Qaddafi's Odd, Goofy Online Travel Brochure

By Daniel Fromson

Welcome to fabulous Libya, as portrayed by the dictatorship itself. Twelve attractions from Tripoli to Benghazi and beyond.

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"Libya. Warm sun, warm hearts." These are the first five words of the English-language travel guide on the website of the Libyan Investment Board (investinlibya.ly)—and a reminder that the airstrike-stricken country has been trying hard for years to present itself as a beautiful, cosmopolitan, history-rich vacation destination. "Fabulous villages and cities scattered amongst meadows, with oasis everywhere," the site continues. "Historical monuments forests [sic], towering mountains..."

As Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, Muammar's moderate, tourism-friendly son, told reporters last year: "I would like to make Libya the Vienna of North Africa." (Vienna is his favorite city.) "It will happen," he added. "We will create the right environment for tourism in Libya. If you have no drink, no visa, no hotels, nobody will come to Libya."

All of which has led to things like the Libyan Investment Board's website, a reminder that Libya is both a five-UNESCO-world-heritage-site country with a pristine Mediterranean coastline and a place where these visions clash with a bloody revolution. And the Investment Board's website is almost cute—an amateurish mix of breathless travel-brochure prose and things better left unsaid, like that Benghazi "was pretty much pummeled into ruin during WWII."

So here's Libya, not as the news will show it to you, but as Saif and Muammar's Investment Board hopes you'll see it. The attractions below come straight from investinlibya.ly, as do the descriptions, which are direct quotations.


Top image: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/04/qaddafis-odd-goofy-online-travel-brochure/236662/