- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Bahrain (PDF)
Expats moving to Bahrain will experience a busy and engaging city life and a blend of modernity with traditional Islamic culture on this archipelago.
Often referred to as "Middle East lite", Bahrain can be considered a starter course set out to introduce foreigners to the characteristics so commonplace in many Persian Gulf nations. The country is considerably more liberal than its neighbours, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but is still rooted in an Arab belief system.
There is a sizeable expat community in Bahrain, many of whom are more than willing to provide support to newcomers. However, expats relocating to this Gulf state will still have to contend with elements of culture shock and make some adjustments to their lifestyle.
Most expats moving to Bahrain do so for improved employment opportunities. The earning potential for expats is high in Bahrain and many report enjoying a higher standard of living than they had experienced in their home country.
As the financial centre of the Middle East, highly skilled foreigners will find plenty of positions available in the banking and construction sectors. Furthermore, as Bahrain had made efforts to diversify its economy beyond the petroleum industry, jobs in many multinational firms exist as well.
Moving to Bahrain also means bigger houses for many. A huge variety of accommodation designed to suit all budgets and tastes eagerly awaits new tenants. Expats can choose between towering high-rises, standalone villas or even homes enclaved in a secure compound.
While expats with children are unlikely to enrol their little ones in any of Bahrain's public schools, plenty of excellent private and international options exist. Spots disappear quickly, though, so it's important to make registration a priority upon relocation.
As far as Middle Eastern destinations are concerned, Bahrain is increasingly becoming an expat favourite and is a fantastic alternative location for those based in neighbouring countries looking to situate their families in a more liberal environment.
Population: About 1.5 million
Capital city: Manama (also largest city)
Neighbouring countries: Bahrain is a small set of islands in the Persian Gulf. The King Fahd Causeway is a series of bridges to the west of Bahrain, connecting it to its closest neighbour, Saudi Arabia. Across the Gulf, a short distance to the southeast, is Qatar, while Iran is further away on the northeastern side of the Gulf.
Geography: Bahrain is an archipelago, with a primarily flat and arid desert landscape. The smallest country in Asia, the total length of the coastline of the Kingdom's main island is approximately 100 miles (161km).
Political system: Unitary constitutional monarchy
Major religions: Islam with a Christian minority
Main languages: Arabic is Bahrain's official language but English is widely spoken
Money: The Bahraini Dinar (BHD), divided into 1,000 fils. Expats will be able to open a local bank account, but the process is stringent and requires extensive documentation and paperwork. ATMs are widely available in most parts of Bahrain.
Tipping: Restaurants in Bahrain generally include service charges in the bill. Additional tipping is not expected but will nonetheless be appreciated. Ten percent is usually appropriate.
Time: GMT +3
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. UK-style plugs with three flat blades are used.
International dialling code: +973
Emergency contacts: 999 for police, ambulance and fire services
Internet domain: .bh
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Bahrain. Public transport is limited to buses and taxis as there are no rail services available.