As Benghazi emerges from years of violent conflict, its traders have seen a marked upturn in fortunes in the run-up to Eid this year.
This year for Eid al-Fitr, clothing and toy shop-owners are buzzing with enthusiasm in Benghazi as demand for their products is flourishing – much more so than in previous years – with the city celebrating Eid for the second year running in the absence of conflict.
The south-west of Libya was this week hit by flash floods that had potential to disrupt supplies to the markets for this year’s Eid. However, the traders and shoppers appear to have weathered the storm, as people are flocking to browse through vast arrays of reasonably priced goods as they celebrate one of the most important days in the Muslim calendar.
This year, some traders have placed young children at the heart of their target market, ensuring every effort possible to stock up on toys that will be attractive to them, and affordable enough for their parents to oblige.
One man told reporters of his pride and relief at recent developments in Benghazi, believing the sense of stability and security that has taken hold of the city in recent months to be accountable for the once-again booming markets. “What can I say? Benghazi has become calm!”, he smiled.
In recent years, Benghazi, and indeed Libya as a whole, has been through crisis after crisis. Between 2014 and 2017, the Battle of Benghazi was fought between the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya (ISIL), and the Libyan National Army and its associated paramilitaries, culminating in the defeat of ISIL and the Libyan National Army’s complete control of the city.
Since then, residents have been making sustained efforts to rid the city of the haunting memories of the recent past. The success enjoyed by market traders comes just a week after Benghazi’s main theatre re-opened to showcase comedic and artistic talent in the city.