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A Country Under Construction


Tunis, June 18, 2013

For a country that has been living with the ruins and the left-behind evidence of past colonization from the the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Turks, the French…, it is now stepping on full gear heading straight towards the future. The old city stays totally run-down, tired, and dirty while new business districts and suburbs are coming up at light-year speed. Outside of downtown Tunis, one can spot one under-construction project probably every few hundred meters. At one point I start wondering if all the cranes in Dubai have been relocated to Tunisia. Big, small, office buildings, apartment blocks, commercial properties, lifestyle complexes, schools, hospitals…, and what have you. Tunisia is on the go. People are on the go. There is not enough hours in a day to seize opportunities. Just like other emerging economies, the country is ready to go from nothing to everything. And the clock is ticking. People are counting down to the Voilà moment. Rumours are in the air about new comers. As Tunisians look up to Turkey as their future, one can smell the future cooking on the dusty streets of Tunis where construction sands fill up one’s eyes.

“So who are behind these developments?” I ask my local friend, Youssef. “The locals of course” replies Youssef, “and they have no idea.” As the country leads its fast-paced life, everything changes on a daily basis. One day you are on the main road; the next day you’re out. One day you are at the entrance; the next day you’re out. One day you’ve got the best spot; the next day you’re out. And it’s common. And people accept it. Crazy but c’mon, life goes on and who cares what was there yesterday?

“So what does success mean to the people of this city?” I ask Youssef. “Be known and be rich” is the answer. Why am I not surprised?

The last drops of sunset gently touch the crystal blue Mediterranean sea as champagne and rosé flow freely at La Falais, a must-see-and-be-seen spot in Tunis. The water stays silent, knowing it takes Tunisia a long while to slow down and enjoy the sunset.

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