Libyans mark rare snowfall with camping, selfies, snowball fights and food

Libyans flocked to the plateau of Jabal Al Akhdar and the city of Al Bayda on Thursday to enjoy a blanket of snow that has been building for days in the north-eastern parts of one of the driest countries in the world.

Residents of Jabal Al Akhdar, or Green Mountain, and its regional capital, Al Bayda, woke to snowfall on Tuesday, an occurrence that was once a rarity but has been increasing during winter.

“The snowfall continued for hours forming a layer that ranged between 4 and 8 centimetres in thickness, and temperatures have been between zero and minus 4° these days,” said environmental researcher Abdulsalam Kowaider.

Mr Kowaider measured the snow’s thickness himself because of a lack of meteorological centres in that part of the country.

With schools suspended since Tuesday in Al Bayda due to the extreme weather, children and families went outdoors to have fun, engaging in snowball fights, and dotting squares and streets with snowmen of different sizes.

Hamida Al Darsi, a student of agriculture at Omar Al Mukhtar University, travelled with her family to the forests in Jabal Al Akhdar, taking photos of the snow and the beautiful sights of the white-covered trees.

“We did not care for the chilling cold at these heights,” Ms Al Darsi told The National. “Once we saw the snow blanketing Bayda city, we joined the many other families in the streets and forests to play with snowballs and take pictures of the whiteness.”

Despite the official holidays declared by the government in the eastern parts of Libya, streets were busy with people who came from across the country to see the snow.

Young campers from southern and western Libya came to the city of Bayda, historically known as the City of Snow, to camp in the forests, especially in coldest Seedi Al Hamari, and enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Walid Al Orfali travelled 1,200 kilometres from the capital Tripoli with his friends to camp in the forests of Jabal Al Akhdar.

“It may snow in western cities, even in Tripoli, but the snow quickly melts and is gone within hours,” Mr Al Orfali said.

“But the snow in Bayda is thick and it lasts. We came to camp for a few days in Seedi Al Hamari and enjoyed the snow all through.”

Indoors, families upheld the long tradition of cooking warm dishes associated with the chilling winters and falling snow.

Nouria Al Burousi, 65, said she enjoyed having authentic dishes such as megata and mathrouda prepared for her children and grandchildren when they were ready to come indoors from the cold.

“Al megata is a dish of handmade pasta-like dough, which is mixed with tomato sauce and a lot of hot chilli, while al mathrouda is a meal of bread, butter, dates and nuts, which is also served hot,” Ms Al Burousi said.

“As snow falls outside, I make us warm cups of green tea with thyme and mint leaves, which I’ve picked from nearby forests, and nuts and wild mushrooms which the kids collect from nearby fields.

“These meals are only prepared when the whole family comes together in freezing winters, as they’re loved by everyone, big and small.”

This article was written in collaboration with Egab.

Snow in the Middle East – in pictures

Updated: January 28th 2022, 10:24 AM

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