Your guide to expat life in Bahrain

Moving to Bahrain

While Bahrain is often thought of as the most liberal of the Gulf states, it’s still important to learn about Islam and the Arabic way of life as this governs all aspects of living in the country.

To avoid causing offence, respect cultural and religious customs such as dressing modestly and not drinking in public. English is widely spoken – so there’s no language barrier for most expats. But if you’re moving from a cooler climate you may struggle with the intense heat and humidity typical of the Middle East. The flat, dry landscape can also take some getting used to.

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Basic info

  • Population: About 1.3 million
  • Capital city: Manama (also the largest city)
  • Main languages: Arabic, but English is widely spoken in business
  • Main religion: Islam. Other religions include Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Political system: Constitutional monarchy
  • Time: GMT+3
  • Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz (110 volts, 60Hz in Awali). British-style plugs with three flat blades are used.
  • Currency: Bahraini dinar (BHD)
  • International dialling code: +973
  • Internet domain: .bh
  • Emergency numbers: 999 (police, ambulance and fire)
  • Road Traffic: Drives on the right

Next holiday

Jun

26

Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan)

If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s moved to the first available weekday.

Public Holidays

2016
1 January New Year's day
1 May Labour Day
6–8 July Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan)
12–14 September Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
2 October Al Hijra (Islamic New Year)
10–11 October Ashura
12 December Prophet's Birthday
16–17 December National Day
2017
1 January New Year's day
1 May Labour Day
26–28 June Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan)
2–4 September Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
20–21 September Al Hijra (Islamic New Year)
29–30 September Ashura
1 December Prophet's Birthday
16–17 December National Day
2018
1 January New Year's Day
16–17 December National Day
16–17 December National Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about Bahrain:

“Respect cultures and be less judgmental, your home culture isn't always the best culture and your cultural beliefs not always the best ones.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Compare the packages offered by your company- compensation vs living expenses packages.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“If you have accompanying children, look very closely at the availability of good quality education. The better schools can have a waiting list.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Bahrain amongst the GCC, is the best place for an expat to live. A home away from home. Places to see: Museum, Tree of Life, Many forts, Bait Al Quran, Causeway, Malls, restaurants, man made islands, Al Areen Zoo, Water Theme parks etc.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Do your research well before coming. If it's for a job, find out the details about the organisation through browsing and calling others who are associates.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Bahrain

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Key phrases

  • Hello Salam
  • Good evening Masaa el kheer
  • Goodbye Ma’a salaama
  • How are you Kaifa haloka (male), Kaifa haloki (female)
  • Thank you Shukran
  • Yes Na’am
  • No La (sometimes spelt la’a)
  • Do you speak English Hal tatakallam ingliziya?
  • Can you help me Hal beemkanek mosa dati?
  • Sorry Ana a’asef

Move to the area with lots of expats. It's easier to make friends and you'll get good advice from people who have been through it before.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Bahrain

Shipping

There are plenty of shipping companies in Bahrain – so it’s worth shopping around for a reasonable quote. Air freight is also widely available, which is speedier but more costly. Goods shipped by sea take up to six weeks to arrive in the country.

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Banned items

Items banned from import include firearms, products made in Israel, perishable foodstuffs, ivory and cultured pearls.

Pets

There are some fairly strict requirements for importing pets into Bahrain. You’ll need an import permit from the Veterinary Quarantine Authority and up-to-date vaccinations. For dogs, these include rabies, canine distemper, parvo, hepatitis and leptospira. For cats, they include rabies and tri-cat. Pets imported from the USA or Canada will be quarantined for 30 days, even if papers and vaccinations are in order.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in August 2016. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.