October 12, 2016:
Looking to set up a new business in Lebanon? Our business etiquette insights can help establish good relations with your Lebanese colleagues:
a) The Lebanese are proud of their tradition of hospitality and will go out of their way to be generous and gracious hosts. Greeting your business colleagues should not be rushed as it is important to take time to exchange social pleasantries during this process. The most common form of greeting is a prolonged handshake with direct eye contact. You should present and receive business cards with both hands, or your right hand; never the left.
b) Where business dealings are concerned, the Lebanese can be somewhat formal. Punctuality is generally expected and courtesy is very important. Meetings can take place in Arabic, French or English, so it is a good idea to check on which language will be used prior to arriving. If necessary, you may wish to hire your own interpreter. The Lebanese have an open-door policy for meetings, with people walking in and out, telephone calls being answered, etc. It is best to be prepared for frequent interruptions!
c) Bargaining is expected in Lebanese culture and your hosts will expect substantial concessions, so being honest about price upfront is considered very bad for business… and amateurish. Your starting price should be set at a point that gives you room to come down. Decisions are often influenced by personal relationships versus merit or rational thinking.