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Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES)

​​Practical Guide - CAMES Summer Arabic Program

Visas to Lebanon

Students attending the summer Arabic program may get a tourist visa to Lebanon. Visitors of most nationalities may get tourist visas at Beirut airport. Check with the nearest Lebanese embassy or consulate for information. 

Visas obtained at Beirut airport are usually valid for one month and are renewed automatically for another month. For longer stays, students may extend visas at Lebanese General Security in Beirut. Students may also obtain a three-month tourist visa to Lebanon from the Lebanese embassy in their country of residence. Students should make sure not to stay longer than the validity of their visa otherwise they might not be allowed to travel out of Lebanon. Lebanese General Security provides automated information in Arabic, French or English at the following telephone numbers: +961 1 1717 or +961 1 425 048.

This link lists Lebanese embassies and consulates worldwide:

All visitors to Lebanon need a passport valid for a period of not less than 6 months from the date of entering Lebanon. Any indication of having visited Israel, including exit stamps from Jordanian and Egyptian border posts with Israel, will result in the student being denied entry to Lebanon.

Please contact the nearest Lebanese embassy or consulate for confirmation of visa policies. If at any time you need assistance while at a border crossing, ask to speak with the General Security official in charge or call Captain Saadallah Shalak, AUB's head of security, at the AUB Protection Office (961 1 374374, extension 2400), which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transportation from Beirut International Airport

All students enrolled in the summer Arabic program will be provided with free transportation by prepaid taxi from Beirut International Airport to their place of residence. CAMES must receive a scan of the ticket including arrival date and flight number at least one week before arrival in Beirut in order to arrange for airport pick-up. No transportation may be arranged if the ticket is not received on time.

Students who requested an airport pick-up will find a driver from the Allo Taxi cab company carrying a sign with their name on it waiting right outside immigration and customs. The taxi will wait for up to one hour beyond the stated arrival time if the flight is delayed. If there is no driver waiting, students can go to the AVIS car rental company desk located near gate 4 in the airport. It is Allo Taxi's sister company and they have instructions to make sure students get to their destinations safely. Please note that the taxi ride from the airport to the dorms has already been paid for by AUB. Some drivers may not have been informed of this by the taxi company so please don't pay them. You are free to tip them if you wish.

Closing times of the gates on AUB campus:

If you arrive at a time when the gate closest to your dorm is closed for the night, the taxi driver has instructions to bring you to AUB's Medical Gate. There the guard on duty will request a campus car to drive you to his/her dorm with your luggage where a night monitor will be available to give you your dorm room keys. 

Accommodation on AUB Campus

All residence halls on AUB campus have heating, hot water, washing machines, dryers, irons, and air-conditioning. Rooms are furnished with standard size single beds, desks (with a locking drawer), chairs and closets (with locking doors). Bed sheets and pillowcases are provided but towels are not. Students can receive phone calls through the receptionist but cannot call out from their rooms.

For further information about housing on AUB campus, as well as descriptions of individual residence halls please follow this link:

Please note that the earliest check-in time is June 18 at 8:00 AM and the latest check-out time is August 10 at noon.

If you staying in the dorms on campus, and arrive between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, the Head Resident will greet you as you arrive and give you your room key and any necessary information. If you arrive between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM, your room keys will be waiting for you at the reception with a student monitor or with the night monitor. Students are assigned to the following dorms: Penrose Hall (men); New Women's Dorm and Boustani Hall (women).

AUB Housing Policies and Regulations

Students who reside in the dorms during the summer Arabic program are required to follow the regulations for AUB student housing. Please read them carefully:

Banks, ATMs and cost of living in Beirut

There are several banks within the vicinity of AUB with 24 hour ATMs for withdrawal of Lebanese pounds LL or US dollars USD. There are also a number of ATMs on AUB campus. Using an ATM to withdraw from an account outside Lebanon may be easier than receiving a wire transfer as most banks require that you have a Residence Permit in order to open an account. Credit or debit cards and US dollars are commonly accepted in supermarkets, shops and restaurants. Currently, 1 US Dollar is approximately 1,500 LBP. ATM machines and online money transfer companies such as Western Union are available throughout Lebanon.

