By: Huda Biuk:
It is standard of every foreigner visiting Libya to ask the infamous question: where can I go to have a nice time, take a walk perhaps?
But what every foreigner should know is that you already have something in common with the locals.
Where to go? Where to go? This is not only a common question, but a shared plight for the majority of families living in the capital. Keeping in mind that Libyan society is conservative and takes pride in that, family outings have to match what are considered to be family-friendly criteria.
The main criterion is that interaction between opposite sexes is extremely limited or non-existent. Though families often include a mixture of both male and female members, many families will often assess a sight and will automatically turn back if there seems to be a majority of young male groups chilling in near proximity.
Public places in Libya either have a reputation of being family oriented, or shababi – bachelor oriented.
It is no secret that Libyans enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, and that sections of it are often designated for family use only. However, most days families would prefer a sand-free option for a family outing.
One place that meets this criteria as well as various criterion of fun is what is known as the ‘Furusiya’. Situated off the coastal road and approximately 4 kilometres from the old city, this hot spot provides a variety of options for family, fun and recreation.
Besides its strategic location, the Furusiya offers a number of conveniences and recreational options including, a field where 5-a-side soccer games can be played and enjoyed by spectators, running tracks of various types – including sand, asphalt and a rubber-surface running tracks.
A cafe near the entrance overlooks the water’s edge and there is even a small mosque on sight so that visitors can enjoy even more time at the Furusiya without worrying about missing mandatory prayers
While most people visit the Furusiya to run its tracks, in the centre of all the heart-pumping adrenaline are outdoor playground sets for young visitors. Swing sets, miniature clubhouses, the works.
For many children in Tripoli, these playgrounds are the only ones they have access to. For mothers, there are bench tables surrounding the play areas and well-lit paths for quiet walks.
If any of our readers are by now wondering if this article is meant to play as an advertisement. The answer is no, simply because, well, It doesn’t need the advertisement.
In Ramadan, visitors can enjoy a good time at the Furusiya until an hour past midnight, and with schools out, hundreds of visitors do not leave until closing hour. While the Furusiya has a lot to offer its many visitors many families complain that the sum of crowds often deters from the Furusiya’s relaxing effects.
And yet, the infamous question continues to be swapped between locals: Where are you headed? There is always a hint of hope in the question that another family-friendly option is out there – a place that offers something for every member of the family. However to this question most often is: Where else?
(This article was originally published in Tripoli Post on 7/27/2013. The author is Huda Biuk.)