By Sami Zaptia.
London, 30 August 2017:
Two Tripoli youth are launching a new start-up business venture to help provide some more entertainment for the capital’s youth. The new games centre called City Club located in the heart of Tripoli is slated to open next week.
The modern looking games centre on the main Fashloum road will have darts, table tennis, billiards, electronic games such as Play Station, fast internet and a cafe. More importantly, as the co-owner pointed out, it will have electricity, thanks to what he referred to as its ‘‘huge generator’’.
The club is co-owned by 30-year old Seraj Mohammed Elarbi from Tripoli and his partner Mohammed Ali Alforjai. ‘‘It’s my first business. I am an IT engineer graduating in 2012 from Tripoli University’’, he told Libya Herald.
Seraj was very upbeat and quite optimistic about business and life in Tripoli. Asked what were the biggest challenges he and his partner had to face in opening their first business venture in today’s Tripoli, Seraj said that ‘‘the biggest challenge is how to get our money – my partner and I – out from the Bank’’. He was of course referring to Libya’s acute cash crisis and the inability of most citizens to withdraw cash ot of their bank accounts without having to pay a 10 percent bribe to the militias guarding the bank entrance or without ‘’wasta’’ – having a close contact in the bank.
Despite this, Seraj was quite cheerful about his new venture. We hope ‘‘to open after the end of the forthcoming Eid (of sacrifice) holidays which end next week’’, he added.
Asked what was the motivation behind his business idea, he said that ‘‘as a young guy looking to spend some fun and leisure time outside home, I find it hard to find a good place that is not too far from the heart of Tripoli. There are a lot of other places but they are not good enough. So this is my biggest motivation. As youngsters, we find it hard to find a satisfying place in which to hang out’’, he explained.
‘‘I know that guys like me have the same need and as a young Libyan, guys find it hard to find a satisfying place to hang out’’.
Asked about wanting to be self-employed as opposed to going for the ‘‘easier’’ option of a state-salaried job, he said ‘‘of course I prefer to be my own boss. Who wouldn’t love so?’’ Adding that in his view it provided more ‘‘financial stability’’.
Looking further ahead into the future, Serraj was quite bullish about his business and his expansion plans. ‘‘I am optimistic for this business because if this club wasn’t mine, I would love to hang out in it. My dream is to have a chain of City Clubs. I want to grow the business even further. I have a lot of ideas already’’, he explained.
Asked about Libya’s general prospects as a whole, he said ‘‘I am the kind of guy who is always hoping for the best, but preparing for the worse’’.
With a keen eye for marketing and market segmentation, Seraj also explained that the club will be reserved exclusively for expats until 6pm on Fridays. These would be ”mostly Filipinos. The vast majority of them work as nurses. I have a lot of Filipino friends”, he explained. Seraj speaks English as well as some German, but has not lived abroad, he points out.
The new business venture seems to bode well for the Tripoli business environment at least on one level as youngsters continue to seek entertainment destinations in a country where there has not been a strong entertainment sector by international standards. The mushrooming of the café sector in Tripoli confirms the trend for increased entertainment and hospitality and continues to confirm the existence of latent demand in this sector.
Are you or do you know someone who is opening a new business venture in Libya. Contact Libya Herald if you would like the possibility of your business being featured.