Beirut is an expensive city by Middle Eastern standards. The cost of groceries, restaurants, study supplies and household goods in Beirut is roughly similar to moderately large North American or Western European cities such as Seattle or Marseilles. For more information, refer to the cost estimate guide on this link:

Students should budget for the following, which are not included in the tuition fees:

Books: each book in the al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya series costs between $60 - $90, while A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic costs around $70.

A rough estimate of other expenses is as follows:

Rent: $1000 per month (if living off-campus)

Food: $1200 per month

Transportation: $500 per month

What to Bring: Clothes and Linens

Summer temperatures in Beirut and along the coast usually range between the high 80's F (high 20s C) and mid 90's F (mid 30s C). Temperatures rarely fall below the mid-70s F (mid 20's C), even at night. The hottest and most humid months are July, August, and September. Light summer clothing and swimwear are a must, with a sweater ready for mountain evenings. Students should bring at least one outfit of conservative dress (long sleeved shirt and trousers), for travel to areas where women and men will be expected to wear more modest clothing than is necessary in Beirut. Women may be expected to cover their shoulders and sometimes their head when entering religious buildings such as mosques and churches, so a scarf is a useful item of clothing to bring. Men are also expected to wear long pants in religious places and conservative areas.

Bed sheets and pillowcases are provided in the dorms but towels are not. For more information on staying in the dorms, please see “Accommodation on AUB Campus" above.

What to Bring: Books and Eectronic Equipment

Students are advised to bring a laptop and if possible an unlocked smartphone. Free wireless access is available to all students in the program on AUB campus. Details on how to configure laptops and phones for wireless access will be provided. After the placement exam, students will be informed by CAMES which volumes of al-Kitaab fi Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya series to buy from the AUB bookstore on campus according to the level in which they were placed. Students should wait to hear from CAMES before buying any books. Students who already own copies of the Alif Baa' and al-Kitaab may bring them along as useful references even if they have completed work in them. A copy of A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Hans Wehr, Beirut, Librairie du Liban and London, MacDonald & Evans Ltd) is also required.

What to Bring: Toiletries and Medical Supplies

Almost everything you will need in terms of toiletries and medical supplies is available in Beirut, although not necessarily in your own brands. The AUB Infirmary advises anyone using prescription drugs for long-term maintenance of any chronic ailment such as hypertension, diabetes, controlled epilepsy, allergies, etc., to bring a sufficient supply of the required medicines along with the prescriptions including generic names of the drugs. Medicines should be in their original, labeled containers and accompanied by a doctor's prescription to avoid problems with customs officials. Although most prescription drugs are available in Beirut, pharmacies may run out of your brand or may have some drugs that are commonly used to treat your ailment but which are not the drug you normally use. Medication or other health products can be purchased easily provided a clear prescription is available (when applicable) and there are numerous pharmacies and drugstores around AUB.

Cell Phones

Prepaid SIM cards are easy to purchase and use. You can use a Lebanese SIM card in your cell phone from home if it is unlocked and takes a SIM card. Otherwise you can buy a phone in Lebanon for around $100. Expect to pay around $50 US dollars to buy the prepaid SIM card and around $30 US dollars per month to recharge it. Pre-paid SIM cards may be purchased in all cell phone shops and at LibanPost. Recharge cards are available at cell phone shops and at most supermarkets, etc. Lebanon has two main cell phone providers: Touch and Alfa. For more information on prepaid SIM cards, check these links:  &​

Health Insurance Plan (HIP)

All students should be covered by an insurance plan. If your local insurance does not cover your stay in Lebanon, then you must subscribe to the Health Insurance Plan (HIP) offered by CAMES/AUB over the summer. Follow the link for information about the insurance benefits:

The Health Insurance Plan (HIP) is the insurance plan covering employees and students at the University. It sets the rules and conditions of health coverage, premium and reimbursement for all members. HIP reviews and audits prescriptions, referrals, hospital admissions and bills to ensure proper adherence to its conditions of coverage and ensure financial success of the plan. The University Health Services doctors and staff are entrusted by HIP to implement the insurance regulations. All doctors at UHS have completed specialty residency training. Most of them are family doctors but the staff also includes a dermatologist, pediatricians and internists. All physicians at UHS function as primary care providers. They are capable of handling the most common problems in ambulatory care. Should the patient need any particular specialty care, our doctors will promptly refer him/her as needed.


