Last update:
13 November 2009
25 Thu AlQe'da 1430

Tripoli Lebanon: Economy and Industry

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Information presented in The Tripoli Internet Database/ web site is protected by copyright law. Unauthorized public reproduction or distribution of material contained in The Tripoli Internet Database/ web site, or any portion of it, may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.

Contact Us

Please send your comments, suggestions, or contributions to: Dr. Ghazi Omar Tadmouri.

Investment in Tripoli

Inspired by models practiced elsewhere in the world, the Commercial Code recognizes the constitution of any type of commercial company, including offshore and holding companies.

Apart from this, the formation of companies in Lebanon is subject to very easy but concrete laws, to the point where investors or designated partners can rapidly form any type of company.

Foreigners are free to join in a social or business partnership as long as they conform or abide by the laws in force.

The existing laws for societies and companies safeguard the rights of investors and partners to the full. Enrolling in the commercial register and complying with legal conditions in business practice are a guarantee of protection of rights.

Establishing a Branch or Liaison Office for a Foreign Company

The law authorizes a foreign company to establish a branch or liaison office in Lebanon provided it complies with legal requirements, including declarations deposited at the Ministry of Economy and Trade, giving specific information and conforming to administrative dispositions.

Insurance Companies

To abide by the law, insurance and reinsurance companies need to obtain a license from the Ministry of Economy and Trade. Moreover, foreign insurance companies should comply with the existing conditions - with the exception of those companies affiliated to Lloyds who are already complying with the juridical system, and state-owned companies.


The Currency and Credit Code was determinant in establishing the conditions for the establishment of national or foreign bank in Lebanon. A preliminary license from the Central Council at the Central Bank is required before registration. The minimum capital required to open a bank is the equivalent of US$ 60 million.

Foreign banks opening a branch in Lebanon should deal with minimum capital, the amount of which is set by the Central Council of the Central Bank. Specific norms should be taken into consideration by the foreign bank. One of these forbids the reduction of the amount of declared capital affected to the Lebanese branch of the bank.

To safeguard the reliability of the banking system a Control Commission, independent of the Central Bank, practices strict control to check the conformity of banking activities vis-à-vis the Currency and Credit Code.

One should also note that the liberal system practiced in Lebanon authorizes free money transfers without any restriction on the amount or kind of currency. In addition, bank accounts can be held in any currency, and interest rates are those agreed between the client and the bank.

Deposits Guarantee

The National Institute for the Guarantee of Bank Deposits guarantees deposits in all banks operating in Lebanon up to a fixed amount for every depositor. This fixed amount is up to L.L. 5 million or its equivalent in foreign currency. The Institute receives an annual fee, not exceeding 1.5% on credit accounts, from all banks operating in Lebanon. The rate is fixed at the beginning of the year.

Commercial Representation

Conditions for commercial representation are ruled by special legislation seeking to preserve the rights of the concerned parties. Exclusive agency agreements can be settled between the two sides for all commercial products except foodstuffs and essential goods such as rice and sugar, which are to be the subject of free movement.

The implementation of this principle in the Lebanese market enhanced the export, import and re-export trade. It also allowed many of the international companies, especially the major ones, to reach an agreement with local Lebanese representatives in order to protect the standard of the products and ensure good commercial distribution outlets.

Freedom of Money Transfer

Lebanon has always known the freedom of money transfer, permitting any person to bring in or take out any capital of his choice at any time without restriction.

Registration of Trademarks

Lebanese law enables registration of trademarks at the Ministry of Economy & Trade, which gives right of ownership to the mark.

This regulation for the protection of industrial and commercial rights has been in force since 1924 and constitutes an assured guarantee to preserve the rights of the owners, physically and morally.

Certification of Patent

The applicant at the Office of Industrial & Commercial Protection acquires this certificate from the Ministry of Economy & Trade upon presentation of a request. The Office verbally acknowledges the date and time of the request and thereafter makes arrangements for announcement of the patent in the official gazette. The duration of this legal protection runs for 15 years from the date of the Certificate of Patent.

It is important to note that Lebanon is one of the states that have adhered closely to the Paris Convention of 20 March 1883 relating to the protection of industrial property.

Tripoli as Seen from the Citadel.

Tripoli as Seen from the Southern Hill of AlBalamand.

A view from Kalwoon (alias: Nejmeh) Square

Bab El-Tabbaneh District

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture of Tripoli & North Lebanon

In Tripoli, it serves the commerce, industry, and agriculture of Northern Lebanon. The building of the chamber is located at the southern entrance of the city of Tripoli on a 2500 m2 area. The architectural style followed in the construction of the building was inspired from that of Andalusia.

