitors than it is for Libyans, and it
would appear that the government has what it calls a "plan" for 2013
to state its authority and exert control over the country. As it stands,
Ghadames and Nafusa, as well as Sabratha, Tripoli and Leptis Magna should be
Okay to visit; but Cyrenaica and the Sahara are definitely not recommended.
(3.1): General Safety:
Still without a constitution and without an elected president,
an army or an effective police force, the situation remains "fluid" and "unpredictable".
So far three transitional governments had exchanged seats and shook hands for
the responsibility they stepped forward to take, and yet Libya is to see the
promised prosperity or the illusive and all inclusive
It has now been more than fourteen months since the
presumed liberation of Libya and yet there is no sign of law or order taking
place; just the usual "leaders" and the "people" blaming
each other for their mistakes, and for the chaos, violence and corruption
flourishing before their eyes while suspended in a state which the Libyans call
& collapse of security').
According to Libya Herald, Danish
Trade and Investment Minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr, "has challenged
traditional stereotypes of Libya as a hostile environment for foreign businesses,
saying that Tripoli is no more dangerous than Tunis" . She was
also reported by the same source to have thought that, "there is a different
picture" in her country’s media to the reality in Libya. Whereas according
to Tripoli's Security Directorate, foreign companies are unwilling to return
to Libya to complete their programs due to the spread of chaos .
Of course, Tripoli is no more dangerous than Tunis, but Libya
is not just
"Tripoli"; and in fact that is the whole point the Libyans are trying
to make across Cyrenaica and the Sahara. No doubt, progress was (being) made,
but the slightly improved security in Tripoli, the seat of all 'decisions' and
power, has witnessed an increase in violence in Cyrenaica -- the region
seemingly being punished for attempting to share power with the capital;
while Fezzan has been declared a "military zone" by the leaders of "liberated" Tripoli
in December 2012, when at last the transitional prime minister gave the stark
warning to "blast" outlaws
taking advantage of Libya's tragedy along the southern borders .
To further bolster Libya's authority, on the 25th of December
2012, the Ministry of Interior's spokesman, Mr Majdi Alerfi, had revealed his
ministry's "plan" to
dismantle illegal militias and withdraw heavy weapons from the streets of Libya
. Similar pledges have been heard before, and it is more likely they will
be heard again.
The GNC declared south Libya a "military zone" and
temporarily closed its borders with Sudan, Niger, Chad and Algeria. The move
came two days after the PM Ali Zidan arrived from his tour of Algeria, Chad,
Niger and Sudan . On the 19th of December 2012 the Libyan News Agency reported
that Ali Zidan informed the GNC of his preparations to send forces to
the south and to appoint a "Military Governor" for the military zone.
He also advised locals to steer away from the border areas that are not permissible
by law , otherwise they will be
"blasted" by the Libyan Air Force . The PM's stark warning was cheered
and applauded by a number of the GNC's present members.
By the 19th of December, the Libyan News Agency LANA 
had reported that Kufra's military commander, Colonel Miftah Alabdali, said Libyan
Air Force was already
combing the area along the Chadian and the southern Egyptian borders. It was
also reported that at least one suspected camp was blasted on
Border problems all over Libya were known from day one of
Liberation, but apparently both the NTC and el-Keib's governments were "powerless"
to effect a full solution to the issue. At last after 14
months of local complaints, the Prime Minister Ali Zidan had promised the Berber
Tuareg that securing the borders and resolving the Daraj disaster would be among
his government's priorities, when he met with Tuareg representatives from all
over Libya on the 27th of November 2012.
But on the 6th of December 2012 at
least 20 Fezzani members of the GNC had suspended their membership in a protest
about the deteriorating security in Fezzan, and even accused the Ministry of
Defence and the GNC of not responding to their proposed plan which calls for
the resignation of the military commander of the southern area, Abdurrahman Athawil,
and the commander of the
"operations room", Wanis Bokhmadah .
Even security officials working
for the transitional government accused the ministries of defence
and interior of negligence after they failed to provide support
for the fighting units in Sabha, during the clashes at Brak Ashathi in September
2012. When the government security forces returned to Tripoli they surrounded
the Roxis Hotel and threatened to "blow
hotel unless their demands to meet with the minister of Interior, Fawzi Abdulal,
and the minister of defence, Osama Ajwaili, were met. The
returned security forces wanted to know why their demands for support and aid
were ignored .
The decision to declare the area a military zone has angered
a number of Tuareg leaders, and according to the head of the Amazigh World Congress,
Fathi Benkhlifa, Benghazi could be more deserving of such militarisation .
There are far more dangerous developments still taking place in Cyrenaica
and along the Musaid border with Egypt which are damaging to Libya's reputation
and which could or otherwise would derail the revolution.
Therefore the question to ask is why does not the Libyan
Air Force exercise its muscle along the eastern and western borders as well as
inside Libya itself? And why declare the whole region a military zone when the
matter seemingly is no more than border patrol?
of the south on the other hand had never resorted to shutting down oil fields
or water or power supplies or public roads just to demand scholarship for
their revolutionaries, unpaid wages, or urgent medical treatment abroad for their
wounded, or even semi-autonomy at home just to provide food and shelter for their
own impoverished and war-torn people. And they had burnt no embassies nor blew
up any government offices or assassinated scores of Libyans as is the norm in
Cyrenaica. Instead they say they are still waiting patiently for the government
to do the right thing, and that their impoverished region was hijacked by foreign
elements to traffic in humans, arms, drugs and other 'contrabanda' agendas
under the eyes of the government ever since the presumed and premature
liberation of Libya.
On the following day, the 20th of December 2012, the president
of the GNC, Dr. Magarief, met with Tuareg leaders in Tripoli and, according to
Solidarity Press, he promised to resolve all their problems . This sounds
very promising, but the source failed to say when the promise
will be fulfilled or how the GNC's president could have the "magic wand" to
the Tuareg's problems"!
Many Berber Tuareg, Tebu and Arab tribes in Fezzan
still live in tattered huts and palm-frond shelters in extreme poverty, beneath
the scorching heat of the Sahara's sun, and without any
of the air-conditions and the other signs of the luxury others enjoy along
the shores of Tripoli and at the 5-star Rixos Hotel.
is impossible to imagine these "mere
live in rich Libya today, let alone in free Libya now; as much as it is possible
to perceive Libya itself does not exist beyond the boundaries of Tripoli - except
that Benghazi is seemingly being punished for trying to take a share
On the 21st of December 2012 a relief convoy left Zuwarah
for the south, carrying food, medical supplies, clothing and blankets -- the
good, old Libyan spirit: the people are helping each other, while the leaders
are blaming them for their mistakes and even for the acts committed by others.
Unexpected development: on the
4th of July 2012 the Director General of the Immigration Department in Tripoli
has stopped approving visa applications submitted by Libyan companies. There
is no official statement regarding this matter. It is not exactly
known why this sudden suspension of visa -- coming a few weeks after it
was re-opened, and just three days before the elections.
This means that all our tourist and transit visa services
are suspended, once more.
Libyan Visa Update (10):
3 July 2012:
The main focus of this update is "safety". But before
we go into that, we start with a quick round up of the visa news.
are still being issued, but mainly for arrival at Tripoli Airport, and do not
allow arrival via any of the two land borders.
Transit visas are still being
issued, but only for arrival at the Egyptian border. On the 30th of June 2012
Emsaad border was temporarily closed by security officials due to clashes with
smugglers. An official from the security department said they closed the
border as a protest to attract the attention of the transitional government,
which he says is not doing enough to secure the border area. One official was
injured when he was shot at by arms smugglers and human traffickers. Five days
later, Libyaherald reported that Colonel Sulaiman Hasan Bortima, from the borders
control department in Benghazi, was assassinated
on Wednesday the 4th of July.
Tunisian border at Ras Ejdir is currently unavailable for tourist or transit
visa holders, but it is okay for exiting for those who entered Libya via Egypt.
If somehow you have secured your visa (with entry via Ras Ejdir),
you may not be able to bring your vehicle into Libya, due to the fact that the
Tunisian authorities currently (June 2012) do not allow any foreign vehicles
to cross towards Ras Ejdir. As an alternative route you can try entry via Dhiba
border point, but nothing is guaranteed, and you might not be able to return
to Tunisia once you cross over to the Libyan border point (only to find yourself
denied entry to Libya).
