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Geopolitics

The Libyan Diaspora And The War

Libyans who have left, and others with experience abroad, play a key role for the anti-government forces in coordinating and communicating with the outside world.

Libyan voter (by septimius severus)
Rebel media center in Benghazi
Florent Marcie

ZINTAN - For decades, Libyans have been fleeing oppression and authoritarian rule, leaving behind their home country in hopes of finding a better life abroad. This so-called Libyan diaspora has spread across Europe, North America and Australia.

Other Libyans, especially those working for international oil companies, have frequently spent different periods abroad for either professional or language training. When unrest broke out in Libya in mid-February, most of those with foreign connections supported the rebels' cause, and some ex-patriots even returned home.

This Libyan version of "globalization" means there are three co-existing societies: Libyans living abroad, most of them English-speaking and open-minded; Libyans living in Libya who've been psychologically marked by Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year rule; and those living in Libya but who have tried to open up to the world using the Internet.

Under current circumstances, the diaspora has turned out to be crucial. Besides the fact they speak English, they have the capacity to do things that can't be done by those living under an authoritarian regime. They have been especially important to the media, a driving force during the Arab Spring.

The first thing rebels set up in villages they control in western Libya are "Media Centers." Even in Yafran, where power cuts are common, twin brothers Mazigh and Madghis -- who both studied in Australia -- proudly visit the new center. "It only opened a few days ago, but it already has WiFi. Hopefully, we'll soon be able to welcome lots of journalists."

Other members of the diaspora go even further, and are taking up arms. "I grew up in Manchester," says Abdul, a strong-looking man, "but my family is from Yafran. I feel better holding a Kalashnikov than a camera. Most of all, we need military aid."

Read the original story in French (subscription)

Photo - Al Jazeera English

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Future

Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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