All you need to know before moving to Bahrain



Moving to Bahrain is an option many foreigners are considering today. In fact, the Bahraini government itself estimates that 63% of its workforce is composed of expatriates. This only shows how moving to Bahrain has become quite an attractive prospect for people seeking a new chapter of their lives on new shores with new opportunities. 

Bahrain is a 33-island archipelago that takes an old Semitic term, Bahrain, to be its name. It means "two seas" and is mythically described as sweet water springs and surrounding salty waters. Today, Bahrain is more than two seas.

The country of Bahrain lies close to the Arabian Peninsula and strategically within the Persian Gulf.  It is the fastest growing economy among the Arab countries and the freest, according to the Wall Street Journal's Index of Economic Freedom. Also, the City of London's Global Financial Centres Index named Bahrain as the fastest thriving financial hub. Marked regional progress in the country has been noted in the commercial banking and financial services sector, especially Islamic institutions, while its petroleum empire is responsible for at least 50% of export receipts, 60% of government income and 30% of GDP. 

These economic achievements inevitably attract expats looking for a peaceful and productive life that Bahrain is famous for offering. Presently, expats in Bahrain compose 55% of the total population, which stands at 1, 439, 273 people. With an employment rate of 61%, major industries in Bahrain include petroleum processing and refining, aluminium smelting, iron pelletization, fertilisers, Islamic and offshore banking, insurance, ship repairing and tourism.

Twenty-four miles to the East of Saudi Arabia and about 28 kilometres from Qatar, the archipelago has a total land area of 691 square kilometres.  Longitudinally, the country spans 49 kilometres with 83% of this area belonging to the main island, Bahrain Island. It has a rich and colourful culture that includes the claim based on biblical reports that Bahrain is where human history began. However, Bahrain's long and deep friendship with the Arabs paved the way for Islam to be its most widely practised religion. 

Bahrain boasts magnificent museums and historical attractions. Expats arriving in Bahrain for the first time will be awed by the rich heritage of Bahrainis, perfectly captured in the National Museum in Manama. The old and classic houses in Muharraq allow a peek into the nation's history while the unique burial mounds at Sar provide a close encounter with those who have come and passed. Bahrain's modern-day jewels are the Bahrain World Trade Centre and the King Fahd Causeway. 

Bahrain is another Arab country whose people are an interesting mix of natives and expats, including people from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia. However, Bahrainis are loyal to the Arabic culture and rarely bend to any changes brought about by outside influences. Bahraini men and women still dress conservatively. However, expats are not subject to any clothing restriction, which means anyone, expat or local, may dress as he pleases. 

Another thing expats will value Bahrain's advanced educational system that is entirely financed by the government. Those who move to Bahrain with children will find this a great advantage. The government is campaigning for the further development of the system by encouraging the proliferation of higher learning institutions while banking on expatriates and locals who have come to or returned to the country with advanced degrees obtained from a foreign land.

As a powerful force in the world oil industry, Bahrain is globally recognised as the first Arab country to discover an oil reservation in 1932. To institutionalise this momentous fragment of history, the Bahraini government erected the Oil Museum and filled it with photos, documents, exhibits and other exhibits that show Bahrain's development into a premiere oil-exporting country. The display pays special tribute to 'Well No. 1,' the country's first ever oil well located just underneath the Jebel Dukhan.

Expats looking for a new place to call home will find it in Bahrain where people, history, culture and modernity all combine to make life here a realisation of dreams.

Essential relocation information

When relocating to Bahrain, shipment regulations must be followed religiously to avoid inconveniences when importing possessions from home.

Expats who are planning to move to Bahrain will find that they need to comply with shipping regulations when packing for an international move. Requirements will include documents such as the shipper's passport, visa, valid identification card, flight ticket, credit card or travelers check and more.

Removals to Bahrain also entail other obligations including duties for certain items including alcohol, perfume, cordless telephones, videocassettes, foods, tobacco and new items which are all subject to inspection. Drugs, pornographic materials, pearls, explosives, firearms, Israeli products, materials that are politically and religiously offensive to Islam and the government, and wireless transmitters are strictly prohibited.

In Bahrain airports, all liquids, gels and aerosols are allowed but not more than 100 ml each may be shipped. These items may also be accepted provided they are in resealable plastic bags. Those who are on maintenance medications should bring prescription medicines and are duty-free provided that these are in reasonable quantities for personal use.

In general, dutiable items include new items, for which purchase invoices will be required, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, perfumes, electronic gadgets including cordless telephones and foodstuff.

Violators of shipment regulations or those caught sneaking in items that are otherwise restricted or with duties or taxes are subject to severe penalties and even possible jail term. All involved items will be confiscated or shipped out at the expense of the one responsible. Printed matters like books should be packed separately or they will be confiscated.

To be on the safe side, removal companies, specifically movers in Bahrain, can offer valuable guidance and tips regarding overseas shipping.


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How to live like a local?


The Kingdom of Bahrain is located in the Persian Gulf located off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. After the discovery of oil in 1931, the country has grown thanks to the export of oil and petroleum products. Expats will find that one of the benefits of working in the country includes the absence of personal taxation.

Bahrain is a country that comes with a liberal quality of life uncommon to Middle Eastern countries. Expats looking for work overseas will find the lack of personal taxation in Bahrain a factor that can influence their decision to relocate to the country. Around 55% of Bahrain’s total population are expats, and the country holds an employment rate of 61%. In-demand jobs include those in the industries of petroleum processing and refining, aluminum smelting, iron pelletization, fertilizers, Islamic and offshore Banking, Insurance ship repairing, and tourism.

Working in Bahrain entails a number of requirements, the most important of which is a local sponsor who will stand as the applicant's guarantor. This person will be the prospective employer who will take responsibility for the expatriate's actions and behavior while in Bahrain. This sponsor will also be the source of information when authorities need it, in case the expat figures in a legal situation and becomes primarily responsible for securing a working visa for the foreigner.

There is no strict business etiquette or mode of conduct expected of anyone in Bahrain which is said to be the friendliest business and working destination within the Arab Kingdom. However, respecting locals' observance of Ramadan is a must. Women are also expected to cover their shoulders with shawls when wearing evening gowns or cocktail dresses. When dealing with colleagues or associates for the first time, Bahrainis try to build relationships first before they discuss business.

Typical working hours are between 40-48 hours per week, with most expats akin to working overtime to enjoy higher paychecks at the end of the month. The fact that the cost of living in Bahrain is the cheapest among all Gulf Cooperation Council states also helps.

Indeed, living in Bahrain is a welcome possibility for those who have the skills and experience required to make it in any of its major recruiting industries.

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