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Business Etiquettes in Lebanon


Lebanese are very “touchy-feely”. Direct eye contact with a lot of physical contact is the cornerstones of Lebanese communication. If you are from a culture where eye contact is less direct and contact not so prevalent, this may feel uncomfortable. Try not to break the eye contact as this conveys trust, sincerity and honesty. However, interestingly the situation is reversed when dealing with elders where prolonged direct eye contact is considered rude and challenging.

Lebanese have an indirect and non-confrontational communication style, which relates to the need to maintain personal honour. They rely heavily on the context to explain the underlying meaning of their words. The listener is expected to know what they are trying to say or imply. Non-verbal cues and body language are crucial to learn so you can more fully understand the responses you are given.

For the most part, Lebanese try not to lose their tempers publicly since such behaviour demonstrates a weakness of character. They strive to be courteous and expect similar behaviour from others. However, if they think that their honour has been impugned or that their personal honour has been challenged, they will raise their voice and employ sweeping hand gestures in their vociferous attempt to restore their honour.

Meeting & Greeting

Lebanese can be somewhat formal in their business dealings. At the same time, they will strive to be hospitable and will go out of their way to be generous and gracious hosts. Greetings should not be rushed. It is important to take time to exchange social pleasantries during the greeting process.

The most common greeting in business is the handshake with direct eye contact. The handshake may be more prolonged that in Western countries. Very religious Muslims may not shake hands across genders. In such cases, the foreign business people should simply nod their heads as a way of acknowledging them.

If someone is introduced with a title, use that title when greeting them. If the title is given in Arabic, it is appended to the first name. If the title is in English or French, it will be added to the surname.

Business Meetings

The business culture in Lebanon is multi-faceted and also rapidly changing. The country is eager for foreign investment and many companies have adopted a Western approach to business. At the same time, smaller companies may retain many Middle Eastern aspects to their business culture.

Punctuality is generally expected for business meetings.

Meetings generally begin with the offer of tea or coffee. While this is being sipped, it is important to engage in some chit-chat. This is important in order to establish rapport and trust.

Meetings are not necessarily private. The Lebanese tend to have an open-door policy, which means that people may walk in and out, telephone calls may be answered or the tea boy may come in to take drink orders. It is best to be prepared for frequent interruptions.

Meetings are generally conducted in French, Arabic or English. It is generally a good idea to ask which language the meeting will be conducted in prior to arriving. You may wish to hire your own interpreter.

Business Cards

Business cards are given without formal ritual. Having one side of your card translated into French or Arabic is a nice touch but not essential. Present and receive business cards with two hands or the right hand.





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