Author Archives: ntclibya

French Special Forces Now In Libya Fighting IS

It has been revealed that French Special Forces have been secretly helping the Libyan troops in their battle against Islamic State militants. The revelation came from anonymous Libyan military officials – who are not authorized to speak to the press on the subject.

Additionally, the French have kept quiet about their involvement. When asked whether or not the information was correct, the French defense ministry simply refused to comment, before citing their policy which prevents them from passing comment on any activities that their special forces might be involved in.

The information has suggested that the French have set up an operations room in Banina air base in Benghazi, with this setting them alongside both the U.S. and Britain who already have troops there. As well as this, it is understood that the French are working alongside the countries to gather further information on the location of IS militants.

While some might view the French’s involvement as help to Libya, it’s not viewed completely positively. It has been claimed that various Salafist factions who work alongside Libya’s eastern army are unhappy with other countries intervening.

Despite this, the U.S. is still hoping to have the support of other countries, most notably France, the UK and Italy, as they bid to overcome IS forces. The U.S. has recently carried out airstrikes around Sabratha and while this is understood to have killed many IS fighters, it is thought that Serbian hostages were amongst the fatalities as well.

Libya is still attempting to recover from the aftermath of the uprising that resulted in the ousting of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The upheaval has allowed IS to take advantage and ultimately take control of major cities within the country.

The situation is not aided by the fact that Libya is now governed by two parliaments. One is internationally recognized and is based in the east around Tobruk, with the rival one is around Tripoli and backed by Islamist allies.

There is hope that a new government will be introduced in the near future. The United Nations have recently united several factions within the country, but this proposed unity government requires ratification from the eastern parliament. Once this has been received, it is hoped that international military operations will be much easier to arrange against IS.

For the time being, the situation simply appears to be worsening though.On Wednesday, the security headquarters of Sabratha were overtaken by Islamic State affiliates – resulting in 12 officers being beheaded. While the attackers were eventually driven out, it showed just how vulnerable the whole country is in the current instability.

International forces are frantically trying to devise solutions to thwart such attacks. Italy has been the most recent nation to make a significant move and the country now permits American drones to take off from Sicily. The main requirement with this is that the drones are only to be used for the purposes of targeting IS extremists based in Libya.

Additionally, an anonymous Italian defense ministry has claimed that there are further issues for the Americans to satisfy before launching drones. Each and every time drones are to take off from Sicily, Washington will have to request permission from the Italian government. It’s understood that Italy are only prepared to grant this permission if the purpose is to protect military personnel, rather than launch an offense.

As such, there is still little flexibility open to the likes of the U.S. who are the main force against IS. Nevertheless, with the French Special Forces now involved and the United Nations hoping to push through the new unity government, there is hope that the situation will start to gradually improve.

Health, Fitness and Safety Advice When Travelling To Libya

It doesn’t matter what their destination is, tourists are always slightly more at risk than locals themselves.

Usually, this is because of obvious issues such as failing to understand the culture or the language, meaning that it’s much more difficult to take charge of a situation if something gets out of hand.

However, when the travelling revolves around a country experiencing political turbulence, things suddenly take a turn for the even more dangerous.

Libya is the prime example and while it might not be one of the renowned holiday destinations, some people still travel there either on business or to experience some alternate culture.

Therefore, if you are one of the minority who are taking to Libya, here is some essential health, fitness and safety travel advice to protect you during your stay.

 

Road Travel

road travel

While most travellers tend to stay on-site at their hotel, if you are part of a group who is opting to use the country’s road system then do so at your own risk.

The roads themselves are actually in decent condition, but it goes without saying that this isn’t the primary risk when getting behind the wheel in Libya.

Instead, one has to be wary of other reckless drivers and it goes without seeing that the normal precautions involving a seatbelt should be adhered to at all times.

The biggest risk in relation to road driving is violence though. With the country in something of a turbulent state, off-road driving is not advisable at any time. Ensure that you are always in an area with plenty of other cars and never be persuaded to take any short cut – the dangers are too severe.

 

Air Travel

air travel

Unfortunately, it’s not just the roads that can prove to be dangerous. There have been several occasions where airports have been closed and in the case of Benghazi, which happens to be one of the country’s main cities; this airport has been closed since May 2014 due to violent clashes between groups.