CAMES provides summer Arabic students with free wireless access for phones and laptops on AUB campus. Please check the AUB code of conduct for users of internet services at:  

Before the program begins, students will receive usernames and passwords by email, as well as the detailed procedure to follow for activating internet accounts and configuring laptops and smartphones for wireless access. Be warned, internet in Lebanon is very slow and you may find skype/downloading difficult at certain times of day.

Transportation in Beirut and Lebanon

There are two types of taxis in Beirut. One is called a “service" (pronounced 'ser-veece') and the other is called a “taxi". A “service" is a fixed fare of 2,000LL and is often a shared ride with the driver picking up other passengers going in the same direction. A “taxi" is a fare of 10,000LL (or up to 15,000LL for outer suburbs of Beirut) and is a private ride. There are also buses with designated routes throughout the city and the one-way ride is 1,000LL.

Private taxi companies in Lebanon are reliable, and safe. Below are the contacts for some companies:

Allo Taxi: +9611366661 or 01366661

Charlie Taxi: +9611285710 or 01285710

Safe Taxi: +9613646314 or 03646314

Lebanon Taxi : +9611353152 or 01353152

Uber: widely used around Beirut

Security on AUB Campus

The American University of Beirut is a secure campus. The campus has seven gates, only two of which are open 24 hours a day (Medical Gate and Sea Gate). See this link for gate timings:

Security guards have 24 hour watch every day of the week at all gate entrances to campus and follow strict regulations regarding who may or may not enter the campus. You are required to carry your AUB ID with you at all times and show it when asked by any campus security guard. Your AUB ID will be issued during the first two days of the program, and in the meantime, the security office will have a list of all CAMES summer students. In case of entrance problems kindly ask the security guards to call Captain Saadallah Shalak, head of AUB security, and he will assist you. Campus security is handled through the Protection Office which is located at the Main Gate on Bliss Street. The office is open 24 hours a day and can be reached at 01350000, extension 2400. When on campus you can dial 2400 from any campus phone at any time of the day or night for assistance. Please check this link for more information on AUB's Protection Office: All residence halls are locked at night and have a Head Resident and a staff of 24-hour night monitors. The night monitor or campus security guard can open the door for you if you arrive after the doors have been locked.

Security in Lebanon

We strongly recommend that you keep the phone number of AUB's Protection Office on your person while in Lebanon: from within Lebanon please call: 01 350000, extension 2400. In case you face any difficulties the Protection Office is open 24/7. The protection officers will be able to put you in touch with someone who can help. Their office is located at the Main Gate.

AUB is located in the Ras Beirut area, near Hamra, which is a busy business center, hosting a large number of companies, two other universities, several hospitals, and a large number of restaurants and movie theaters. The crime rate in Beirut is lower than in many cities around the world. Within Lebanon, AUB is one of the most secure places as it is a closed campus, and it has been generally calm and safe since the early 1990s. AUB has in place an Emergency Response Team chaired by the AUB President with 25 members from different departments in the university who bring their expertise together to assess any situation which might arise and issue advice and instructions accordingly. This team has ongoing contact with the US Embassy and other embassies in Lebanon, as well as with the Lebanese Government. Please see the following websites for AUB's safety policies:

Aside from these procedures, AUB maintains efficient communication with its national and international community through email, texting via mobile phone, social media and posting messages on the webpage with updates on any information related to security in Beirut. We urge our international students to provide their contact information to CAMES for emergency purposes, and advise them to register with their local embassies once in Beirut so that they can be kept informed of any developments. Students should stay aware of the news in Lebanon and the region and exercise appropriate common sense. The summer Arabic program's Orientation Day will include information on how to avoid trouble in Beirut and how to respond in case of trouble.

