A year on from the revolution

Galadriel

Globe Trotter Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
2,907
Unemployment is a difficult one when trading partners also suffering economically. Just hope funding for projects doesn`t all come from Saudi etc.
 

marilyna

Chocolate Connoisseur
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
Messages
4,137
April 5, 2012Tunisia After the Revolution By SETH SHERWOOD


BELOW the watchtower of the ancient fortress known as the Ribat, a panoramic view of the Tunisian city of Sousse unfolds. To the east lies the Mediterranean coast, where the Carthaginians moored their navy during epic battles with the Roman Empire. To the south and west, the labyrinthine passageways of the medina, the city’s old walled quarter, extend to the vanishing point amid a sea of tightly packed houses and minarets.

On a sunny January afternoon, I walked along the battlements of the empty fortress, peering through arrow slits into the streets where elderly Tunisian men in red caps and women in head scarves strolled. It occurred to me that I could see nearly everything in Sousse from this vantage point.

Except for one: fellow travelers.

Since arriving in Tunisia <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/africa/tunisia/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> a few days earlier, I had barely glimpsed another tourist. True, it was low season. But the real reason, I knew, was the Jasmine Revolution of January 2011, when Tunisians rose up against an authoritarian regime and forced the flight of the longtime strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Travelers, understandably, had gotten spooked. Tourism fell by more than 30 percent last year, even though, in the months after Mr. Ben Ali’s ouster, the country was generally calm. During my visit, hotel receptionists and restaurant servers repeatedly bemoaned the lack of tourists to me.

So I was pleasantly surprised when a German family of four interrupted my admittedly peaceful reverie atop the watchtower. They had been traveling by bus, admiring “the religion and the culture,” the father, Tobias Haug, told me, as he scanned the view. “Everyone has been very friendly,” he said, adding that friends in Germany had expressed concern before their departure. “They don’t know that the war’s been over for more than a year,” Mr. Haug said.

And so it is — mostly. As attention has turned from Tunisia to the far bloodier Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and beyond — many of them inspired by the Tunisian example — the North African nation is still trying to restore its image in the eyes of the world.

But for travelers, a visit to Tunisia right now offers a chance not only to witness this pivotal moment in the country’s history, but also to get a sense of the struggles and stakes of the Arab Spring in general. As dictators around the region fall or are challenged, Tunisia, while far from untroubled, offers a reassuring example of what might emerge from the wreckage. Elections in October produced results that would have been unimaginable during the Ben Ali years, when Islamist groups and dissent were smothered: a prime minister from a moderate Muslim party and a president with a résumé as a human rights campaigner.

A year after the revolution’s end, I took advantage of Tunisia’s well-developed tourism infrastructure — abundant hotels, clean restaurants and generally effective transportation — and began an eight-day journey by bus and train to see the country’s storied sights and take the pulse of its vital and suffering tourism sector. In cities like Tunis, where public debate now finds an outlet in newspapers, exhibitions and street art, I found friendly people who were more than happy to share their ideas with travelers. Farther afield, in more tourism-dependent places like El Jem, with its gorgeous Roman ruins, locals expressed relief at the old regime’s demise, but also voiced an urgent need to start refilling empty hotels and restaurants. Everywhere, I found Tunisians to be laid-back and grateful to anyone willing to visit their country during this transitional time.

IT rained my first day in Tunis. I leaned out my window in the rather dated Hotel Excel and peered down at Avenue Habib Bourguiba, site of the biggest protests. Lined with French colonial edifices and lively sidewalk cafes, the thoroughfare provided a crash course in modern Tunisian history, starting with its name. Habib Bourguiba, a Paris-educated lawyer, offered a passionate voice against French colonialism and helped win the country’s independence in 1956. The next year he became president and began modernizing the country, ensuring universal education and mandating equal rights for women. Polygamy was banned, and the veil discouraged.

But Mr. Bourguiba’s dictatorial tendencies wore out his welcome. Mr. Ben Ali, his prime minister, deposed him in 1987, but remained committed to education and women’s rights. His smothering police state and opulent lifestyle, however, led to his own downfall. In December 2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a young fruit vendor in a rural city, set himself alight to protest his economic misery and harassment by police, the whole nation caught fire.

Today Avenue Habib Bourguiba was peaceful. As I strolled under the titillated trees, Tunisia’s citizenry streamed past: smartly dressed businessmen, bearded religious students, cool cats in sunglasses, women, some in head scarves but most bareheaded. A few girls in Ugg boots sought shelter in a Zara boutique.

