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By Emma Parker

As a newcomer to Libya, one thing you will learn about the Libyan people is that they love children and are very family orientated.  As a result there is no shortage of toy shops in Libya!  However, although not spoilt for choice, the majority of these shops stock cheap Chinese imported toys which tend to break easily.

There are two toy stores widely used by the expat community as they stock good quality toys and brands such as Little Tikes, Lego, Duplo and Playmobil.

The first store, the Children’s Garden Toys Store, or as it is often referred to by expats, The Little Tikes Store , is found on Gargaresh.  The Children’s Garden Toys Store stocks a range of brands such as Little Tikes, Lego, Duplo, Barbie, Little People and Playmobil.  They stock a modest range of children's outdoor play equipment from Little Tikes, such as slides, sand pits and playhouses.

To find the store, head towards town from the Regatta roundabout.  Once you pass the Omega Centre (on your right), it is in the next strip of shops.  You will see the fake green turf outside the shop which is lined by a white picket fence.  When the shop is open, play equipment is displayed on the grass area, as is a large Playmobil character.

The second store, The Chicco store can be found in two locations.  The first is found on a street off Gargaresh Road in Hai Al Andalus.  The street runs directly behind the Havana Juice Store which is the street marker.  This is a large two storey store, stocking the full Chicco range.  You will be able to purchase toys, prams, baby equipment, clothes and shoes.

Aside from these, there are a number of stores that stock equipment, toys and anything relating to caring for your baby or child.  You will have no trouble finding bottles, feeding equipment and children's clothing.

For more children’s clothing and shoes, try BHS (Gargaresh Rd and Benashur), Next, OVS Industry, Marks and Spencer, Obaibi, Okaidi, Crocs, Pumpkin Patch, Benetton and Monsoon (all located on Gargaresh Rd).

Before you go:

Most important to your child's learning and development is probably a good range of story books.  At this point in time there is only two or three English bookstores in Libya, which cater to English speaking children, so it is wise to bring over a good collection of books with you.  In your home country you may also be used to relying on a local library to help give your child a variety of reading.  There is no English library in Libya so once again, the more books you are able to bring over, the better.

It is also wise to bring extra toys for your children. Many expats often shop for birthday and Christmas presents on return visits home, bringing back a reserve of presents for future occasions.

If you have a young child who is using a particular brand of formula or baby cereal it would be wise to bring a supply of this with you, particularly organic goods.  There are certainly various brands of formula and infant cereals sold in Libya, however the brands and content may vary from what you are able to buy at home.

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Edited Jan 2010