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By Kate Minogue

Tarek Benrewin has always loved books, so it is entirely natural that he should one day open a bookshop. To open an English-language bookshop in Tripoli, however, is a little more unusual. Although Tarek was born in Libya, he spent his early childhood in Canada, and then, after a few years in Libya, moved on to Edinburgh (Scotland). He speaks English fluently and travels all over North Africa in his role of Educational Consultant and Representative for Cambridge University Press.

Al-Resalah 2 is (obviously) connected to the original Al-Resalah bookshop in the centre of Tripoli. They are both official stockists for Cambridge University Press. The aim of the new bookshop is to develop into the style of  an American or European bookshop, where you can do a little more than simply buy a book, perhaps have book club meetings, for example. Having said that, you do have a good choice of English-language books, particularly for English-language teaching, but also covering the fields of literature (fiction and poetry), design, sport, cookery, crafts, gardening, and health and beauty. A small second-hand section is emerging which Tarek  hopes to expand in the future. And he would also like to include other languages such as French and Spanish.

New stock is delivered every two months, but if you need something faster, books can also be brought in from Cairo where Tarek is based. He visits Libya about every five weeks. Prices are extremely reasonable and it’s well worth going to have a browse. Interestingly, the best seller since the shop opened on 1 January this year is a large and beautiful book of antique maps. You might be surprised at what you can find there.

Getting there … Tarek is still waiting for a licence to put up a sign, but the shop is relatively easy to find and is in a peaceful residential area.  If you come from the gigantic Suq Thalat roundabout and then go along Gurgi Road, you should  take the second road on your right. A short distance along you will find a shop set slightly back from the road, up a few steps, and with a carpet of artificial grass in front. This is Al-Resalah 2. It is run by a brother and sister team from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., every day but Friday.

Tarek has all sorts of dreams and plans for the future, but for now he is kept busy with his work for C.U.P. He loves his job because he gets to travel a lot and meet all sorts of interesting people. The only downside is when, having travelled some distance to keep an appointment, he finds the other person is not there! It’s lucky he likes travelling …

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Published April 2010