By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 4 April 2016:
This year’s Tripoli International Fair is a shadow of its former self. Now in its forty-fourth . . .[restrict]year, an event once celebrated for bringing foreign and local exhibitors together for eager crowds, was notable for the empty spaces and sparse attendance.
There were no international and precious few Libyan exhibitors. The stands displaying dates and olive oil were there as usual along with PVC manufacturers, but there were few big names and innovative and eye-catching stands.
Nor was there any exhibition catalogue available. When this reporter asked one of the organisers for details of the exhibitors, he was asked why he wanted to know. An official then said that a catalogue would be available in the final two days of the show.
To be fair to the organisers, the fair was planned long before the arrival last week of the presidency council in Tripoli and the upsurge in optimism that Libya was on the brink of stability. It may however have been a matter of regret that prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj did not come to the opening of the event, as has happened with past political leaders. Nevertheless, the fair kicked off in promising style on Saturday night with a marching band.
But thereafter it appears that interest waned in a show that formerly managed to combine happily both business with consumer displays. Part of the problem may have been that the first day was by invitation only. Uninvited visitors arrived yesterday only to be turned away, even though inside the show it was said that there had been few visitors on the initial day.
One business exhibitor told the Libya Herald: “Normally it is a great place where companies from different sectors nationally and internationally should meet and find ways of mutual cooperation. However, we don’t see this happen [this time] but just mothers and their kids are coming to have an ice cream”.
Other exhibitors were putting a brave face on it. One, displaying kitchen equipment, said: “The reluctance of people and companies to come is disappointing but I still hope this will change in the coming days”.
The woes of this year’s event were compounded today by a power failure. This meant that those people waiting to get in were forced to queue because the electronic ticket machines were not working. It appeared that the organisers had not provided any back-up generators. [/restrict]