DAY 1: Arriving in Libya (beyond expectations)

DAY 1: Arriving in Libya (beyond expectations)

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The --- --- in 2011. We saved a lot of Libyan lives. Now, could we have done more after the --- --- was ended? Well, that's always, you know, second-guessing, and I'm sure that there's more we could have done but let's look at what we did do.

A complex and highly —— situation. The international effort that we have led in Libya. We finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over. Coming to you from Istanbul International Airport about to get on a flight with the Libyan Wings Airline and fly to Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

Been quite stressful to even get approval from the supervisor at the check-in desk to be led in even though I already have a visa, a business visa. That's how you get into the country. It's a long process. I'll explain it to you later. Now we've got to go, get on a plane, fly to Libya, a country with a very dark recent past. I've been told by the guy I'm meeting on the ground there in Tripoli that it's pretty much guaranteed to be interrogated, so nerves are a bit high at the moment. Let's go through security and fly to Libya.

Here we are in the capital of Libya. Here we are in Tripoli. It's insane and crazy to be here. I've wanted to come here for two years, finally here. We're going out right now to explore around the city a bit.

Let me just quickly explain to you. You could see I filmed there on my phone because I'm here technically on business and I don't want to draw attention to myself by using this camera. Flying into the airport was pretty insane because that's actually not the main airport that we flew into. The old airport was ——, and so this is a new temporary airport, but even the one we flew into, there was old planes around half —— planes, —— in the walls of the buildings, it's pretty intense. Apparently, it's a lot more stable now, but yeah, it's quite intense to be here. It's hard to feel. It feels pretty okay so far,

but you never know, so I have to be really careful with the camera. For obvious reasons, they're very, you know, on the edge about any kind of filming or, you know... It's just quite a tense situation, so anyway, I've got my local guy waiting on me, so I better go, so let's go explore Tripoli, Libya, crazy. Thank you.

Okay, so we've driven around Tripoli for a bit, and we've come down to the beautiful Mediterranean coast here with Abubaker. Hi! He's going to be my main man in Libya. Looking after me, right? Absolutely yeah, we'll make sure to have a great time. Cool and check out the sunset. First impressions of Tripoli seems much calmer than I expected. You know, obviously, after years and years of media and seeing, you know, horrifying things that obviously did happen, and you know a failed state for many years, you know your mind always defaults to the worst, but so far it seems pretty stable.

Obviously, I only just got here a couple of hours ago, but people seem friendly. There is —— presence and —— presence in the street, and you know I'm sure it's quite difficult with the camera and everything, but we'll see how we go just really beautiful to be here by the sunset. You know, these are the scenes that you don't really think of when you think of Libya. Lots of local people fishing, we drove past lots of families playing on the beach.

Something that definitely sticks out about Tripoli is it's very mixed. You have these nice looking places, and then you have these places that have obviously seen ——, ——, and then you go around the corner you see a nice new coffee shop. It's quite the contrast in places. So this is the castle. It's now the national museum. Wow! It's an absolutely beautiful museum, but it's been closed since 2011.

So, it's the following day. Here we are on the roof of the hotel, beautiful view of the Mediterranean and the rest of the city here. We're about to drive, you know, all the way through the desert, it's going to be, you know, five, six hours plus through the desert. Going to another town further out, we're gonna see what we can find on the way, see if we can come across some people to meet.

Let's get on the road and explore more of Libya. We are going to be coming back to Tripoli, but we're going to continue into a different part of the country today, so it should be pretty interesting. So far, it's nothing like what I expected. Okay, so we've driven through the Sahara desert for like two hours. It's quite hot here. We've come to this historical site here.

They used to store olive oil and grain in these vaults. This was like a bank. Anyway, so we've arrived in this local town here.

—— presence on the way was a lot less than I had expected, considering the recent past here. Because foreigners are so rare here in Libya, a whole force of the local —— have come out to meet us, and so I've asked them if I can ask them some questions and they're happy to be on film, so it's a good opportunity to talk to some local officials. Okay, so we're here with Abubaker, who's showing me around in Libya, and we're here with officer Barker.

Do you like being an officer here? Do you like your job? A hundred percent. And so, where I come from, the image of Libya is... People say it's —— and it's not safe. Do you think that I'm safe being here, and do you feel safe living here? He said that the answer to that is really...

