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By Emma Parker

There are essentially three types of stores found in the shopping districts in Libya.  Dry goods stores, bakeries, butchers and fruit and vegetable stores.  In the fruit and vegetable stores you will find a selection of seasonal produce.   Bakeries sell fresh bread, around the clock, at very low prices. You will find mostly bread rolls, hard or soft, and toast bread. Whole meal bread (“brown bread”) is hard to find.  Dry goods stores will stock similar items to your average western supermarket, however on a much smaller scale.  You should be able to find tinned fruit and vegetables, juice and soft drinks, dry goods such as pasta, rice or cous cous and snacks such as crisps, sweet and dry biscuits and confectionery.  These stores will often also stock dried meats and a dairy fridge with milk, yogurt and cheese.  You will also find household cleaning products and personal care and toiletries are also stocked.

Shop opening hours in Libya are fluid. With the exception of greengrocers, who are open nearly all the time, few shops open early. You can forget the idea of shopping on the way back from the school drop off. Many shops are open from roughly 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Most shops close in the afternoon and reopen around 5 p.m. Supermarkets tend to stay open in the afternoon. With small shops the times vary according to how the owner feels or what else they want to do. The big shopping time in Libya is during the evening until late, so you will find the streets busy from 7 - 11 p.m. because people are out shopping. In Ramadan shops open later in the morning, if at all, but will be open from a couple of hours after sunset (to give people time to eat) until the early hours of the next morning.

Before you go:

It is very likely you will be unable to buy a specific brand of food so it is advisable to stock up on particular items that you use regularly for cooking or for snacks.  Children's healthy snacks are also difficult to find, so stocking up on nutritional snacks would be recommended.

Vegans and vegetarians or anyone with dietary issues should note, finding specific nutritional foods may be an issue to you as the Libyan diet is heavily based around meat dishes.  Make sure you bring some foods along which will help you in your cooking.  Vitamins and supplements are also very difficult to get hold of so it would be wise to bring those in with you.

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Published June 2009