1. Airport taxis
The Beirut airport taxi service is one of the worst welcoming facades of Lebanon. As soon as you exit the final sliding door you start hearing Taxi? Taxi? Taxi. Some work for the airport, others are regular public drivers, while others made it a part-time job hoping to catch a loaded customer. The incidents related to this anarchic business are quite frequent; like robbing the customers, intimidate them for higher fee, harassments, and sexual pestering.
The ideal option you can opt to will be by booking in advance a driver from the numerous private taxi services that provide higher safety and professionalism.
One time, I personally had the unpleasant experience of using the Airport Taxi Service in Beirut. After searching for ten minutes for the place where you take a car, I reached a guy holding a paper and pen and simply asking me “Where to habibi”? This cold welcoming led me to stand another 10 minutes waiting for this guy to finish his argument with a driver on the priority of each driver on duty and the far destination I was going to. After loading by myself the luggage (but hey, at least he opened me the trunk), I took place in the passenger seat of this old Korean brand car, as the backseats were still wet from the spilled drink of the previous customer. Hundred meters from the airport, the driver stopped again on the right side of the road, gave a man again my destination and handed him the amount of 3,000 L.L. It was mid-summer, and my request for turning on the air conditioner was courteously rejected explaining to me how it will consume more gas and that it’s bad for my health. Without mentioning the endless irritating comments about the traffic, the driver stopped again as he was thirsty and came back with a can of soda. (without asking if I’m thirsty too).
After dropping me at my final destination, he asked me how to get out of this area and I couldn’t help myself not giving him the wrong directions. He deserved it.
2. Honey / Olive Oil scam
This is a common scam for both residents and tourists visiting Lebanon. Food scams are taking advantage of Lebanon’s high reputation for honey, olive oil, Arak and many other local “delicatesse”.
The tricks involve adding regular vegetable oil to olive oil and selling it as 100% pure virgin oil; or adding ground sugar to honey to make it look like genuine bees extract. If you’re looking for good quality rather than a good deal on honey and olive oil, always buy your supply from reliable sources or directly from trustful farmers.
Here are two simple steps to check the purity of honey and make sure it doesn’t contain additives or sugar.
1. Turn the jar upside down and see the honey at the bottom, if the flow is running smoothly that means it’s pure; as any added sugar will flow at an irregular pace.
2. Pour some honey on a match and light it up, the purity of the honey makes the flame stops while sugar will make it burn till it reaches the other side of the match (see above picture)
3. Valet Parking
“The establishment & the team are not responsible for your car or its content”.
This hanged sign is enough to hold you from giving away your car, the many incidents related to valet parking service range from theft of personal belongings, bumping the car, bad driving to complete car theft. This situation pushed some locals to park their own cars away from their residence and rent the vacant space at night; and if you insist on not paying they tell you to be aware of the consequences of leaving your car parked in this location.
Both businesses, and Lebanese people adopted this bad habit instead of requesting public parking areas near the busy areas, a way to leave their shiny vehicles behind and learn to walk a little bit.
4. Raw Meat
Raw red meat may contain bacteria, such as E.Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. Thorough cooking destroys these harmful organisms, but meat can become contaminated again if it is not handled and stored properly.
The famous “Kebbeh Nayyeh”, “Ftileh”, “Habra” and “Asbeh/Sawda” can turn out to be unpleasant when eaten in restaurants. Few people take the risk of eating raw meat away from their home or at a very trusted place. Especially after the meat scandal that erupted in March 2012 with the food-poisoning of Mme Randa Nabih Berry in a famous Beirut restaurant.
5. Governmental Hospitals
Although they offer the needed medical aid and supplies, some of the governmental hospitals in Lebanon are still victim of their bad reputation when it comes to medical assurance, archaic equipment and unskilled personnel. The fact that these hospitals are limitedly funded either by the government or a wealthy politician makes them lose credibility compared to private hospitals.