May 08, 2007
Algiers, The Tourist Destination
I had one of the most surreal business conversations of my life today, with some... Algerians official who have somehow deluded themselves into thinking that I may be the conduit to foreign money to invest in what I can only characterise as a truly fantastical scheme to create an Algiers Bay tourist destination.....
Abstracting away from the fact that you can't get bloody tourist visas to Algiers without jumping through absurd hoops, and paying absurd fees, who in their right mind is going to visit Algiers, a city with goddamned paramilitary at every round point (and not the weeny under-fed pseudo para conscripts of Egypt, really serious French trained toughs with spanky new assault rifles and equipment) and a palpable sense of fear and malaise?
Now, I am not saying Algiers is not an attractive city, it is. It's just one would have to be fucking retarded to invest in tourism in Algiers. Fuck, the morons who invested in the Tourist hotels in Jordan got fucking raped, and Jordan at least was a semi-sane bet in 97. (this leaves aside the money laundering hotels built recently in Amman; I have a fondness for money laundering actually, it provides ridiculous services like mini theaters in absurd round tower hotels at absurd pricing for persons like myself to enjoy)
Posted by The Lounsbury at May 8, 2007 06:54 PM
Filed Under: Biz - Private in MENA
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this leaves aside the money laundering hotels built recently in Amman; I have a fondness for money laundering actually, it provides ridiculous services like mini theaters in absurd round tower hotels at absurd pricing for persons like myself to enjoy
(laugh) Reminds me of all the empty buildings of Tangiers and the courtesy of their drug dealer landlords.
Dubai, mate, Dubai.
But pure waste money laundering annoys me. I like money laundering that is a subsidy to corrupt expats consumption of services. Especially drug money, as after all, the underlying capital is getting sucked out of spoiled idiots in the West.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 8, 2007 11:28 PM
Ah, the memories. In Algiers this winter, I was trying to reserve a hotel room for visitors coming there a week later, at one of Algeria's nicer hotels, Es-Safir (right next to the parliament). The response I got in the reception was that the man responsible had gone home, and it could not be arranged. I tried to point out that one of the basic services a hotel should offer, is the possibility to, well, you know -- live there. But to no avail. I could buy a sandwich if I wanted, or perhaps change money, but I could not book a room until Someone In Charge showed up.
And that was a big hotel, mind you. I'm sure there were all sorts of luxuries in the rooms ... just no guests. Never in my life have I seen a country in such a need of total neoliberal system shock. They've got a civil society of sorts going, some enterprising minor businessmen, lots of diaspora people waiting to invest, a clever private press, natural resources up to their ears, and everything else you could wish for -- but it just doesn't work, because the Algerian state (diagnosis here) and its never-ending post-Socialist hangover clogs the whole economy. Screw reforms, they should just privatize EVERYTHING, ride the social unrest for a few years -- the one thing the government is good at -- and watch Phoenix rise.
Posted by: alle at May 9, 2007 04:36 PM