Khadafy's son reveals proposal to attract tourists to Libya
CYRENE, Libya - Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy's son unveiled an ambitious plan yesterday to protect ancient Greek ruins, conserve the country's pristine Mediterranean coastline and draw eco-tourists to this former pariah state.
Seif Al-Islam Khadafy's plan is part of an attempt to dramatically change the image of Libya to an ecologically friendly tourist destination, at a time when the country is nearing its long-sought political goal: getting into the West's good graces.
The younger Khadafy announced the project at a ceremony inside a 2,200-year-old Greek gymnasium in the ruins of the ancient city of Cyrene, among the largely untouched and unvisited antiquity sites that Libya hopes will pull in foreigners.
"Our intention is to build a complete and sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental system in which the needs of the present allow for the needs of future generations," Khadafy said.
Details of the plan were vague. But the intention is to make 2,046 square miles of northeastern Libya - a region known as the Green Mountain - an environmentally sustainable region, creating a national park and ecotourism opportunities while excavating and protecting the nearby ancient temples and Mediterranean coast.
The Green Mountain is a virtually unspoiled region of fertile land, gorges, and Greek ruins that rival those in Greece and Turkey.
"Its time now to join developed countries and make a statement that we are also concerned about the environment and culture," Khadafy, who is known in Libya as "The Engineer," told reporters after the ceremony.
Touted as a reformer, 36-year-old Khadafy has increasingly been sharing his father's spotlight and reaching out to the West to soften Libya's image and return it to the international mainstream.