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Celebrate Libya

Libya gets ready to take center stage

eTN Staff Writer  Sep 01, 2009

Libya's sanctions have for decades impaired access to investors and tourists alike, leaving its five UNESCO World Heritage sites pristine yet unseen. The cave drawings found in the Sahara's Fezzan area, date Libyan civilization back to at least 12,000 BC, and since the country has experienced occupation under Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, and Byzantines, all have left behind traces of their conquests. Visitors to Leptis Magna, Sabratha, or Cyrene can marvel at some of the world's most well preserved ruins, explore the Sahara's exotic wilderness, or simply enjoy a holiday break on one of the 1,200 miles of unspoiled coastline.

Preparations are near conclusion in Tripoli for “Celebrate Libya,” one of Africa's biggest events. The grand celebration will set in motion a week-long series of festivities. Libya appears to be striving not only to outdo any of its earlier Al Fateh revolution anniversaries, but perhaps any event on the continent as well. The historic celebration designed to mark 40 years of Muammar Al Gaddafi, Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution, also commemorates another significant regional milestone - a decade since Africa's countries came together, under his leadership, to form the African Union.

After months of preparation, the festivities are in their final stages of what is considered to be one of the world's largest stages. Working alongside the Libyan government, international planners, builders, and managers have been flown in to ensure next week's success. Eight hundred performers, including hundreds of dancers, unique African animal structures, military bands, flame ballet, and laser projections will bring to life 12,000 years of the land's rich history and see the 120-meter-wide screen stage fill with water to recreate the Mediterranean Sea. To top off the grand event, a fireworks display will light up the sky, launched from ships off the coast of Tripoli. More than 300,000 people are expected to gather in Tripoli's Green Park along with hundreds of special guests and dignitaries.

As for the next seven days, unprecedented events are scheduled to sweep through the country introducing some of Libya's lesser-known national treasures to the world. Their itineraries boast castles, floating restaurants, touareg horse performers, hot air balloons, island escapes, and a circus. Concerts featuring both international and Arab music are to be set in some of the world's best preserved sites of world heritage, while images and lights will be projected on monuments in cities across the country.

Libya is seen by many as a long hidden treasure. And to the joy of flocking business executives from New York to Tokyo, the “Gateway to Africa” has been increasingly liberalizing the role of the private sector. Plans for a 500-unit Movenpick Hotel with a yacht club and a JW Marriott Hotel in Tripoli's new central business district are already underway.

Libya gets ready to take center stage
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