Rixos Al Nasr
|Rixos Al Nasr|
Main facade of the hotel.
The Rixos Al Nasr is a five star hotel in Tripoli, Libya. Owned by the Turkish-based Rixos Hotels group, it is located in the center of Tripoli, at one corner of Tarabulus Zoo Park. Opened on the 12 March 2010, amongst its first guests was the President of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki. The hotel has two floors built on timber, and is surrounded by a garden that backs on to Tripoli's biggest parkland. All external surfaces of the hotel building are covered with green plants.
Aimed at business people, the hotel features a SPA certified wellness centre, indoor swimming pool, restaurants and an attached shopping center. It became more widely known in the 2011 Libyan civil war for accommodating foreign journalists.
Role in the 2011 Libyan civil war
The hotel was used to host foreign journalists and press conferences were held there. In March 2011, Iman al-Obeidi, a Libyan postgraduate law student, made headlines when she burst into the restaurant of the hotel and told the international press corps there that Libyan troops had beaten and gang-raped her. Her public statement challenged both the Gaddafi government and the taboo against discussing sex crimes in Libya.
The hotel became internationally renowned over the course of the Libyan civil war and particularly during the Battle of Tripoli. Before the battle, the hotel had been the site from which the official government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, addressed the media and made statements on behalf of the Gaddafi government. Colonel Gaddafi himself was interviewed from the hotel by journalists from CNN, BBC, and Sky News. Gaddafi's surprise and unexpected appearance at the hotel caught journalists off guard and has raised questions over secret passageways from the hotel to Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia compound not far from the building with a Sky News journalist commenting on a 'series of oddly placed air vents' and 'plenty of raised grass (which) was enough to get the more imaginative minds going.' He also remarked that, 'over the months it (the Rixos Al Nasr) has become as infamous as Saigon's Caravelle, Sarajevo's Holiday Inn, and Baghdad's Al Rasheed.'
Since the outbreak of the Libyan civil war, foreign journalists were obliged to stay in the hotel during the conflict and were effectively under house arrest, not being allowed to leave without strict government minders.
During the Battle of Tripoli, the hotel, as well as Muammar Gaddafi's residence at Bab al-Azizia, remained a stronghold of the government on 22 August, while rebels quickly captured much of the rest of the city. Journalists were not allowed to leave the hotel by government forces, and were described as being used as "human shields".
From 21 August, the hotel suffered power cuts and was deserted by government minders as fighting broke out around the building. Despite still being under the control of armed Gaddafi loyalists, the hotel was no longer properly staffed by 23 August, and many had fled as fighting erupted around the building. It was one of the last places in Tripoli under control from Gaddafi loyalists and housed an estimated thirty five foreign journalists on 24 August. According to a report from a BBC journalist from within the hotel, the building contained American journalist and cameramen, British journalists and cameramen, a former delegate to the United States Congress, members of ITN (one of whom had an AK47 pointed at him by a guard), and an Indian parliamentarian 'unable to leave the hotel on our own free will'. On 24 August, around 4:30 pm local time, the guards capitulated following negotiations facilitated by the Red Cross, and the foreign journalists were allowed to drive away.
- Jacinto, Leela. "Rape of Iman Al-Obaidi Is Rape of Libya by Qadhafi and his Thugs", Al-Jazeera, April 3, 2011.
- For her postgraduate law studies, see "Parents of Libyan woman who claimed rape tell TV she's held hostage at Gadhafi's compound", Associated Press, March 28, 2011.
- Libya unrest: Journalists' Rixos Hotel ordeal described, BBC News, 24 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- Captive journalists walk free from Tripoli hotel, CNN, 24 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.