There are also some improvements in safety along the road
to Nafusa Mountain and Ghadames, but the recent events in and around Zintan and
Mezda make travel to Nafusa not recommended. There are also good news regarding
desert sites in Fezzan, like the lakes and Acacus, in that the national army
was reported to have taken over all the check points in the desert region including
Sabha airport. The Kufra area appears to be still locked in (imposed) war with
local tribes and government militias and therefore remains a no-go area.
a number of worrying reports as well as some rumours
that leave one unable to form an accurate picture as to
how safe it is for foreign travellers to visit Libya.
We believe it is important to provide
enough information about all aspects of life in Libya including its chaotic politics,
regardless of what government sources say; and we have been reporting most of
the incidents, clashes and terror activities that took place since the
end of UN military operations in Libya.
The first point to clarify is that many reporters and
bloggers mix whatever is happening in Libya in one "pot", without any
attempt to separate fact from fiction or politics from tourism. Some travellers
did report the case of the ICC's lawyer as an example for the danger
foreign nationals currently face in Libya, but it must be noted that her
case was a "political"
case, allegedly involving espionage, and therefore is irrelevant to the issue
of travel. Ahmed al-Jehani, Libya's delegation at the ICC, told Michael
Vincent that she will be released by today (03/07/2012), but she will not be
welcomed back into the country. He also said he was a witness when she handed
over the documents to Saifalislam
The people of
Libya are friendly, always helpful, and as we have reported earlier there was
hardly any incident in which a foreign traveller was harmed. Before the war,
Greenland and Libya were considered amongst the safest countries in the world.
And after the war, many visitors who visited Libya in the past few months (May
and June 2012) were very happy to report
they were greeted everywhere with a smile and handshake, and even some
were given free petrol wherever they went.
However, there are a number of disturbing cases of expatriates
living in Libya being attacked and had their vehicles stolen by armed men, and
it is these kinds of attacks that are worrying, as we
shall see below. The new problem in today's Libya is the emergence of armed "mystery
"terror groups" that began attacking both government and foreign
targets including diplomats and expatriates, without any of these groups having
any public support. For a list and
more details on incidents of violence, please refer to
Danger Zones Along the Libyan coast:
The road from Tunisia to Egypt can be divided into three sections:
Ras Ejdir - Mesratha.
Sirte - Ejdabiyah.
Benghazi - Emsaad.
The first section of the road is generally safe, and there are no problems
reported in terms of safety. The only resurfacing issue in this section is Ras
Ejdir itself. After the violent events of April 2012 in the
Black Crescent area,
the government said it had taken control of the border area and that
it will implement a final solution to the crisis in the region, but there is
no sign of this taking place as of June 2012. Loyalists and smuggling
gangs from all surrounding areas (in both sides of the border) still are active,
with one convoy of three vehicles being blasted from the air by Tunisian fighter
jets on the 20th of June 2012. According to a recent announcement by the Tunisian
government the Libyan embassy was communicating with the Tunisian Ministry of
Interior regarding the activities of some Libyans living in and around Bengerdan,
Djerba and Zarzis. The Tunisian source also said that more than 500,000 Libyans
are now living in Tunisia, many of whom are loyal to the old regime. Depending
on the level of security to be implemented by the transitional
government of Libya, the loyalists
may pose a threat in the months ahead.
The second section, from Mesratha to Benghazi, is also
Okay, but if you will encounter any trouble then it is more likely it would
be somewhere along this road. There
were a number of clashes in and around Sirte in the past few months, forcing
a number of foreign workers to leave the area, when Sirte's Military Council
was reported to have had ordered a number of NGO groups involved in "demining"
leave the area. According to the Interior Ministry, only unregistered
and illegal NGO's operating in Libya were ordered to leave, to safeguard the
interests of Libya, especially so when many of these workers were x-military
However, according to our knowledge there were no reports of
any travellers or foreign visitors being harmed in any way -- (if you know of
anything to negate this statement, please let us know). The road itself
is still in good condition and frequented with check points. One of these check
points was destroyed in clashes between rival groups. None of our visitors had
reported any issues along this road, so far, and according to one feedback, the
road blocks "were
manned by gentlemen, who were only too keen to ensure our wellbeing".
Many of our visitors completed this section of the road in one day, with one
British couple completing the journey from Cyrene to Mesratha in 14 hours. Venturing
offroad along this section is
risky, due to unexploded munition, buried landmines, metal wreckage, pulverised
tanks, and rocket shells strewn along the roadside.
The third section of the coastal road, Benghazi - Emsaad, is
generally safe to cross, and there were no issues reported by travellers so far.
The only area to avoid is around Derna, where one issue last month
prompted our guide to seek local assistance to escort one of our groups to
Benghazi, and therefore historically speaking this was our first tour in
which an armed convoy was used to escort our visitors across Cyrenaica.
Made by Mesratha's "Revolutionaries of The
Libyans will not harm their guests and will do all they can to
help. All our visitors who came back to us with feedback were very pleased.
But who is to say that the newly formed "mystery
will abide by the same "Libyan" tradition! Travel to Libya
for the time being must be classified under "adventure travel", the
definition of which involves taking risks.
End of update (10).
Armed Assailants Attempted to Takeover The Building of The Tourism Department:
26 June 2012:
The Libyan Tourism Department held an emergency meeting on the
25th of June 2012, to discuss the current issues facing the department under
the transitional government. Earlier in the week the building of the department
was raided by a group of 40 people, 20 of whom were armed, in an attempt to take
over the building. The armed group presented a letter, allegedly signed by the
deputy defence minister, authorising them to use "force" to evacuate and take
over the building. The employees of the tourism department defended their headquarters
and refused to leave. When the minister arrived later,
he informed the employees
that he had no knowledge of the authorisation. The assailants failed to intimidate
the staff and left shortly afterwards.
The meeting was held to clarify
the incident and discuss a number of important issues facing the tourism department
in current Libya. To this day Libya still does not have a tourism ministry, despite
Libya's massive tourism heritage and in spite of the potential
of tourism becoming Libya's main source of income in the future. The department
made a number of legitimate demands including:
Implementing "transparency" requirements by all the managers and
heads of departments at the Tourism Department.
Freezing all the procedures of the managers and the heads
of departments at the Tourism Department.
Initiating an enquiry regarding the spending of "budgets" during the "revolution".
Investigating the department's officials for "squandering the general
Investigating all the previous contracts struck in the past.
Temehu Tourism Services.
Libyan Visa Update (9):
08 May 2012:
The majority of the enquiries we have received after our last
update were mainly concerned with the "compulsory guide", and so we
thought it would be a good idea to clarify some points regarding this issue.
Without a doubt the guide does provide assistance with route
finding, language, information about Libya and the Libyan way of life, handling
disagreements that might arise in dealing with "some" locals, and of
course, the current uncertainty effected by the war may also add another reason
for the guide's services being used for the time being.
But having said this, we do understand the restrictions associated
with the guide imposed by the previous government, and we sincerely hope the
new transitional rulers will abolish this requirement, or at least recommend
it to the forthcoming permanent government, to allow Libya's visitors the freedom
they enjoy worldwide and to encourage free tourism in Libya.
Due to the fact that many of our visitors specifically request
from us to include a guide in their itineraries, while others are clearly distressed
by having to waste so much money just to "violate their privacy", it
seems quite reasonable to abolish the compulsory status of the guide and instead
have it as an option travellers can choose.
We have contacted the immigration authorities in Tripoli regarding this matter.
So far they have not issued any official decree regarding the previous
"compulsory" guide requirement, but we were given verbal confirmation
that this matter is now "discretionary".
As a result, we are not including this service until it has been officially decreed
by the concerned authorities in the capital, or unless specifically requested
by our visitors. However, please keep in mind that if new regulations are issued
by the tourism department before your arrival date, which we will publish here
if and when they become available, you will be notified accordingly of the recalculated
Another ring, consisting of one Libyan and one Egyptian, was
arrested in Cairo for possessing 15 passports stamped with Libyan "blank
work visas", visa forms, and a sum of cash. The fake visas were said to
cost "several thousand pounds" each.
