Moving to Libya
Expats moving to Libya will find a country still recovering from a violent civil uprising against the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi which began in February 2011. Despite the end of the conflict in October 2011 following al-Gaddafi’s death, the security situation in Libya remains uncertain and protests and violent clashes between opposition groups and clan factions continue to occur sporadically across the country.
Needless to say, Libya is not the expat destination that it once was. Although some foreign companies and expats who left Libya at the height of the conflict have slowly trickled back, the situation remains uncertain and jobs are not guaranteed. Expats seeking work opportunities in Libya should consider their options carefully and continue to monitor developments closely.
Most expats moving to Libya are concentrated in Tripoli, nearby Janzour, or in Benghazi. Misurata and Zawia also attract their fare share of expats. It’s rare that foreigners relocate to Libya without confirmed employment, most of which is relegated to the hydrocarbon or construction industries. As a result, many expats have their accommodation, visas, healthcare and even the education and schooling of their children arranged by a relocation agency or by their employer. The demand for university ESL teachers is also high across Libya, attracting many expats to this sector.
Libya is a Muslim nation, and it follows that it’s a conservative society in which nightlife is limited, alcohol is banned and eating out is nowhere near as frivolous an experience as in the Western world.
Expats may find that the public education standards in Libya are well below what they may be used to. It is only in recent years that more options have become available for expat children – though choices remain few, the handful of international schools available are generally well organised and reputable.
It is important to pay careful attention to perks when arranging an expat package for Libya, as services that would merely satisfy expat standards are often considerably more expensive for the average Libyan local. What’s more, many basic services, including emergency assistance, are not yet fully operational following the end of the conflict, although some private emergency services are in operation, including those run by foreign embassies. It would be wise to ask one's home embassy in Libya about options before relocating.
Libya is a developing country and one that is recovering from a devastating conflict. One thing is certain: Libya will not suit someone looking for a vibrant modern country, replete with cultural, retail and nightlife opportunities. Added to this, the uncertain security situation is certainly a major hindrance to any expat seeking to live and work in Libya.