Since its formation in 1870 has been playing a leading role in the Lebanese National economy through supporting and encouraging the Private sector. Formed on the stength of a special decree No. 36 the 5th of August 1967 provide services at nominal fees to around 17,000 members of which 7,000 have a permanent status, it represents the interest of industrial, agricultural and commercial businesses of the Governmental authorities, which aims at protecting and developing them. Other major objectives include: (1) The collection and dissemination of business information, (2) the identification of investment areas and opportunities inside and outside Tripoli and North Lebanon, and (3) the development of the material and Labour resources of Tripoli & north Lebanon.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


In Tripoli, the first bank was founded in 1893 in Khan el-Saboun by Housni Zok and Abdelsattar Adib. The Ottoman banks bought the fame of this bank that changed after World War II into the Bank of Syria and Lebanon. In Tripoli, banking activities are continuously flourishing. Monetary transactions are done in the local and foreign banks whose number are 50 Lebanese, Arab, and International, excluding the branches. Most of these banks give a lot of services to its clients, such as: dealing with various crrencies, credits, magnetic cards, and master cards services. Next to this is the movement of exchange centers spread in the different quarters of the city of Tripoli.

Banking Secrecy

The establishment of banking secrecy in 1956 was the major factor in the promotion of banking sector in Lebanon. The law strictly forbids all persons with knowledge of bank accounts of clients to divulge their knowledge to a third party. This embargo applies to the judicial authorities as well. Banking secrecy, established for more than forty years, encouraged the movement of assets into the Lebanese banking system.

There is, however, provision within the law for lifting the secrecy embargo - in, for instance, a juridical request concerning illegal money, or bankruptcy, or in the event of a client renouncing his rights to banking secrecy.

The National Lebanese Bank (Tripoli Branch).

Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC)

It is one of the most important Lebanese economical resources. It is controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Petroleum since 1972. The rafinery includes 64 tanks, 34 of which were completely destroyed in the 1983 clashes, the remaining are used for storing Kerosene, Benzene oil, and fuel oil. Tripoli's rafinery produces 22,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis (43% fuel oil, 20% benzene oil, 10% pure petroleum, the remaining is used for the rafinery's own needs). The rafinery's production covers the needs for Northern Lebanon (i.e., 350,000 liters of benzene oil per day). It also covers 20% of the total needs of the Lebanese markets. However, the rafinery, at present, a complete renewal to repair the damaged tanks and install new machinery. The rafinery receives three oil-tanker ships at a time with a total capacity of 250,000 tons. At present, the working tanks capacitate 120,000 tons of crde oil, 30,000 tons of liquid gaz, 40,000 tons of fuel oil, and 20,000 tons of benzene oil.

The Petroleum Rafinery in Tripoli.


The official monetary unit is the Lebanese Pound or Lira (LL). Banknotes of 100,000 LL, 50,000 LL, 20,000 LL, 10,000 LL, 5,000 LL, 1000 LL, 500 LL, and 250 LL are used. Metal coins of 500 LL, 250 LL, 100 LL, and 50 LL are used. Money can be exchanged for ~1500 LL for 1 US Dollar. There are no restrictions or taxes to enter or get money out of Lebanon. All types of credit cards are used in many of the shops in Tripoli.


Insurance and reinsurance companies in Tripoli and the North are 35 local, Arab, and International. These companies are common between Lebanon, Arab countries, Europe, and America.

Renee Mouawwad Airport

It was first a French military airport. It is designed to be an International airport, R.M. airport is at present used by the Lebanese Army as the largest air base in North Lebanon. During the war, the airport was used for domestic flights between Tripoli and Beirut. It is 17-25 Km north of the city of Tripoli Lebanon and 7 km south of the Lebanese-Syrian border. The site covers an area of approximately 5.5 million square meters and has access to an international highway, a coastal road, and the seaport of Tripoli. The government is planning to build a free industrial area in the surrounding area relative to the airport. The airport will then serve in the commercial activity and by the transfer of goods (fruits, citrus fruits, etc..) through air between Lebanon and the world. Because of its important role in enhancing the economical activity of the region, this project is also considered with interest by Americans, Europeans, and Australians. In addition, the airport is located in a region that offers an abundance of natural and historic beauty. Within a 75 kms radius of the airport, more than 50 known historic landmarks can be found. In addition to the proximity of those landmarks, R.M. airport is positioned on the Mediterranean seashore. The coastal line between the Airport and Tripoli includes largely undeveloped beachfront property that is ripe for resort development. The Lebanese mountains to the east of the airport provide a picturesque backdrop for the Mediterranean views.

