Lebanon was as much a cultural melting pot in past centuries as it is today. The country benefits from a rich history, to which a number of archaeological treasures still stand in testament. Many civilizations have thrived in Lebanon throughout the ages and within its modest borders are numerous historic and cultural attractions.
Population: Approximately 4 million
Official language: Arabic
Other spoken languages: English & French
Religion: Muslim, Christian, Druze,
Area: 10452 Square Kilometers
Climate: Mediterranean Climate, moderate rainy winter, and long warm dry summers.
Government type: Democratic Republic
National day: 22 November
Local time: GMT + 2 hours in winter and GMT + 3 Hours in summer
Day off: Sunday
Official Holidays: 01 January, 09 February, Good Friday (Oriental & Occidental), Easter (Oriental & Occidental), 01 May, 15 August, 22 November, 25 December, 31 December, Al Fitr (Muslim Holidays date not fixed), Adha (Muslim holiday date not fixed)
Money: The official currency is the Lebanese Pound. However along with the Lebanese Pound, the US dollar is widely used • Payment cards: Many shops, hotels, restaurants, bars etc,… accept international payment cards such as Visa, Master or American Express • Automatic bank tellers: Withdrawal can be made from any automatic bank teller found in any region of the country • Traveler’s checks: they can be exchanged mainly in banks. For exchange: 1USD=1500 LL.
Health: Lebanese medical care is well known for its quality. Hospitals, clinics, and well supplied pharmacies can be found in all towns • No particular vaccine is required to visit the country.
Security: Security is a constant worry for those visiting Lebanon for the first time. In Beirut, as in other towns and villages, streets are particularly safe day and night.
Bargaining: If it exists, the practice of bargaining cannot be regulated and is limited to specific situations. It is common to bargain the fare with taxi drivers, with street sellers or for a wholesale purchase. However, bargaining for some products such as food is considered to be ill mannered.
Food: The extravagant Lebanese food represents the high point of the country’s hospitality. It is said that a true mezze table should present at least twice as many delicacies as can possibly be consumed by the guests at hand. Whatever the mezze’s rationale, it is love at first sight for almost everyone who samples it. The mezze can have 30 to 40 small dishes of appetizers, eaten with Arabic Bread (Khobz Arabi) or with a salad leaf.
Alcohol: Alcohol is permitted in Lebanon and it’s served in hotel restaurants and bars.
Tipping: You usually tip porters, waiters, hotel staff, guides, doormen, etc. The average rate in restaurants in 10-15%, whereas with other service providers anywhere between 3,000LBP and 10,000LBP are acceptable (depending on service and quality provided).
Weather: Lebanon gets 300 days of sunshine a year. Coastal temperatures rarely fall below 15°C during the rainy winter, and may reach 31°C on average during the humid summer. This applies also to the region of the Bekaa valley. On higher altitudes, the air becomes drier and fresher. Major snowfalls allow skiing during the months of December until April. The intermediate seasons, spring and fall, vary between one and two months, and the average temperature is usually 21°C.
Languages: Arabic is the Lebanese national language. However, it is also common to speak French and/ or English. The spoken language is a dialect called Lebanese Arabic, often combined with English and French. This dialect differs from the formal Arabic called “fos’ha” by being much less formal.
Water: Most Lebanese homes have two water taps; one for domestic use and another one for potable water. It is not recommended to drink tap water, unless you are certain of its cleanliness.
Clothing: Generally there are no particular cultural rules for this matter in Lebanon. However, wearing short clothing, such as short pants, is to be avoided in certain places such as the souk of Tripoli or Sidon… To visit religious places, modest clothing is required. Women need headscarves when visiting mosques, usually provided there.
Photography: All photography and video equipment are available in Lebanon, and at better prices than in Europe and North America. Concerning development and printing, photo shops are abundant.
Telephone: The first two digits of Lebanese telephone numbers are the area code • Telephone booths are accessible for local and international calls • International code for calling Lebanon is 961 • Payphone cards are available in post offices, kiosks and smoke shops at 15 000 LBP and 30 000 LBP • Mobile phones are very popular in Lebanon; however most businesses and homes have land lines • In case of an emergency useful numbers are: Internal Security Forces: 112; Red Cross: 140; Civil Defense: 125.
Telecommunications: Internet connections are very common in Lebanon. Cyber-cafes are widespread in cities as well as most villages. Many hotels also provide internet connections.
Electricity: The current is 220 Volts. It is not unusual to face electrical shutdowns that may damage sensible electrical machines. It is recommended to shut down any machine when not using it.
Transportation: Public transportation is available. Bus stops are easily recognized. Collective taxis are also available. They are called “Service”. They are not expensive, price starting at 2000 LBP. Private taxis also exist. Price starts at 5000 LBP for a short trip. Kurban Tours strongly recommend “Allo Taxi” (phone number 01/366661 or 1213 from any land or mobile phone). Another mean of transportation is car rental. It is necessary to have an international driving license in case you don’t have a Lebanese one. Kurban Tours recommends “Avis Rent a Car” (phone number: 01/366662). Be sure at all times to drive on the right side of the road.
Business days: In general, shops are opened from 09:00 to 19:00 or 20:00, from Monday to Saturday. However, most shops in downtown Beirut open from 10:00 till midnight, seven days a week.
Banks are opened from 08:30 till 14:00 from Monday to Saturday.
Taxes: In shops, taxes (10%) are included in the prices. A duty free shop is located at Beirut International Airport only.
Good to know:
The duty free allowance for each visitor entering the country is 200 cigarettes, a reasonable amount of perfume, and, for non Muslim adults, two liters of spirits and two liters of wine. Visitors are not charged customs duty on personal effects they bring.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact our conference organizers at:
Congress Solutions International
P.O. Box: 7631, Dubai UAE
Phone: +971 4 303 4763
Fax: +9714 303 4030