Bahrain's economy, though strong, is heavily reliant on petroleum and aluminium production, and its growth has slowed down somewhat in recent years. However, Bahrain remains one of the most important centres for Islamic banking in the Middle East, and expats relocating there can look forward to dealing with banking services that are efficient and reliable.

Money in Bahrain

The currency used in Bahrain is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), which is divided into 1,000 fils.

  • Notes: ½ BHD, 1 BHD, 5 BHD, 10 BHD and 20 BHD

  • Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils, and ½ BHD

Banking in Bahrain

With a strong and sophisticated banking industry, there are a number of good options for expats looking for a local bank in Bahrain. For those who prefer to bank internationally, there are also a host of foreign and multinational banks with branches in Bahrain.

Opening hours for banks in Bahrain conform to Islamic culture and are generally between 7.30am and 2.30pm, from Sunday to Thursday.

Opening a bank account in Bahrain

Expats are likely to find that opening a bank account in Bahrain is a bit more of a hassle than in other Gulf countries, as the process is stringently administered and requires a lot of paperwork.

Expats looking to open a bank account in Bahrain must appear at the prospective bank in person, and in possession of a number of documents. The exact requirements vary from bank to bank, but a passport, work and/or residence permit, and proof of residence (such as a utility bill or rental agreement) will usually be required.

ATMs and credit cards in Bahrain

There are plenty of ATMs in Bahrain and expats won't need to look too hard to find one. The majority of ATMs offer 24-hour service, and customers withdrawing cash using a bank card issued by any Bahraini bank will incur no charges at the machines.

Bahraini society is very much cash-based, with very few people using credit or debit cards for small purchases. 

Taxes in Bahrain

One of the great incentives for expats moving to Bahrain is that there is either very little personal or income tax levied against their salary each month, or none at all.

However, before getting too excited, expats are strongly advised to research whether a double-taxation avoidance agreement exists between Bahrain and their country of origin. If not, expats will have to pay tax in their country of origin on the money they earn in Bahrain.