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Preface Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:38 AM

Site of some of the oldest civilizations in the world (thought by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden), Bahrain is packed with archeological digs, historical museums, dhow-building yards, and back-street souqs.

As modern as central Manama may be, the basic rhythms of life in the island’s many villages remain remarkably traditional. By the same token, where there is tradition in the Gulf there is Islamic conservatism: Women cover themselves from head to foot.

Traditional craftwork continues in Bahrain: Dhows (fishing boats) are built on the outskirts of Manama; cloth is woven at Bani Jamrah; and pottery is thrown at A’ali. A few goldsmiths still operate in the souq. One of the mainstays of Bahraini culture is the drinking of traditional Arabian coffee. You cannot go far without finding a coffee pot in a shop or a souq. Traditional Arabian street food like shawarma (lamb or chicken carved from a huge rotating spit and served in pita bread) and desserts such as baklava are also ubiquitous. While a bit thin on Arabic food, Bahrain has a bonanza of Indian, Pakistani, Thai, and other Asian specialties.

Bahrain’s main island has almost certainly been inhabited since prehistoric times. The archipelago first emerged into world history in the 3rd millennium BC as the seat of the Dilmun trading empire. Dilmun, a Bronze Age culture that lasted about 2000 years, benefited from the islands’ strategic position along the trade routes linking Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley.

Eventually Dilmun declined and was absorbed by the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. The Greeks arrived around 300 BC, and Bahrain remained a Hellenistic culture for some 600 years. After experimenting with Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manicheism, in the seventh century many of the islands’ inhabitants converted to Islam.

In the 1830s, Bahrain signed the first of many treaties with Britain, who offered Bahrain naval protection from Ottoman Turkey in exchange for unfettered access to the Gulf. Oil was discovered in 1932, and large-scale oil-drilling soon followed. Oil money brought improved education and health care to Bahrain. It also brought the British closer: the main British naval base in the region was moved to Bahrain in 1935.

In the 1950s, the waves of Arab nationalism that swept through the region led to increasing anti-British sentiment. Bahrain proclaimed its independence on August 14, 1971.

As the price of oil went through the stratosphere during the 1970s and 1980s, the country grew by leaps and bounds. Despite the Gulf-wide economic downturn of the late 1980s, Bahrain remained calm and prosperous.

Bahrain’s reputation as a relatively liberal and modern Arabian Gulf State has made it a favorite with travelers in the region and an excellent introduction to the Gulf. While their neighbors staked everything on oil, Bahrainis diversified their economy and created some of the region’s best education and health systems. Years of British influence have made English widely spoken. Development has been swift, but it hasn’t swallowed up everything.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:39 AM

The State of Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 small, low-lying islands in the Persian Gulf, halfway down the east coast of Saudi Arabia and about 15 miles from the Saudi mainland. Total land area is about 300 square miles, an area three-and-a-half times larger than Washington, D.C..

Five of the six principal islands are linked by a causeway system. Bahrain Island, where the capital city of Manama is located, is the largest. It is about 30 miles long and 10–12 miles wide. A four-lane causeway links Manama with the island and town of Muharraq, site of the newly expanded international airport. Bridges also connect Sitra, Nabih Saleh, and Um al-Nassan Islands to Bahrain Island, which is linked to the mainland of Saudi Arabia by a causeway to Dhahran and Al-Khobar.

Bahrain, with a desert climate, is one of the world’s hottest areas. Its hottest and most humid weather is from June through September with temperatures over 110ºF most days. Virtually all buildings and all Embassy staff housing are air-conditioned. The weather is pleasant from November through May (55º-85ºF) with infrequent rainfall. The combination of poor soil drainage and few storm sewers can result in muddy city streets and puddles.

A narrow strip of land along the northern and northwestern coasts of Bahrain Island is cultivated with date palms, alfalfa, and vegetables. These garden areas are rapidly disappearing due to depleted water resources and development. A desert, punctuated by a north-south plateau, extends south of the cultivated area. Surrounding this plateau is a rolling basin surrounded by overhanging bluffs sloping into the sea. The ground is hard and infertile with a gravel surface until the spring when a pale, soft green covering appears on the desert following the winter rains. It provides a welcome contrast to the summer’s aridity.

The highest point in Bahrain is the Jebel Dukhan, 134 meters above sea level. The majority of Bahrain's oil wells are in this area. The Arabian Gulf has an average depth of only 35 meters but is much shallower in the vicinity of Bahrain.

Population Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:39 AM

Bahrain's population of 670,000 is growing at 1.7% annually. Only 63 percent of the total population are Bahraini citizens. Of the remainder, 19% is Asian, 10% is Arab foreign residents, and the rest are Iranians or expatriates from Europe, Africa, and North America. The majority of the indigenous population is under 25 years old. Bahrain has a large Western community, which includes about 6,000 British and approximately 3,000 Americans.