Ghadames Airport: was officially declared
open on the 5th of May 2012, and according to the spokesman of the transitional
government, it has been agreed that the previous two weekly flights between Tripoli
and Ghadames will resume full service. Tobruk & Alabrek Airports:
both were officially announced in late April 2012 to reopen in May. It was also
reported that Alburaq Air has doubled its flights between Alabrek and Tripoli
to four flights. This means that all the main airports in Libya are now back
to normal. On the 1st of May 2012 the first British Airways flight since
the war had touched down at Tripoli Airport.
The Ministry of Communications and Transport Points Out The Importance of Tourism:
The strategy to create a solid alternative to oil and gas
as primary sources of income was established by Gaddafi's government in the 1990s,
and it looks set the new transitional government will continue the program, as
stated by the transitional minister Yousef Weheshy, who stressed that tourism
issues are now a priority, and called for all Libyans to assist tourism agencies with
all they can to market tourism.
End of Update (9).
Libyan Visa Update (8):
22 April 2012:
Tourist Visa: good
news: the new "Tourism Department" in Tripoli has confirmed
that "tourist visas" are back. However, the reopened visa
will be granted only for tourists who intend to travel along the coast for
the purpose of tourism. Southern destinations are still closed and therefore
Nafusa Mountain and Ghadames remain unavailable for the time being. The procedure
for tourist visa stays the same as before (see
our visa page for details). The overall situation is improving steadily,
and as we have reported in our last update there were hardly any reports of tourists
or foreign visitors being harmed by Libyans. Having said this, it seems possible
that clashes between rival militias and loyalists could erupt anytime and at
any place; and therefore all visitors are advised to check with their insurance
providers to make sure they are fully covered when it comes to visiting areas
Business visa is still being issued.
Transit visa is still being issued.
Work & Fake Visas: with the backlog of
work visa applications at the Libyan embassy in Cairo and with applicants camping
outside the embassy in the hope of securing a work visa to Libya, criminals in
Cairo had attempted to cash in by issuing fake visas. The Egyptian immigration
had intercepted one such visa at Cairo Airport on the 19th of April 2012. The
detained man was reported to have confessed to paying 1000 Egyptian pounds for
his fake visa. Some private companies too seem to cash in by charging Bangladeshi
job-seekers up to $4,500 per job application. Some job-seekers said they had
paid the fees to recruitment agencies, but officials at the Bangladeshi embassy
in Tripoli were reported to have confirmed only 1,500 job applications out of
nearly 15,000 applications the recruitment companies claimed to have processed
for their clients. According to one Libyan source, the number of illegal immigrants
who entered Cyrenaica without a visa in 2012 has now reached 1200 Arab, African
and Asian immigrants. Fake Libyan passports and birth certificates, used for
smuggling illegal immigrants into Libya, were also in sale in Egypt by a gang
consisting of three Libyans and five Egyptians. The cell was arrested by the
Egyptian authorities on Saturday the 21st of April 2012. Seven hundred
passports, fifteen certificates and 13,000 Egyptian pounds were found at the
Sabha Airport: according to an announcement
made on the 10th of April 2012 by the Prime Minister's Office, the airport of
Sabha has "reopened" for business and that all services have returned
Tripoli Airport: finally, after nearly eight
months, the control over the airport was handed over to the transitional authority
on Friday the 20th of April 2012. The airport was under the control of militia
fighters from Zintan since August 2011; and now is under the control of the
interior, defence and transportation ministries.
Libyan Visa Update (7):
29 March 2012:
Visa: not much has changed since
our last update, but there are a few stories to report. The first story illustrates
the issue of those visitors arriving in Libya without a visa. Two
British journalists, Nicholas Davies and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, were reported
by AFP to have been arrested by Misratha's Swehli Militia on February 2012 for
entering Libya without a visa.
Apparently it was reported that they were working for Iran's
English-language Press TV and were detained for
"possible espionage" after being found filming at 2:00 am in a "sensitive
area" in Tripoli. They were later handed over to the NTC in the capital,
before they were released and flown home on the 19th of March 2012. The
NTC had earlier warned both Libyans and visitors to respect the law.
The second story concerns those Libyans who
wish to transit the UK on their way to another country. New British law, effective
from the 3rd of April 2012, requires Libyan, Syrian and Egyptian transit visitors
to apply for a Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)
The British government says the restriction is necessary to protect the
security of its borders. Libyans were not happy with the decision. Many Libyans
who applied for American visa (including those who did so for medication purposes)
were later refused USA visa, apparently for "security reasons" too, and
the $400 dollars (or so) they paid in advance as fees were never
refunded. On the other hand, Maltese officials at the Maltese consulate in Tripoli
to have had issued European visas for LD1100 -- nearly
ten times the usual price
The third story is our favourite story: Libyan
visa on a piece of paper. According to Susan Bird (see link below),
she was invited to a dinner party hosted by Felix Marquardt -- apparently a businessman
who advises "governments on matters that require special handling in
getting the story right" -- which by itself is another kind of story.
The story goes that the host asked his guests to think about one object in their
lives that meant a great deal to them, and gave them ten minutes to come up with
the answer. Once time was up, the host took the initiative to provide his answer:
The Libyan Visa. The story does not say how or why Mr. Marquardt arrived at Tripoli
Airport without a Libyan visa, but it does state that the airport officials just
tore a piece of white paper, wrote his name in English and nationality in Arabic,
stamped it, and stapled it to a page in his passport.
"That was Felix's visa to enter Libya", Susan said.
The blue stamp on the right is the entry stamp (09/01/2012),
and the red on the left is the exit stamp (11/01/2012). Both carry the name: "National
Transitional Council, Libya" (at the top), and "Tripoli
International Airport's Immigration Department" below the date.
Compare this with the following official approval obtained
by Temehu on the 10th of January 2012. The visa procedure itself is the same
as before, and the "transitional transit visa approval" looks almost
identical to the old
Libyan visa approval 2012.
Issued by the "Executive Office For Internal Affairs
And Local Authority", Immigration And Nationality Department Branch;
10/01/2012. The visa was issued to "Temehu Tourism Services" for the
purpose of "Transit". The table lists the names of the visitors and
the details of their passports' bio pages. Names and details of visitors are
We advise against all but essential travel to Libya. Our
current advice is primarily based on the fact that one is unable to predict future
events, rather than on tangible danger. No doubt the atmosphere is still "unsettled",
with some fighting going on right now in and around Sabha, but the balance is
gradually being tipped in favour of the law.
The reason for not allowing tourist visas, some officials
say, is merely the safety issue, and therefore this issue can only be officially
settled once the NTC declares Libyan civilians "protected" and Libya
"safe". They had declared Libya liberated way back in October 2011,
but they are yet to declare Libya "safe for all".
The world needs to know that Libyans have always respected
foreign visitors, regardless of government, and they still dearly cherish this
ancient Libyan tradition. For example, there are so many foreign nationals in
Libya including politicians, journalists, businessmen, oil workers and travellers,
and yet there was not a single incident of any of them being harmed in any way.
All our services are currently suspended.
Business visa is still being issued.
Transit visa is still being issued.
Tourist visa is still suspended.
Please check with your travel agent or insurance
provider to make sure you are fully covered when it comes to visiting areas considered
Libyan Visa Update (6):
15 February 2012:
Visa: the "invitation
letter" or "the Name of Sponsor in Libya" and the
approval of the immigration department are still required for all types of visas.
The immigration approval is also known as "Visa reference number (from
Libya)". Business Visas are being issued via the usual
procedure, but, as before, legally and technically speaking they do not allow
one to travel as tourist. We can also confirm that Transit Visas were
issued in 2012. The issue of "Tourist Visa" however
as ever, as Libyans still are waiting for the NTC to publish their promised
"visa policy", which way back in September they said
will come "in place soon".
