Having worked for several local companies under the Libyan national payroll scheme, we were thrilled when my husband received a job offer from a prominent US corporation located in Tripoli.  The significantly larger salary meant that I was able to take time away from work to stay at home with our toddler, and for the first time money was not an issue.  But after a well deserved shopping spree in Girgarish, a celebratory dinner at Corinthia and stocking up on more food than we could eat from Souk Talat, the initial glee faded quickly. We were left with the dilemma of coming up with a new routine that would accommodate hubby's new (and excessively long) work hours (for a Libyan family)!

It's no secret that the number of expat companies setting up offices in Libya is on the rise. You may have read or shared stories on lookoutlibya.com of how your lives have changed (for better or worse) after moving here, but I think the general consensus is that expats find life here less stressful and more laid back than in their home countries.  Well, that doesn't ring true for a young Libyan family trying to find steady ground!  Once upon a time, we used to laze around on hot summer afternoons, having enjoyed long lunches after a relatively short work day (typically from 8 am to 1pm).  Albeit we did work six days a week, but we were actually more productive, and the afternoon siesta or qalula, ended just in time for us to emerge from our homes again when the shops started to open for their evening shifts.  The hours between 2 to 5 pm were blissfully peaceful, now traffic is inescapable at all times of the day.

Libyans welcome expat companies and foreign investments with open arms.  Without them we cannot progress. But I think there are a few lessons to be learned from the way we do business here.  It has been scientifically proven that workers are most productive during the first 3-4 hours of the work day, after which a short power nap of just 30 minutes is enough to revitalize stagnant brain activity.  The Libyan qaylula also offers shelter from the blazing summer sun, and brings down activity levels to help keep our bodies cooler.  With that I hope any expat in upper management, who has honored me with reading my ramblings, will reconsider their company's "9 to 5" work structure.  This will be the greatest gift you could give a stay at home mom, who still can't figure out whether to serve lunch or dinner when hubby gets back from work!


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By Sarah Elmusrati

Sunday 6th June 2010

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