The majority of people living in Bahrain are Muslims. Islam literally means "submission to the will of Allah (God)." Most of the Arab population (70%) are Shi'a Muslims. The others, including the royal family, are Sunni Muslims.

Bahrainis are cosmopolitan people noted for their hospitality, moderation, and tolerance. Although many still wear traditional Arab dress, others have adopted Western attire. Modern Bahraini culture is the latest in a succession of civilizations dating back thousands of years. The island of Bahrain was called Dilmun in the Babylonian and Sumerian eras, Tylos in the Seleucid era, then Awal, and finally Bahrain.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:40 AM

The extended Al-Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since the late 18th century and continues to dominate all facets of society and government. In 2002, Bahrain became a monarchy with a Constitution that reinstated a legislative body, one of whose chambers is elected. The new Constitution also confirmed the King as hereditary ruler and strengthened royal executive authority. The King governs with the assistance of the Prime Minister and an appointed cabinet. More than 50 percent of the eligible electorate, both men and women, participated in these elections although large sectors of the Shi’a majority boycotted the parliamentary elections. The new National Assembly held its opening session in December 2002. Bahrain’s experiment in the political reform process is well underway and is closely watched by Arab and western observers.

Britain conducted Bahrain’s foreign relations and ensured its defense through a treaty relationship from the mid-19th century until 1971, when Bahrain declared its independence. The U.S. and Bahrain have enjoyed close relations since independence. President Bush designated Bahrain a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2001 in recognition of Bahrain’s hosting of the U.S. Navy’s Middle East fleet headquarters for the past 50 years. Bahrain provided support for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since independence, Bahrain has joined the U.N., the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Gulf Cooperation Council was formed in 1981 to coordinate developmental, educational, commercial and security affairs among its six Arab Gulf State members.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:40 AM

The first public school in Bahrain opened in 1919, and its literacy level remains high by regional standards. There are approximately two hundred K-12 public schools in Bahrain. There are many good private institutions on the island, as well. Many Bahrainis are well educated and well traveled. A good number of Embassy contacts have studied in the U.S. or the U.K. Bahrainis have also studied at American University of Beirut or in Egypt. English is widely spoken, especially in the business community. Knowledge of Arabic is not essential, but the ability to communicate in Arabic opens many doors in Bahrain and increases social access for Westerners.

The University of Bahrain has approximately 12,000 undergraduate students. The School of Business is the largest faculty on campus, which also hosts an American Studies Center with an American academic director. The President of the University of Bahrain is Shaikha Maryam Al Khalifa, the former Dean of the Law School. The regional Arabian Gulf University, funded by the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is also located in Bahrain, and its medical school opened in 1984. The presidency of AGU rotates among the GCC states and the current AGU president is a woman from the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain features a number of talented artists whose works are displayed and sold at frequent exhibitions. There are several good art galleries, which feature local and regional artists. Iraqi artists are very popular in Bahrain due to the close ties between the two artistic communities.

The role of Bahraini women is changing, and the position of women in society is expanding and developing. There are many more opportunities in both education and business for Bahraini women. Many Bahraini women wear the "abaya," a traditional black cloth covering the whole body, outside their homes. Other Bahraini women dress in the latest European fashions and occupy positions of responsibility, including upper mid-level Government posts. Bahraini women have the right to drive cars unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:40 AM

Bahrain has a sophisticated economy, an effective and efficient modern bureaucracy, a Western-style legal system and a well-educated population by regional standards. Bahrainis are cosmopolitan and have an ancient tradition of trade, travel and receptivity to foreign cultural influences. Many Western products are available here in glamorous shopping malls, large grocery stores or the old souq.

Much of Bahrain’s current prosperity can be traced to the discovery of oil in 1932, the first find on the Arab side of the Gulf. Bahrain does not have large oil or gas reserves, and has sought to transform its economy from one dominated by petroleum and petrochemicals to a services-based economy. Bahrain is a regional banking center and is boosting its health, education and tourism sectors. It is also a major producer of aluminum. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and Bahrain exceeds 800 million dollars annually. There are over 100 American firms operating in Bahrain and represent the financial, petroleum, transportation, industrial and computing sectors among others. The American Mission Hospital was established in Bahrain over 100 years ago as the first medical institution on the island and is the oldest continuous link between Bahrain and the U.S.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:41 AM

All family members who are at least 18 years old and intend to drive in Bahrain should take along a valid U.S. drivers license. Local authorities permit U.S. license holders to drive for one month until a permanent Bahraini license is obtained.

