Lebanon Country Report
Businesses are often dependent on the patronage of leading families and politicians. High government debt, capital flight, risk of currency collapse, and political opposition will stall privatisation plans. Corruption is extensive, and nepotism usually determines the allocation of public contracts. Lebanon's roads are inadequate, water and sewerage systems are rudimentary, and electricity supply is unreliable. The reconstruction of the city after the explosion is likely to draw resources away from upgrading these systems. Lebanon is not a WTO member, as the organisation bans monopolies and oligopolies, and these have direct ties to the government.
Joint state-Hizbullah action has greatly reduced Sunni jihadists' capability to conduct terrorist attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Terrorist groups likely continue to have the intent to target security forces in north Lebanon, Hizbullah supporters' residential areas, commercial centres, and vulnerable communities such as Christian Mount Lebanon. Militant jihadists active in Palestinian refugee camps rarely, if ever, operate outside of the camps. Hizbullah is the most capable terrorist actor, but currently has no intent to conduct attacks. If severely challenged, Hizbullah would likely conduct covert assassinations of rivals or use IEDs against banks or infrastructure controlled by political opponents.
Serious incidents of violent crimes such as robbery and assault are rare, but petty theft is common notably in Beirut and Tripoli. Kidnapping for ransom is particularly a risk in the Bekaa. Increased inflation, poverty and unemployment in 2020 increase the likelihood of theft and looting.
The Lebanese government lacks sufficient emergency reserves to fund reconstruction of Beirut Port, or to compensate for businesses’ financial losses, and poverty and unemployment are likely to increase substantially. Poverty is at 45% and unemployment was at 6.2% on average in 2019 and has, according to local media estimates, surpassed 30% in the first half of 2020. IHS Markit is anticipating looting and food riots. Theft and robbery have already gone up in the first half of 2020 compared with the same time last year. According to supposed official figures, 863 thefts and robberies have been committed during the first half of 2020, compared with 650 for all of 2019.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic and corresponding curfews have put additional pressures on the public services, including education, healthcare, electricity, water, and policing, which were already severely overstretched. Vehicle crime is another growing problem. Foreign visitors should beware of local taxis as foreign visitors have specifically been targeted for robberies when riding in these vehicles. Areas of highest risk include Tripoli and the Bekaa, especially near the Syrian border.
War risks between Israel and Lebanon are very high and a war would entail extensive damage on Lebanese infrastructure. War is most likely to follow repeated Israeli airstrikes against advanced weapons storage or manufacturing facilities in Lebanon. IHS Markit assesses that there is an increased likelihood of war breaking out between Israel and Hizbullah since Israel's Prime Minister is more likely to respond with disproportionate force against a Hizbullah attack due to growing pressure domestically. Civil war is unlikely but there is a high risk of localised intra-factional fighting involving small arms, and explosives against party-affiliated assets.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No country requirement.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The risk of earthquakes is present in Lebanon, especially in Beirut, as the country is located on a fault line. The last major earthquake in Lebanon occurred in 1956 in Zrariyeh (Sidon district), killing more than 140 people. More recently, an earthquake struck near Jbeil in May 2014, leading to some material damage. Most buildings in the country do not conform to earthquake-resistant standards and several experts have stated that an earthquake with a magnitude of six or above in Beirut would destroy 25 percent of the city.
In winter, heavy snowfall can lead to roadblocks and traffic disruption in mountainous regions.
Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) is located south of the capital Beirut, and links Beirut to neighboring countries as well as Europe's biggest cities. It is recommended to avoid landing at night as the ID verification process can be long and the wait for a visa upon landing can take up to six hours. Any traveler presenting a passport with an Israeli stamp or an Israeli airplane ticket will not be authorized to enter Lebanese territory.
The UK government has announced that passengers flying non-stop to the United Kingdom from Lebanon will be banned from transporting any electronic device larger than a standard-sized smartphone (16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm / 6.3 in x 3.5 in x 0.6 in) in carry-on luggage. This includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players, and video games, which will have to be stowed in checked luggage for the duration of the flight.
Road accidents occur on a regular basis throughout Lebanon, Beirut included, due to aggressive driving behavior and a poorly maintained road network. The capital is often congested during peak hours and significant transportation disruptions are reported regularly. According to health authorities, road accidents have more than doubled over the past few years and are the primary cause of death among young people aged 15 to 30. Caution should be exercised when driving in Lebanon as traffic regulations are not always respected, even though Lebanese authorities are stricter than in the past.
Major roads as well as the road leading to the airport can be closed by protesters at any time without notice. In order to get to the airport or from the airport to the downtown area, it is advised to take the road that links Sidon to Beirut; it is not recommended to take the road passing by Beirut's southern suburbs.
For security reasons, Lebanese authorities have set up multiple checkpoints throughout the country. It is important to carry identification at all times and to cooperate with the police or to let the driver take care of the situation if you are a passenger.
Public transportation includes buses and public taxis (called "service"). These taxis are shared and usually have a taxi sign. Private taxi companies are generally safer than public transportation. It is advised not to take shared "service" taxis or rides from individuals offering private transportation from the airport; cases of violence against riders have been reported in the past. If you wish to take a taxi, it is preferable to rely on private companies recognizable by the company's taxi sign.
Railways are nonexistent in Lebanon and there are no domestic flights.
Lebanon enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot (30°C) and dry while winters are mild and rainy. Conditions in the mountainous regions are cooler, even cold, and snow is common in the winter.
Voltage: 110/220 V ~ 50 Hz