This is a question everyone asks when they arrive to Lebanon. Giving a tip, or bakhshish in Spoken Lebanese Arabic, is pretty common here, but the amount you tip depends on the situation. Let’s go through the most common situations you will find yourself in:
Let’s say you are at a restaurant with a waiter. It’s common to leave about 8 to 10 percent as a tip on the table. You’ll usually see on your bill a line that shows 10% being included in your total – that is not the tip. It’s the tax and usually in Lebanon the tax is included in the price of what you purchased but is displayed on its own in the bill.
In Beirut you can get just about anything delivered – including your groceries. Sometimes there is a small delivery charge, but most of the time delivery is free. A tip of alfein or tleit taleif (2,000 to 3,000 Lebanese Lira) would be good. If there was a lot to be delivered or it was pouring down rain you could give more.
at the grocery store
When you go to a grocery store here it’s normal for someone to bag your groceries, push the cart for you to your car and load them. A tip of alfein or tleit taleif (2,000 to 3,000 Lebanese Lira) would be good in this case too and this is most likely the only salary this person gets.
valet parking and car work
If the parking is free but crowded, such as Starbuck’s or Abd Tahhan at Mansourieh, it’s usually good to give the parking attendant what it would have cost me for an hour if it weren’t free, such as LBP 3000. Most places such as near Virgin or le Gray hotel downtown have valet parking with a know fee, such as 5USD.
For the guy who washes the window at the gas station, it’s 2000 liras if I have them, otherwise he’s also happy for 1000 liras.
If you need to go to a car repair shop, and it’s not the m3allem (shop owner) who takes care of the repairs, but one of his workers. So it is good to leave 20.000LBP for each 100$ invoiced to the guy who actually did the repair work. But to do so, ask permission from the owner, the m3allem, because some do not like it in order to keep their helpers from having “preferential” clients.
For a haircut, the tip is typically only for the shampoo person, and it is usually good to leave 2000-3000 liras, depending how “fancy” the hairdresser shop is.
the naTuur for your building
This one is less straightforward. Most apartment buildings have someone who lives in the building, called a naTuur – from the verb naTar – to wait. The naTuur does things like keep an eye on who goes in and out of the building, makes sure every apartment has enough water, cleans and maintains the common areas, takes out the garbage and lets a neighbor know if they are bothering another neighbor. NaTuurs usually get a fixed amount per month from the building to do their basic responsibilities. What your naTuur is expected to do depends on your building so ask your neighbor about what is expected of him and when it would be appropriate to tip.
Also, depending on how nashiiT your naTuur is he might offer to help you fix something that is broken, carry up your groceries, wash your car or get you things from the dikkeineh. If your naTuur brings you a new gas bottle for your oven, or does something else to go out of his way for you, you could give him 2,000 to 3,000 Lebanese Lira at that time. If he fixes your toilet he will probably insist that you do not give him a bakhshish but it is always good to insist that you want to and both sides will keep insisting as a way of honoring each other until one prevails. You could also just give him a bit extra next time he is collecting money for your electricity bills or something else if you don’t have change or if that is easier. It’s also good to give your naTuur a monetary gift for the holidays but that’s another post 🙂