A life lived, king size

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

As television channels flashed pictures of Col. Gaddafi being captured and killed, my thoughts went back to a recent trip to Khartoum.

After a meeting at the Sudanese Oil Ministry, the journalist group I was part of was taken on a tour of the Sudanese capital. A short distance from the headquarters of the Oil Ministry and along the White Nile river, our guide pointed to a huge dome-shaped glass and cement structure. The tall, impressive looking building caught the eye.

However, what made us stand up and take notice of the building, which shared a boundary wall with Sudan Hotel, was that it had been built with Libyan money. Even better, Col. Gaddafi and his family often stayed in this hotel when they visited the bordering country of Sudan.

The building stood out as an oddity as it was one of the few skyscrapers in an otherwise barren sand-filled landscape. The 5-star rated Corinthia is a 230-room, 18-floor hotel and is clearly beyond the reach of an average Sudanese, what with the country having a per capita income figuring among the lowest in the world.

Theories about why Libya invested multi-million dollars in this hotel abounded. The most colourful of these had to do with Col. Gaddafi wanting to stay in his own surroundings when in Sudan. Don't forget that when the Colonel travelled anywhere else in the world, his Bedouin tents were part of the suitcases.

There is perhaps, another reason. Libya then, and Sudan till now, are still largely considered pariahs in the global community of nations because of their alleged support to terrorism and terrorists. Building hotel in Sudan was probably the Colonel's way of cocking a thumb at the global community at large.

Published on October 22, 2011

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