Due to lack of "visa policy" Libyan embassies were
left to use their "discretion" to grant visas, as confirmed by Libya's
ambassador to Malta Saadum Suayeh early on. Some parts of the old law remained
effective, others were suspended, while government departments are seldom immune
to the administrative "confusion" further complicated by lack of clear
instructions. Tunisians and Turks can enter Libya without a visa, while more
than 6,000 Syrians arrived in Libya because they said they did not need a
visa. Also there are those who managed to enter Libya without neither a
tourist visa nor an invitation letter, mostly through land borders when they
were mainly guarded by armed groups. As a result the NTC has announced recently
that it is illegal for all foreigners to enter Libya without confirming their
Journalist Visa: the CPJ (the
Committee to Protect Journalists) says some journalists were told by the Foreign
Ministry that a new visa policy has been set, but embassies
do not seem to be aware of it. The CPJ wrote a letter to the interim Prime Minister
Abdurrahim al-Keib regarding the difficulties journalists had encountered when
they attempted to obtain Libyan visa. In an article titled "New
Libyan rule halts delivery of journalist visas". Read the full letter
at: cpj.org/2011/12/new-libyan-rule-halts-delivery-of-journalist-visas.php .
Air Travel & Airports: there
were some incidents that took place in and around the airport early on, such
as Tripoli's Souq al-Juma group that surrounded the Tunisian passenger jet on
the 26th of November, which led to Tunisair suspending its flights to Tripoli.
But generally speaking security now has improved and the Libyan Air Force is
operational. Many international airliners have already resumed their flights
to Tripoli, and many more said they will resume flights by March 2012, while
British Airways will not start their services to Libya until May 2012.
Tourism: contrary to some recent
claims, tourism in Libya was effectively established in the last century -- 1990s. The
industry however had its limitations, like the "guide", lack of infrastructure
and a proper banking system, and the mandatory "tourism police" (required
only for groups of five or more travellers, and never for individuals as some
had reported). The previous ministry during the ousted government was called "The
General Board for Tourism and Traditional Industries". It was completely
useless and made no serious attempt to document the priceless heritage of Libya,
and even failed to protect this priceless heritage from "looting" and "vandalism"
(as reported elsewhere
in this site). Some of the previous government websites have continued to operate
under the loyalty of the NTC, but most of them have vanished including the website
of the Tourism Board.
On the 22nd of November 2011, the NTC had announced their
second Transitional Government, chaired by el-Keib. The cabinet contained 24
ministries, but not one of "Tourism". Many sources across the
Internet and the media say Libya will re-establish tourism in New Libya, but
without a "Tourism Ministry" and without a
"tourism policy", one is left to wonder how tourism would function
and under which department. There is no doubt that this is a transitional period
and tourism can wait until safety and security were restored 100%. But the work
within the country must never stop, as there is so much to do to the destroyed
infrastructure that will take years and years to complete. Voluntary work however
has already began to clean the tourist sites in Libya and re-activate tourism
in the country.
On the 14th of November 2011, tour operators were invited
to a meeting at the General Board for Tourism, in the capital Tripoli, to discuss
means of activating and promoting
tourism in Libya. The organisers announced the formation of a new organisation:
"Tripoli Chamber of Commerce", as an independent
entity of the old "Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture" (P.O.
Box 2321 Tripoli, Tel. 21-33755, Telex (0901) 20461). The meeting was "chaotic",
with many attendees unable to understand how they can memorise a 40-article document
read to them by one of the organisers. When some of them asked for a copy to
read, at leasure, they were told to visit the Chamber's Facebook page, but the
page had absolutely nothing to read. Emails and telephone numbers were taken
to keep the operators updated, but no calls were received since.
On the 19th of October 2011, the "Libyan
Society for Tourism Activation" (الجمعية الليبية للتنشيط السياحي lsta.org.ly/)
was founded by a group of tour operators upon the decision (رقم 819.9.4) of the "local
council" in Tripoli; but without any funding from the local council or the
central government. Their aim is to promote tourism in Libya, develop local tourism
skills via training, organise exhibitions and tourist festivals, establish awareness
of the natural beauty of Libya, campaign to keep Libya clean, coordinate with
the concerned authorities to preserve the local heritage and establish new museums,
and other activities relating to promoting and developing tourism in Libya. The
society however lacks the resources it requires to achieve its intended goals
and hence the need for support, donations, and participation from all other operators as
well as from the ministry of tourism (if any).
Tunisian Border: there were a
number of skirmishes at the Libyan-Tunisian border after Libyans were repeatedly
attacked inside Tunisia by Libyans still loyal to the old regime and by Tunisians
as well. Reports from Zuwarah say the Libyans were attacked while the Tunisian
police and army stood watching. Both authorities eventually intervened and closed
down the border point for two weeks. On the 15th of December the border was reopened
after an agreement was reached between the Libyan army and the Tunisian authorities.
However, two weeks later Berbers from Zuwarah continued to be attacked inside
Tunisia, especially near Bengerdan area. The border has since returned to normality,
but one cannot rule out violence erupting again. On the 2nd of February 2012
a small incident took place at Ras Ejdir, leading to the border being closed
temporarily once more.
Overall advice: we still advise
against all travel to Libya. All our services are suspended.
The atmosphere is still charged, militias occasionally fighting each other, danger
from celebratory fire, terrorist attacks from "loyalists"
and "sleeper cells" are possible and expected, and land mines and unexploded
munitions still are a problem.
Libyan Visa Update (5):
05 December 2011:
Visa: our visa services remain suspended.
Border: Ras Ejdir and Dehiba border checkpoints
with Tunisia are closed.
War: a recent shooting incident
at Ras Ejdir, between Libyan militiamen and border guards, forced the authorities
from both sides to close the border point. The checkpoint at Dehiba is also closed
after clashes with militiamen. Libya's ambassador in Tunis warned that there
are those individuals who want to create divisions between Libya and Tunisia.
A number of fights also broke out in a number of cities including Tripoli, Janzur,
and Bani Walid. Ashraf al-Marni Swayha, deputy head of Janzur's NTC military
council, was shot dead by Zintan fighters at a checkpoint in Janzur on Friday
the 2nd of December 2011; the locals responded by destroying the headquarters
of the Zintan forces in Janzur and burning their vehicles. On the 24th of November
2011, 16 people lost their lives during a battle in Souq al-Juma'a, Tripoli,
between locals and fighters from Bani Walid. Several people also lost their lives
in a gunfight in Bani Walid after a militia from Tripoli entered Bani
Walid in an attempt to arrest suspects. A heavy battle, lasting over three days,
broke out in Zawiya, with fighters using heavy weapons including missiles, rockets
and anti-aircraft artillery, resulting in a number of casualties, but the
NTC intervened and brought the situation under control.
Libyan Visa Update (4):
15 November 2011:
Visa: please note that for safety
reasons our visa services are currently suspended until further notice. Due to
fighting breaking out again along the costal areas including Tripoli and Zawiya
the overall situation remains fluid. Coastal areas were said to be safe before,
but now this seems to be far from true.
Libyan Visa Update (3):
30 October 2011:
Air Travel Ban Lifted: the NTC,
the sole legitimate representative of the aspiration of the Libyan people, has
requested from the UN to extend its operations in Libya until the end of the
year, but the UN Security Council has unanimously voted against their wish and
ended its military operation in Libya and cancelled its no-fly zone over Libya
on the 27th of October 2011; despite Saifalislam still being at large and despite
the military operations to "root out" remaining loyalists still underway.
The enforcement of the mandate will expire on the 30th of October, and therefore
all travel restriction will be lifted on the 31st of October 2011. Some international
flights are already operating from both Benghazi and Tripoli airports after the
introduction of "air corridors" on the 13th of October 2011
Visa: visitors still require an
invitation letter from Libya in order to obtain Libyan visa (as previous
Safety: Libya is now declared "Liberated",
just as the NTC had said it will do after the fall of Sert. Fighting in Sert
came to an end on the 20th of October 2011, and therefore we are expecting the
coastal highway between the Tunisian border and the Egyptian border to be declared
safe in the coming days. Some minor military operations are still going on. Threat
from terrorism therefore cannot be excluded yet, as the country still does not
have a police force in place and still is without an army. Once these two forces
are set up they still have the task of securing Libya. And even then individual
acts of violence are difficult to predict, as anywhere else, especially so in
today's volatile Libya where almost every single household is still armed, and
as various armed militias and battalions increasingly demand more active roles
in the new government of Libya.
