Can Uber work in Lebanon?
Before we begin, you should know that this post is based on personal experience and is not endorsed by ALPS or sponsored by Uber. Also Uber in Lebanon may have changed after the date of this post.
In Beirut, Uber is a bit different. First of all you can pay with cash which is really nice! You have the same Uber experience with using the app to share your location, your destination and a car will come to you. However, there are a few times and situations where we have found a service or taxi to be better than Uber.
A service is best when…
- you want to go somewhere quick and relatively close. It is hard to beat LL2,000 and if you are in Beirut and not going too far you can find a service ready to take you in less than a minute. In this situation, a service beats Uber in price and in speed.
A taxi is best when…
- you are going to or from places that are hard to find or more out of the way. In these places it can be more difficult to find a driver who knows how to get there and he will rely on you or people along the way to help him figure it out. Also, if you are leaving somewhere out of the city it can be hard to find a service quickly. Every neighborhood has a local taxi company and you or the person you are going to visit can call them and arrange a pick up at a certain time. This way the driver should know where you want to go and you will know the price ahead of time. A taxi can beat Uber here because the Uber maps don’t seem to reflect Beirut roads. You can drop a pin, and when you do, the driver will usually use the directions given in his Uber app and follow those. But because drivers in Lebanon use landmarks, and not maps, a pin isn’t the most helpful way for him to figure out where you are or where you want to go. Besides streets also usually have multiple names. The maps in the Uber App for drivers don’t seem to take into account one way streets or be able to consistently know the best route.
- Depending on how reliable the taxi company is if you want to be picked up at 10:30 or in 15 minutes this can be more accurate than the Uber estimates. This comes back to the Uber app seems to have a hard time giving the best route and accurate time for pick up and arrival. We had multiple times when we saw “10 minutes to pick up” last over 20 minutes and watched the driver move around like he was stuck in a maze.
An Uber is best when…
- you are visiting Lebanon for a short trip and don’t know Arabic. This is a great and easy way to get around.
- you want to go somewhere across Beirut or out of Beirut. We found that often times Uber is cheaper than a taxi.
No matter how long you are in Lebanon we can help you quickly lear the most practical words and phrases in Spoken Lebanese Arabic to help you get around town and more. If you are only here for a short trip, make sure to check out our Skype options for when you are back home.
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