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Algeria is Booming in August

New America Media, Commentary, Wendy Feliz Sefsaf Posted: Aug 24, 2008

August in Algiers is booming. We hang out on a busy street in Staouali eating ice cream, playing with monkeys and watching the French-Algerians spend their Euros. The next morning Al Jazeera reports a suicide bombing wounds 25 people in Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers.

The beaches of Sidi Frej and Biname are filled with families shopping in the markets and swimming in their bikinis and hijab. Young men are selling beignets filled with apricot jam or chocolate and hot sweet tea. Families huddle under umbrellas and spend the entire day on the beach. The next morning a suicide bombing on a coast guard barracks kills six civilians in Zemmouri, east of Algiers.


The police checkpoints are peppered all over the city yet they rarely pull families over (that is unless you turn the wrong way onto a one-way street and then even your American drivers license does not elicit a smile, but a firm reminder that the law is the law no matter what country you come from.)

Algiers is under construction, new highways, tunnels and bridges are cropping up everywhere. There are new apartments and government buildings being built by Chinese construction workers. New car dealers have appeared all over the city. The capital is moving and changing on the outside, investment is coming back to Algeria. The next morning a suicide bomber attacks a paramilitary gendarmerie training school at Issers, east of the capital, killing 43.

It is rumored President Bouteflika is gravely ill with cancer. Algerians worry that the country cannot recover without him. Yet there seems to be a return of relative optimism. For an outsider it feels like Algeria is beginning to work again. It feels better than it did 5 years or even 3 years ago (and not just because there is running water most of the time.) Where they go from here is up to them or, as most Algerians believe, up to their destiny.

Beach Prayer

Meanwhile the weddings go on, the families gather, the men hold up the walls and the youth who can, go on to college hoping there will be something there for them when they graduate.

The family gathers in the evening to say goodbye to their American daughter-in-law and grandson. In the morning as I leave for the airport, two car bombings in Bouira, 90 miles from Algiers, kill 11 more.

In Algeria this month more than 70 Algerians and Canadians were killed in six major terrorist attacks.

I leave the beautiful new Houari Boumediene Airport hoping that it will be even better the next time I return, but just in case, I say a parting prayer for those I leave behind.

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