Our Advice: we still strongly advise
against all but unnecessary travel to Libya.
Libyan Visa Update (2):
15 October 2011:
A number of Libyan embassies have confirmed that the Libyan
visa process stays as before. The immigration department in Tripoli also confirmed
that the old visa provisions remain active and that they had no new amendments
as of October 2011. If you apply for a visa via the Libyan embassy they will
most often ask for an "invitation letter", also referred to as "authorisation" or "permission".
The British FCO has also confirmed this requirement on its most recent Libya
visa update (fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/libya).
This must be obtained from inside Libya: from a Libyan friend or resident (if
you are applying for visit visa), from a company operating in Libya (if you are
applying for business visa), or from a tour operator (if you are applying for
tourist visa). Tour operators are authorised to process visas on arrival and
they will deal with the letter, the application for entry visa, and everything
else without the need to contact the embassy. All types of visas are issued in
Tripoli by the immigration department, but the Maltese recently said they would
like to see visas issued in Benghazi to facilitate travel between Malta and Benghazi.
We have no official confirmation from the Libyan transitional government regarding
A number of United Nations sanctions are still active, including
the no-fly zone, and therefore a number of related services are not
fully available. To bypass the UN no-fly zone, the Libyan interim transport
minister Anwar el-Feitori and Lt. General Ralph J. Jodice signed a deal
in Malta on the 13th of October 2011 which allows the establishment of "air
corridors" to be used by civil aviation, between Benghazi and Europe,
and between Benghazi and Mesratha and Tripoli. They do not seem to link the capital
with the rest of the world. The NTC hopes Tripoli airport will open very soon,
as it took command of the airport from the fighters of Nafousa Mountain, who
previously were in control of the airport. This means that efforts are underway
to normalise travel procedures in Libya and that time is required to ensure safe
implementation of these procedures.
NTC chairman said Libya and Tunisia are now working together
to tighten security and establish proper control over the Libyan-Tinisian
land border. The agreement came after the reported proliferation of arms
smuggled from Libya, which has become a major concern to both countries and to
the whole region. Media reports speak of a busy black market in arms trade in
southern Tunisia, where a kalashinkov trades for 500 Tunisian Dinars. Travellers
wishing to travel to Libya now should be aware of the possibility of attacks
from armed groups still loyal to the old Libyan government, and need to know
that the Libyan-Tunisian border may become restricted at any time without
notice. The FCO says it had reports of violent incidents along the road to the
Egyptian border. Local reports from Zuwarah also confirm some recent incidents
in southern Tunisia, where Libyans travelling through Tunisia in their own cars
were attacked by loyalists stationed in Tunisia. The Tunisian army had intervened
on the following day and the border area has now been declared safe and under
control. The borders are now open and movement across is normal in both directions.
War is still going on in Libya,
with resistance popping up in new places unexpectedly. The most recent being
today's gun battle in Tripoli's Ben Gheshir (Gheshsheer). Yesterday's clashes
(of the 14th of october 2011) in Tripoli's Abu Salim area started after
around 50 armed men and women appeared and began rising the green flag
while chanting pro-Gaddafi slogans. Exchange of gunfire with armed men loyal
to the NTC ensued shortly afterwards, with journalists reporting smoke rising
in the air and heavy exchange of fire. Earlier in the week, the revolt by Gaddafi's
loyalists in Regdalin and Ejmail in western Libya, near Zuwarah, led to full
scale battle between pro-Gaddafi fighters from around the area of Regdalin and
fighters from Zuwarah's military council and the NTC's army who arrived later
to quash the rebellion. The battle lasted for several days, with GRAD rockets
landing in Zuwarah for a number of days, and heavy exchange of fire. There are
quite a number of towns that are still under Gaddafi's loyalists' control including
Sert, Bani Walid, Zilah and Sabha and therefore security is a big issue, since
no one can anticipate when or where the loyalists might attack next. The new
minister of internal affairs, Mr. Ahmed al Dharrat, is setting up a new security
agency in Tripoli, with the aim of rooting-out Gaddafi's loyalists in the towns
under the control of the NTC, and currently there are a number of special forces
"combing" several areas and towns including those the NTC does not
As a result of the clashes in Tripoli in the past couple of
days we are reviewing our advice by strongly advising against all travel to Libya
for the time being. Business and diplomatic visits do not come under travel,
as these missions have their own security arrangements. [End of update (2).]
Libyan Visa Update:
01 October 2011
There are a number of individual reports from visitors who
say they had obtained visas on arrival at the border(s), with some entering via
Ras Ejdir while others coming from Emsaad and reaching Benghazi. One report
says that the border visa is restricted and valid only for 15 days. There are
also reports of visas obtained from Libyan embassies, but most of these appear
to have been issued in relation to business and politics; while some embassies
advised to get visa on arrival, just as it was done before via tour operators.
There are even reports of visitors entering Libya with no visa at all. Even though
many of these remain unconfirmed reports, they do not represent the official
view of the transitional government. What is the Transitional National Council
(TNC) has to say in relation to the visa issue?
The new law according to the TNC's Constitutional Declaration:
The TNC has announced on the 3rd of August
2011 a 37-point interim "Constitutional Declaration" to
provide a framework for the transition to an elected government, and to call
for a constitutional assembly within eight months. This Constitutional Declaration
updates the current (or the old) law, and also cancels a number of old laws that
are related to constitutional matters. Article
this Declaration specifically states that the law regarding all provisions decreed
in the current legislations stay the same and remain effective as before, until
they are amended or repealed. Here is what it says in Arabic:
TNC's Article (35), Constitutional Declaration.
"All the current provisions decreed in the existing
legislations shall continue to be effective, in as much as they do not conflict
with the provisions of this "declaration", until the announcement of
new provisions to amend or repeal them."
What this means is that almost everything stays the same, as
before, with the change of the old names of Libya and its institutions to the
new names, until the TNC completes the transition period and supervises an elected
government. Only the elected government can alter existing laws permanently and
introduce new constitution. We have contacted officials from the immigration
department in Tripoli and they have confirmed that everything stays the same
as before. We will publish any further updates as and when we get them.
Therefore the old visa law should stay the same. In fact Turkey was one of the
first countries to take advantage of this when it reiterated that its citizens
were allowed into Gaddafi's Libya without an entry visa (independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=132344)
and therefore they do not need any visas to enter new Libya. These issues are
still being addressed, and the following update from the Libyan embassy in Malta
hints at a new visa update to be released by the TNC soon.
Libyan Embassy In Malta Issues Libyan Visas:
Libyan ambassador in Malta, Mr. Saadum Suayeh, says he issued
visas to some Maltese on the same day (timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110928/local/libya-visa.386797),
and that they were issued at his discretion.
But he also emphasised that a visa policy should be in place soon. Business visa
has a different set of procedures from tourist visa in the old law, and probably
it is business visas that the ambassador was issuing from the embassy in Malta,
as he made a clear reference to the Maltese business and political delegations
who plan to visit Libya.
The TNC's Representative in London favours "visa on arrival":
A few days ago, on the 27th of September 2011, Guma al-Gamaty,
speaking to business leaders at the "Libya - The Future" conference
in London, had suggested that Britain and Libya drop entry restrictions for each
others' citizens, and that "Each country should issue visas on arrival
at the airport". He added that the British should not be worried about
Libyans coming over and staying in Britain because most will be wanting to return
home afterwards (bbc.co.uk/news/).
This again indicates that the old system of visa on arrival may well stay
in place in the new system.
Is it safe to travel in Libya?
However, the real issue regarding travel in Libya is not the
visa, but the war. Fierce fighting still is going on in a number of areas across
the central parts of Libya, from coastal Sert and all the way down to Sabha.
There are also a number of reports of old-government loyalists attacking southern
areas, as in the recent attack on Ghadames, and it is impossible to predict where
next they will hit. These minor attacks
are not widely reported by the media, since understandably the authorities seek
a quick transition to normality, but the war is far from over.