I passed the stately embassy of France, which had made Tunisia its protectorate in 1881. A Gallic influence still suffuses the boulevard. Art Nouveau and Art Deco edifices line the sidewalk. Street signs spell out names in Arabic and French, and I heard the chatter of passers-by — “Asslema! Ça va?” — mix the two as well.

Inside a loud and bright cafe-restaurant called La Brasserie, I warmed up over café crème and a tarte aux fruits. Around me, Tunisian men and women smoked, laughed and drank beer. I grabbed a copy of Le Temps, a French-language newspaper. “The Southern Suburbs Celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the Revolution,” read one headline. “A Woman Tries to Set Herself on Fire,” announced another, about a spate of such acts by desperate Tunisians whose lot remained unimproved.

That evening, outside an Art Nouveau theater, I spotted flyers advertising a documentary film called “Chroniques de la Revolution.” I was eager to witness the heady events of January 2011, even secondhand, but the mustachioed agent told me that I had missed the film, whose premiere had coincided with the revolution’s anniversary on Jan. 14.

“It’s not here anymore,” he said in French. “Can I sell you a ticket for ‘The Smurfs’ in 3D?”

Still eager to learn more about the Jasmine Revolution, I boarded a commuter line for the seaside suburb of La Marsa. Art deco apartment buildings lined the palm-fringed beachfront. Along with neighboring Sidi Bou Said, a blue and white village of lovely small hotels and galleries, the neighborhood forms the artistic heart of the nation. Boutiques and galleries — notably the prestigious El Marsa gallery — are sprinkled along the streets, and every spring the Printemps des Arts, a two-week festival of Tunisian and international contemporary art and performance, is celebrated.

At the Mille Feuilles bookstore, an exhibition called “Dégage!” offered a remarkable view of last year’s demonstrations in Tunis. Drawing its name from the marchers’ French-language refrain of “Get out!” the show featured photos of the masses surging along Avenue Habib Bourguiba. In one, a group of demonstrators — young, old, moneyed, impoverished, secular, religious — pressed toward the interior ministry, notorious for its detentions. The exhibition’s organizer, a well-coiffed Tunisian woman named Leila Souissi, explained that the show would have been unthinkable before the fall of Mr. Ben Ali. “I would have been put in prison, and the gallery would have been shut down,” she said, adding, “We can say anything now.”

Still, things were not all rosy in Tunisia. “What worries me now is the arrival of Islamic extremism,” she said, noting that under Mr. Ben Ali, Tunisia had not tolerated radical Islam. “Lately there are things we’ve never seen before in Tunisia — burqas <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/m/muslim_veiling/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> , like you see in Iran.” But the extremists are not the majority, she pointed out. “A large part of Tunisia is Muslim, but it’s a rather tolerant Islam.”

There wasn’t a single veil that night at Le Boeuf sur Le Toit, a bar and restaurant in the suburb of La Soukra. Bottles of local Celtia beer in hand, young Tunisian women in tight jeans and men in open-necked shirts danced exuberantly in the neo-industrial space while a band kicked out covers like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Then the band began to play the Tunisian national anthem. Everyone locked arms and sang.

“People really let themselves go now,” said Rim Temimi, a photographer who contributed images to the “Dégage!” exhibition. “You can smell the liberty!”

The next morning, I bought a one-week first-class rail pass at the main train station in Tunis. The “first-class” compartments had clearly seen better days. Rumbling south in a worn-out seat, I watched through a dirty window as apartment buildings hung with laundry blurred past, along with small mosques and the occasional goatherd.

Two hours later, in Sousse, I fled the traffic-choked modern districts and took refuge in the walled quarter, where I checked into the spartan but clean Hotel Medina and headed out, hoping to haggle for objects from local artisans.

But it was Friday, the Sabbath, and the small shops and stalls were mostly shuttered. Spray-painted slogans in English, left over from the revolution, dripped from the walls. “[Expletive] Ben Ali and Leilla,” read one, referring to the president and his wife, whom many Tunisians loathed for her extravagant lifestyle.

The city was wide awake the next morning. Honking, exhaust-spewing minivans and taxis were dropping off shoppers. Vendors at tightly clustered tables hocked their wares — Mickey Mouse socks, henna tattoos, cookware and shirts and shoes so cheaply made that only the faith of the wearer held them together. Nearby, stalls selling handicrafts — leather bags, chess sets, painted tea glasses — mixed with juice vendors and kebab grills.

