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11:31

Libya: Photographer battles destruction of Tripoli's Old Town one click at a time

Libya, Tripoli
February 17, 2018 at 01:07 GMT +00:00 · Published

A photographer from Tripoli has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the city's historic architecture, in an attempt to save the old town from further deterioration and restore its former glory. Hiba Shalabi launched the campaign #SaveTheOldCityTripoli in order to promote the city's cultural heritage, which is coming under increasing threat amid Libya's continued political instability. She says new, unregulated building projects and inadequate preservation policy is putting the city's treasured sites in harm's way. She also fears that the destruction of Tripoli's old town would deliver a serious blow to its identity. Tripoli's old town boasts a plethora of historic buildings, including castles, arches and places of worship. Among the city's most iconic structures is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius - a Roman triumphal arch built in the ancient Phoenician city of Oea, a historic site now located in the heart of modern Tripoli. Shalabi took Ruptly on a tour of old Tripoli where she pointed out the city's under-threat cultural marvels, as well as new construction sites and signs of dilapidation. She snapped photographs around the Arch of Marcus Aurelius and continued adding to her collection as she wandered through the old town, past sites such as the Dawood Mosque and the former American consulate building. As she went Shalabi commented on the issues facing the city. A particularly pressing danger is posed by the de facto lawlessness of Libya. This has given speculators the opportunity to build new homes in the old town and tear down abandoned and dilapidated historic buildings without oversight, Shalabi says. "There were building violations, building new buildings with steel, we call it 'concrete and steel,'" she stated. "[There is] no restoration and preservation of ancient buildings, [there is] neglect, ruining buildings, demolishing ancient buildings, the building of second stories on top of buildings with steel while the old ones are not made of steel and are not equipped with proper support, so they collapse under the weight," she added.Commenting on the structures surrounding the city's Dawood Mosque, Shalabi said: "there is a building built on the other side with a modern style, built with steel. It does not fit in the overall style of the old city. It stands out between the ancient buildings, from historical to this modern style. This is one of the violations that was not punished."Tripoli's old town has a storied past. Phoenicians, Byzantines, Berbers and Romans have all passed through the ancient city and left their mark. Shalabi said she felt that "whether the nations added something or demolished buildings, they still added to the history, which we should preserve.""People shouldn't ruin their past and history for the future generations," she stated.

11:31
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A photographer from Tripoli has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the city's historic architecture, in an attempt to save the old town from further deterioration and restore its former glory. Hiba Shalabi launched the campaign #SaveTheOldCityTripoli in order to promote the city's cultural heritage, which is coming under increasing threat amid Libya's continued political instability. She says new, unregulated building projects and inadequate preservation policy is putting the city's treasured sites in harm's way. She also fears that the destruction of Tripoli's old town would deliver a serious blow to its identity. Tripoli's old town boasts a plethora of historic buildings, including castles, arches and places of worship. Among the city's most iconic structures is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius - a Roman triumphal arch built in the ancient Phoenician city of Oea, a historic site now located in the heart of modern Tripoli. Shalabi took Ruptly on a tour of old Tripoli where she pointed out the city's under-threat cultural marvels, as well as new construction sites and signs of dilapidation. She snapped photographs around the Arch of Marcus Aurelius and continued adding to her collection as she wandered through the old town, past sites such as the Dawood Mosque and the former American consulate building. As she went Shalabi commented on the issues facing the city. A particularly pressing danger is posed by the de facto lawlessness of Libya. This has given speculators the opportunity to build new homes in the old town and tear down abandoned and dilapidated historic buildings without oversight, Shalabi says. "There were building violations, building new buildings with steel, we call it 'concrete and steel,'" she stated. "[There is] no restoration and preservation of ancient buildings, [there is] neglect, ruining buildings, demolishing ancient buildings, the building of second stories on top of buildings with steel while the old ones are not made of steel and are not equipped with proper support, so they collapse under the weight," she added.Commenting on the structures surrounding the city's Dawood Mosque, Shalabi said: "there is a building built on the other side with a modern style, built with steel. It does not fit in the overall style of the old city. It stands out between the ancient buildings, from historical to this modern style. This is one of the violations that was not punished."Tripoli's old town has a storied past. Phoenicians, Byzantines, Berbers and Romans have all passed through the ancient city and left their mark. Shalabi said she felt that "whether the nations added something or demolished buildings, they still added to the history, which we should preserve.""People shouldn't ruin their past and history for the future generations," she stated.

M/S Hiba Shalabi walks towards Arch of Marcus Aurelius, Tripoli

M/S Shalabi walks towards Arch of Marcus Aurelius

C/U Photo of Arch of Marcus Aurelius *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "I like to take photos of the Old City, it is my passion. I like taking photos of old building, of our heritage. The culture, the history. I feel at peace when I come here. It breaks my heart and I hope to see it doing better. In 2017 I led a 'Photowalk' programme, we took a walk in the city centre and took photos."

