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Tripoli / Libya

A four-day three-night desert tour-ruins, followed by serene moonlight

Takeki Mizushima/ TripoliOffice, Marubeni Corporation

On December 16, 2008, I came to Libya on flight BA898. To this day I remember the things that struck me as I arrived at Tripoli Airport—the glaring sun, the sparse greenery, and the low-rise square buildings. Recently, there has been a rush of activity in this same Libya, including construction of medium-rise condominiums and commercial complexes. In April of this year, an elegant two-story Turkish hotel surrounded by greenery opened behind the Tripoli Zoo.

They say that there are four things to see in Libya: the Grecian ruins in the east, the Roman ruins in Tripolitania, the Ghadames—an important and thriving strategic point for trade in ancient times—in the west, and the desert. Team Mizushima also took part in a four-day three-night desert tour, which I will describe below.

Our journey began from Sabha Airport, one hour south of Tripoli by plane—the morning after we landed there, we hired three four-wheel vehicles and set out. As I recall, there was desert, desert, and more desert; no people, no cars, and no mobile phone reception. The tires were engulfed by soft, fine sand, and we were stalled for a time. Wearing shoes here would be boorish—the cool sensation against the soles of your bare feet was the most comfortable feeling. Then we visited Matchandoush, which comprises the remains of the giraffes, monkeys, alligators, and rhinos that lived in the jungles and woods that covered the area over ten thousand years ago, here animals are distinctly carved, and there are rock piles here and there, albeit in disorderly fashion. And it is still hours to go to the heart of the desert.

We pitched a tent in the shade of a sand dune, without a soul around, right in the center of the Murzuq Desert, and enjoyed the delicious food that the cook prepared for us over a fire made from the remnants of shrubbery—including Libyan soup, Libyan salad, and couscous. And there we were in the desert, with nothing but the moonlight and starlight—a vast expanse spread out before us, without a sound, and without a single object to obscure the view. Right up close, the Big Dipper looked like a clock running counterclockwise. To express the feeling succinctly in Japanese haiku form: “Silence…circling the Big Dipper…desert in spring”

The next morning, we dashed up to the top of the sand dune and drank in the full power of the sunrise. In a word, it was amazing—a moment that struck me with just how tiny and insignificant we humans are. And the Mafo, Um Almma, Gabroun, and Mandera oases are views to treasure as well—with reflections like mirrors at their surface.

Well, I set out to introduce you to a bit of Tripoli here, but I will close by adding that Libya is an area with great business potential, and that I would like us at Marubeni to be a step or two ahead of other companies toward the goal of realizing that potential.


Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.59 (September, 2010)

  • The view from the Corinthia Hotel downtown
  • The desert stretches on and on at Ghadames
  • The tires were engulfed by soft sand.
  • Matchandoush rock depictions
  • Matchandoush rock depictions
  • Early morning-with its steep, sudden drop in temperature. The sun rising against a sea of stars across the sky.
  • desert

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