Information & Facts
Bahrain is generally more liberal than its Arab neighbours, but
businesswomen should nevertheless ensure that they wear
conservative clothing and men are expected to wear smart suits and
ties. Bahrainis prefer to do business with those whom they have a
personal relationship with so a letter of introduction from someone
they know is appreciated. English is used as the language of
business, but expect prolonged small talk and personal enquiries
before sitting down to do business, as building a trustworthy
relationship is important; never rush a deal, and high-pressure
sales tactics are frowned on. Impatience has no place, so plenty of
time should be allowed for decision-making. For meetings,
punctuality is important and business cards are routinely handed
out to everyone, using both hands and preferably with the Arabic
translation on the back of the card face up. It is important to
study a received card for a while before putting it away. Formal
titles should be used, however you may address people by their
first name (ei: Mr Adam). Business hours are Sunday to Thursday 7am
to 2pm. Most businesses take a break in the afternoon between 1pm
and 3pm, but are open later in the evening. During the holy month
of Ramadan working hours are reduced.
Bahrain weather is generally warm and fairly dry. The most
pleasant time of year in Bahrain is during spring or autumn when
sunshine is virtually guaranteed, along with warm temperatures
tempered by soft breezes. Summers can be very hot and humid, though
the humidity is modified at the end of the season when a dry
northwesterly wind blows, known locally as the 'Al Barah'. Winter
is cooler and influenced by low-pressure systems, which bring
rainfall. Average rainfall is low, but most of it falls in
The international direct dialling code for Bahrain is +973, and
the outgoing code 00 followed by the relevant country code (eg.
0044 for the United Kingdom). There are no city or area codes.
Public phone booths are easily located, some accepting freely
available phone cards and some coins. The country is covered by a
GSM 900 and 1800 mobile phone network. There are several Internet
service providers and Internet is available at most of the larger
hotels in Manama.
Although it is a liberal state, Bahrain is an Islamic country
and many locals find scanty clothing and immoderate public
behaviour offensive. Visitors should dress and act respectfully.
Religious and social sensitivities should be observed and
respected, especially during religious festivals. Foreigners are
not expected to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, but it is
considered extremely inconsiderate to eat, drink or smoke in public
during this time. Homosexuality is illegal.
Travellers to Bahrain over 18 years do not have to pay duty on
200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g tobacco (in open packets);
perfume up to 237ml; 1 litre alcoholic liquor and 6 cans of beer
for non-Muslim passengers only; and gifts to the value of BD 250.
Arms and ammunition, methylated spirits, drugs and jewellery
require an Import Permit.
Electrical current in Bahrain is 230 volts, 50Hz
except in Awali where it is 110 volts AC, 60Hz. Bahrain uses UK
style 3-pin power outlets.
No vaccinations are required for visitors to Bahrain, but a
hepatitis A vaccination is recommended. Medical facilities are good
in the main cities, but health insurance is recommended because
visitors must pay for treatment. There are many well-stocked
pharmacies in the country. Water is deemed clean and safe by the
authorities, but visitors usually prefer to drink bottled water,
which is widely available.
Arabic is the official language in Bahrain, although
English is widely understood and is used by most
The official currency is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), divided into
1,000 fils. Notes come in denominations of 20, 10, 5 and 1 dinars
and 500 fils. The Bahraini Dinar is linked to the US Dollar at a
rate of US$1=BD 0.375. Money can be exchanged at the airport,
bureaux de change (which usually offer the best rates), commercial
banks in Manama or at moneychangers operating in the souq. ATMs are
available in the larger towns. Credit cards and travellers cheques
are widely accepted at hotels and the larger retail stores, but
smaller shops generally prefer cash. It is easiest to carry
travellers cheques in US dollars to avoid additional charges. Most
offices, businesses and government departments are closed on
Fridays, as it is a weekly holiday. Banks are usually open 7.30am
to 12pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm, Saturday to Wednesday, and 7.30am to
All persons who wish to enter Bahrain need a visa except
citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates). Visas are relatively easy to
obtain on arrival if holding sufficient funds, a passport valid for
at least six months, and tickets or documentation for return or
onward travel. 14 day business or tourist visas incur a fee of BD 5
on arrival. eVisas must be used within 30 days of approval and are
valid for a single entry. Visas are extendable.
* February 2011 has seen mass pro-democracy protests in the
capital Manama; given the volatility of the politcal situation here
and in neighbouring states, we advise against all non-essential
travel to Bahrain at this time. Although the crime rate in Bahrain
is relatively low, visitors should be fully aware that along with
other states in the Gulf region, the country is rated as high risk
for indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on Western
interests. Visitors are advised to be vigilant at all times
particularly in public places.
Local time in Bahrain is GMT +3.
Most restaurants and hotels in Bahrain add a service charge of
10-15% to their bills. However, you may leave a tip at your
discretion. Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip and porters will be happy
with about 100 fils per item of baggage.