A zigzag of slender passageways brought me to Dar Essid, a mansion that once belonged to the local Ottoman rulers of Tunisia. I had the place to myself and walked unhurriedly through rooms with crystal chandeliers and Oriental carpets. A card in the master bedroom divulged the secret of the lamp next to the bed: “The oil lamp was used from Roman times by the hysband [sic] to ensure that he gave his wives pleasure. In order to prove his stamina and control, the man had to continue as long as the lamp remained alight.”

The ticket agent found me and pointed to a blank spot on the wall. A centuries-old marriage contract and a burial contract had been stolen during the chaos of the revolution. Still, he said, it was nothing compared with the larger thefts Tunisians had suffered. “Ben Ali stole 23 years of our lives,” he said.

Afterward, I ran up the stairs of the nearby Café des Nomades, eager to capture a sunset view from the roof terrace. The college-age overseer was startled. “You are the first client of the day,” he said. He served me mint tea, and we silently gazed at the fortress across the street. “Next month will be better, inshallah” — God willing.

From the train window the next afternoon, I watched as olive groves slipped by beneath an electric blue sky. In El Jem, auto-parts shops and a few downbeat restaurants lined the main street. But as I wheeled my suitcase through the dust, the object of my quest appeared at the end of the thoroughfare. Built in the third century A.D., El Jem’s magnificent Roman amphitheater was then the third largest in the empire. Today this Unesco World Heritage site still looks colossal.

Next to the entrance, a fellow hawking camel rides waited for any takers. A waiter from an empty restaurant, El Firdaous, shouted at me and practically pleaded to watch my suitcase if I would buy something to drink. I ordered an orange juice, then headed to the arena, where I crossed the vast floor and hiked the stone steps to the top. In its heyday, some 30,000 spectators would howl at the era’s gruesome entertainments: lions, panthers and other exotic animals fighting one another; exotic animals fighting gladiators; criminals being executed.

Far below me, a half dozen travelers milled around. The advice of my prerevolution guidebook echoed like a sad joke: “A good time to visit is in the morning before the tour groups arrive, or else late afternoon when they’ve gone.” Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but feel relieved by the lack of loud, jostling crowds.

Back outside, I retrieved my suitcase from the restaurant. The tables were still empty. Where was everybody, I asked the waiter. “Since the revolution, business — ” he made a gesture of a plane crashing.

SOME people praise Sfax, Tunisia’s second-largest city and my next destination, for its archaeological museum. Others find charm — not easy to do in this rundown port — in the crenelated ramparts surrounding its medina. But as my train sliced through the brown landscape, I was drooling over the expectation of something else: baklava and brik.

For the worshiper of baklava, those honey-drenched layers of phyllo pastry, walnuts and pistachios, a pilgrimage to Patisserie Masmoudi <http://www.masmoudi.com/> in Sfax is essential. There, in the immaculate blue and white shop, white-clad women made baklava history around a decade ago by creating the world’s biggest version, a specimen that garnered a mention by Guinness World Records.

“It weighed around a ton and 150 kilos,” the cashier told me.

I contented myself with an assortment of their bite-size baklavas and other specialties, including the “Mosaique Pistache,” a small lush pistachio biscuit ringed on top with sliced pistachios and a crownlike spire of pine nuts.

For dinner, I searched outside the medina walls for another decades-old gastronomic institution, Restaurant Baghdad. Inside the spare white room, I ordered some Chateau Magon, a blend of syrah and merlot made in Tunisia, and dug into a classic brik, delivered by an elderly white-jacketed waiter. Under my fork, the crispy thin fried pastry shell, still hot, spilled out gooey egg mixed with scallions and tuna. Next up was ojja, a zesty tomato ragout larded with fried egg, green pepper, onion and chunks of red merguez sausage. The coda was a free shot of fiery date liqueur from the manager, who seemed relieved to glimpse a foreign face.

In the morning, when I tried to book a train ticket to the interior town of Metlaoui, I received some unwelcome news. “There are no more trains to that part of the country,” the agent told me. “The whole line was suspended two months ago.”

And so it was. No notice. No explanation. Another casualty of postrevolutionary Tunisia.

I crossed the city center, past graffiti-art posters depicting bloody protesters felled during the revolution, and trudged across an industrial no man’s land to the bus depot. Two hours later, I was on a bus to Metlaoui, rolling across a dry flatland.