W/S Arch of Marcus Aurelius

M/S Shalabi takes photos of Arch of Marcus Aurelius

M/S Shalabi takes photos of Arch of Marcus Aurelius

M/S Arch of Marcus Aurelius

C/U Shalabi takes photos of Arch of Marcus Aurelius

C/U Arch

M/S Shalabi walks along street

M/S Shalabi walks down alleyway

M/S Shalabi taking photograph

M/S Shalabi taking photograph

M/S Shalabi walking

M/S Shalabi walking

M/S Alleyway

C/U Detail of new door

M/S Old building

C/U Street sign

W/S Back of building

M/S Windows

M/S Construction site

M/S Signs of construction

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "There were building violations, building new buildings with steel, we call it concrete and steel. No restoration and preservation of ancient buildings, neglect, ruining buildings, demolishing ancient buildings, building second stories on top of buildings with steel while the old ones are not made of steel and are not equipped with proper support, so they collapse under the weight. A lot of violations that are not stopped by anyone, such as new buildings being built with two, three, and even four stories, some people even told me about elevators. They are still building and no one is stopping them. I don't understand it, obviously nobody wants to put pressure on them, nobody cares."

M/S Shalabi taking photograph of Dawood Mosque entrance

C/U Shalabi taking photograph of Dawood Mosque entrance

C/U Door detail of Dawood Mosque courtyard

C/U Photo of door of Dawood Mosque courtyard *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

M/S Shalabi prepares to take photo of tiled mihrab [prayer niche]

C/U Shalabi taking photograph of decorative tiles on mihrab [prayer niche]

C/U Detail of decorative tiles on mihrab [prayer niche]

C/U Photo of tiled mihrab [prayer niche] *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

W/S Shalabi taking photograph of Dawood Mosque courtyard

M/S New construction above Dawood Mosque courtyard

M/S Shalabi taking photograph of new construction above Dawood Mosque courtyard

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "We are at the Dawood Mosque. There is a building built on the other side with a modern style, built with steel. It does not fit in the overall style of the Old City. It stands out between the ancient buildings, from historical to this modern style. This is one of the violations that was not punished. It was even built higher than the allowed level. The building next to it is a historical one, it used to be a nuns dormitory next to the church and it is also suffering from the modern buildings made from steel. My heart breaks when I see things like this."

M/S Alleyway

M/S Alleyway

C/U Shalabi taking photograph

C/U Shalabi taking photograph

M/S Shalabi taking photograph

M/S Walking down alleyway

M/S Shalabi taking photograph

M/S Walking down alleyway

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "This is a former American consulate building, also a very ancient one. I'm not sure how old it is, but an American friend told me it was built in 1799. It is very run-down. We are standing from its back side but currently there are apartments inside and people are living there. Whether they are Libyans or not, I'm not sure, but there is also a lawsuit between the two families living there. I don't know where the Protection of Monuments systems are, these building are supposed to be closed."

M/S Support beams

C/U Photo of support beams on side of building *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

M/S Shalabi walking along alley

M/S Shalabi photographing alley

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "My heart aches. You can feel how ancient it is."

C/U Photo of detail of door surmounted by balcony *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

C/U Photo of doors surmounted by balcony *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "The Old City is our history. It is our past. Historically it is the oldest city in North Africa that was used for trade. Phoenicians, Byzantines, even before Muslims, came to live here, there were Berbers, Romans, it is a very important historical city. It has been through a lot of invasions, Muslim conquests, and whether the nations added something or demolished buildings, they still added to the history, which we should preserve. People shouldn't ruin their past and history for the future generations."

W/S Shalabi looks through gate

M/S Shalabi takes photo

C/U Shalabi takes photo

C/U Photo of view through gate *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

M/S Shalabi takes photo

M/S Shalabi taking photos

M/S Shalabi takes photo

C/U Photo

C/U Photo of view through bars *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "Some people told me that some buildings that were demolished and rebuilt from scratch had ancient things that were sold abroad. I believe one of these things can be the Torahs belonging to Jews that escaped to Tunisia. We don't know who is responsible. When a building is demolished, people are supposed to come and look for valuable things. Nobody cares."

M/S Shalabi takes photo

C/U Shalabi takes photo

SOT, Hiba Shalabi, photographer-activist (Arabic): "I felt that Twitter got more reactions from people than Facebook. A lot of people participated on Twitter, they uploaded photos of the Old City, taken by me and other people, they wrote about the city, so there was an effect. To be honest, I was expecting more engagement. The most comments, uploads and reactions I got were on Twitter. People even started to get in contact with certain authorities."

M/S Shalabi walks into cafe

M/S Shalabi in cafe

M/S Shalabi in cafe

W/S Cafe

M/S Shalabi in cafe

C/U Photography on walls

C/U Keepsakes on walls

M/S Shalabi on laptop in cafe

C/U Shalabi

C/U Laptop

C/U Shalabi

C/U Shalabi

C/U Laptop

C/U Photo of door *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

C/U Photo of minaret *STILL* *NO SOUND AT SOURCE*

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