Libya prepares to celebrate revolution

Preparations are near conclusion for ‘Celebrate Libya’, one of Africa’s biggest ever events, in Tripoli Saturday.

The grand celebration will then set in motion a week-long series of festivities for the world to enjoy.

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.

Libyan leader Gaddafi

Libyan leader Gaddafi

After months of preparation, the festivities are in their final stages on 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.

The architect behind ‘Celebrate Libya,’ Philippe Skaff, remarks on his experience throughout the project, “I was an explorer about to embark on a journey of a lifetime with the chance to write the most impressive chapter of the story of my life and this unique challenge has evolved in terms of content to extreme proportions.

It is a beautiful thing to control the full event management and the people of Libya made it enjoyable and rewarding from start to finish.” 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. The show is orchestrated by the French company, Group F, who are credited with some of the most impressive light displays including the Eiffel Tower’s Millennium Celebrations and the famed Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve.

More than 300,000 people are expected to gather in Tripoli’s Green Park along with hundreds of special guests and dignitaries. Place-cards have already been made for the likes of Berlusconi, foreign ambassadors, leaders of industry and celebrities, along with most, if not all, African heads of state who will already be attending the August 31st Africa Union Summit hosted by Libya.

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.

Ranked as the second wealthiest country in Africa, after Equatorial Guinea, Libya’s GDP reached over $100bn last year and has remained largely unaffected by the global economic crisis.  Along with Nigeria, it is also the continent’s largest oil producer with reserves of at least 36bn barrels of high quality oil. In a time when the Gulf’s reserves are limited, conflict in West Africa, and Russia’s logistically difficult business environment, Libya’s largely unexplored hydrocarbon industry appears highly promising.

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.

The country has even partnered with the Middle East’s leader in alternative energy innovation, the UAE, on an ambitious eco-tourism project in the Jebel Akhdar. Other industries with emerging opportunities include telecommunications, real estate and tourism. 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’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 B.C. and since, the country has experienced occupation under Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and Byzantines, all leaving 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.

Libya’s rich history, culture and its determination to see change happen will be a celebrated by the most historical opening to the world on September 1st, 2009.

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