Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. However, sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings. Protective wear - hats or some form of protection for the head, sunglasses for the eyes and sunscreen - are advised when in direct sunlight.
Although Bahrain has a liberal attitude, it is always wise to respect the religion and culture of the country by wearing appropriate and more modest clothing in public places.
On arrival in Bahrain, visitors can exchange currency at the airport, where a number of banks and moneychangers can be found. Alternatively, all major towns in Bahrain including the capital, Manama, as well as many of the malls, have bank branches with currency exchange services. Money (both cash and travellers cheques) can be changed at any bank or money-changing office. There is little difference between banks and moneychangers in terms of exchange rates (as little as BD0.010 per US dollar usually), and it is rare for either to charge a commission – although it is always wise to check first.
Embassies and Consulates
For a list of Embassies and Consulates in Bahrain, please click here.
Should you require any assistance during your stay, please contact Surbita D'Souza at Bahrain CAA. For emergencies, the number to call is 999.
Health and Safety
Bahrain is an extremely safe place to visit. Crime rates are low and it is safe for visitors of both genders to be out alone.
Health care in Bahrain is excellent, with Bahraini citizens receiving free health services. Should you require medical attention during your stay, there are a number of hospitals and clinics located around the country and your hotel or our event organiser can assist you with any such requirements.
The country’s doctors and nurses are a mix of local and international talent and all have an excellent understanding of the English language. Visitors should make sure they have comprehensive medical insurance prior to leaving home as medical bills will have to be paid up front.
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain. English is used in business and taught in schools as a compulsory second language. Urdu and Farsi are also spoken by the foreign working population of Bahrain. Foreigners visiting will not be expected to speak Arabic, and English is widely understood.
Bahrainis are very friendly
Greetings are given with a sense of enthusiasm and delight at meeting you or seeing you again.
Smiling and direct eye contact are crucial.
When greeting Bahrainis of the same sex, you should shake their hand. For greeting someone from the opposite sex, men should not shake a woman’s hand unless she extends its first.
It is considered polite to make extensive chit-chat at the start of a business meeting before getting down to business.
Bahrainis tend not to be direct with giving an answer as a ‘no’. You will hear the word ‘inshalla’ used regularly, which is literally translated into “If God is willing”. However, they are generally honest and once they give their word, they will be true to it.
The currency in Bahrain is the Bahraini dinar (BHD). Coins are available in 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils, while banknotes come in ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 dinars. There are no restrictions on the import and export of Bahrain dinar and other foreign currencies.
Bahrain’s predominant religion is Islam, although there are large communities of Christian, Hindu and other faiths. Bahrain tolerates all religions and everyone can practice their religion freely. Muslim prayer times are five times a day, and the call to prayer is heard across the island at these times. Most shops remain open during prayer time, except on Friday during the noon-time prayer.
If you are offered a drink of tea or coffee in Bahrain, it is very impolite to refuse. The left hand has ‘unclean’ connotations so it is therefore only acceptable to pass or receive things with your right hand. If served traditional coffee (gahwa), the custom is that if you would like another serving, you hold out the cup without moving your hand once you are done with the current serving; and if you do not want anymore, you shake it gently to the coffee server (failure to shake it will mean that you are served another one!)
Bahrain has three main telecom operators that provide mobile/data services with branches and outlets located in most shopping malls and governorates.
Tax and Tipping
Most restaurants add a service charge of 10-15 per cent, eliminating the need for diners to leave an additional tip unless they feel the service was particularly good- this tip should not exceed 10% of total bill. It is common to tip porters at hotels (BHD 1 is acceptable). Housekeeping staff should not be tipped. Tax-free shopping is available at Bahrain International Airport
Taxis in Bahrain are obligated by law to use the meter. There are several local taxi companies operating within Bahrain, all of whose prices vary slightly. The most commonly seen taxis are:
1. Arabian Taxi, (also known as a London Taxi): starting fee of 1.250 BD to start and 200 fils for every km.
2. Bahrain local taxis: starting fee of 1.000 BD to start and 100 fils for every km.
Rates change during weekends (Friday and Saturday) and at night time.
Please note that if a taxi driver refuses to turn on the meter, you should leave the taxi and look for another one. If you are more comfortable pre-booking cabs, you can call any of the listed companies below. It normally takes 15-20 minutes for a taxi to reach you if pre-booked.
The main and preferred mode of transportation in Bahrain is by car. Taxis are available in most tourist sites (e.g. malls, hotels, business districts) however it is advisable to arrange for transportation between different points.