The lobby of the only five-star hotel in the Libyan capital, situated on the Mediterranean, is as elegant as it is empty. \nOnly a handful of tourists and businessmen can be seen in the Corinthia Bab Africa (Gateway to Africa) hotel, seen as the jewel in the crown of this country's embryonic tourist industry. \nIt is hard to believe that the country is hoping to welcome three million tourists a year by 2008. \nThe city's other two tourist-quality hotels, also on the seafront, are somewhat faded, symbols of tourism's neglect during tough international economic sanctions imposed for its involvement in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. \nAs well as paying compensation to relatives of bombing victims, Libya decided last year to stop developing weapons of mass destruction, moves which led to the country rejoining the international community. \nThe country is now being touted as an Eldorado for potential investors, foreign and Libyan. The Libyan-Maltese Corinthia, opened a year ago, is the most glittering example. \n"You can't ignore the authorities' energies when it comes to mobilizing means, once they have set themselves an objective," said one Arab diplomat. \nThose means would include this year's record US$15 billion oil revenues, thanks to high oil prices. \nNor does Libyan leader Moammar Kadhafi miss an opportunity to play up the country's tourism potential, tying in with his efforts over the past year to open the country's economy to private investment. \n"Libya could be the best tourist destination in the world if we respect the tourism industry," he said on September 1, the 35th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power. \nWith 2,000km of coastline, beaches, a seemingly endless desert made up of elevated plateaux and plains of multicolored gravel, as well as isolated oases, the country's appeal seems as broad as the desert. \nTourists may be drawn by well-preserved remains like the Roman theater at Sabratha, but investors say that one serious obstacle to progress may be the Islamic regime itself: the absence of alcohol and nightlife contrasts with what many tourists hope for from a holiday.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big