All about Bahrain
Bahrain has been one of the Gulf's most important commercial crossroads for over 4,000 years.
The word Bahrain means 'two seas' in Arabic, indicating how the country's geographic position as a collection of islands has been important throughout its history.
As the land of the ancient Dilmun civilisation, Bahrain has long been a trading centre linking east and west. The country has benefited from its position at the centre of the Gulf's trade routes and rich pearl diving industry.
By the mid-19th century, the country was the Gulf's pre-eminent trade hub, emerging as a modern state. Merchants from countries across the Gulf and beyond established themselves on the islands.
Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, in 1932, and in the past 40 years has led the regional transition to a modern economy. Subsequently, as the first Gulf state to move away from dependence on oil, we have become the region's most diversified economy.
In particular, our country has become the region's leading financial centre since the 1980s. Since then manufacturing, logistics, communications, professional services and real estate have also become important sectors. Throughout this period, we have taken great care to build up the skills and talents of the Bahraini people.
In 2002, Bahrain became a constitutional monarchy, and a democratically elected parliament was established. This marked the beginning of a period of on-going reform. The country also has an established legal framework and respected regulatory system.
Manama is the capital of Bahrain and also its largest city. Manama enjoys a distinct reputation as a tourism and cultural hub regionally and internationally, as shown by its selection as the Capital of Arab Culture in 2012, and Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013, and Capital of Asian Tourism in 2014.
Bahrain Fact File
|Official Name||Kingdom of Bahrain|
|Head of State||His Majesty the King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa|
|Area||706 square kilometres|
|Location||Lies along the east coast of Saudi Arabia, at a latitude of 26 degrees north.|
|Capital||Manama, the central business district.|
|Geography||An archipelago of 36 islands at the heart of the Arabian Gulf. Bahrain is the largest island and Muharraq is the second largest.|
|Population||Estimated at over 700,000|
|Currency||Bahrain Dinar (US$1 = BD0.377)|
|Time Zone||GMT +3hours winter +2hours in summer|
|Languages||English and Arabic|
|Climate||June – Sept: hot and humid|
|Oct – May: mild and cool|
|National Day||16th of December|
|Business Hours||Government offices:|
|0700-1415 hrs Saturday to Tuesday
0700-1400 hrs on Wednesday
|0800-1300 hrs Saturday to Thursday|
|0730-1500 hrs Saturday to Thursday|
|0800-1200 and 1530-1930|
|Saturday to Thursday
Some malls, supermarkets and convenience stores are open till midnight, and some open 24 hours
The Weekend: The weekend day is Friday. When a public holiday falls on a Friday, the following day is normally given off as a day in lieu. Weekends begin at lunchtime on Thursday for most companies. Many offshore banks and a few other companies remain open on Thursday but close on Saturday.
Driving Licence: International driving licences are accepted only after confirmation from the Traffic & Licensing Directorate near Isa Town. Otherwise, you must hold a valid Bahrain driving licence in order to drive in Bahrain legally. For more information contact General Directorate of Traffic Enquiries on +973 17 872287 .
Clothes: Cotton and lightweight clothing is suitable for May to October, medium weight for November to April. Sunglasses are necessary in summer.
Male traditional dress consists of a or full length coat, made of dark wool in the winter and white cotton during the summer. Beneath this is worn the serwaal, which are rather like pair of cotton pyjama trousers . A light woolen cloak, or bisht, of beige or black and usually edged with gold embroidery, is worn on more formal occasions. The headdress comprises a crocheted cap, or ghafeyah, on top of which is worn a ghutrah , or scarf, held in place with an agaal, a black wool headband.
Customs Duty: Duty Free allowances for passengers entering Bahrain are 400 cigarettes of 50 cigars, 250 gm of loose tobacco, spirits of 1 litre, 6 cans of beer (non Muslims only), and 8oz of perfume. You must reconfirm the allowances since rules can be changed without notice.
Getting to Bahrain:
By Air: Bahrain is the hub of Middle East aviation and the home base of Gulf Air. An airport tax of BD3 is levied on each airline passenger departing Bahrain
By Road: Bahrain is now connected to the Arabian mainland by a 25-kilometre four-lane bridge – the King Fahad Causeway. It takes as little as 1.5 hours to drive to Dhahran in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia from Bahrain International Airport. The toll for cars is BD2 and payable for cars leaving Bahrain via the causeway.
By Sea: Bahrain’s modern port of Mina Salman is a key focal point in the region for the world’s shipping industry. The other ports of entry for dhows and other sea-faring vessels are Mina Manama and Mina Muharraq.
Medical Facilities: Bahrain has a high standard of medical facilities. Emergency treatment is available for residents and expatriates at a nominal fee of BD3 in the Salmaniya Medical Centre. State medical services are largely free. There are a number or well-stocked pharmacies, some of which provide 24-hour service.
