DUBAI (Mohamed al-Naeimi)
Since the start of the Libyan revolution on Feb. 17, Libya’s first lady Safia Farkash has not been in the limelight unlike her Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts even though she is known for her enormous wealth and considerable influence.
Safia Farkash owns an airline company called Buraq Air headquartered in the Mittiga International Airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Farkash operates the company with the approval of her husband even though it is a rival of the Libyan national carrier and monopolizes the transfer of Libyan pilgrims.Reports of Farkash’s wealth are varried, but one of the most widely-circulated reports suggests that the first lady owns 20 tons of gold.
News of Farkash’s wealth is in line with the Wiki Leaks documents which stated that Gaddafi is the head of a family that is powerful and rich, yet divided and dysfunctional.
According to Wiki Leaks, Farkash is generally low profile. She travelled in a rented plane and a procession of cars drove her from the airport to her destination. Even the banquet she held at the Bab al-Azizia compound, Gaddafi’s main headquarters, to celebrate the anniversary of the 1969 revolution was quite modest.
During the Lockerbie crisis, the International Coalition against War Criminals (ICAWC), based in France, revealed in 1992 that Gaddafi’s wealth had reached 80 billion U.S. dollars and that his wife’s was estimated at 30 billion.
Story of first ladySafia Farkash al-Baraasi is the second wife of Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi. She was born in the city of al-Baida in eastern Libyan and hails from al-Baraaesa tribe. They got to know each other when she worked as a nurse and he was admitted to hospital for an appendectomy in 1971. They got married the same year and had seven children, six boys and their only daughter Ayesha.
During the first years of their marriage, Farkash rarely made media appearances, yet in the past few years she started engaging in social activities like taking part in celebrating the 1969 revolution that brought her husband to power and attending the graduation of female police students in 2010.
In 2008, Farkash was elected vice president to the African First Ladies Organization in a meeting of African Union leaders in the Egyptian Red Sea city Sharm al-Sheikh even though she was not present at the meeting and has never taken part in activities related to it.
Several websites reported that Farkash and her daughter Ayesha landed in Germany on February 20, but no one denied or confirmed the news.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)