Metlaoui is a godforsaken town that owes its existence to phosphate mines. Last year, anger over chronic unemployment exploded into strikes — another new form of free expression in the post-Ben Ali era — shutting down highways and railways at intervals. More alarming, street battles between two clans competing for scarce mining jobs killed more than 15 people last year.

I got off the bus and angled against the drizzle and darkness to my dilapidated room at the Hotel Selja, where I shivered under two blankets, half-ready to bolt back to Sfax. Yet, I repeated to myself, the town featured one of Tunisia’s most alluring attractions. In the morning I would be riding the rails of the Lezard Rouge.

This opulent train had been built in France in the early 20th century and given as a gift to the local Ottoman ruler of Tunisia. In recent decades it had been repurposed as a tourist train, offering two-hour journeys through some of the country’s most stunning landscapes. For almost all of 2011, as tourists abandoned Tunisia, the Lezard Rouge had been idle. Only in December did the train start up again.

“We used to do six trips per week and get 65,000 visitors per year,” Abdelaziz Touil, the manager, said the next morning. The sun had come out, warming his spare white office. “We had Prince Andrew of England in 2009. We had Sarkozy. We had lots of people from the European jet set.”

A burly man with a neat mustache, Mr. Touil was clearly dispirited. Regional tourism had plummeted by some 80 percent last year, he said. They were running a half-schedule now, but the train wasn’t even covering its costs. Still, he was sympathetic to the protesters. “We are all very aware that it’s a very, very big thing to become democratic,” he said. “But we also know that it will take time.”

To my surprise, the train cars were brimming with travelers. Some 60 people in a Polish tour group lounged in the plush armchairs. French retirees and German families marveled at the flower-shaped lighting sconces. Soon the train was chugging through spiny hills and red-tinged mesas.

“Wow!” all the Poles shouted at once as we emerged from a tunnel into a deep gorge with soaring rock walls. Leaning out a window across from me, Mi-Yun Kim, from Seoul <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/asia/south-korea/seoul/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> , snapped photos. She had seen the Lezard Rouge on a Korean television program, she said, and decided to take a solo trip around Tunisia.

What did her family and friends think of her plan, I asked.

“They all said, ‘Why do you want to go to Tunisia?’” recalled Ms. Kim. “They said, ‘Are you sure it’s not dangerous?”

“So I checked the Internet,” she continued as the sublime countryside rushed past. Her research brought welcoming news. “The revolution is over. It’s safe.”

IF YOU GO

Most of Tunisia is stable these days, though a United States State Department travel alert issued in January (travel.state.gov/ <http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_5647.html> ) cautions against travel near the Libyan border. The alert noted that while most tourist and business centers are calm, “spontaneous and unpredictable events, such as work stoppages and demonstrations, still occur, a state of emergency remains in force, and curfews can be re-established on short notice.” During eight days traveling in Tunisia, I experienced no security issues or harassment.

GETTING AROUND

The suburbs of Carthage, Sidi Bou Said and La Marsa can be reached via the TGM train line, whose main station is on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis. Fares vary according to distance but are generally under 1 dinar. To go farther afield, a one-week first-class pass for Tunisia <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/africa/tunisia/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> ’s (mostly) efficient rail network (216-71-345-511; www.sncft.com.tn <http://www.sncft.com.tn/> ) costs 42 dinars, about $28 at 1.5 dinars to the dollar, and requires an ID-size photo. Passes can be purchased at Tunis’s main rail station, south of Place de Barcelone in the city center. Trains from Tunis go to Sousse, El Jem and Sfax, but the route to Metlaoui and Tozeur was suspended at press time. Instead, travelers can take a five-hour bus ride from Sfax to Metlaoui (13 dinars). Even with a train pass, travelers need to reserve a seat and acquire a paper ticket in advance (1 dinar).

TUNIS

Clean but a bit frayed, the 39-room Excel Hotel (35 Avenue Habib Bourguiba; 216-71-355-161) has a prime central location on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the capital’s main drag and site of the protests that ousted President Ben Ali in January 2011. Doubles are 80 dinars. Nearby, Chez Nous restaurant (5 Rue de Marseille <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/france/provence-and-the-french-riviera/marseille/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> ; 216-71-254-043) is a longstanding local favorite for French classics like filet de boeuf in Roquefort sauce and crème caramel. A three-course meal for one costs about 38 dinars.