Security is not
yet established across the coast from border to border, especially around the
Sirte area, and also in the southern areas. Even
Libyans cannot enter Mesratha without an "invitation" from someone
who is a resident of Mesratha - that is Libyans require an "invitation letter" to
visit Mesratha as well as an "escort". We recommend all unnecessary travel
to Libya to be postponed for another month or two, until the TNC announces an
end of fighting And declares certain areas safe for foreign visitors. Nafousa
Mountain, Ghadames and the Sahara are definitely no-go areas for the time being.
But short visits to Tripolitania or Cyrenaica would be ideal for the time being.
Crossing tours (from border to border) should wait until Sert (Sirte) is fully
secured. The road from Ras Ejdir to Emsaad is safe and secure except around 200
km between Mesratha and Sert, where fighting is still going on and therefore
the area may be restricted at any given time in the next week or two. All visitors
who intend to visit Libya now should assess these risks and decide if they can
wait or not.
The FCO (British Foreign & Commonwealth
Office) has updated its travel advice to Libya by advising against all
but essential travel to Zuwarah, Azzawiya, Tripoli, Alkhums, Zlitan
and Mesratha, and the coastal towns from Ras Lanuf to the Egyptian Border, including
Benghazi. They still advise against all travel to all other areas in Libya.
End of update.
The Guardian Confirms Vandalising Assaraya Alhamra Museum:
11 September 2011:
In an article titled: "In Tripoli's museum of
antiquity only Gaddafi is lost in revolution", the guardian.co.uk
confirms the vandalising of the National Museum in Tripoli:
Read the full report at:
Short link for the report:
Looting of Libya's Archaeological Artifacts & Assaraya Museum: is it true?
Last week a number of Internet sites and blogs, including
archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com, circulated the claims in that massive looting
was underway in Libya, Leptis Magna was bombed, and that prehistoric
art sites were vandalised during the recent events in Libya. The claims
originally came from the Russian Nikolai Sologubovsky, apparently a deputy head
of a Russian committee of solidarity with the people of Libya and Syria, who
told Russian television, without providing any evidence, that the National
Museum in Tripoli has been looted and antiquities were being shipped out by sea
Vandalising prehistoric art in Libya is not new, as Temehu.com covered
at: temehu.com/vandalised-rockart.htm, and there is no reason to suppose
it will not happen again or it did not happen recently. Also we have no evidence
regarding the looting of Assaraya Alhamra Museum, but we are very much interested
to hear from those who have any evidence to share.
According to sciencemag.org (Claims of Mass Libyan
Looting Rejected by Archaeologists): "The antiquities in the major sites
are unscathed," says Hafed Walda, an archaeologist at King's College London
. . . . "But
a few sites in the interior sustained minor damage and are in need of assessments."
Berber Language Will Be A Key Issue In New Libya!
27 August 2011:
CNN: the Editor Peter Fragiskatos, in an article published
by CNN (in its website, see link below), asks if New Libya will bring new freedom
for the Berbers in Libya. In an attempt to answer the question, he points out
that, "language rights will be a key issue going forward
not only in a post-Gadhafi Libya, but also in Morocco and Algeria, where much
larger Berber communities live."
Read full article at: edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/26/fragiskatos.berber.language/
Current Update: All Our Libyan Visa Services Are Temporarily Suspended:
03 March 2011
This is to inform our visitors that we are
currently unable to provide any visa services to Libya and therefore all our
tours are currently suspended until further notice.
Egyptian-Libyan Border Re-Opened:
07 February 2011
The border between Egypt and Libya is now open for
business as usual. Travellers leaving Libya via Emsaad can now continue their
journey overland to Egypt as before. The situation in Egypt itself seems to be
returning to normal gradually.
Egyptian-Libyan Border Closed:
31st of January 2011
The border between Egypt and Libya is closed. The first we
learnt about this is when our visitors who completed their transit tour in Libya
were returned immediately after reaching the Egyptian check point beyond Emsaad
on the 31st of January 2011. They were refused entry into Egypt and were ordered
to return to Libya immediately. It is not known for how long the border will
be closed, but it looks set to remain so until the situation in Cairo is defused.
Tunisian-Libyan Border: Update on Movement Across The Border:
17th of January 2011
The border area between Libya and Tunisia still is open,
and the border movement seems okay as tourists do come in and out of the country
as usual. However, the Libyan side of the border is closed
at night, probably due to the fact that the border authorities need
to prevent cross-border movement of people illegally at night.
Please note that the Libyan side of the border is still
open during the day and therefore tourists wishing to enter Libya must
do so either in the morning or around midday.
We also hear that the Tunisian police have road blocks between
some areas in Tunisia to protect tourists from being attacked while traveling
between cities and towns. Otherwise the Tunisian side of the border with Libya
is also still open as usual. If you can make it to the Libyan border then
your guide will be there to meet you and welcome you into Libya.
Travel Restrictions Affecting The Western Mountain & The Red Hamada:
Following the recent local development in the Western Mountain
near the Kabaw area the tourism authority decided to close some of the sites
for foreign visitors to ensure their safety, and subsequently informed Libyan
tour companies about a number of restrictions affecting certain areas, including
Kabaw, Yefren and Nalut. Travellers passing by Nalut in the way to Ghadames cannot
stop in Nalut, but are allowed to drive through. Gharyan, Qasr Al-Haj and
the neighbouring areas are not affected. Also, in a separate incident,
al-Hamada al-Hamra desert is closed for tourists. Travellers who had the Hamada
in their itineraries have to drive to Sabha via Qaryat instead. It is not known
why nor for how long the ban will stay in force.
A request from the Tourism Police instructing Libyan tour operators
to follow the listed restrictions,
namely the border areas and the Murzuq-Acacus route.
Liberal Libya: "freedom, democracy & tourism: the future is Libyan":
28 June 2010:
Libya Visa For Americans: Second Update: Yes US Citizens Can Now Obtain Libya
Tourist Visa On Arrival:
22 May 2010
We have announced on the 19th of May (see below) that we were
attempting to confirm the recent news regarding Libyan visa for Americans. We
are now in a position to confirm that the ban was lifted and that Americans are
finally allowed to visit Libya on a tourist visa. We can also confirm that we
currently do accept applications from American nationals to visit Libya on a
tourist visa on arrival. No need to visit any embassies any more.
Latest Update: Libya Appears To Lift Its Visa Ban On Americans: Can The Citizens
of USA Obtain Libyan Visa?
19 May 2010
We are currently attempting to confirm the news we
heard today in that Libya has finally lifted the visa ban on Americans, among
recent changes which envisage Libyan visa laws being relaxed to allow visitors
from many countries to visit Libya and to see for themselves, the government
said, the new changes planned ahead for "New Libya": the "Free Libya". If the
news is confirmed it would mean that the citizens of the United States of America
will now be able to obtain a Libyan tourist visa.
The news first leaked out on the 5th of May, after Saif al-Islam
al-Qaddafi was reported to have said, at the American University in Cairo,
that “very, very soon, it will be very easy for many people around the
world to visit Libya.”
However, we still do not have 100% confirmation regarding
this latest update, but today, the 19th of May 2010, may prove to be a historical
day as we have strong indications that the time has finally come for Americans
to visit Libya on a tourist visa.
“But soon, very, very soon, it will be very easy for many people around
the world to visit Libya.”
Libya Sees Thriving Tourism Industry
Afriqiyah Airways 8U771 Crash Before Landing At Tripoli Airport
12 May 2010
We deeply offer our condolence to all grieving families affected by the Afriqiyah
Airways 8U771 crash at Tripoli Airport last wednesday (May the 12th 2010). Afriqiyah
Airways have set up a helpline for relatives, the details of which can be found
at their website:
Libyan-Swiss Schengen Visa Saga is Over: The European Union And Libya
Have Lifted Their Bans on Granting Visas:
27 March 2010
The European Union and Libya have agreed today Saturday 27
of March 2010 that they will resume granting visas to each others' citizens.
All the names of the Libyans black-listed on the Schengen zone have been permanently
removed from the list; and likewise Libya has dropped its ban on issuing visas
to Schengen-zone Europeans. Official sources say the Swiss businessman Max
Goeldi will be released from prison very soon, and that the lifting of the visa
ban comes in the interests of strengthening co-operation with the European Union.
The Swiss are ready to lift their travel restrictions against top-level Libyan
officials in return for the Libyans to lift their ban on Schengen citizens travelling
to Libya, Bern says.
