Living in Bahrain guide for expats

All the information you need to relocate and live in Bahrain.

Our selection of articles for expatriation in Bahrain

Opening a bank account in Bahrain

Opening a local bank account is essential for receiving your salary. The Wage Protection System (WPS) is designed to protect ...

Healthcare in Bahrain

Bahrain has world-class medical facilities, health professionals, and easy access to medical treatments. Public and private ...

Working in Bahrain

Bahrain is a popular country with expats from all over the world, consistently ranking in surveys as one of the top ten places to ...

Education and childcare in Bahrain

Both public and private schools are available in Bahrain, but most expats tend to enrol their children in private schools so that ...

The Bahraini lifestyle

New expats in Bahrain will find the country to be diverse, relatively liberal, and welcoming of foreign culture, in part owing to ...

Relocating with your pets to Bahrain

One of the decisions to make when relocating to a foreign country is what to do about pets. For many expats, there is no question ...

Travelling around Bahrain

Bahrain is a small country covering only 765.3 square kilometres; nothing is far away in Bahrain. Travelling throughout the ...

Things to do in Bahrain

Bahrain has a long and varied history. Its location in the Arabian Gulf has led to the island being in the hands of the Dilmun ...

Phones and internet in Bahrain

New expats in Bahrain will want to get connected as soon as they arrive, to stay in touch with friends and family. Communications ...

Driving in Bahrain

Expats love the freedom and convenience of driving, and many choose to purchase or rent their own car. But, driving in Bahrain is ...

Paying taxes in Bahrain

Bahrain draws expats from all over the world, in large part due to its generous taxation laws. Workers in Bahrain, including ...

Accommodation in Manama

Accommodation in Bahrain can range from cheap apartments to incredibly expensive villas. Most expats will aim for somewhere ...

Starting a business in Bahrain

According to the World Bank Group report for 2019, Bahrain lies 3rd out of 20 nations, for ease of doing business in the Middle ...

Visas for Bahrain

Almost all travellers to Bahrain require a visa, with the exception of passport holders from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) ...

Accommodation in Bahrain

Accommodation is plentiful in Bahrain, but this does not mean it is cheap. Although there are empty apartments and villas ...

About Bahrain

History of Bahrain

The name Bahrain derives from the Arabic for "two seas". It is thought by some that this refers to Bahrain having two types of water, salt water from the sea and sweet water from springs.

The recorded history of Bahrain goes back some five thousand years to the Bronze Age when the island was inhabited by the Dilmun civilisation. In the intervening period, Bahrain has been occupied by the Babylonians, Sumerians, Greeks, Persians, Portuguese, and Turks, to name but a few. The country was a British Protectorate for a century but gained full independence in 1971.

Geography of Bahrain

Bahrain is located in the Arabian Gulf, as mentioned above, between Qatar to the south and Saudi Arabia to the west. The island is characterised by a low desert plain rising to the Jabal ad Dukhan - Mountain of Smoke, which is its highest point and almost in the centre of the island, standing at 134m (440ft) above sea level. To the south of this feature is mostly rocky desert, with some sandier regions, particularly near the coast. Much of this area is given over to the military for training and is off-limits to the public. The northern part of the island is mostly urbanised, although desert shows through between settlements. 

Initially, the archipelago contained some thirty-three smaller islands, important to the biodiversity of the area as they act as home to various species of migrating birds. Land reclamation has pushed this number considerably higher as new island communities such as Reef Island, Amwaj and Dilmunia are constructed, and the size of Bahrain has increased by over twelve per cent.

The Kingdom’s capital is Manama, situated on the northern coast, although land reclamation has put it some distance from the sea. 

One international airport serves Bahrain and is situated on the island of Muharraq, which is connected to the main island by three causeways.

A unique feature of Bahrain is that it has a land border with Saudi Arabia, even though it is an island nation. This is achieved by the King Fahad causeway which links the two countries, and they share one of the world's shortest borders on the artificial Passport Island. 

Climate of Bahrain

Bahrain has a subtropical desert climate with hot summers becoming humid between July and September: summer daytime temperatures on occasions reach 50°C (122°F) and winter months are cooler, sometimes dropping below 10°C (50°F) at night.

Rainfall occurs mainly in the first few months of the year and can be heavy, bringing about widespread flooding of roads in built-up areas. Rain rarely lasts for long periods.

People in Bahrain

Over fifty-four per cent of the population is of foreign origin, although this figure does include citizens of other GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) states. This ratio of locals to expats makes for a rich and diverse culture, yet Bahrain still manages to retain its identity as an Arab nation. Cross-cultural events are often a feature of life in Bahrain.

Religion in Bahrain

The predominant religion is Islam, with around seventy per cent of the population subscribing to the Muslim doctrine. The remaining thirty per cent is made up of many religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism, to name a few. Religious tolerance is practised in Bahrain, but be mindful of the fact it is a Muslim country and do nothing to offend the teachings of Islam.

Government in Bahrain

Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy. The National Assembly is bicameral, in other words, formed by two chambers. The upper chamber, Shura Council (Majlis Al-Shura), comprises forty members appointed by the monarch, while the lower chamber, the Council of Representatives (Majlis Al-Nuwab), also comprising forty members, is elected by the populace to serve a four-year term.

Draft legislation passes from the lower chamber to the upper and if approved by the upper chamber, will proceed to the monarch for ratification. Upon ratification, an act will be issued for the legislation to become law. Should the monarch reject the legislation, it will pass back to the National Assembly where it requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to be passed into law. 

Economy of Bahrain

Income from oil has allowed Bahrain to develop its infrastructure significantly, and the population has enjoyed life without taxation. In more recent times, as the oil revenue has diminished, Bahrain has diversified its economy. Industrial processing and financial services account for over thirty-four per cent of the GDP with oil and gas driven into fourth place.

The country's economy is quite open, and many international companies are based here; particularly those in the finance sector. Many expats work in the Bahraini branch of these international institutions; however, by far the biggest employer of expat workers is the construction industry.

Tourism is another key sector of the economy, and expats living in the country can enjoy the multitude of attractions, from historical mosques to large shopping malls, archaeological sites and theme parks.

The currency is the Bahraini Dinar (BD or BHD) which is divided into 1000 fils. The dinar is fixed at $1 USD = BHD0.376, which is approximately BHD1 = $2.65957 USD

 Good to know:

It is an offence to openly criticise the government or monarchy, including posting comments on social media. The penalties include costly fines and/or imprisonment. Openly supporting opposition to the government carries the same penalties. This includes support of other nation-states which are not considered friendly to the government of Bahrain.

Quick Information

Capital : Manama
Official Languages : Arabic , English , Persian , Urdu
Currency : Dinar
Area : 665 Km2
Population : 738004
Calling Code : +973
Timezone : Asia/Bahrain

Bahrain city guide

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