As well as having the potential to close at a whim, you must also be aware that flight schedules change regularly for all of the above reasons.

Therefore, always check to see if your flights are operating as expected.

 

Crime

crime

The situation in Libya also means that crime levels are much higher than what you would expect in your home country. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about petty crime either, with robberies, car-jackings and muggings all being commonplace. Furthermore, these cases can occur anywhere due to the lack of police presence on the street.

Tourists should be aware that they are as much at risk as anyone else visiting Libya as well. For example, in the summer of 2014, a British diplomatic convoy was the subject of a car-jacking. Again, it all comes down to the appropriate planning and making sure that you do everything in your power to minimize the risks whilst travelling around the country.

 

Terrorism

terrorism

On a similar note, terrorism is also prevalent in the country and visitors must be wary. Westerners are particularly at risk here and this isn’t necessarily due to the situation in Libya, but because of the influence of individuals from Iraq and Syria.

There have been numerous instances of terrorism over the past year and it should again go without saying that you need to be vigilant at all times. Additionally, try and make sure that you do not venture near the border areas as this is where attacks can be even more common.

 

Health & Immunizations

vaccine

It goes without saying that all of the above issues are especially important when it comes to travelling to Libya, but one should also not forget the health issues.

Like all countries, there are certain diseases that affect Libya and anyone travelling there should have all of the necessary immunizations to protect his body. This should involve the following:

  • You should make sure that all of your primary immunizations and boosters are up to date. Your doctor’s surgery will have your vaccination history, which you should consult to ensure the above is the case.
  • You should also seek to obtain the Hepatitis A vaccine. This disease tends to be spread through contaminated food and water, or via person-to-person. As such, considering the fact that you are visiting a country where alternate hygiene practices will be adopted, this vaccination is highly recommended.
  • If you are arriving from a country which has a risk of yellow fever transmission, you will have to obtain a yellow fever vaccination certificate before you are permitted fit to enter Libya.

 

As well as the above core information, some travelers may wish to obtain additional vaccines to further safeguard themselves. These include:

  • Diphtheria: This is a disease which is spread via respiratory droplets. You will be most at risk if you are liaising with local people in poor conditions, but if most of your stay is going to be in clean conditions, or on-site at a hotel, you should not be affected.
  • Hepatitis B: This is a condition which is spread through infected blood products; usually involving sexual intercourse or contaminated needles. Suffice to say, it’s advisable to avoid either of the above. This might mean carrying your own medical kit with sterile needles.
  • Rabies: Again, if you are reserving most of your stay on-site at a hotel, this should not be a problem. Rabies is carried via the saliva of infected animals.
  • Tetanus: This is spread through cuts and burns which come into contact with tetanus spores.
  • Typhoid: This is spread similarly to Hepatitis A, with contaminated food and drink being the cause.

 

Emergency Contact Numbers

The international dialing code for Libya is +218. Emergency numbers for the country are:

  • 193 – Police
  • 190 – Fire
  • 191 – Ambulance

 

Travel Insurance

travel

In summary of the above, travel insurance is absolutely essential whilst traveling to Libya.

If you do require medical attention during your stay, most hospitals will demand to see some form of documentation proving that you have the means to fund your course of treatment.

Top 5 Beauty & Spa Hotels in Libya

It might not be a destination that rolls off the tip of the tongue of travel agents, but there’s no doubt that Libya does appeal to travelers looking for a unique getaway. Like all countries in Africa, the temperatures become exceptionally high while there is also some culture to explore if one prefers. In other words, it can make for the perfect all-in one getaway.

In terms of the spa experiences, there are countless hotels around who are susceptible to the needs of travelers who are just looking to get away and relax. They are made up of a mixture of big chains, and local resorts, as we take a look at the best five spa hotels in the country.

Pictures are courtesy of TripAdvisor.

 

Corinthia Hotel Tripoli

Corinthia Hotel Tripoli

One look at the exterior of this hotel tells you exactly why it has made it into pole position on our list. The Corinthia Hotel Tripoli looks like something from the Las Vegas strip – in other words, it’s just purely exuberant.