25 March 2010
The Swiss government has finally indicated that it will lift
the ban imposed on some top-level Libyan officials if Libya lifts its ban against
European visitors travelling to Libya from the Schengen area. Switzerland also
hopes that the businessman Max Göldi, still held in Libya, would be released.
"Switzerland has been persuaded to lift its travel
ban against top-level Libyan politicians after talks in Brussels", writes:
"Christa Markwalder . . . said she could not make
sense of the step agreed by the Swiss government and the European Union on Wednesday",
"A top Libyan has welcomed as a "step forward" an acknowledgment by canton
Geneva that damages should be paid to Hannibal Gaddafi after his police photo
was published," reports Swissinfo.ch
Italians Say Libyan-Swiss Conflict Must Be Resolved By The 4th of April:
15 March 2010:
It has emerged that the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini's
visit to Libya yesterday appears to signal the beginning of the end of the Shcengen
saga. Talking with his Libyan counterpart, Mousa Kousa, the Italian
minister has announced that if Libya and Switzerland fail to resolve their disagreement
by the 4th of April 2010, Italy will propose to its Schengen colleagues
to start issuing Schengen visas to the Libyans banned by the Swiss, regardless
of whether the Swiss oppose the move or not. The proposal will be presented together
with Malta, Spain and Portugal during the Council of European
Ministers set to take place next week.
According to Franco Frattini, "Switzerland's conduct is not in line with the goals of Schengen to keep
terrorists and criminals from entering Europe. Using Schengen to put pressure
on others to resolve bilateral diplomatic conflicts is not one of these goals".
Tripoli is preparing to host its first Tourist Festival in
the Old City around the end of April 2010. The festival is expected to last three
days and will include various cultural and tourist activities, with the aim of
introducing Libyan tourism and encouraging the development of the various tourist
industries required to make tourism in Libya a successful business.
The End of The Libyan-Swiss Schengen Visa Saga May Come Sooner Than Expected
2 March 2010
In a speech before the Libyan GPC, the Libyan foreign minister
Mousa Kousa has indicated that the tension between Libya and Switzerland over
the recent issues could come to an end very soon. He has also stated that all
Libya wants is an international decision on the matter, issued by an independent
committee comprising three legal experts including one from Libya and another
from Switzerland. He said that Libya will accept whatever decision is made
by the committee, regardless of whether the ruling is in favour of or against
EU diplomats Hope For Libya Breakthrough:
26 February 2010:
Swissinfo.ch has reported yesterday that Swiss businessman
Max Göldi could be released very soon, and some are even predicting that he could
be pardoned by Gaddafi before the middle of March. Swissinfo
has also reported that although Spain has managed to reach a “settlement” with
Libya, Switzerland must also be prepared to play its part.
Italy Challenges Switzerland Over Schengen Visa Saga:
Libya Stops Issuing Visa To European Nationals
From The Schengen Area:
16 February 2010:
According to a report published by the Libyan daily online
newspaper Oea, Libyan visa for the nationals of the Schengen group of countries
will be suspended. The news was released last Sunday the 14th of February 2010,
quoting an unidentified "high-ranking" Libyan source.
Apparently the ban will
not apply to the EU countries not part of the Schengen treaty, such as the United
Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. According to schengenvisa.cc,
a total of 30 countries including most European Union countries and three non-EU
members (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) have signed the Schengen agreement;
but only 15 of those countries have implemented the common border control and
visa provisions: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece,
Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and The Netherlands.
The Maltese Foreign Minister
Tonio Borg has also contacted the Libyan European Affairs Minister Obeidi regarding
the matter; while the EU and Schengen member states will discuss the incident
this week and attempt to resolve the issue.
Despite other related disagreements and despite Libya being criticised
repeatedly for such decisions, it remains a fact that all Libyans are still being
badly treated by most European countries when it comes to granting visas including
the Schengen visa.
Libyan Visa For Canadians: Update:
We are pleased to announce that we are in a position to apply for a Libyan
visa for the citizens of Canada. If you are a Canadian and would like to visit
Libya please let us know.
Google and UNESCO agree to provide virtual tourism:
The agreement allows internet users to visit about 19 of the 890 World Heritage
Sites via Google's Street View interface; while the remaining sites will be covered
via the usual Google Earth and Google Map. It is hoped that virtual visits of
these sites will encourage participation in the preservation of these treasures.
Watch the following video for more information.
7th of December 2009:
Submerged Roman City Discovered Off The Coast of Cyrenaica, Eastern Libya:
Archaeologists have discovered what appears to be an ancient,
2nd-century AD, sunken Roman city, just off the coast of Cyrenaica, between the
towns of Derna and Bomba, near Tobruk, in Eastern Libya. The discovery was made
by members of the project ArCoLibia (Archeology Coast of Libya), in a
survey off the Libyan coast. While searching for wrecks, the researchers found
walls, tombs, buildings and roads between one and three meters beneath the water.
Libya: a future travel destination:
Tourism industry leaders at this year's London's World Travel
Market (WTM) have made some new predictions regarding travel and the next hot
spots of tourism. Although Europe and North America currently make up the biggest
proportion of travellers, it looks set that they would be joined by Russians,
Brazilians, Indians and Chinese travellers. ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer
had pointed out that countries that have been closed for many years, like Libya
and Albania, are always of interest to travellers. Read more at:
Canadians and Libyan visa update:
According to: google.com/hostednews/afp/article: "Libya's
embassy on Tuesday denied reports that it has stopped issuing visas to Canadians
. . . The embassy in Ottawa said in a statement it "asserts that there are no
obstacles or restrictions on the issuance of visas for Canadian citizens to enter
Libya." Read more at: google.com/hostednews/afp/
Canadians & Libyan Visa: October 2009:
It appears that Libya has imposed a ban on Canadians entering the country,
but we have no official confirmation of the news. For further information, please
see this press release at:
Ghadames Festival Dates Update:
The latest: (29,30,31/10/2009):
We have been informed by the organisers of Ghadames festival
that the dates for the main festival have been moved forward to: 29th,30th and
31st of October 2009. Please note that we are providing this update as is, and
we are not responsible for its accuracy. We understand that this could prove
to be a big problem for those who have already booked their holidays specifically
to attend the festival, but unfortunately tourism in Libya is still in its infancy!
Rock Art Vandalism:
A Libyan vandal ventured into the sacred territories of Awis(s)
and embarked on his mission to vandalise some of the priceless prehistoric paintings
of Acacus. Using black paint he painted over a number of cave paintings. The
"man" was arrested and have been since imprisoned, and the vandalised area was
sealed and closed for cleaning and restoration work.
It was this incident apparently that led to rumours stating
Acacus is closed. We can assure Libya's visitors that only the caves that have
been vandalised that are closed, and not the whole region of Acacus, which continues
to be open for tourism as usual. If your Libyan tour operator cannot get you
into Acacus, please get in touch with us.
New Libyan Visa Law: August 2009:
Good news: Libya visa on arrival is back.
We have seen a copy of the new law, issued on the 02 of August
2009, and we can confirm that after an absence of two months the visa on arrival
is now available at airports, borders and seaports, for both individuals and
groups. According to Article 8, the new law becomes effective immediately from
the date of its issue (02/08/2009), and it cancels all other laws. However, there
are some new alterations too.
Ghadames Festival Dates Update:
There are several dates circulating the Internet regarding
the starting date of Ghadames Festival. We have been following the issue and
here is the latest information we have: - remember: "the latest" does
not mean "the final"!!!
The Latest Dates:
A one-day private festival by the sand dunes on 02/09/2009
The Tuareg Festival on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of October (2,3,4/10/2009)
The original Ghadames Festival on the 23rd, 24th, 25th of October (23,24,25/10/2009)
New Libyan Visa Law: June 2009:
A new law regarding Libya tourist visa came into effect
on the 1st of June 2009. From now on, that is until further notice, visa
on arrival will no longer be available. Instead all tourists and visitors must
obtain the visa directly from the Libyan embassy (in their country of origin
or in the country they are in at the time of applying: for example: Tunisia or
The procedure however remains the same: we must receive a
copy of the bio page and a copy of its Arabic translation at least two weeks
before arrival, and preferably three weeks, because delays at the immigration
office and at the embassy can occur.