American Mission Hospital Tel: +973 17 253447
Awali Hospital Tel: +973 17 753300
International Hospital Tel: +973 17 591666
Salmaniya Medical Centre Tel: +973 17 255555
Public Transport: Bahrain has a comprehensive bus service, which is far more economical than other modes of transport, but you’ll be hard pressed to find out bus routes.
Telecommunications: Bahrain Telecommunications Company (BATELCO) is in charge of all telecom services within the country. Since December 2003 MTC Vodafone started providing the second GSM service to Bahrain. Public telephones take 100 fil coins and telephone cards. Telephone cards are available in most grocer shops.
Electricity: The electricity supply in Bahrain is 230 volts, 50 Hz, except in Awali where it is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Bahrain uses 3 pin power outlets, similar to those used in the United Kingdom.
Water: Tap water in Bahrain is a combination of ground water and desalinated seawater. For drinking purposes, “sweet water” is mostly used and is generally available in cans or bottles, delivered directly to houses.
Tipping: Most restaurants and hotels add a service charge of 10-15% to their bills. However, you may leave a tip at your own discretion. For airport porters, 200 fils per baggage item is normal though service is included in the airport levy.
Travel Documents Required
As entry regulations are fees are subject to change without prior notice, please contact the nearest Bahrain mission to confirm current entry rules.
Visas are required by all except: Passport holders of AGCC (Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council) States, (i.e. nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).
Citizens of the UK for a maximum of 4 weeks (providing they hold a passport with at least 6 months validity).
Those continuing their onward journey within 72 hours, hold confirmed tickets, and appropriate travel documents and on condition they remain within the transit area.
Entry Visas: Foreign nationals may enter Bahrain with a tourist visa (for individuals or groups), 72 - hour visa, 7 - day visa, visit visa, business visa, family visa, dependent visa, or an employment visa. Generally all types of visas (except certain categories of tourist visas which can be obtained from Consulates abroad) are to be applied for by local sponsor in Bahrain.
Tourist visas can be obtained at the Bahrain International Airport or at the King Fahad Causeway for:
Citizens of the European Community, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan or Hong Kong.
Visitors who have been resident in the GCC for a minimum of six months, and who posses a return visa for the country of GCC residency.
All the above must have a valid passport and return ticket; they must have no criminal record or involvement in activities that could threaten public order or national security. Visitors must not seek employment while in Bahrain.
Groups who wish to visit Bahrain are advised to contact a Tourist Company to make the necessary visa arrangements.
Groups may obtain visa to Bahrain for a duration of up to 2 weeks which is renewable once a for a similar period.
Entry visas are obtained through hotels, travel and tourist agencies and other firms, licensed to carry out tourist activities in Bahrain.
72-Hour Visa / 7-Day visa
Can be obtained on arrival at the Bahrain International Airport or at the King Fahad Causeway. These visas are mainly intended for business visits, trade delegations, attending exhibitions and seminars. Apart from the passport, the passenger must possess a confirmed return or onward journey ticket for his/her visa application to be processed. Foreign nationals who have lived for six months in a GCC State are automatically granted a 72-hour visa on arrival.
Issued to foreign nationals who intend to visit Bahrain to meet their relatives or friends. The application for a visit visa must be made by a local sponsor to the General Directorate of Immigration and Passports (GDIP). The visit visa is normally valid for one month's stay in Bahrain, but can sometimes be extended up to a maximum of three months. A person on a visit visa cannot work or engage in business activities during his/her stay in Bahrain.
This type of visa is a similar to that of a visit visa, except that the purpose of the visit is business.
Granted to a wife and children joining the husband/father. The family visa holder may not take up gainful employment in Bahrain but can stay in Bahrain as long her husband stays.
Granted to dependants of a Bahrain resident. The visa holder cannot take up gainful employment in Bahrain but can stay as long as the head of the household stays.
Required to work legally in Bahrain and become a resident of Bahrain. A work permit is required from the Ministry of Labour and a No objection Certificate from Directorate of Immigration before this visa is granted.
Driving in Bahrain
To drive in Bahrain, most nationalities require both an international and their national licence although a Bahraini licence is easy to obtain through a car-hire agency.
Bahrain isn’t a large country and traffic jams are few and generally of short duration. In the Manama souq precinct roads can be very narrow with the obstacles of people and vehicles of all sorts, which make it easy to get lost.
Driving is on the right side of the road, seatbelts are compulsory for both driver and front seat passenger, and young children must sit in the back. Road signs are in English and Arabic, the speed limit is 100km per hour with between 50-80 kmph on smaller city and village roads.
Turning right on a red light is not allowed. Speed cameras and red light cameras are at some locations, so please take care.
