It is hard to escape the overwhelming feeling of nervousness about security that pervades Beirut. This is hardly surprising, considering the number of bullet-scarred and bombed-out buildings you see around town--and the monstrous explosion that took the life of former leader Rafiq Hariri is still very visible in an entire blown-out block just east of the St. Georges Marina. Especially downtown, gun-toting security guards patrol the streets, and there are many blocks that are forbidden to cars or parking (and, presumably, car bombs). To get into the ABC Achrafieh shopping mall, I had to stop and open my handbag for inspection, and while I was there two security guards stopped me from taking photographs.
There are still active landmines in Southern Lebanon, I would suggest being very careful if you enter beyond the UN buffer zone if you dare to try to catch a glimse of the Beaufort castle, Khiam prison, or border with Israel (Fatimid's Gate)
Well, they have tight security, when you are gettýng around by car you will be stopped (politely) and looked at, but there were (targeted) bombings recently. As a friend of mine put it: "there could be a bomb in that car over there--you just don't know".
The border to Syria ıs closed now that İ am writıng this. İ told a lot of people İ was going to Syria and while some frowned and nagged about it, nobody became hostile. And of course you have never been to Israel, even though the normal people ın Syrıa didn't mınd me speak about my Israeli pals eıther. But they had bombs comıng from Israel ın Lebanon and Beırut, so...
Other than that it's a friendly and tolerant not too touristy place. Don't dress down or you will feel out of it. Unless you are going to more traditional villages there is no need to cover upmore than ýn Europe--actually I did cover up and that made people think I was a terrorist ýn a Chrýstian výllage.
the most obious hazard in beirut is the traffic, especially when you are traveling on foot. waiting for a gap in the flow as you cross busy roads seems to take for ever.
I usually take the fatalistic approach and saunter across while having eye contact with the driver, trusting that cars will slow down, wich they usually do. NOT RECOMMANDED
Most children are recruited and controlled by bigger beggar mafia like heads, alot of the kids and adults are dependant on drugs
If you must, offer a warm meal instead.
Avoid buying anything off the street too, you never know why their selling and whats in it.
Beirut and Lebanon have been the battleground for a brutal civil war in the not too distant past. You can still see the bullet pockmarks in many walls and buildings, and many buildings still need to be repaired due to structural problems.
Therefore, under no circumstances should you trespass or otherwise go where you are not safe due to unexploded landmines amoung the rubble and unsafe buildings or stairways that may collapse.
I know because I love to take unusual photographs and a few feet this side of a wall or in that direction often make the most interesting collages. However, in Beirut this is not recommended.
Just use your common sense.
Don't assume you can easily tell if someone is Muslim, Christian or Druze. They all speak Arabic, and dress is not always an indication of group affiliation.
Do note that travelers have been denied entry into Lebanon because their passports bear an Israeli visa, an Israeli border stamp or an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel.
Don't assume it's safe to swim in the sea. Waste is often dumped inland and finds its way to the sea via rivers. Much of this pollution is not necessarily visible.
Don't be confused, or surprised, by the different spelling of words on maps and signs. Transliteration of Arabic characters into Roman letters yields many variations.
Do be prepared in business meetings to engage in small talk before getting down to business. It's considered rude to get right to the point. Also, don't talk about business during dinner.
Do accept food or drink (especially tea) when offered, even if you don't consume it. It would be very impolite to refuse.
Do listen to rababah (a stringed instrument) music if you get the chance.
Don't be surprised if you get stuck with an added tax and service charge of as much as 20% for hotel and restaurant bills.
Do expect wild taxi drivers. On our last trip, we took a memorable journey at top speed into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of a freeway.
Expect to see public displays of affection.
Greeting a Lebanese usually is done with two kisses on the cheek of a male or female.
during the war,unsecurity was important in the areas of shiah or burj-al-barajnieh,the southern part of the city,on the way to south lebanon;in these areas were the shiite militias and the palestinian camps,full of hezbollah leaders
Although Beirut was notorious for sometime for being a dangerous place; there is nothing to fear these days and I consider it one of the safest places. May be because it's my home town that I feel safe but I think those who have been there can provide their unbiase opinion too :-)
Not sure if it is still like this, when I was there I had to walk down the plane and board an open-air truck to the airport. Immagine doing that during one of the coolest winters and all my clothing were inside my luggage....