Beirut may be a city of less than 2 million, but most of the time it feels more like a small town where everyone seems to know each other. This is great news if you’re new to the city and trying to meet people. It just takes a few contacts to get your social network started, and before you know it you’ll feel like you know everyone in Beirut, too.
There are Beirut events happening all the time in the city that is why it is an ideal city to meet people. Lebanese tend to be very outgoing and sociable and are willing to accept new people into their social circles. Also, most Beirut is speak English (along with French and Arabic) so you won’t find that language is a barrier to meeting people. Here are the tips to help you meet people and build your social network in Beirut.
Check out the local Couch Surfing community
Beirut has a lively Couch Surfing community and it’s not all about hosting travelers or finding a “couch” to sleep on. In fact, in Beirut most people don’t host travelers since they either don’t have the extra space or live with their parents (as most Lebanese do until they get married), rather, they plan activities, cultural events, and outdoor excursions to get travelers and locals together. By getting involved with the Lebanese Couch Surfing community you’ll put yourself in touch with a large circle of people who are not only open to meeting and welcoming foreigners, but looking to engage in cultural exchange.
Get active on Social Media like Twitter and Blogging
A lot of young Beirut are very active in social media and you should be too. The internet is a great way to start engaging with locals and making connections. Reading tweets from people living in Beirut is a great way to start to get a sense of what’s going on in the city and what people are talking about. Start a conversation by replying to someone’s tweet, or talk about events that you’re attending or places you are visiting, adding in a hashtag (such as #Beirut, #Lebanon, etc.) so that people can join in your conversation.
Read blogs by Lebanese bloggers. There is a big blogging community here in Beirut, and just like Twitter you can use blogs to get a Lebanese perspective as well as to find out what’s happening in the city. If you’re up for it, start your own blog! The blogging community in Lebanon is very welcoming and you’ll find that if you comment on others’ blogs, they’ll come over to check out yours. If you happen to be writing about Beirut there’s a chance you could even become a local personality. Use Facebook and websites such as Beirut.com and Time Out Beirut to search for local events.
Find interest groups
Another way to build your social network is to find interest groups. Think about what sort of activities or clubs you would be interested in back home and chances are you’ll find a similar group in Beirut. Through groups, you’ve made meaningful and lasting friendships with both Lebanese and other foreigners.
Take a Language Class (Arabic, French, or otherwise!)
Yes, English is widely spoken in Beirut so it’s not absolutely necessary to learn either Arabic or French to get around in Beirut, but still you may want to learn some of the local language in order to be more aware of your surroundings, engage in polite exchanges, and understand the culture better. So you may be thinking, how am I going to meet locals by taking a language class in the local language?
Language classes tend to be small, intimate classes and students get to know each other pretty well, so it’s not uncommon to make friends with the other students in your class. Making friends with other students is likely to get you invited to parties or events, which will put you in contact with their network of friends, both Lebanese and foreign. And, since Lebanese tend to be dominant in one of the three languages, it’s not unheard of to find a Lebanese in an Arabic or a French class along with you.