We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in
Lebanon is a country of many different religious sects and it is wise to respect the religious differences of the Lebanese population. It is recommended to wear modest clothing when visiting religious sites (Churches, mosques, etc) and when visiting rural towns and villages. Even in Beirut, some areas are more conservative than others; visitors should bear that in mind when exploring the city.
Overall, however, clothing considered ‘western’ is generally acceptable, so to hedge your bets, keep your dress modest. Bear in mind, however, that as open and western as Beirut is, this is not Europe; “topless” at any beach, whether private or public, is not recommended at all. In Tripoli, especially in the old city, it is recommended that women dress conservatively. The same applies on most traditional “souks” in the country. In general, Lebanese are accustomed to different lifestyles and some do not take offense easily, especially with matters related to dress.
The Lebanese are people accustomed to diversity and are therefore quicker to accept different lifestyles, though not all Lebanese are so open-minded. Because of political tensions and the conflict with Israel and tension with Syria, tourists should definitely avoid discussing politics, especially regarding these two countries. Lebanese in general are extremely hospitable and consider it an honour to have guests in their home.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Lebanon, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Lebanon food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Lebanon? Please comment below.