Practical info for foreign journalists
As a journalist, cameraman or photo reporter with a Western passport arriving in Lebanon, you do not need to ask for a media visa at the Lebanese consulate in your country. However, you have to declare that you work as a journalist upon your arrival at the Beirut airport, currently the only link with the West. At the airport checkpoint, the officers could ask you which media outlets you work for, but in general your answer will not affect the course of the procedures. You will also need to specify the exact address where you are staying in Lebanon.
Once you are physically in Lebanon, you can start working as a reporter (with no visible camera on your neck) even without any formal accreditation, but it is better to have one, as it could help in some cases (for instance, if you are stopped at a military checkpoint and declare you are a journalist, this piece of paper would help) and it is not difficult at all to receive one (see below). If you are a cameraman and/or a photojournalist and you need to go around and take pictures or film you will attract many and suspicious eyes. Therefore, it is highly recommended to get a formal accreditation.
In order to obtain the media accreditation you have to go to the Ministry of Information (entrance in Sanaye square, close to the entrance of the Ministry of the Interior, in Hamra district) and look for the office of Mr Marwan Choukry, the responsible for the Foreign Press room (3rd floor). The office is open from 8:30 to 13:00. You will be asked by Choukry’s aides to provide a letter (original or faxed/scanned copy) of a foreign media outlet, which states that you (name, family name) work for this media and that you have been charged to cover a specific issue in Lebanon in a definite period of time (provide range of dates). You should also provide some passport photo and your press card or any membership to a media affiliation in your country. In about half an hour you will be able to receive an A4 letter of accreditation written in Arabic and valid for 30 days or for a shorter period as it is stated in the letter provided by your media. (To contact Mr Choukry’s office: 00961(0)1342089 / 00961(0)1343717).
If you need a working place in Beirut but do not have an office, once you obtained the official press accreditation from the Ministry of Information, you can stay (free of charge) from 9:00 to 17:00 in the Foreign Press office. There you will have access to the newspapers of the day, TV news, PCs with dispatches from news agencies and phones to call national landlines.
If you do not speak Arabic, you will not find particular difficulties in interacting with people in English and/or French in Beirut and in other main Lebanese cities (Sidon, Tripoli) . Whilst in peripheral, suburban and rural areas (Mount Lebanon, Beqaa Valley, Northern and Southern regions) it might be essential to be escorted by local Arabic-speaking fixers/producers (see below).
If you are planning to temporarily work in Lebanon and you need a translator, producer, stringer, cameraman, photographer or any other help to carry out your job, the most effective way is to reach out a Google Group called “Foreign Press Club of Beirut”. Journalists usually reply quickly and your request would be handled by many valuable sources.