Moving to Lebanon

Lebanon’s population is well educated and capable of filling most skilled positions, which means there's no major push to attract foreign workers to the country. Most expats working in Lebanon are employed by NGOs or within the diplomatic arena. Other skilled foreigners work in construction, architecture or engineering. Tourism also offers opportunities for expats in Lebanon.

New arrivals in Lebanon will find the cost of living in Beirut, Lebanon's capital, significantly higher in comparison to other cities in the Middle East. The cost of housing, food and energy largely account for the high cost of living. Another expense that expats moving to Beirut will encounter is transport; the city lacks in public transport, so the use of a private car is necessary. 

The population is predominantly made up of Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze. Due to the insecurity and conflicts in a number of Lebanon’s regional neighbours, the country has also become host to refugees from Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The presence of these refugees has often been a contentious issue, particularly with regards to the influx of those from Palestine.

Lebanon's diversity is reflected in the wide range of religions and nationalities of its citizens. The country maintains religious sensitivity by celebrating a number of public holidays throughout the year. Regardless of one's religious denomination, every citizen and expat is entitled to the day off on public holidays. 

The Lebanese government views education as a priority and the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East. Most Lebanese children attend private local schools that offer the International Baccalaureate programme. There are also international schools, most of which are in Beirut.  

Arabic is the official language of Lebanon, although French and English are also widely spoken and taught in many Lebanese secondary schools. All three languages are used in business circles, so expats doing business in Lebanon should be able to converse easily enough if they know one or more of these languages.

Lebanon’s vibrant culture and diversity are what set it apart from other Middle Eastern destinations, and are factors that will help ease expat integration and lessen the culture shock that foreigners may experience in other countries in the region.


Fast facts

Population: About 6 million 

Capital city: Beirut (also the largest city)

Political system: Parliamentary democratic republic

Neighbouring countries: Lebanon is bordered by Syria to the north and east, Israel to the south and Cyprus to the wast across the Mediterranean Sea.

Geography: Lebanon occupies a narrow strip on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, with mostly mountainous terrain.

Major religions: Islam and Christianity 

Main languages: Arabic (official), French and English

Time: GMT+2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March till the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Round, two-pin plugs and square, three pin plugs.

Money: The official currency is the Lebanese Pound (LBP)

Tipping: 10 percent if a service charge is not included.

International dialling code: +961

Emergency numbers: 140 or 125

Internet domain: .lb

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right side of the road. Due to a limited public transport system, expats usually have their own car.

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