From The Countryside

Soug is-Sibit Photo


Soug is-Sibit is a small farming village in northwestern Libya (maps in Arabic or English), and one of four villages known collectively as an-Nawahi al-Arba'a (the four sides) and located south of Tripoli. Soug is-Sibit, which means Saturday Market, is close to al-Aziziya, site of the world's highest recorded temperature (136 F or about 58 C, in the shade, recorded in Sept. 1922.) However, many of the villages are blessed with good water and fertile soil.


Rows of olive trees in fields of barley, wheat, and peanuts, are common farm crops in Soug is-Sibit. Every year, the village meets Spring in a colorful cover of wild flowers, including the bright yellow blooms of Acacia trees, known locally as "Kasha" or "Talah." Spring fields
Horse riders
Summer is the season for weddings and the associated tradition of horse riding. The festive horse-riding meet is known as "Sibeeb" which literally means the horse's mane. The ground is sprayed with water in early morning to help keep the dust down during the afternoon festivities. A good sibeeb can attract rider groups and fanatics from tens and even hundreds of miles away. Each group of riders is called 'Igid, which means necklace, and some necklaces may have more than 20 riders (gems) abreast. An impressively large group can be called "a 24-carat necklace."

The Sibeeb riders and most of the observers are men. Some women gather on the sides to watch the riders, as well as to encourage them with old songs about valor, bravery, tribal pride, and horsemanship. The songs are so beautifully moving that some enchanted riders show off their skills on the side by making their horses dance to the cheer leaders' tunes.

The necklaces take turns to ride. They start by riding their horses on a slow, deliberate walk to the far end of the track. Then, they turn around and ride like the wind! The picture above was taken immediately after the turnaround and before the necklace locked up and came down as one solid front. What a sight! And the sound they make is sometimes called "shboob," which means torrential downpour.


Riders dressed up in full Libyan regalia and heading to glory on their Arabians and Barbs! The ornate saddles are made of fine leather and textiles, including silk and silver-thread. Special gear for special occasions. The tradition of horseback riding runs quite deep in Libyan culture, and on the Libyan countryside, the mere sight of a well-dressed horse can lead to great poetry and songs!

Listen to Songs about horses and horsemen.