Bahrain’s climate and roads shorten a car’s life span. Many people find a used car adequate in this small country. Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors products are available in Bahrain.

Diplomatic passport holders can purchase a new car duty free from a local dealer. European and Japanese autos are still somewhat cheaper than U.S. models. Resale values at the end of tour are average. The local market for used cars is active. Personnel seeking a secondhand vehicle quickly find a suitable car. A medium-sized, light-colored compact car, with six or fewer cylinders and air-conditioning, is considered ideal. Do not import cars with darkly tinted windows that do not permit passengers to be seen from the outside. The Bahrain Traffic Directorate does not normally register cars with darkly tinted windows, though in recent years, the Directorate has permitted their registration on the condition that U.S. Government employee owners sign a waiver promising to export the vehicle prior to departing Bahrain.

Although it is difficult to drive large cars in many parts of Manama, they are very common. A mechanically simple car is preferable since maintenance/repair can be expensive, and spare parts are often in short supply. Air-conditioning is a necessity in Bahrain for 10 months of the year. Tubeless tires are repaired with tubes. Radial/steel-belted tires deteriorate quickly in the extreme heat. Local third-party insurance is required and is available for less than $100 for most cars. Full coverage costs about 5% of the value of the car. Gasoline prices are comparably lower than U.S. prices. Unleaded gasoline is available.

Post recommends that newly arriving employees rent a vehicle until their POV arrives or until they can purchase a vehicle locally. Rental cars are available locally, from about $397 to $550 a month, depending on condition and the comfort options requested.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:41 AM

A network of roads connects Manama with other villages on Bahrain Island and to the three neighboring islands. Most major roads in the northern third of Bahrain are four-lane and well maintained. In the older parts of Manama and Muharraq, many streets are narrow and twisting or in poor condition. Congested areas of pedestrians, hawkers, and cars make driving difficult and dangerous, particularly in the market (“souq”) area. Roundabouts (traffic circles) are found at most intersections. The drive to the Embassy from most residential areas where Embassy staffers live takes no more than 15–20 minutes.

Taxis are readily available, but most are not metered and fares are subject to intense negotiation. Although an official tariff list is published and available at the Embassy, few taxi drivers adhere to it. Bahrain has a new fleet of airconditioned buses that operate regularly. However, they can be crowded and sometimes require lengthy waiting periods in extreme heat.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:41 AM

Bahrain International Airport’s modern new terminal is one of the busiest in the Gulf. Approximately 22 carriers serve Bahrain with connections to other Middle Eastern destinations, Europe, Africa, and the Far East. There are no direct flights between Bahrain and North or South America. Bahrain also has a modern and busy port. It offers direct and frequent cargo shipping connections to the U.S., Europe, and the Far East. The four-lane causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia is open to vehicle traffic, affording access to most parts of the mainland. Only males are permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:42 AM

Bahrain has one of the most efficient telephone networks in the Middle East with international direct dial service at very good rates. A radio and telecommunications station links the Gulf, via INTELSAT, to the rest of the world with good connections. Local access numbers for AT&T, MCI and Sprint calling cards are available. Obtain a telephone credit card before coming to post. Please note that use of international callback services is illegal in Bahrain.

Local numbers have eight digits. The country code is 973.

Internet Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:42 AM

Internet service is available through two companies and is generally good. Different rate packages are offered including ADSL; rates are reasonable but more expensive than the U.S.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:42 AM

Correspondence directed to non-U.S. addresses goes through international mail. To U.S. addresses, authorized U.S. Embassy staff use the Fleet Post Office (FPO) provided by the U.S. Navy in Bahrain. The FPO currently provides reasonable service, including package mail. It usually takes 7 days for a letter to be delivered. The FPO address is as follows:

Name PSC 451 - P.O. Box 660 FPO AE 09834–5100

Bahraini international mail is also a quick and safe method of corresponding with the U.S. The international mailing address is:

Name American Embassy Post Office Box 26431 Manama, Bahrain

Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:43 AM

Several TV stations can be received clearly in Bahrain. Channel availability is strictly dependent on each housing compound, and the selection varies widely. The Bahraini Government-owned station has both Arabic- and English-language services. The latter airs from 5 to 11 p.m. and includes a 30-minute English-language newscast, as well as American series, movies, cartoons, and British and Indian programs. BBC World Service Television from Hong Kong is broadcast over open TV channels. CNN is available on a pay-for-service channel, as are a large number of other stations broadcasting American films and TV shows. Another English-language station is transmitted by ARAMCO from neighboring Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This station presents mostly rerun American programs, but also offers several recently taped sports events on Thursday and Friday afternoons. Programming is provided only during the late afternoon and evening and is entirely English. With a suitable antenna, you can pick up four other stations, including Qatar, Dubai, and Kuwait. The English-language newspapers carry tentative schedules for some stations. Satellite programming, pay-for-service channels are widely available.

