Tripoli Local Custom Tips by TheWanderingCamel Top 5 Page for this destination
Tripoli Local Customs: 9 reviews and 22 photos
Clean AND fresh now
....for non smokers!
One of the hazards of visiting Tripoli was the smoking habits of the locals. Smoking was allowed everywhere and hotel rooms and restaurants could, and often did, reek of cigarettes and old tobacco smoke. Not any more! New legislation has seen the banning of smoking indoors in public buildings of all sorts.
Walking around Tripoli, you'll see that everyday dress is not a political issue in Libya, instead distinctions fall along generational lines. You will see people of different generations walking together, each dressed according to their age (photo 1). Ethnicity plays a part too, particularly in the choice of the cloaks older men weat almost all year round - Berber men choosing to wear their traditional white or cream toga-like blanket whilst Arabs wear a cloak that fastens at the neck, younger men tend to eschew both (photos 2 and 3).
Most women choose to wear some form of hijab (photo 4), with older women adding a long coat to their outdoor wear (photo 5), but others, particularly those working in arenas that bring them into contact with non-Muslim visitors to the country, have discarded their headcoverings and all-enveloping coats. There is absolutely no need for women tourists to feel they need do any more than dress as modestly as they would going to visit a rather stuffy maiden aunt.
Whilst many men wear some form of tradtional dress regularly, nowadays women keep their traditional costumes for high days and holidays. These are a much more gorgeous affair. You'll catch a glimpse of them in the fabrics and elaborate gold on sale in the souk but, unless you're fortunate enough to be invited to a wedding or some other celebration, you'll have to be content with photos like the ones here
Libya's solid green flag
Unlike other desert nations where blue, the colour of water, the desert-dweller's most precious asset, is the favourite colour, here in Libya it is "akhdar" - green - the colour of Islam.
Colonel Ghadaffi's Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (to give the country its full name) is a a secular state, but over 95% of the population are Sunni Muslims and solid green field of the country's flag (photo 1) symbolizes both their devotion to Islam and the "Green Revolution" that saw Ghaddafi installed as the "Great Leader"
You'll see the flag flying everywhere in Tripoli, just as you will see green used as the accent colour on all sorts of buildings from mosques (photo 2) to the shutters on the Italianate buildings of the New City (photo 3).
Green Square is the main hub of the city, where the medina meets the 20th century. Virtually every poster (and they are ubiquitous) featuring the Leader (photo 4) or the tenets of the Revolution has a green background, and then there is the Green Book (photo 5) Ghadaffi's personal mainfesto for the"Third Way", his vision of the ideal state.
Seeing wonderfully elaborate outfits (photo 1) and beautifully beaded and embroidered fabrics (photo 2) in the medina, I assumed they were wedding attire, a thought that was confirmed by one of the shop keepers. Having been to a wedding in London where the groom was Libyan and the bride American - a great night with bride and groom's arrival accompanied with traditional drums and women ululating, but still essentially western, I asked a Libyan friend for some details of how it was done in Libya and was told of weddings that lasted four and five days though three is more usual these days.
If a wedding is to last five days, it starts with "hafla", a night of eating, music and dancing (men and women at seperate venues), the bride in traditional costume, the guests in their best finery (photo 3).
Day 2, "nejma" is when the bride is prepared for her wedding with patterrns of henna being aplied to to her feet, arms and hands - a painstaking process that can take hours.
On the third day (goufah"), the groom's family and friends bring gold (photo 4) and gifts to the bride who is dressed in a Western-style white wedding gown (photo 5)as she continues to celebrate with her family and friends. The groom spends the day with his friends and family at a long lunch.
Day 4 (dokhla) is the day the bride is taken to her groom - with much celebration and noise, honking of car horns, drumming and whoops. This is a day for dressing in more traditional finery. The groom wil be subjected to lots of jokes and teasing as this is his wedding night.
Finally comes day 5 (sabayyiha - "the day after), that begins with a big breakfast. More finery is required this day - and the bride may change her clothes three or four times as the day wears on. It must be with a great sense of relief that the newly-wed couple finally escapes to go on honeymoon together - alone at last!
My photos are all from the souk, but fellow VtER, Omran has some lovely wedding photos in a travelogue.
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