Amid unique fanfare, dozens of youths hardly able to believe that they have a space to skate gathered at the Tripoli Entertainment Space in the city center of the Libyan capital.
Make Life Skate Life, an NGO that builds free skateparks around the world, played a role in its construction, with volunteers from New York, Belgium, Germany, and Australia joining the effort and working to ensure its completion.
Wade Trevean, an Australian member of Make Life Skate Life who designed the park, says he was delighted with the result, adding that this is only the NGO’s latest project and follows similar initiatives in Iraq, Bolivia, and India.
Mohamed Abdel Raouf, a high school student at the park wearing a black shirt and a skateboard under his arm, says he learned how to skate from YouTube. “I bought my first skateboard in 2020,” but used to only skate on the streets. “But now,” he says he “will be able to come once or twice a week.”
As for Rayan, an 18-year-old high school student, she says that the park made her “very happy because there was no space dedicated for skating,” adding that she started practicing this “super hobby,” which she sees as one of the few activities and events most Libyans support.
Indeed, the enthusiasm for this new park is unlike any other, as it is considered a major event that was covered by several media outlets because the country has so few public spaces where youths can enjoy themselves and practice their hobbies.
Funded by the US embassy in Tripoli, the skatepark was built in the Tripoli Municipality’s recreational complex, which includes several other facilities and was built on the site of a former base of the entourage of female bodyguards of deposed long-time leader Muammar Gadhafi, and seen as a symbol of tyrant extravagance.
Commenting on its completion, the US Embassy in Tripoli said that it hopes that funding this project would “lead to greater unity and encourage reconciliation.”