Libya: Doing business & staying in touch
Doing Business in Libya
Shirts and smart trousers, or smart-casual office dress is acceptable business wear. Suits and ties are worn for more formal occasions. Women should take care to cover shoulders and knees, but many Libyan women dress fashionably in spite of this restriction. English, and often Italian, is widely understood. It is, however, government policy for official documents to be in Arabic (or translated into Arabic) and for official business to be conducted in Arabic. Business visitors need to be fully prepared for this. Appointments are necessary and business cards are useful, though not widely used. Hours for businesses and government offices fluctuate, but the working day starts early.
Sat-Wed 0700-1400 (summer) and 0800-1600 (winter). Many businesses close on Fridays. Private businesses and shops operate differently and are usually open into the evening for shopping. During Ramadan, working hours are different and businesses are usually opened after sunset.
Libya’s biggest challenge in the aftermath of the revolution is to unite the country and reconstruct the fragile economy. The National Transitional Council inherited an economy that is still bruised from the corruption of the Gaddafi regime, but foreign companies are beginning to return to Libyan shores and oil production is once again underway.
National GDP dropped by 60% during 2011, but it is predicted to rise by 70% in 2012. Inflation hit 14% in 2011, but is expected to hover at around two percent in 2012. Revenues from the oil industry still account for the bulk of Libya’s post-conflict economy; in March 2011, the new government said the state’s production of oil was reaching targets of 1.3 million barrels per day.
Unemployment is now estimated to be around 37%, higher than the rate of 30% in 2004. The deflated economy means that even some medical and education graduates cannot find steady work. Major construction projects have been on hold since the revolution, and may remain so until the new administration is able to disarm militias and restore international confidence.
$NA (2011 est.)
Crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas and chemicals.
Machinery, semi-finished goods, food, transport equipment and consumer products.
Main trading partners
Italy, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and Gulf states.
Keeping in Touch in Libya
International calls can be made from internet cafes and telephone offices, readily available in main towns.
Libyana SIM cards for mobile phones are available in most towns, although you may need to bring your passport and register the card to your name. Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is patchy in desert regions.
There are internet cafes in Tripoli, Benghazi and other main towns. Wi-Fi is available in many hotels and some restaurants across the country.
Many independent newspapers have emerged since the end of the revolution; until then, the state controlled a large proportion of the country’s output, with working non-state journalists often afraid to report independently for fear of upsetting the regime. Pro-NTC student or youth publications surged during the conflict, notably in Benghazi.
Libyan and international channels are available in many hotels. Expect films that include adult content to be censored. In terms of radio, The Voice of Free Libya is made up of journalists who broke free from state-run radio. With newspapers, look out for Libya Freedom – dubbed ‘the voice of the revolution’ – Burniq or Libya Today.