Ancient Carthage, Resort Towns, Foreign Investment & Media – the First Few Days in Tunisia

(Reposted from the Chazen Institute blog at the Columbia Business School)

Salam and Bonjour from Tunis!  We arrived in Tunisia yesterday, with the 22 CBS students flying in from destinations near and far from prior winter break travels.  For those of us who arrived earlier in the day, Chazen organized a tour to the visit the ruins of Ancient Carthage, just a few miles north of the modern city of Tunis.

The Empire of Carthage, founded as a Phoenician city-State in 814 BC, was significant both politically and as a trade hub amongst the ancient empires.  It is notorious for warring with the Greeks and the Roman Republic, which culminated with the Punic wars, which were led by Hannibal, immortalized by Vergil’s Aeneid, and ultimately ended with the destruction of Carthage.

Carthage, Atlas Mountains, Mediterranean

Carthage, Atlas Mountains, Mediterranean

Corinthian Column

Corinthian Column

Remains of Carthage with Latin Inscriptions

Remains of Carthage with Latin Inscriptions

CBS at Carthage

CBS at Carthage

Following the tour of Ancient Carthage, we traveled to the summer vacation town of Sidi Bou Said, a 12 miles outside the city, for a welcome dinner.  The town is known for uniform white buildings punctuated by azure doors and windows.  Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, currently embroiled in a nationwide scandal, was a fellow diner at the seaside Dar Zarrouk restaurant.

Blue door in Sidi Bou Said

Blue door in Sidi Bou Said

Yesterday marked the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution.  The country decided a few weeks ago to officially recognize January 14th as a holiday, and as such, most businesses closed in recognition.  In order to avoid the demonstrations in the streets, populated by Tunisians off from work, our group enjoyed the morning meandering through Hammamet, a, popular resort town outside Tunis, whose population quadruples in the summer months.  We explored the town’s medina (old city), browsing the souq(marketplace) for Tunisian handicrafts, and stopped for some mint tea, a traditional beverage, ubiquitous throughout the region, at a salon de the (café).

Salon de The

Salon de The

Hammamet

Hammamet

Coastline in Hammamet

Coastline in Hammamet

Mediterranean in Hammamet

Mediterranean in Hammamet

The CBS Group

The CBS Group

In the afternoon, we had several meetings focused around Foreign Investment.  For a more complete recap:  click here.

At the Mediterranean School of Business

At the Mediterranean School of Business

This morning, we began the day with a Media Panel.  Again, for details, click here.

To sum up the historical (and arguably current) history of the country’s censorship, one of the panelists told us the following famous Tunisian joke:  A newspaper decided to interview Americans (developed country), Ethiopians (less developed country) and Tunisians (somewhere in the middle) about their opinions on the shortage of meat.  When the journalist asked the Americans about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Americans responded “shortage…what do you mean ‘shortage’?” When the journalist asked the Ethiopians about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Ethiopians responded “meat…what do you mean ‘meat’?” And when the journalist asked the Tunisians about their opinions on the shortage of meat, the Tunisians responded “opinions…what do you mean’opinions’?”

Until the next (freedom of press protected) post –

Y

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2 Comments

Filed under Africa, Tunisia

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