Fortunately, things don’t suddenly stop as you venture in the hotel. Whether it’s business or pleasure, it’s one of the most spacious hotels around and includes several restaurants to provide guests with different cuisines. For example, those guests that might prefer a simple buffet are catered for, as are people who like Moroccan, Italian or just local food.

In terms of the spa and leisure facilities, there is both an indoor and outdoor pool as well as an on-site gym, make-up salon and more. Elsewhere, the staff are some of the friendliest around, while all of the mod cons such as Wi-Fi, business suites and a bank are available so you really don’t have to leave the site at all.

 

Al Mahary Radisson Blu Hotel, Tripoli

Al Mahary Radisson Blu Hotel, Tripoli

Based in the same area of Tripoli, in some ways the Al Mahary Radisson Blu Hotel differs greatly from the other establishment we have just looked at. After all, this is a chain hotel and as we all know, Radisson are one of the big players in the hotel industry.

On first glance, the hotel looks like any other Radisson building out there – with the famous logo splashed vertically alongside a huge pillar. Just like all Radisson hotels, this sets the scene for a hugely modern establishment and that’s pretty much what visitors are greeted by.

Unsurprisingly, it attracts a lot of business visitors and the fact it boasts its own business center obviously acts as a big attraction to this niche.

Many past visitors have commented on the excellent harbor views that the Al Mahary prompts, while others have suggested that it is one of the most relaxing health and spa hotels in the vicinity.

In short, the Al Mahary is a trusted establishment, run by a trusted brand, who provide a pool and all of the other essential features you would demand from a spa-like hotel.

 

Al Waddan Hotel

Al Waddan Hotel

In comparison to the other establishments that have been looked at, there’s no doubt that the Al Wadden Hotel differs greatly. The exterior isn’t anywhere near as modern, but the traditional appearance perhaps means that it caters to a slightly different type of guest. In other words, it’s more targeted towards those individuals who are looking for a true sense of Libya. On that note, for those interested in the history, this is in fact the oldest hotel in the country and it used to be used as a casino.

Even though the exterior may look more rustic than other options, don’t be under the impression that the Al Waddan is a downgrade. On the contrary, the rooms here are highly regarded and are fully equipped and extremely spacious.

In terms of the leisure facilities, the hotel boasts a stunning outdoor pool which is surrounded by palm trees and seating. Additionally, the gym is always a favorite amongst guests, with many surprised at just how much modern equipment is there.

 

Four Seasons Hotel

Four Seasons Hotel

Out of all of the hotels we have looked at so far, there’s no doubt that the Four Seasons is perhaps the most unique out there. It certainly doesn’t hold the initial ‘wow factor’ that some of the other suggestions have, but again for anyone who is looking to lap up traditional Libya this could prove to be the perfect opportunity.

Housed in a structure made primarily from glass, on first glance the Four Seasons Hotel appears extremely modern. However, once you venture inside the building, things suddenly take a turn for the rustic. The bedrooms are completely traditional, while the lobby area is also decked out heavily in wood and furniture that is bordering on antique-esque.

The size of the hotel means that eating facilities are at a premium, although there is a cafe located adjacently which most guests thoroughly recommend. In terms of leisure facilities, the swimming pool is situated in the basement and provides a nice getaway from hectic day-to-day life.

 

Dar Tellile

Dar Tellile

The final hotel that we suggest is probably a cross between all of the establishments that we have passed judgement on so far. From the outside, Dar Tellile is a cross between modern and traditional and certainly makes an impression as a building.

Then, when one steps inside the hotel, things take an even bigger turn for the impressive. Decked out in marble, the interior is hugely extravagant and will make an impression on even the most hard-to-please guest. The lobby, set in something of a courtyard, is a particularly nice touch and sets the scene for what guests will encounter through their stay.

In terms of on-site facilities, the Dar Tellile has its own pool and gym. However, most guests simply prefer to nip off to the beach, which happens to be a stone’s throw away at the end of the establishment. Additionally, the majority of the rooms have their own balcony which looks out onto the beach – creating utterly picturesque views.

The rooms will be more than sufficient for most guests as well. They all have flat screen televisions, while the bathrooms are spacious and provide ample facilities.