TUNIS SUBURBS

For contemporary art, try the prestigious El Marsa gallery (2 Place du Saf Saf; 216-71-740-572; galerielmarsa.com <http://www.galerielmarsa.com/> ) or Espace Mille Feuilles (99 Avenue Habib Bourguiba; 216-71-744-229) in the seaside suburb of La Marsa. The adjacent town of Sidi Bou Said, with its picturesque perch over the Mediterranean, contains the charming small Hotel Bou Fares (15 Rue Sidi Bou Fares; 71-740-091; hotelboufares.com <http://hotelboufares.com/> ) with 10 tile-lined rooms and planted patio. Doubles from 120 dinars.

The vaulted, airy and chic Dar Zarrouk restaurant (Rue Larbi Zarrouk; 216-71-740-591; www.darsaid.com.tn <http://www.darsaid.com.tn/> ) boasts fantastic Mediterranean views and an upscale French-Italian-Tunisian menu with a notable seafood and wine selection. A three-course meal, without drinks, is around 100 dinars. For night life, Le Boeuf sur Le Toit (3 Avenue Fattouma Bourguiba; 216-71-863-799; leboeufsurletoit.com <http://leboeufsurletoit.com/> ) in La Soukra is a plush restaurant-bar with alcohol à go go and, frequently, live music <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/music/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier> .

SOUSSE

Situated steps away from the historical Great Mosque and Ribat fortress (5 dinars admission), the Hotel Medina (15 Rue Othman Osman; 216-73-221-722; www.hotel-medina.com <http://www.hotel-medina.com/> ) has clean no-frills rooms and a modest restaurant-bar. Doubles, 30 dinars. Grilled fish, kebabs and couscous are the specialties of the multilevel Restaurant Café Seles (42 Rue Abounawas, Bab el Gharbi; 216-97-286-862), which features cushiony banquettes, colorful décor and a friendly owner. Three courses for one person cost about 25 dinars. The narrow lanes of the medina, notably Rue d’Angleterre, burst with small stalls hocking all manner of handmade goods. For one-stop shopping (and fixed prices) La Grotte (83 Souk Erbaa; 216-73-226-052) is an Aladdin’s cave of colored-glass lanterns, cushion covers, wooden boxes, caftans and much more, though quality varies.

EL JEM

Other than the fantastic Roman amphitheater (www.patrimoinedetunisie.com.tn/fr/monuments/amphi_eljem.php <http://www.patrimoinedetunisie.com.tn/fr/monuments/amphi_eljem.php> ; 8 dinars admission) and worthwhile Musée Archéologique (www.patrimoinedetunisie.com.tn/fr/musees/eljem.php <http://www.patrimoinedetunisie.com.tn/fr/musees/eljem.php> ; free entrance with same ticket), which houses large Roman mosaics unearthed in the area, there’s little to do in El Jem. Next to the amphitheater entrance, Restaurant El Firdaous (216-99-851-155) serves pizzas (6 dinars), lamb kebabs (10 dinars) and fresh orange juice (2.50 dinars).

SFAX

With its white walls, white tablecloths and jacketed waiters, Restaurant Baghdad (63 Avenue Farhat Hached; 216-74-223-856) is an old-school institution that does textbook traditional Tunisian food like brik and ojja, as well as Continental dishes. Tunisian wines <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/food-and-wine/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier> and liqueurs are also available. A three-course meal for one person costs about 22 dinars, without drinks. Some of the country’s best desserts are found at Masmoudi (Rue Dr. Ahmed Sekelli; 216-74-400-753; masmoudi.com <http://masmoudi.com/> ), which specializes in finely made baklava and other bite-size North African pastries. Top-quality comfort, modern amenities and a central location await at the 130-room Golden Tulip hotel (544 Avenue Habib bourguiba, 216-74-225-700; www.goldentulipsfax.com <http://www.goldentulipsfax.com/> ). Doubles in early spring from 310 dinars.

METLAOUI

The only virtue of the run-down and charmless Hotel Thelja, also called Hotel Selja (Route de Gafsa; 216-76-241-570), other than its cheap prices (25 dinars for a single), is its proximity to the rail station where Le Lezard Rouge (216-76-241-469; lezard-rouge.com <http://lezard-rouge.com/> ) picks up passengers for its picturesque two-hour circuit through rugged outback countryside. Tickets are 20 dinars. Be sure to contact the train management for the current schedule as the Web site is not always up-to-date.