We will then take these copies to the visa office in Tripoli.
The visa office will issue a visa number (or a visa authorisation), which we
will send to you if you have applied for the visa individually, or it will be
telexed or faxed directly by the Libyan immigration office in Libya to the embassy
in your country or in the country you were in when you have applied for the visa.
You then need to contact the embassy with the supplied authorisation
to obtain the visa. We will be paying a small fee for this receipt and for the
time spent processing the application; the actual visa price will be determined
by the embassy and is payable to the embassy. You must let us know when you will
be arriving as our guide, as before, must complete the entry formalities for
you: you cannot enter the country in your own.
The embassy will also request from you to provide other
documents in addition to our visa number and your passport. These include:
bank statements, travel insurance, and a return ticket (if you are flying direct
from the country of your residence or from another country).
Also they may ask
for fingerprints to be taken. This means that it is safer to leave your country
of origin with some bank statements in your pocket and with valid travel insurance.
Although this may seem unnecessary and may add more complications to the already
complicated process, the same applies to all Libyans who apply for a European
visa in Libya - they too are required to provide return tickets, bank statements,
travel insurance, money and so on in order to obtain a European visa.
There is also a new law regarding vehicles (cars) entering Libya:
There are also changes to the law regarding vehicles entering
the country: in addition to all the previous fees, as stated in our website (the
insurance, carnet and plate number), an amount of 150 Libyan dinar must be paid
on each car entering Libya (please see our prices page
for details). This amount is not refundable, as is the case with the amount paid
for the licence plate.
Please come back for the next visa law; soon!
Swine Flue Update: 18 June 2009:
An outbreak of bubonic plague in the Al-Tarsha area (about 40 km south of
Tobruk) has been confirmed by the Libyan government. Also we have reports of
the first suspected case of A (H1N1) - swine flu in Libya; and as a result travellers
arriving from affected countries are being screened on arrival, and any visitor
showing any symptoms of the flu may be placed in quarantine for several days,
or even refused entry The WHO has increased its Pandemic Threat Alert Phase to
Swine Flue: 11 May 2009:
Currently there are no cases of Swine Flu in Libya. However,
all visitors and tourists are being checked and screened on arrival by a Libyan
medical team. Travellers displaying symptoms or suspected to have the symptoms
may be placed in quarantine for several days or refused entry. After confirmed
cases of Swine Flu in Israel, which shares a border with Egypt, the Egyptian
authorities have also introduced medical screening for the virus at several airports.
As of 13 May 2009, 33 countries have officially reported
5728 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection; the worst hit being: United States
of America (3009 cases), Mexico (2059 cases), Canada (358 cases), Spain (98)
and United Kingdom (68).
To check the latest updates, please visit the website of
the World Health Organisation (WHO):
Niger & Tuareg Fighters 'agree to peace':
According to the Libyan state news agency Jana, the government
of Niger and the Tuareg fighters of the Movement of Niger People for Justice
(MNJ) have agreed to end hostilities, after two days of talks in the capital
March 2009: recent changes mean Tourism Police for individual
Owing to a small incident and cross-border criminal activities
in recent weeks the security around the border with Algeria has been tightened.
In addition to the areas bordering Niger, Chad and Sudan, caution needs to be
exercised when visiting areas close to the Algerian border, like Ghat and even
Ghadames. In addition to the regular desert pass, required from
the Libyan authorities for travellers wishing to visit the desert area of Acacus,
a new Libyan law now requires all tourists visiting these areas to be accompanied
by a tourism police. Before, this was a condition for groups of five or more
tourists only. Now even individuals or groups of two or three visiting Acacus
or Ghat require the company of a tourism police.
Update (May 2009): this
requirement has now been lifted , and it is no longer required for individuals
to be accompanied by a tourist police in their visits to Acacus and along the
Libya's Wireless Internet: One of The Most Advanced in
The Libyan internet service provider Libya Telecom & Technology
(ltt.ly) is launching its first wireless network in Libya, known as
WiMax, which the company says is one of the most advanced wireless networks in
the world. The system works by obtaining a special USB adopter which is able
to connect to the internet within 30 miles of any transmission station. This
USB can be plugged into any computer without the need to having any software
installed. The service will cost around 40 Libyan dinars a month (about €24),
plus an advance payment of a one-year subscription. However, currently negotiations
are underway to reduce this price down, to around £15 a month.
Terrorist Threat in Egypt:
Tension in the Middle East and North Africa's Egypt has risen in the wake of
the Israeli-Hamas war in the densely populated Gaza strip, and as a result terrorist
attacks in Egypt, and in other destinations, are expected. Moreover, it was reported
that the Egyptian authorities have suspended issuing travel permits to the areas
near its borders with Sudan and Libya, where a number of bandits still operate.
Libyan Visa-Applicants To Submit Fingerprints:
According to a number of sources, the Libyan Government has introduced a new
visa system requiring visa-applicants to submit their biometric details, effective
from 1 December 2008.
As a Libyan tour operator, we have attempted to confirm this
with the Libyan authorities and came to conclude that this will only apply
to visitors who request the Libyan visa directly from the Libyan embassy;
and that it does not apply to those who are getting their visas at the border
or the airport via their Libyan tour operator. If we hear of any developments
regarding this matter, we will announce them here; otherwise visa at the border
and the airport is as usual.
Libya Flies Journalists To Kufra(h)
The Libyan government sent journalists to the town of Kufrah in support of local
tribal leaders who were outraged by the recent exaggerated media reports of the
Kufra clashes. The journalists reported that schools, shops and businesses were
open as usual, after a
between the youngsters of two local tribes was blown out
of proportion by both the Arab and international media.
Visa News: minimum of five tourists required:
A recent Libyan internal law (November 2008) requires
all visa applications, regardless of nationality, to contain a minimum of five
passports or more. This does not however apply to Business and VIP visas,
as they continue to be available for individual visitors. If you are travelling
alone or within a group of less than five, please write to us for further details.
It is great to be free!
the Libyan General People’s Committee has banned smoking in public places, like
cinemas, public transport, airports, schools and hospitals.
Italy Pays Libya Compensation:
August 30, 2008 (named by Libya as
"the Libyan-Italian Friendship Day")
Italy has agreed to pay Libya US$5 billion as compensation
for its occupation of the country from 1911 to 1943, in a memorandum signed by
the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Libyan leader Col Muammar
al-Qaddafi. Italy will also fund US$500 million worth of electronic monitoring
devices to help Libya crack down on illegal migrants turning up on Italian shores.
There will also be a colonial-era mine clearing project to make the area safer
for both locals and tourists.
The Chad Ordeal:
11 Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt by Sudanese
Five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian
tourists and eight Egyptian guides were kidnapped by Sudanese terrorists on the
19th of September 2008 in southern Egypt. They were attacked near Gilf al-Kabir,
close to the border with Libya and Sudan. Claims laid by Sudanese and Egyptian
officials in that the tourists were said to have been moved into Libya were proved
to have been false. Shortly afterwards, Ali
Yousuf, head of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, reported that all
the hostages were safe. During the tense few days, Egypt's Middle East News Agency
reported a $15m ransom, while Germany was in contact with the kidnappers. During
the clashes that ensued between the terrorists and the Sudanese army, Sudanese
officials have shot six of the kidnappers and taken two more hostages,
and confirmed that the hostages are held in Chad, in the Tabbat Shajara. On
the following day, the 29th of September 2008, the hostages were rescued, unharmed,
and taken to a military base near Cairo. During the search for the kidnappers
and the hostages travel in the Libyan desert area was suspended for a few weeks,
but now all services have returned to normal and there is no travel restriction.
Beltone Financial has opened an office in Tripoli:
Beltone Financial is partnering with the Libyan Economic
and Social Development Fund in a deal to provide a comprehensive suite of services,
including investment banking, securities brokerage and asset management. Beltone
Financial's Chairman, Mr. Aladdin Saba, pointed out that
Libya's economic, social and political climate signals that
the time is right to invest in Libya.
Libya's economy is recovering rapidly, and revenues from
foreign investment and tourism has seen the Libyan Annual per capita income rise
to US$ 16,000.