You can see for yourself, what do you think? Do you feel safe since you've arrived here or not? So, there's your answer. And do you feel safe? He feels very safe, yeah. For people, maybe in the western world, that see you Libyans in a certain way, what would you tell them? He said that the message is Libya is getting much better and it's improving every day, and you've seen Nick, now coming all the way from Tripoli was no like, such thing as checkpoints or —— or any of that.

A normal ordinary street. So, it's only going to get better and better. That's his message to people from the west. - Shukran. - Shukran.

- Shukran. - Shukran. Okay, we have been driving through the Sahara for a couple more hours, and we've come up to this mountain top. We're driving over this mountain, actually. Check out the view.

Not sure why but there's just destroyed cars down here, and then we're on this winding road up through the desert here in Libya. It's quite the scene. So, as many of you will know, Libya is a very oil-rich country. That's where the majority of its money comes from. Petrol here is extremely cheap.

We're about to go and get some. I'm gonna film the process. It's gonna be quite interesting. I think it's like three cents a liter. You just get it off these guys on the side of the road, and I think because we're going so far through the desert today, it's gonna be about seven hours driving through the desert today or more, so we have to load up extra fuel and possibly put it in the back of the car.

Interesting thing about Libya it's actually a huge country, you know, one of the top 20 biggest countries in the world, but it's got a very small population in terms of how big it is. I think there's only around 6 million people live in here and 3 million of those live in Tripoli, where we've come from. So, you've got so much vast desert out here, with you know, nobody in sight.

Because it's so sparsely populated, there's not going to be many opportunities for petrol when we're driving through the desert, and you do not want to run out of petrol in the middle of the Sahara. Salam Alaikum. So we've come to the petrol station but apparently these are always empty, and so we've met up with a guy, and he's got two tanks of gas on the back seats of his car. So Abubaker, can you just explain to us what's going on here roughly because it's quite a unique situation, right? Yeah, so what's happening here in Libya. This is half a liter of water is about 10 cents our petrol in Libya is three cents per liter. That's across all of Libya, so that's very cheap, almost free especially comparing to the countries around us like Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africa.

That gives us a problem basically up here in the mountains we get a shortage because as you can see Nick petrol station is there, but it's closed. And the reason for that all the fuel gets smuggled to other countries like Tunisia, sub-Saharan Africa. Because it's so cheap. Because it's so cheap, and it's sold 100 times the price of what you get here locally across the border, you know.

So then we have to buy it effectively from the black market to get it done. Where does this fuel come from, Tripoli or? No, it could, or when this opens, which it does, he would go there and grab as much as he can and have it save somewhere and then resell it effectively. So he's a small fish, you know, but we're talking about people who have hundred thousand liters, containers and even more so... And do you think this will be enough to get us across the Sahara without getting stranded in the desert? I think this would work out fine. I had a problem calculating with mileage and kilometers, but this should take us all the way to Ghadamis now.

And so, how much does this cost roughly for these two big tanks? I don't know. He said he'll tell me in a minute. So the price has yet to be decided? I think so, it's being negotiated between him and him. Okay. Two dollars. - Two dollars for 20 liters? - For 20 liters, yeah. But if I was in Tripoli, I would get it for...

Just about 70 cents but yeah, something like that. - So, more than double? - More than double. - But it's still, you know. - It's in the middle of the desert. Yeah, and it's very cheap. I mean, he's providing a service. Definitely. And is it quite common for people to be doing this kind of rogue setups?

Yeah, in fact, if you go to Zuwara which is on the border, you'll find people like him, they have special tanks designed in their cars which will take 100 liters and literally they will drive to Tunisia sell it to the local people in there and then drive back to Zuwara fill up and keep doing that. - It's a good business. - It's a business, yes, yeah. You could end up with maybe 100 dollars a day or something like that. It's really quite surreal to think that this costs, you know, a few dollars to fill up a massive Land Cruiser's petrol tank.

It's insane. - Is it the spare one we're gonna take it? - Yeah, we're gonna take it with us. Is that approved by the safety council? What's that? It doesn't exist in Libya. - Shukran. - Thank you.