SETH SHERWOOD, who is based in Paris, is a frequent contributor to the Travel section.
 

Galadriel

Globe Trotter Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
2,907
Didn`t know about the two food venues in Sfax, so I`ve learnt something also that trains had been suspended to Tozeur, think they must be running now though. Excellent article on post revolutionary Tunisia through eyes of a tourist. Thanks for posting marilyna.He could have taken a louage to Metlouia though;)
 

Mona1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
1,614
I was speaking to my BIL a couple of nights ago and asked how life was over there. His comment was "loads of problems". I dug a little deeper: no work and no democracy. It seems, from what he was saying, that things have not improved very much although he is lucky enough to have work. I do hope that the population does not slip back into the lethargy that they had before.
 

Galadriel

Globe Trotter Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
2,907
One large German auto parts company in Sousse is now laying off many workers. I do think it is due to the recession still being felt by many European countries not due to instability in Tunisia.
 

Mona1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
1,614
My son just came back from Germany and said that there were loads of jobs and apprenticeships available there. My friend also confirmed that they have been out of the worst for awhile now and she also works for a car parts company.

I agree that instability in Tunisia is not why the laid people off but maybe because to lay off people in Germany, due to the laws there, would have been much more expensive.
 

Galadriel

Globe Trotter Extraordinaire
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
2,907
Yes their labour laws also in Scandinavia are so much stricter than here in UK even but still they are cutting back on production. Apparently 1/2% further away from double dip recession in Germany this month.
 

mavo

New Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2011
Messages
28
Change need time! Most people in Tunisia do not like to talk about how it was and how it is now. What can we do? People say. Yes...work is a problem. So, money is a problem. So buy food is a problem and everything cost more then before.
Tourists are needed, the bring money!
In every country are problems, religions, discrimination, kill, protest. It look like in Tunisia its the same.
Lets see how it is in 4 years......
 

Mona1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
1,614
Change need time! Most people in Tunisia do not like to talk about how it was and how it is now. What can we do? People say. Yes...work is a problem. So, money is a problem. So buy food is a problem and everything cost more then before.
Tourists are needed, the bring money!
In every country are problems, religions, discrimination, kill, protest. It look like in Tunisia its the same.
Lets see how it is in 4 years......
It is not just about the tourists. The tourists bring money in up North, to the tourist areas but down South no money ever reaches the areas that need it. We have just spoken to home and there is terrible trouble around Gafsa. The phosphate factory in Mdhilla is only employing people from Mdhilla (one person from each family living there) and not from the surrounding villages. As the factory has been the mainstay of employment in the region there is now terrible trouble. The local villages are now blocking the main roads, stopping the phosphate lorries travelling the direct route south.

Believe me, the troubles are not over by a long shot. Tourists will help but it will have to be investment and better distribution of the wealth.
 

Amber

oo la la ;)
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Messages
1,295
Change need time! Most people in Tunisia do not like to talk about how it was and how it is now. What can we do? People say. Yes...work is a problem. So, money is a problem. So buy food is a problem and everything cost more then before.
Tourists are needed, the bring money!
In every country are problems, religions, discrimination, kill, protest. It look like in Tunisia its the same.
Lets see how it is in 4 years......
Yes absolutely time is needed...and determination also .The French revolution took place in the end of 18th century and we are still figthing for a more reprensatitve democracy .Vigilance is always needed...Tunisia and many other arabic countries have a long way to go to find a political stability and real search for democracy, respect of human and social rights (labour laws you were talking about).As they are not surrounded by many models and exemples !( to be polite)in the arabic world , it's uneasy for them , they have to "create" everything in this part of the world!....and yes the economic partners play a great part too on the political scene as misery and unemployment are leading to the raise of religious "threats " upon democracy ... the withdrawal of european companies have dreadful consequences but as the whole occidental world is going through the economic crisis, new alliances ,markets and counterparts have to be found if the buying purchase is collapsing in Tunisia with no real garantee in democracy, the eternal vicious circle ...Trust and confidence have to be built up again and we can wish to the tunisian people to find a new political class who will dare not to follow the previous footsteps ...
As for tourism ,i do think there is much to do to stop the decrease , among which developping the historical and cultural backgrounds and give more way to the customs and traditions...the article above is quite well done about it ....if the people in charge of tourism promotion stopped putting the light on sea , sex and sun at low cost ...it woul help ...tourism should come first in the prioirities of the politicians in Tunisia...and the people in charge of promotion in Europe have a lot to do too , because the ads for Tunisia ,in France at least, are going the wrong way apart from a recent focus on spas and fitness ...I also think that the Tunisian people involved and working in tourism should try ,even if it's difficult , not to complain too much , as i am sorry to say that there is a kind of "complaining culture" ... it's very important to keep on giving a "happy face" even when it's difficult ...it's a question of attitude , Tunisia is not the poorest country in the world and when you travel abroad in other poor countries you feel immediately this cultural difference in the way to cope with difficulties ...
 