If you are involved in an accident, call +973 17 688888. If it is a very minor accident, both parties have to go to the nearest police station in the area. If it is a major accident, you must not move your vehicle until a police officer has attended the scene and gives you permission, having decided who is responsible. A vehicle can’t be repaired until you have a police report so this could be a big problem for you with you own car or a rented car if you do not get the police report.
A fee of BD16 is payable for the driver responsible for the accident and BD6 for the innocent driver, payable on the spot. Drinking and driving is taken very seriously and can result in a fine of BD500 and / or six months in jail. Driving in the rain, which may occur only a few times in a year, is hazardous as roads become extremely slippery.
Taxis are reasonably priced in Bahrain, with a down charge of 800 fils, and all taxis display the charge sheet on the rear window. Night charges are approximately 1.5 times the day fare. There is an additional fee of BD1 for fares from the International Airport.
Expect to pay between 800 fils and BD1 within the Manama area and up to BD6 for long trips out of town. Some unscrupulous taxi drivers will put a hood over their meter or otherwise hide it. It is better and safer to get out of the taxi and wait 5 minutes for another one. If drivers claim that their meter is out of order, they should not be on the road driving. If you have a serious complaint, note down the name of the driver and the taxi number.
Radio Meter Taxi and Speedy Motors (Tel: +973 17 682999) offer a telephone booking system and fares are charged according to the meter reading. They are usually very busy on Wednesday through to Friday evenings, so call well in advance if necessary. Another option is Bahrain Limo (toll-free 801999), which has a fleet of 25 Mercedes metered taxis and qualified uniformed drivers. Fares start at 900 fils for 2km plus 200 fils per each half kilometre extra.
What to See
- Al Dar Island
- Hawar Islands
- The Tree of Life
- Dolphin Watch Tours
- Jebel Dukhan
- Sea Trips
- Asry Beach
- Marina Beach and Park
- Al Jazayer Beach
- Parks & Gardens
- Water Garden
- Salmaniya Garden
- Al Andalus Garden
- Adhari Park
- Heritage & Cultural Sites
- Al Jasra House
- Bab Al Bahrain
- A’Aali Burial Grounds
- Bait Shaikh Isa
- Bait Siyadi
- Babar Temple
- Arad Fort
- Bahrain Fort
- Shaikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort
- Currency Museum
- Oil Museum
- Bahrain National Museum
- Bait al Qur’an
- Museum of Pearl Diving
- Heritage & Cultural Sites
- Wildlife Parks
- Al Areen Wildlife Park
- Traditional Crafts
- Al Jasr Handicrafts Centre
- Bahrain Crafts Centre
- Basket Makers
- Dhow Builders
- Rugs and Tapestries
- Sports & Leisure
- Bowling Alley
- Horse Riding
- Indoor Sports
- Water Sports
- Wildlife Parks
- Where to Shop
- Bahrain Shopping Complexes
- Al A’ali Complex (Seef District)
- Bahrain Mall (Sanabis)
- Dasman Centre (Palace Avenue)
- Isa Town Mall (Isa Mall)
- Manama Plaza (Zinj)
- Riffa Mall (Riffa)
- Sheraton Complex ( Manama)
- Dana Mall (Sanabis)
- Gosi Comples (Exhibitions Avenue)
- Lulu Centre (Manama)
- Marina Mall (Manama)
- Seef Mall (Seef District)
- Yateem Centre (Manama)
- Where to Shop
- Bahrain Shopping Areas
- Central Market : daytime fish, meat & vegetable wholesale and retail centre
- The Souk: Bab Al Bahrain – best suited for bargains.
- Exhibitions Ave: features fast food outlets, restaurants and shops
- Gold Souk, Gold City, Manama: gives you the best array in jewellery
- Social Organisations and Clubs
- American Womens Club
- Australian Association of Bahrain
- Indian Club
- Pakistan Club
- Lions Club
- Rotary Club
- Bapco Club
- British Club
- Dilmun Club
- Marina Club
- Sports Clubs
- Bahrain Rugby Club
- Bahrain Sailing Club
- Bahrain Tennis Club
- Bahrain Yacht Club
- Bahrain Shopping Areas
Building 66, Entrance #2
Kingdom of Bahrain
- Tel : +973 17227114
- Fax : +973 17233314
- Lufthansa City Center
- Tel : +973 17215161/ 17212053
- Email :
- Fly Dubai
- Tel : +973 17212301/ 17227123
- Email :
Al Fanar Travel Shops
Isa Al Kabeer Avenue
Near AMH / Shifa Al Jazeera clinic
|Tel:||+973 17500021 / 17500022|
Al Moayyed Tower
Near 24 Hours Market
Jamaladin Al Afghani Avenue