Bahrain Travel Information
Electrical current in Bahrain is 230 volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin plugs are used.
Arabic is the official language in Bahrain, although English is widely understood and is used by most businesses.
Proof of a yellow fever vaccination is required for visitors who are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs, and 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.
Most restaurants and hotels in Bahrain add a service charge of 10 to 15 percent to their bills. However, you may leave a tip at your discretion. Taxi drivers expect a 10 percent tip and porters will be happy with about 100 fils per item of baggage.
Although the crime rate in Bahrain is relatively low, visitors should be aware that along with other states in the Gulf region, the country is at risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on Western interests. Visitors are advised to be vigilant and avoid public demonstrations. Around 6,000 to 8,000 British nationals live in Bahrain, and thousands more visit each year. The vast majority of visits are trouble free.
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. LGBT travellers should note that while the law doesn't criminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults who are at least 21 years of age, individuals have been punished in the past. 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.
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. Rushing a deal and high-pressure sales tactics are frowned upon. 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.
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.
The international direct dialling code for Bahrain is +973. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option. Internet is available at most of the larger hotels in Manama.
Travellers to Bahrain over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 400 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.
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