The R.M. Airport development project consists of establishing in the Northern part of the site a number of zones (Free Trade Zone, Light Industrial Zone, and a Tourism and Leisure Area) and of transforming R.M. military airport, in the southern part of the site, into an International Airport to serve North Lebanon in general and the development zones in particular. The northern part, the Development Property, is at present used for agriculture and covers over two million square meters. The estimated investment cost of the projects is about 74 million Euros on DBOT basis. The project will also add to the efficiency of a free-trade zone to be established in the airport over an area of 450,000 square meters. The airport will then serve a population of more than 1,5 million, including all of North Lebanon and Syria’s coastal cities and surrounding mountains.

The development of the R.M. Airport would be also very important to promote the establishment of free commercial and industrial zones in the port of Tripoli or in the airport itself. This will surely encourage commercial investments in the North Lebanon.

At present, the immediate goal would be to rehabilitate the airport and to convert it into a joint civil/military airport use. Civil activities would include accommodating passengers and air cargo operations for scheduled or charter aircraft. When development is completed, it is expected that the R.M. Airport may become a tourist destination with flights from major markets such as France, Germany, Great Britain, and the Middle East. With the future economic development of the region surrounding the airport, it has potential to become the gateway to northern Lebanon.

Other Industrial Sectors

Tripoli includes some of the most important industrial foundations in Lebanon. These include:

  1. Sugars, Sweets, dairy products, canned foods, and soft drinks factories (30 factories).
  2. Steel, house equipments, and construction-related industries: 4 factories for steel casting, 3 glass factories, 25 factories for stainless steel products, 40 factories for construction tiles, ceramics, mosaics, marble, etc..
  3. Furnitre making: 200 factories.
  4. Carpet making: 2 factories (at present, one is working).
  5. Confection: 25 factories.
  6. Olive oil extraction.
  7. Rose water extraction (20 tons/year) and flower water extraction (30 tons/year).
  8. Salt rafineries: 1 factory (15,000 tons/year).
  9. Fisheries: 1,500 tons/year (This sector is still very primitive).
  10. Soap making.
  11. Paints and plastics.
The Tripoli International Fair and Exhibition Center.

Tax Refund

Starting February 1, 2002, tourists departing from Lebanon are entitled to a VAT/TVA refund on goods purchased during their stay.

Every foreigner or Lebanese person residing abroad, and whose stay in Lebanon does not exceed three continuous months, is entitled to ask for a VAT/TVA refund.

Purchases that do not entitle the tourist to VAT refund are:

  1. All kinds of services (hotels, telecommunications, car rentals, guided tours, etc.)
  2. All kinds of foods and beverages (restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, etc.)
  3. Fuel and tobacco.

To get a VAT/TVA refund:

  1. The goods must be transported in the tourist's personal luggage.
  2. The tourist must have bought the goods from a VAT/TVA registered retailer.
  3. The total value for each invoice from each store must exceed 150,000 LBP per day (~100 US $, 115 Euros).
  4. The purchases should be exported from Lebanon within three months of the date of purchase (i.e., the date of the invoice). The goods don't necessarily have to be transported upon the tourist's first departure from Lebanon as long as he is still within the time limit determined above.
  5. The purchases should be new and not used in Lebanon (except used cars).

To claim a VAT/TVA refund:

  1. The tourist must ask the VAT/TVA registered retailer to issue an invoice containing the retailer's VAT/TVA registration number, his name address, the tourist's name and address, the description and value of the transaction, and the amount of VAT/TVA paid.
  2. The tourist must obtain a refund claim from the registered retailer (or at the airport when departing) and must fill it out.
  3. The tourist must present the customs administration at the point of departure with the goods, the VAT/TVA refund claim, and the invoices related to that refund.

It should be noted that the customs administration would keep the original invoice. Therefore, any tourist wishing to retain copies of these invoices must photocopy them in advance or ask the retailer to issue another copy upon purchase of the goods.

The customs administration will inspect the goods for which a refund is claimed in order to ensure that they match the related invoices. It will also stamp the refund claim and all its attachments.

The refund claims shall be handled by the unit that will be in charge of the management of the tourist refund. When the required conditions are met, the tax is refunded, either by check or credit card transfer, after deduction of the company's commission. If the refund claim is rejected, then the tourist is notified of the rejection of the claim, as well as the reason for the refusal.

Masaref Street/Mina Boulevard intersection.

A new street at a southern quarter - Dhamm Wal Farz - in Tripoli
A new street at a southern quarter - Dhamm Wal Farz - in Tripoli.

A park at Miteyn Street in Tripoli.

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