Derna: Youth and the Revival of Creative Media

With the eradication of extremist and terrorist militias from Derna, the city and its people are once again kickstarting creative and artistic projects and initiatives. As Libya still suffers from political instability and economic crisis, young people in Derna are finding ways to improve their economic conditions and their future through grassroots initiatives. Al Marsad focuses on one such creative project in Derna, the Flamingo Studio Project, which recently won the Entrepreneurship Award. 

[Libya, 15 July] – Libya is a state where citizens are heavily dependent on public funding. The public sector in Libya has fallen victim to great inflation. According to the recent report of the Accounting Office, the number of government employees has reached over 1.8 million and more than half of the state’s annual budget goes to paying state salaries. These salaries are often overdue for months on most sectors creating difficult conditions for individuals and families dependent on them. These circumstances have become the main motive for launching youth projects that seek to create job opportunities that will drive economic growth, develop the capabilities of youth, and provide them with the skills necessary for working in the modern labor market.

Developing Creative Skills for Youth in Derna

“In addition to the difficulties facing the new graduates in obtaining public jobs, as well as the delayed salaries and chaos that dominate the government sector; at the individual level, there is no experience gain nor knowledge gain (most of the time), and that is what concerns us in the first place” [Yasmin Al-Fritis, Director of Administrative Affairs of Flamingo Project in Derna]

The Flamingo Studio Project is run by two young women, Yasmin and Nisreen Al-Fritis. This project is an effort to seek and attract the talented youth of Derna in the fields of media and technology, and develop their skills making them independent individuals capable of generating sustainable incomes.

The project’s team is a mix of university students and fresh graduates with economics, engineering and computer programming degrees, gathered together by their passion for the screen, and the aim of “broadcasting the social and cultural events of Derna, according to their original and beautiful reality.”

As the computer engineer and the manager of the Flamingo Studio Project, Nisreen Al-Fritis states: “beauty is seen by two eyes, captured by the third eye.”

This woman-led team works day and night to overcome the challenge of continuous power and communications outages, and to provide various services such as photography, photo video editing, graphics, designing advertisement campaigns, and organizing events. This is done to meet the needs of the city with a youthful vision that conveys the joy of Eid at times and graduation ceremonies at other times. It also organizes the city’s public assemblies and hosts training sessions, workshops, and other services.

Strength in Teamwork

The team consists of 12 core members in addition to a set of other freelance members that are called when needed. Since the project is not limited to media services, even young women who are unable to work outside of home are partners in the Flamingo Project with their designs for decor and graphics, and confectionery.

The Flamingo Studio Project team won the Entrepreneurship Award in Derna

During last year the Flamingo team worked on 300 events in most of the cities of eastern Libya, and as a result they went on to win the Entrepreneurship Award from the Office of Intermediate Technical Institutes in Derna, less than a year after the start of their project.

Empowering a Future Without Extremism

There is an aspiring and youthful vision throughout Libya, one which aims to promote a modern culture and is respectful of its heritage. It hopes to lead young people to develop their skills and nurture self-esteem. Positive attitudes and creative aspirations are vital weapons to fight extremism plaguing the minds of vulnerable Libyan youth, as a result of lack of opportunity, the absence of culture, and knowledge thats for allow for personal growth.

In a country with limited access to cinema, theatre, and libraries—the youth became an easy prey to terrorists. This was seen firsthand in the city of Derna, which has historically always been at the forefront of cultural progress in Libya, presenting opportunities for writers, philosophers, artists, and innovators in the cultural centres of its city. Today, as a vibrant civil society  emerges once again, young people are rediscovering the history and modernity of the city, and rebuilding the foundations of hope through the spirit of its youth.

© Al Marsad English. 2019.