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Shopping Street Rises from the Ashes of War in Libya's Benghazi

FILE - General view of a store that sells international brands at Venice Street in Benghazi, Libya, Feb. 6, 2019.
Shopping Street Rises from the Ashes of War in Libya's Benghazi
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The old center of Benghazi suffered severe damage during Libya’s civil war. Most people living there were more concerned with getting fuel and moving to safer areas than they were with buying brand-name clothing.

But new stores and eateries are opening along one street in the city center: Venice Street. And they have many people excited about shopping.

Imported goods to the country were limited between 2014 and 2017. Fighting between the Libyan National Army and its mostly Islamist opponents forced Benghazi’s port to close.

Elsewhere around the city, some buildings still have bullet holes dating back to World War II. During that time, Benghazi changed control between British and German troops.

Former leader Muammar Gaddafi ignored eastern Libya during his 42 years in power as punishment for political opposition there. Venice Street was mostly undeveloped until Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011.

Today, newly opened clothing stores along Venice Street carry famous international brands.

People in Benghazi do have money in their banks. But a shortage of bank notes means they do not necessarily have physical money. However, some shops along Venice Street accept checks as payment for an additional cost.

Ahmed al-Orfy runs one of the new fashion stores there. He told the Reuters news service he has high hopes for Venice Street. He said, “We have security and the ambition to be on the same level as the Champs-Elysees [in Paris.]”

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Ulf Laessing and Ayman al-Warfalli reported this story for the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

brand – n. a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name

fashion – n. a popular way of dressing during a particular time or among a particular group of people; the business of creating and selling clothes in new styles

ambitionn. a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous

shopping - n. the activity of visiting places where goods are sold in order to look at and buy things such as food, clothing, etc.