Beirut has a diverse economy, one which includes publishing, trade and various service industries. It is also an important sea port. However, the two dominant economic drivers are finance and tourism.
Beirut is an economic powerhouse in the Middle East, and at the end of 2012 the banking system had a balance sheet of 152 USD billion, nearly 3.5 times the IMF estimated GDP of 43 billion USD. In terms of tourism, Beirut is often voted as one of the world's must-see cities, not for its serenity but for its diversity, history and vibrancy.
Expats do varied types of work in Beirut, often by prior appointment with a company working in one of the aforementioned industries or an international organization such as the UN, NGOs or aid organizations. However, moving to Beirut and finding a job on the ground is not easy.
English teaching is an option, either through TEFL (international organizations such as Berlitz operate in Beirut together with local schools) with a degree and TEFL qualification, or with international schools if fully qualified as a teacher. The salary for either is thought to be quite low compared to cost of living.
Foreigners wishing to work in Lebanon should obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Labor and then apply for a work permit at the Ministry, within a maximum ten day period after entry into Lebanon. The Ministry may revoke the prior approval if the applicant does not arrive to Lebanon within a maximum period of three months from the date of approval.
The work permit can be renewed for a maximum period of two years from the date of issue.
Personal income taxation in Lebanon has a minimum rate of 2% and a maximum rate of 20%. In an easy to use and wide-ranging document, the Lebanese government lays out its tax system online.
Income tax applies to all salaries and wages, including overtime but not including family allowances. The relevant tax amount is taken by the employer before the employee is paid, and transmitted to the tax authority
The progressive tax system is as follows:
Those exempt from paying income tax include ambassadors of foreign states and their foreign staff; nurses and cleaners in hospitals, orphanages, asylums and other medical and first aid institutions and foreign employees in the Union of Arab Capital and Financial Markets.
Expats may also be exempt from social security payments, depending upon employer and arrangements in their home country.