Food: University Cafeterias and Restaurants near AUB

There are three cafeterias on campus serving coffee, snacks, salads, sandwiches and hot meals from early in the morning until early in the afternoon. You can pay cash directly for every purchase or you can buy a prepaid meal card. You can find more information about food on campus here:​

In addition to the campus cafeterias, you will find a variety of restaurants right outside AUB on Bliss Street serving everything from hamburgers and pizza to shish taouk and shawarma. Restaurants with western and eastern themes are plentiful in Hamra and in wider Beirut, as are cafés and pubs.

Field Trips and Activities

Students will go on a number of weekday afternoon field trips to locations within Beirut. These trips are part of the curriculum so all students are expected to attend. Three optional weekend field trips to historical locations outside Beirut are also planned. Field trips are included in the fees and the exact dates and destinations will be announced at the start of the program. Other activities included in the program are movies, lectures and weekly clubs.


The main textbooks used in the program are:

  • Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds, 3rd ed. (Brustad, al-Batal, al-Tonsi)

  • Al-Kitaab fiiTa'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic: Part One, 3rd ed. (Brustad, al-Batal, al-Tonsi)

  • Al-Kitaab fiiTa'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic: Part Two, 3rd ed. (Brustad, al-Batal, al-Tonsi)

  • Al-Kitaab fiiTa'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic: Part Two, 2nd ed. (Brustad, al-Batal, al-Tonsi)

  • Al-Kitaab fiiTa'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic: Part Three. (Brustad, al-Batal, al-Tonsi)

  • A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Hans Wehr, Beirut, Librairie du Liban and London, MacDonald & Evans Ltd.)

AUB Campus

Check this link to find out more about AUB campus. You will be able to look at a map, photos (Instagram), webcams:

Join AUB on Social Media!

Sports Facilities

CAMES summer Arabic students may buy a membership to use the sports facilities at the Charles W. Hostler Student Center (CHSC) for the duration of the program. This provides access to the gymnasium (basketball, squash, and fitness), swimming pool, tennis courts, track, and the AUB beach. Non-member students who want to use the CHSC facilities will have to pay a fee of $10 each time. The AUB private beach is located on the seafront just opposite the playing field and offers a variety of water sport activities and a sand volleyball court. An extra fee is charged to rent the tennis courts. This link shows some of the sports facilities available at the CHSC:


The AUB Library System consists of two main libraries: the University Libraries and Saab Memorial Medical Library. The University Libraries include the Jafet Memorial Library as the central library with two branches: the Engineering/Architecture Library and the Science/Agriculture Library with its annex AREC (Farm) Library. The status of the summer Arabic students is “visiting students". Visiting students may access the libraries and look at the library resources, they may read and photocopy in the library and they may download articles from the libraries' online databases. However, visiting students may not borrow books or other resources and take them out of the libraries.


Lebanon has daily power outages of 3 hours a day or more, depending on the area you live. The electricity on campus does not cut out but if you are not living on campus you may find you have to pay extra for a generator if you opt for 24 hour electricity. The power cuts are regular and run to a (more or less) fixed schedule.


Drinking tap water in Beirut or Lebanon is not recommended. Bottled water is recommended instead. Be aware that water is scarce during the summer months and some apartments run out of water completely days at a time in the summer.


All residence halls have washing machines for students use. For dry cleaning purposes, one can choose from various services located close to campus. Laundry services are available around campus and Hamra.

Drugstores & Pharmacies

Drugstores and pharmacies are widely available in the area around AUB. There are several pharmacies within a five minute walking distance from AUB campus. Please note that generic names of certain drugs may differ.


AUB is located in a commercial and residential area of Beirut. The main Hamra shopping street, with shops selling clothes, shoes, linens, gifts, books and much more is a five minute walk from AUB campus.

Things to do in Beirut and Lebanon

Zawarib Explorer

Lebtivity - Events in Lebanon


Walk Beirut​​

Alternative Tour Beirut

Agenda Culturel

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