Beirut - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The world always seems like it going to end here. The security situation dominates everyone's life at post, between the movement restrictions that control your personal life to the workload of constantly dealing with crises. - Oct 2020

Beirut is a critical threat location and has restrictions that correspond to that. Most people find life here to be very hard and frustrating due to the restrictions. - May 2019

Do all of the necessary reading that you can, know where to go, where not to go. - Jul 2016

Yes. Certain areas of Beirut are no-go zones due to political concerns and occasional targeted attacks or car bombings. At times, problems occur outside of these areas as well. The general security situation is often tense. My colleagues at the American Embassy had a much stricter security program and lived on compound with only occasionally opportunities to leave. No other Embassy has such strict restrictions. - Feb 2015

Yes. Yes. and Yes. There is a long history of terrorism against USG personnel in Lebanon. The RSO is in the impossible position of maintaining complete security in an inherently insecure environment with finite resources: an unenviable situation, which understandably results in a highly risk-adverse restrictive security posture. As a result, personal moves are limited to one per person per week subject to cancellation. As in any situation in which there is a scarcity of resources, this leads to competition for moves. You can invite other people on your move, which naturally lends itself to the creation of cliques. If someone invites you on their move, in turn you are indebted a move to them, resulting in a reciprocal relationship of "move lending," which doesn't easily allow for the newcomer to "break in" easily. Similarly the economy of moves creates "move envy" as any group grieves the ability of another group's access to moves as well as "move jacking" when others hijack your move, populate it with their friends and itinerary. - Nov 2014

We are limited to a compound. So security is akin to a minimum security prison. - Apr 2014

Certainly there is always the threat of things like car bombs or an attack by the Southern neighbors but in my time living there, it wasn't too much of concern. I never felt personally unsafe, in fact the city is quite safe in terms of crime, theft, etc. That said, there have already been 4 car bombs in the first month of the year (2014) and tensions are rising due to the situation in Syria. - Jan 2014

Traffic -- there are no real rules of the road. But other than that, it is very safe. I feel safer walking at night than I do in DC. And there is practically no petty theft. - Apr 2012

The US Embassy still operates as though the Lebanese civil war (1975-1989) were still on, meaning a fortified compound, bodyguards and armored cars. No one else has similar security. Multi-nationals and other Western diplomats all live on the economy and drive normal cars around. - Sep 2010

One enormous caveat applies only to U.S. government employees: because of the history of violence directed at the Embassy and the chance that the security situation could degrade rapidly due to regional events, all Embassy employees must live on a guarded compound outside the city and travel only in armored vehicles with bodyguards. While the restrictions have been relaxed recently, you have to book a car 24-36 hours in advance, which reduces your ability to be spontaneous. In addition, due to resource constraints, each person is allowed only two "personal" outings per week, for up to six hours each, but you can accompany co-workers on their outings. All of this being said, we've had an amazing time in Beirut thus far and have been able to do nearly everything we wanted to do. For people not associated with the Embassy, I get the impression that you have the basic concerns associated with living in a major city. One must remember, though, that Lebanon remains in a state of war with Israel and sectarian tensions occasionally flare up. If a war with Israel or a major sectarian clash were to take place, all bets would be off. - Jul 2010

American Embassy personnel live under severe restrictions that, in essence, prevent them from truly living in Lebanon. This is due to security concerns. - Jun 2009

Negativity against Americans seems to be growing. Opposition continues to paint the USG as the perpetrators of the latest unrest. Car bombings targeting high-profile politicians seems to occur at least once a quarter, and fighting between different government factions has been ongoing since May. - Jun 2008

We live in Ashrafieh (Christian neighborhood) and it is a bubble from the rest of the city, it seems. I feel quite safe here, although we do hear the bomb blasts and our windows have shook because of them. - Mar 2008

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More