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Proudly Libyan, Television Presenter & Businesswoman: GHALIA BOZAKOUK

Ghalia Bozakouk

It was back in 2011 when the doctor-in-the-making Ghalia Bozakouk had a drastic career shift and was selected to be in front of the nation’s cameras. A transition that happened as her homeland Libya was going through a historical revolution and that transformed her to a television personality from Libya to the world. In the heart of Paris, the very inspiring Ghalia Bozakouk talks about her mission to represent Libyan women as authentically as possible.

AM: Ghalia, as one of the faces of Libya, tell us more about your homeland
Libya is a melting pot of cultures and brings together a rich mixture of population from the Arab world and Africa. Every part of my country is unique, as you travel from the west to east you will be immersed in different traditions and heritages with a scenery that is breathtaking.

AM: When do you think the world will get to discover this hidden Arab gem?
Ever since the revolution in 2011 the media has been focused on the political aspect, knowing that Libya is the richest oil country in North Africa. The world is interested in its politics for now, but once the country is stronger and more independent the focus on culture and tourism will come back.

AM: You were supposed to be a doctor and ended up as one of the most famous TV presenters. Tell us more
Indeed, I was studying at a medical school in Benghazi because my family has always wanted me to be either a doctor or an engineer, but I felt like I needed more. With the beginning of the revolution, and just after my graduation from medical high school, I started following the news, giving interviews, and working for international journalists and news agencies. It was all by chance and I found myself at the center of the media world at the mere age of 18. I then told my family that I have decided to follow this path and my father supported me, so I moved to a Libyan station based in Qatar where I stayed for seven years and worked as a TV anchor. It was then that I realized I can represent my country in the best way possible.

AM: And was the society supportive of your career choice?
As I rose to fame in Libya people always asked me why I don’t host light shows, like fashion or entertainment. But I insisted on tackling political topics. A woman, no matter what she looks like or behaves, can still be feminine and do a man’s job. I am a mother, I am raising a new generation, I am opening my own business, so I do feel that I am stronger than men. I can sleep for two hours and still juggle all that. A female can take care of her entourage, contribute to their success, and of her own.

Ghalia Bozakouk

AM: And speaking of representing Libyan women, how would you describe them?
Very few people know what a Libyan woman actually looks like and the power she possesses. She is a vocal woman who demands her rights. We even have local laws that protect us, especially when it comes to marriage and divorce. Like elsewhere in the world, the Libyan woman is suffering. But since the revolution we have a lot of women who are opening businesses, like a lot of my friends who are in their mid 20s and have thriving firms.

AM: You always mention that your hijab makes you feel powerful, how so?
I love wearing my hijab, it gives me a power and makes me a unique person. People ask me if hijab hinders my career, I don’t believe in this at all. My hijab doesn’t cover my personality, I am outspoken and I am open to every culture. When you are confident and proud of what you dress you will impose yourself. I like to do my own style of hijab, it’s modern yet classical with simple colors. I feel that I am not able to represent my country without wearing a hijab and I have a lot of responsibilities towards that.

AM: And how is it to live in Europe?
Living in Madrid I feel very comfortable in my skin. I respect all people, races and religions. I am not God, I can’t judge. We need to accept the values of all the religions. I don’t do an effort to show that I am Libyan, but in any event or occasion, I am asked where I come from and people are often surprised when I say Libyan. This makes me happy and proud to carry the name of my country abroad.

AM: With more than 500,000 Instagram followers, how do you manage your social media presence?
Social media shows some lifestyle aspects of my life and it allows me to connect with the audience in a quicker manner than I do through television. I also think that in a way social media does reveal the character and brings you closer to the public. Post after post, your followers start understanding your personality and philosophy.

AM: And how do you deal with the negative aspects of social media?
The disadvantage is that you start auto-censoring to make sure everything is in-line with the audience and you don’t feel as spontaneous as you want to be, but I do find a balance. When it comes to negative comments, I don’t read them all. They did affect me at the beginning, but I realized that some don’t know my whole story, and there’s no one person that can impress the whole world. Sometimes even if you publish a blank photo, it will still stir up comments. If there’s no haters, it means you aren’t achieving something. I like to focus on those who look forward to my posts and are there to support me.

Ghalia Bozakouk

AM: Your new mission is to bring the famous Valdrin Sahiti house to Libya. Where did the idea come from?
I always wondered why we didn’t have international brands in Libya. It’s true that people are concerned about the security, which is why I wanted to challenge myself and the people around to bring him to the opening of a branch in Libya. This will make the lives of women easier rather than being dependent on shipping from abroad. It’s not easy to attract brands, but I am sure more and more will follow. The world needs to know that Libya has real clients who appreciate fashion as we have a lot of events and social gatherings that necessitate good quality.

AM: And why did you choose Valdrin Sahiti in particular?
I love the brand! I like his designs because he resembles Arab ones in the structure and textiles. We like colorful and extravagant looks. His designs are like drawings and would fit the taste of the Libyan woman. We will open the first brand showroom in Tripoli and expand throughout the country.

AM: We heard about another project in the works
Indeed, I am working on my cosmetics line Ghalina, which fully represents me. I like to use beauty and skin products that preserve my skin, so I am planning a made in Milan brand that will be launched in Libya and around the world. The product will be of same premium quality like international brands which clinically protect the skin yet more affordable for the local market.

AM: And what about the media world?
I would like to have a platform of short videos that tackle social aspects. I am still a political TV anchor, I love to be on the desk and host figures from politics, but I also like to go on social media, take care of my fashion and skin. They all fall together and somehow intersect rather than contradict.

Ghalia Bozakouk

Photographer: Karl Dagher - Production: Divine Paris