The Lebanese Drivers license is an exceptional license and should be treated with great respect.
It all starts when you get the license. There are several ways that you can get your license (that is if you were Lebanese in the first place); I will talk about three ways which describe three specific cases.
The first way is receiving your license on your 18th birthday wrapped in a gift inside your new car. In that case, you have never driven a car, and your father tells you “go ahead son learn with that new jaguar”. So you go on the road assuming that driving on the road is similar to driving in a play station game.
The second way is you actually taking the initiative to go to get the license yourself, but sure with the help on 3ammo Samir (Uncle Samir in English) who is a family friend that works in the nef3a (the official place that you can get your license from). In that case 3ammo Samir will tell the clerk in the nef3a that is about to test you that you are an acquaintance; so you can skin the actual driving test. But, nevertheless, you cannot skip the computer test. In that case 3ammo Samir enters the computer testing room with you and starts giving you the answers to the multiple choice questions.
The third way is you being a determined person that wants to do it by the book. You do not call 3ammo Samir, and go do it your way. You reach the nef3a, and discover that you needed to get a passport picture 2 millimeters bigger, the copy of your residency certificate needs one more signature,….. You go get those done, and come back to notice that it is 12 noon by now and testing has stopped for the day.
You take a deep breath after having a very long day, and decide to come back tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, you reach the driving test, the clerk tests your driving skills by asking you to go forward, then backward, and if he feels like it, he will ask you to park the car in a designated place.
I forgot to mention that the car you test drive in is a very old hummer or land rover (probably a brand that doesn’t sell nowadays) that was for one of the Lebanese parties back in the Lebanese civil war, sometime back in 1975. The car is very old, its gear is so old and cracky that it takes a professional driver to even know how it functions.
Okay, that stage passed, keeping in mind that the car might have turned off several times as you were going forward but the clerk wasn’t even looking at you, he was busy with some fellow’s sexy mother that came with him to do his test.
Then you go to the computer test, the first thing that you notice is that most of the street signs are signs you have never seen on the Lebanese roads -only seen in movies, since the Lebanese roads are not as qualified….
Okay, long story made short, you now have the license, you have worked you ass to get it, and feel so proud of your perseverance and good will of being a good citizen.
Anyway, this is not the main point, what’s important about all this, is the actual road experience.
So below are some scenarios, a Lebanese driver encounters daily:
It all starts with the roads themselves, the roads are designed in a way to amuse and surprise drivers. Bumps are all over, everyday a new one appears. As soon as you start memorizing the places of the bumps, they fix them, and new ones appear.
New shortcuts appear everyday, so when you are driving, you are playing a game of – make sure not to stumble by any bump, and make sure to notice all surprising cars, and make sure, and make sure!!!
It’s wonderful, something like a videogame!
So you are driving on the road, you are on a one way road; you have the Lebanese driver’s license, so you know that you cannot rest assured that this is your way.
Since there is always some other car, a taxi driver most probably who is breaking the law. You end up stopping to let all the cars that are breaking the law to pass, and guess what?
No one actually thanks you for waiting for them. So you are always driving with assumptions.
You are driving on the right lane, slowly, and carefully, you cannot rest assured that no one will pass from your right.
Again since you are a Lebanese driver, and you know that impossible is not in the Lebanese driver’s vocabulary.
You curse the second you are first when there is a red light.
Again since no one believes in red lights and since most of the year our government is resigned, and people claim “let us have a government first, then they can give us tickets!” so in your case you will be cursed, people will be honking, and furiousness about your stupidity to even look at the red light.
And let us assume that you even think of crossing the red light, another driver coming from the other way honks so loud and curses your mother, sister, and the whole family.
Either ways, you are busted.
Let us consider that you are driving a 100km/hr on the highway where the max speed is a 100km/hr, you always get this one very late driver who honks, flashes his lights, then when you open his way, he shouts “ya 7mar nhazz” (you donkey move). I mean whatever you do, you are the victim.
Not to mention all those shortcut roads that lead to the same highway and are all bottlenecked and everyone is speeding to go first…
So, whatever you do, you are a victim, when you go by the book you are called names, so what to do?
I have two options:
You are a perfectionist and stay all your life abiding by the laws even if you are the only person doing so.
“The Law of the Jungle”
Yes the law of the jungle, it is very simple the strongest reaches home first. No courtesy of letting anyone pass in front of you, no abiding by any street sign, nothing that shows any sign of civilization.
Don’t forget that in Lebanon s a road is anywhere that there are no trees!
Please note that the two options suggested to you are two attitudes to living in Lebanon in general, not just in driving…
Which option do you take?