Mona1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
1,614
Yes absolutely time is needed...and determination also .The French revolution took place in the end of 18th century and we are still figthing for a more reprensatitve democracy ...
Hey, in my opinion there is no such thing as democracy as once the politicians get into power they forget where they came from and all their good intentions. I remember not long ago when our PM wanted to support our cousins across the pond and most of the population were up in arms about it and said we should not. What did our wonderful PM do, and remember he was meant to be representing the wishes of the people? Basically he said that he did not care what the electorate wanted, he was going to do what HE wanted. LOL.

Sometimes I think that a dictatorship is more democratic than a so called democracy :rolleyes::eek:
 

BrownGirl

Moderator And Queen of Summaries
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2010
Messages
4,796
It is not just about the tourists. The tourists bring money in up North, to the tourist areas but down South no money ever reaches the areas that need it. We have just spoken to home and there is terrible trouble around Gafsa. The phosphate factory in Mdhilla is only employing people from Mdhilla (one person from each family living there) and not from the surrounding villages. As the factory has been the mainstay of employment in the region there is now terrible trouble. The local villages are now blocking the main roads, stopping the phosphate lorries travelling the direct route south.

Believe me, the troubles are not over by a long shot. Tourists will help but it will have to be investment and better distribution of the wealth.
Its not just Mdhilla, I know families in other towns waiting to hear if they have one of the 3000 jobs. But its so right that tourism is largely irrelevant for people here, but then they have been used to the government doing nothing for them.
 

Amber

oo la la ;)
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Messages
1,295
Hey, in my opinion there is no such thing as democracy as once the politicians get into power they forget where they came from and all their good intentions. I remember not long ago when our PM wanted to support our cousins across the pond and most of the population were up in arms about it and said we should not. What did our wonderful PM do, and remember he was meant to be representing the wishes of the people? Basically he said that he did not care what the electorate wanted, he was going to do what HE wanted. LOL.

Sometimes I think that a dictatorship is more democratic than a so called democracy :rolleyes::eek:
Yes Monastirienne, you do have in France a good idea of what you are talking about...i would add to be fair that the highest you are the more twisted and unhealthy relationship with power you have , but you do find on the "local level" in the country marvellous people working hard for the population( kind of devotion even)...i would not like to assume that all politicians are dishonest in their intentions and behaviour but most of them ...anyway financial institutions and private banks are ruling the world now ( very obvious in the EEC)and they have the real power , no?politicians are pledged to them ...
 

Amber

oo la la ;)
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Messages
1,295

Laurence

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2010
Messages
3,236
Tunisia is a country that seems to go some centuries backwards...what else to expect with Ennahdha at the leading top? Theocracy and democracy are each other opposites, makes me laugh when people talk about democracy now in the country... The woolf in sheepswool is in now. Will be difficult to get him out again. Let's save some hope for the president elections next year March though.
To be short : whoever can get out of the country is doing so now, even whoever can not get out of the country is trying to do so now...says enough I guess.
 

NetNiet

EVIL member :D
Joined
Jan 10, 2011
Messages
2,693
To be short : whoever can get out of the country is doing so now, even whoever can not get out of the country is trying to do so now...says enough I guess.
Well actually my experience is the opposite.
Tunisian who were living abroud or went illigaly during the Revolution, did and still are coming back more easily.
Before the Revolution it was a shame to come back, but now they can say it's difficult to find a job and can return home without gossip.
Also Tunisian man / European woman couples who were living in Europe, are now more coming back or are working at a programm to get to live here.
With genuine relationships it's now more discussed aswell where to live and the option Tunisia is there and attractive.

But to my opinion aswell, this has everything to do with the fact that it's not a shame anymore when they have European woman to stay in Tunisia!
 
Top Bottom