Finding a job and working in Bahrain

Finding work in Bahrain
Updated 2020-04-30 12:47

Bahrain is a popular country with expats from all over the world, consistently ranking in surveys as one of the top ten places to work as an expat. It offers many highly skilled jobs, good quality of life, and no personal income taxes to pay. The following is an overview of how to find work in Bahrain as an expat.

Major industries in Bahrain

Over the past few decades, Bahrain has attempted to diversify the country's income sources beyond oil production. This has been successful, and the country now benefits from a wide range of industries such as aluminium processing and manufacturing, petroleum processing and refining, financial services, tourism, maritime services, and plastics. 

Bahrain is regarded as one of the world's centres for Islamic banking.

Expats looking for work in Bahrain will find most opportunities in the industries mentioned above, especially in the capital, Manama. Many large international and Bahraini businesses have based their headquarters in Manama. 

Financial services, while making a significant contribution to the GDP of Bahrain, employs only two per cent of the overall workforce. Job opportunities tend to be mainly for highly qualified and experienced personnel.

Construction is by far the biggest employer of expat workers, but many of the jobs are for labourers and often working hours are long. Many companies offer accommodation in the form of labour camps for major construction projects. 

Education is another employment area open to an expat workforce. An ever-increasing population has put pressure on the education system, particularly in the private sector. Many expat teachers reside in Bahrain as a result of their partner's employment; consequently, when the partner's employment contract comes to an end, the teachers leave the island too. Almost all job prospects will be in private schools, where salaries vary widely but are generally not on par with European levels. 

Tourism is one of the sectors in which the government sees a potential for growth, and as such, the island has seen several high-end hotels opening their doors in the past few years. Recent months have seen the opening of an underwater theme park for divers, centred around a specially prepared Boeing 747 sunk in twenty-four metres of water. Other tourism projects are under consideration.

Shopping malls are under construction all the time, and the retail sector employs a significant number of expats. South-East Asia provides the majority of the expat workforce in retail, and while there are occasionally vacancies for managerial roles, most of the of employment opportunities will be found as sales assistants.

How to find work in Bahrain

Expats are very important to the workforce in Bahrain, and most companies have a diverse and welcoming environment which is great news for new employees. If you wish to find work in Bahrain, it is important to note that you cannot receive a work visa until you have an offer of employment from a business. Owing to the short time frames allotted for tourism visas, it is not practical or advisable to enter Bahrain on a tourist visa with the aim of finding sponsorship. 

Be aware that a recent drive to "Bahrainise" as much of the workforce as possible, has seen some positions closed to expats. Please ensure before moving to Bahrain, yours is not one of the jobs likely to be made Bahraini only in the future.

Most expats find work in Bahrain before they move via international recruitment companies, or by contacting HR departments of Bahraini companies to apply directly for a position. If you already work for an international company, they may be willing to transfer you to Bahrain. Utilising your own connections and networking is also a popular way to find work.

The job market in Bahrain can be competitive and has a focus on highly skilled workers. Therefore, job seekers should ensure their CVs and interview skills are up to date. Consider getting a free CV review at TopCV. Unskilled jobs generally go to local Bahraini workers or expats from South-East Asia, particularly India and the Philippines. Unskilled work is poorly paid by western standards.

The work culture in Bahrain

Bahrain is regarded as a progressive, multicultural Arab country. Expats from all over the world, especially women, should feel comfortable and well-respected in the workforce. It is important to note that conservative dress is expected and, unlike in many western countries, Bahrainis do not drink alcohol, and alcohol is not likely to be part of work social functions.

English is the principal spoken language in the workforce; therefore, fluency in Arabic is not required. However, knowing a few words in Arabic is always nice, and will be appreciated by your Arabic colleagues.

As in other Arab countries, the Bahraini work culture values personal relationships, and your colleagues will want to get to know you, as will potential business partners. Because it can take time for these relationships to develop, sometimes business dealings may not happen as quickly as you would like, but it is important to remain patient.

 Useful links:

Major industries of Bahrain government portal
Emplinks Recruitment
Recruitment agencies in Bahrain
Gulf Talent

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.