• Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

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    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    Nepal
    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

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    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

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    Qatar
    Although little more than a deserted peninsula, Qatar has a thriving culture based on technology and immigration, with Doha (pictured) taking the lead. Explore Qatar!

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    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Lebanon

WARNING: Terrorist threats and violence exist in Lebanon, please read this travel warning before going!

Behavior

How most Lebanese behave and the expectations for how foreigners must behave is deeply rooted in the people's Islamic faith, but today there is great freedom on how to act and behave. Sometimes single women travelers are looked at oddly by conservative Muslims and for these same people it is also considered improper for a man to touch a woman, even holding your spouse's hand or offering to shake the hand of a person who is of the opposite sex can be considered inappropriate to a conservative Muslim. However, in Lebanon you'll rarely encounter these issues.

Most of the strictest behavioral regulations come with dining etiquette. Islamic law forbids pork products and alcohol and these should be avoided when in the company of Muslims. Although many hotels, clubs, and bars offer alcohol in their restaurants, pork is less common, but still widely available. When in the company of Christians, neither pork nor alcohol is outlawed and there are no dietary restrictions; when in the company of Muslims, follow their lead as many Lebanese Muslims do drink alcohol and some also eat pork. For more information on dining in Lebanon see our Lebanon Dining & Food Page.

Dress

The traditional dress in Lebanon is quite varied since the people are quite varied ethnically, religiously, and culturally. Perhaps the most popular type of traditional clothing in the country that remains today are sherwal, which are loose-fitting pants, although sometimes they are tight on the bottom or are worn over tight pants. The labbade was also commonly worn as a headdress. Some women, both in the past and today, wear an abaya, which is traditionally black. This loose-fitting dress entirely covers a woman from the neck down. Like the abaya, women wear a black cloth called a hijab both historically and today; this is a piece of cloth wrapped around their neck so only their faces can be seen.

Although these traditional clothes can still be seen in Lebanon, more commonly today the people wear modern western-styled clothing. As a liberal country on Muslim standards, the clothing of today can be somewhat tight-fitting and showing skin is accepted by the majority of the people, but for many people long sleeves are the norm on both shirts and pants. Some Muslim women in Lebanon still cover their heads, often times with a hijab or a simple scarf no matter what style clothing they wear, but this seems to be a dying practice. Despite this conservative dress, there is a large number of Muslim women in Lebanon who dress more liberally and most of the Christian population does as well.

As a visitor to the country, wearing western clothes is common and acceptable. However, be aware of the differences in dress and be prepared to dress conservatively. Few Lebanese will be offended at shorts and t-shirts as many locals also wear these clothes, but among more conservative Muslims it is best to cover up with long sleeves on your shirts and pants. In Beirut and other cities the dress tends to be more liberal and dressing in a similar fashion is common, but in some more rural areas the dress can be much more conservative so be prepared for this. Additionally, some women may feel more comfortable covering their hair, but this is not expected and there is no pressure to do so, especially in Beirut and other cities.

This page was last updated: December, 2013