So here we are in the desert. We've pulled over and driven for, I don't know, probably six hours so far still got more to go. We're meeting a guy here, though, and we're gonna do some, I think, four-wheel driving or something, so that should be fun. The interesting thing about, you know, the roadsides here on the side of the desert you'll just come across these random buildings like, there's one in the distance there, it's just coated with —— and smashed windows from ——, and... You know, since the revolution, there's been a lot of outbreak of —— and things and in many different parts of Libya.

It's obviously very complex, but you know, as you've seen, it's reasonably stable now wherein the parts of the country that I've been to, but other parts of the country are still, you know, a bit iffy. But yeah, there's so many of these just random buildings in the middle of nowhere that have just, you know, coated in ——. Some of them are okay, some of them not so much, but yeah. It is hot.

After the four-wheel driving, we're actually going to the border of Tunisia and Algeria. It's like a triangle of borders there. Yeah, right now, if you were to get a map out and point to the middle of nowhere, that's where we would be.

So, we've driven out through the desert, and we've come to this spring, and it's 35 meters deep. It's just naturally here. There's locals here swimming, jumping in.

It's like a little kind of holiday spot, I guess, I don't know. It definitely looks inviting in this weather. It's like I don't know 30, 40 degrees. So we're here with Moza, and he's driven us out into the middle of the desert here. He walked the tourists when they used to come, take them in groups as well, as their driver.

Before 2011. Okay, and then if some people lost their camels or something, then he would be the guy to go and find them. I asked them what happened if they make their way to Algeria because it's close, so they will just send them back to us. Okay, so before 2011, before the revolution, he was able to work in tourism, but now he has to find other jobs to kind of fulfill his needs? - So he's opened like a garage. - Like mechanics? Yeah, he tried one in Tripoli said he didn't like it. Come back, opened here, and he's raising camels and things like that.

Is it a hard life out here, or is it comfortable? There is no time to sleep. - Right, so just constantly working. - Constantly working to make a living. He said tourism now is picking up internal tourism. So Libyans have started coming in, so now they're replacing the... Instead of Italians and Europeans, the foreigners, he's dealing with that, so he's doing a bit of that. Apart from economic problems, do you feel safe here? No, there's anything. He feels very safe in here.

From 2013 he said things have been so, so good in here in this area anyway. It had a bit after the revolution, very much different from the coastal area. Shukran. So, we've just driven up to the sand dunes here. You can see them in the background here. You can see over here in the distance there's some cars moving on the desert.

It's quite far, but we just met those guys. Packing serious heat, they've got automatic —— and lots of —— in the back of their trucks. We met them and shook their hands obviously, I didn't film it, but is good to be reminded where we are, you know, in Libya. So many hours driving through the desert, we've arrived in Ghadamis, which is actually right next to the border of Algeria and Tunisia.

Please keep in mind during this Libya series that I'm doing the best I can under the control to see interesting things and meet people, but it is quite controlled of what you are and what you aren't allowed to do. We are constantly monitored by the ——. They're actually phoning and seeing where we are at certain points in the day. So, we have to be quite careful, and even talking to somebody who maybe would be assumed not the best person to be talking to their opinion being shared is quite a challenge. Mainly what the —— want you to see are historical sites. I'm trying to kind of, you know, get off that path and meet people and see the modern-day kind of culture and how life is in today but that has proven quite difficult, but I'm going to keep pushing, and we're going to see what we can do with the resources we have.

Abubaker is a great guide. He's really trying to help me out here, but you know, we can only do what we can, you know, even just being in this town, we've been told we can't talk to anybody on the streets. And we've arrived in this huge hotel in the middle of the desert. I'll show it to you in another upcoming video, but it's just this huge grand hotel, I just got lost coming from the dining room back to the room, and there's nobody here, we're the only ones here.

Huge dining room all empty seats, like we're doing hundreds of rooms, and they're all empty. From what we've seen, I haven't seen another guest here. Please bear with me.

I'm trying to show you the best of what I can with the resources I have. Like I say in Libya, keep in mind that Libya is, you know, a very closed country. You're not allowed to come here for tourism. Let's continue this "business" trip, and I will see you in the next video.

Thank you for watching. Yeah, this country is proving to be really interesting for many different reasons. Driving across the desert today was exhausting. Nine hours in the desert in the hot sun, it was like 30, 40 degrees, but you know that's why we travel.

Okay, in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night from Libya.

2021-06-21 16:39

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