15 things I’ve learned about working in Lebanon

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are a mixture of my experiences as well as the experiences of others. Therefore, any resemblance to people, companies, or businesses (unless clearly stated) is purely coincidental and should not be taken personally. 😉

15 things I’ve learned about working in Lebanon.

1.  There is almost never enough Nescafe or Coffee Mate (or lighters).

2.  You should never use someone else’s mug.

2.  “I got stuck in Jounieh/Hazmieh/Achrafieh traffic” is actually a valid excuse for tardiness…“I couldn’t find parking” is also another valid one (especially in Achrafieh).

3.  If you get to work even a little bit late, there will be no place left in the fridge for you to put your Tupperware..and then you will have to spend the next couple of minutes rearranging everyone else’s Tupperware so that yours fits…ANNOYING (isn’t it?!)

4.  The dress code varies immensely, depending on your industry of course.  That being said, it’s not uncommon to find gym clothes (spandex pants, sneakers, and a hoodie) and night club attire (mini skirt, six inch heel boots, and cleavage bearing top) next to each other, in the same office.

5.  If the secretary is passing around Lebanese sweets, you know someone just had a baby.

6.  Meetings continue without a flinch, even when the power goes out.  Business as usual, even in the dark!

7.  People are often expected to take on the role/responsibilities of two or three employees, without an increase in pay.  Oh, and almost everyone does freelance work..even if it’s “against company policy.”

8.  Human Resources (HR) is still an emerging, highly misunderstood, and extremely undervalued field.

9.  Clients are still reluctant to use email, they would much prefer a face to face meeting..even if it’s about something very minor that could be resolved through email, or at most, over the phone.

10.  Whether or not a company gives off certain religious holiday is always a matter of contention.

11.  Job titles are of supreme importance, even if they aren’t justified.

12.  While most people speak 3 or 4 languages in Lebanon fluently, many offices have a single language preference – a language that the majority of employees feel most comfortable speaking in..and the language that is most often heard around the office.

13.  Although most people bring food from home, it’s not uncommon to see 25 different delivery men come through the office doors within a space of a day.

14.  People will start smoking just so that they have an excuse to join everyone else on smoking/coffee/chatting breaks.

15.  Don’t share anything too personal about yourself at work, it can..and probably will, be held against you.

That’s my two cents.  Agree?  Disagree?  Got anything to add?



Filed under life in Lebanon

25 responses to “15 things I’ve learned about working in Lebanon

  1. Agreed. As usual!
    Would like to highlight the 7th point:
    “People are often expected to take on the role/responsibilities of two or three employees, without an increase in pay. Oh, and almost everyone does freelance work..even if it’s “against company policy.”
    Spot On!

  2. I agree with most if not all of the above 🙂

  3. Haha, can’t say I disagree with any of these! In order to avoid point #2 as I could never find a mug when I needed one, I bought a huge pink mug, that reads ‘Princess!’. At that time, our team was essentially comprised of 10 guys, and me. You can be sure no one used my mug. ever. again.
    Had to go through Tupperware organization a few times. That was something, Tetris at its best!
    Loved this post, excellent timing 🙂

  4. Heheheh! Excellent!
    And re “8. Human Resources (HR) is still an emerging, highly misunderstood, and extremely undervalued field” — Do they actually exist???? They never seem to answer job applications and when you finally meet them for a job interview, they never give a reply!!! 🙂

  5. Leila khauli

    So true! Number 9 should include Clients and colleagues!

  6. Interesting, your points are valid (from my experience) in Jordan, Kuwait, Dubai, and Palestine..I think it’s universal in the Middle East..

  7. Donnie Darko

    1 thing I learned about working in Lebanon:

    Don’t work in Lebanon.

  8. its nice to hear stories about working in Lebanon ,as i have never had the chance to work there ,sometimes there are some similarities ,like rearranging the fridge ,but where i used to work when i was in Dubai some people used to steal other peoples food ,as we were in the middle of desert and there were not even a single delivery around .maybe having 25 different delivery around is not that bad after all .

  9. I will add that many clients are very distrutful and hard to convince. They are always haggling the cost of a project…

  10. MM007

    This is valid for most ME countries
    Also 11.Office Romance,competitions,jealousy,cat fights/wars, the half-covered girl getting the biggest bonus,sleazy guys,uptight girls

  11. Pingback: Tweets that mention 15 things I’ve learned about working in Lebanon | From Miami to Beirut -- Topsy.com

  12. Roy

    17 Responses to 15 things I’ve learned about working in Lebanon.

  13. TD

    100% 😀 😀

    the mug, the dress code, the sweets 🙂 everything!

  14. how come you worked in my office and I haven’t seen you??

  15. Lorena

    Spot on! 🙂

  16. Joanna

    16. Most Lebanese people go on a power trip when the boss annexes the word “senior” to their title.

  17. Just saw this post! ermmmmmmmmmmmm wow I agree with most points yeah! specially #14 lol been really on my mind that piece of smoking crap

  18. Sami O

    I just starting following your blog a couple of days ago and I think it’s great! But I don’t like point #8! I work in HR in Montreal and hoping to move back to Lebanon soon, and that doesn’t encourage me!!! :p

  19. Paulina

    Man, this reminds me of the days I used to work in Lebanon before moving to Australia. Nothing has changed much!
    I came accross your blog not too long ago and I’m addicted to your stories now. Entertaining and interesting and reminding so much of home.

  20. Fouad

    I too came home to Lebanon after 18 years of absence working abroad. May I add to your list :
    – At work, everyone is a “Manager” one way or the other and they are very territorial about it. (Just like in Lebanese Politics 🙂
    – I still can’t believe Lebanese people can’t differentiate between sales & Marketing. Even an accountant’s job boils down to sales. At one time I was asked : why, what’s the difference ? I was shocked at the question 🙂

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