By Kate Minogue

A mobile phone is a must-have. If you are not given one by your company, it is easy to buy a sim-free phone and then get a separate sim card to pay as you go. I started off with a Libyana sim card at LYD 10 but due to poor reception I then bought an Almadar card at LYD 20, and that has been absolutely fine. However, the Libyana cards we had suddenly stopped working and we had to pay LYD 5 each to get them working. Then after a few months it happened again and we had to pay LYD 10 to get them going again. This seemed silly so we used up the remaining credit, and bought another Almadar card at a cost of LYD 50! It seems that the prices vary according to demand. Texts cost 5 cents. A third network is rumoured to be on its way.

Sims are available at phone shops, but are not always easy to find. Top up cards can usually be bought at the supermarket, although again you may not always be able to get what you want.

Take your mobile phone everywhere with you in case of problems and make sure you have the number of an Arabic speaker who can help you if necessary.

When we first moved into our house we had a working landline. It didn’t work for long, so I went to the local post office and after a very long discussion between my driver and an employee, it began to work again. But not for long. Then the guy wanted me to pay him money to fix it which I did (once). But not the second time. I should also say that at this period you would get phone bills which, amazingly considering the fact that the phone was hardly ever working, would be for several hundred dinars. So then a second wireless-based telephone line was arranged via our company and (touch wood) has been going strong ever since. Both this and the original landline (which works very occasionally) now work using pre-pay phone cards similar to mobile phones, charging your account by typing in long strings of numbers. This works out much more economically! You can buy these top up cards in phone shops or supermarkets.

About a year after the first landline finally gave up the ghost, the post office guy turned up and said he had fixed it. Indeed he had. Then he wanted money and I’m afraid he did not get any. Needless to say, it did not work for long. We have a sneaking suspicion that the lines just get disconnected on a regular rota at the exchange so that the "engineers" can charge for reconnection.

The wireless-based line also kept us in touch with the outside world through the Huawei internet which while feeble and erratic was certainly better than having no internet at all. We did try to get ADSL connected via our landline but for some reason the ADSL signal never made it to our house. But now we have a Huawei "Wimax" dongle and our lives have been transformed. It's best to have someone test the reception in your house by bringing their Wimax kit over before you invest, as it's quite expensive. Some people prefer or perhaps need the big black box to increase signal strength, but as that was unavailable at the time I bought, I took the portable dongle. And I have had no problems with it so far. Depending on your lifestyle it can be useful in that you can take it around with you and have internet while you move around Tripoli. For far more detailed, but not necessarily useful, information go to To purchase Wimax equipment ask around, or try the computer mall off Gurgi Road. I bought my dongle at a shop one block towards the sea off Gargaresh Road. Get to the level where the Spanish restaurant is off to your right (as you head towards Tripoli) and where the second of the pair of petrol stations has been demolished. Look to your left across a piece of waste ground and you’ll see a shop with a huge mast on top. That’s the place!

If you want further and more accurate information about internet in Libya, please go to the following site, Techno Libya, who have written an excellent post on internet services in Libya:

Finally, letters! Next time you go to Leptis Magna, send a postcard and see what happens. Out of the two I sent to the UK, one never turned up and one arrived after six weeks. For incoming mail you need a PO box. Details of how to do this are coming separately. I understand that this works fine, but obviously you have to go yourself to the post office and check it. Ironically for a country with no postal deliveries, Libya has a wonderful selection of stamps which make great souvenirs.

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