In the midst of political turmoil in Libya, Ahmed Al-Mag’ee is dedicated to preserving his country’s rich heritage.
For 23 years, Al-Mag’ee has been amassing an impressive collection of antiques, and has opened a shop in the city of Misrata to exhibit his finds.
He has collected over 4,500 pieces that date back to the Ottoman Empire, the Italian colonial period and throughout the rule of Libya’s last king, Idris.
“My hobby started 23 years ago and I tried to collect the largest collection of antiques to celebrate our heritage and culture and also to preserve it. It was all through individual effort and now I am able to open the shop to showcase this heritage and inform as many people as I can about their history and revive their cultural heritage,” he said.
But despite opening a shop, for now he says he only wants to showcase his collections to as many people as he can.
After several months, he said he will consider starting to sell his collection and buy new pieces for his antique shop, Al-Sakeefa.
He has collected his treasures from different parts of Libya with some pieces even coming from Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt.
“The idea of a collectibles shop is very good, and it is a good initiative. It is rare and unknown to find in Libya and I hope people would pay attention to these things and educate themselves on collectibles so that we would have exhibitions. It is a great idea,” said one visitor, Mohamed Fadil.
Libya slipped into political turmoil after the NATO-backed uprising that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Different parts of the country are rich in ancient sites, including some of North Africa’s finest Roman and Greek ruins as well as prehistoric rock art in the desert region of Fezzan.
But their preservation has been threatened by the political chaos and security vacuum.
However, Al-Mag’ee aims to preserve his collectibles for future generations and Misrata citizens who visit his store.