All local TV stations use the European scan (PAL/SECAM 625 lines). American NTSC TV’s are not compatible and will not work. In addition to regular programs, an active video rental market offers many current movies.

Radio Bahrain has an AM/FM stereo service with strong signals broadcasting modern and classical music, topical programs, and English newscasts on two channels. Radio Sawa (USG-funded) also broadcasts in Bahrain with a mix of Arabic and American pop songs. English programming from Qatar and Dubai is also received. ARAMCO also maintains an excellent AM/FM radio service. ARAMCO presents popular, classical, country-western, and rock music on two wavelengths. The latest news is broadcast on shortwave and mediumwave by VOA’s Middle East and African services during the morning and evening, by the World Service of the BBC, and by Armed Forces Radio and Television Services (AFRTS).

A dependable shortwave receiver is desirable due to atmospheric conditions around Bahrain, which frequently cause poor reception-especially of VOA. Equipment must be adjustable to the local 220V, 50-cycle power. An all-channel TV antenna that also serves for FM stereo might be the best buy, and it is available locally. You can receive Armed Forces Network broadcasts if you have an AFRTS decoder. The Ship's Store at the Naval Base carries the decoders, but they are not always in stock. There are no restrictions on shipping decoders or satellite dishes to post.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:43 AM

The Gulf Daily News and Bahrain Tribune are two daily English-language papers that are published in Bahrain and directed toward the English-speaking community. English language magazines targetted to the expat community are occasionally distributed with the English dailies. Two of the magazines, Bahrain This Month, and Bahrain Confidential have associated websites that are excellent sources of information on Bahrain, and The English-language Gulf News is available daily from the U.A.E. The International Herald Tribune usually arrives a day after publication and costs about $2 per issue.

International newsmagazines such as Time, Newsweek, and The Economist are available uncensored locally at several bookstores. Women’s magazines, mostly British, and hobby and sports magazines are found on many newsstands. These are expensive, so it is preferable to subscribe to magazines using the FPO mailing address. Weekly magazines arriving via FPO are normally only 1 or 2 weeks late. Bookstores have a limited selection of titles and are more expensive than in the U.S. or at

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:43 AM

Medical care in Bahrain is generally good. The majority of local physicians have had training overseas, are familiar with American medical care, and have a reasonable command of English. Some, but not all, hospitals will file claims with some insurance companies, so be prepared to pay the entire bill at the time of service.

Embassy personnel may make limited use of Navy doctors, nurses, and corpsmen at the U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) clinic; however, active duty soldiers and their families are seen first. There is a charge of $125.00 per visit. The doctors may refer patients to local specialists for consultations, X-rays, and certain diagnostic care. Medical care that cannot be handled in Bahrain, as well as medical cases requiring specialist care or sophisticated diagnostic care, are usually evacuated to London.

The oldest hospital in Bahrain, the American Mission Hospital run by the Mission of the Reformed Church in America, and the International Hospital have been used by Embassy employees requiring basic and emergency hospital care. Emergency services are also available at the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital in Riffa, Salmanyia Hospital and Awali Hospital.

Routine dental care is available at the NSA upon referral by the Embassy nurse and at local Bahraini medical facilities, but it is advisable to have a thorough checkup and treatment of serious problems before leaving the U.S.

Community Health Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:44 AM

The Government of Bahrain provides free public health care to all Bahrainis and foreigners through six hospitals and a network of clinics throughout the island. Most health care provided at the facilities is professional, competent, and modern. However, doctors and staff cannot always handle large numbers of people.

The dust and blowing sand, along with the increasing air pollution can cause problems for those with asthma, allergies to dust and mold, and those prone to sinus infections. The dust and sand carried in strong winds and/or the draft from fans and air-conditioners can also cause irritation to ears and eyes.

The drinking water is usually potable but tastes brackish. Bottle "sweet water" is recommended and provided by the Embassy. The bottled water is floridated.

The most common insects are mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies, ants, and meal mites. Flies are troublesome during the spring, late summer, and early fall. Insecticides are available in local stores. Rats and mice are also found, particularly near uncollected and decaying garbage heaps throughout the city. Cleanliness and precautions such as storing food in airtight containers are advisable. Brownish-green lizards (geckos) are useful, silent friends who populate the upper reaches of house walls. Common in many parts of the world, they bother no one except the squeamish and feed on insects that find their way into houses despite screening and the use of insecticides.

Fleas, sand ticks, and wood ticks are prevalent in Bahrain and are a problem for pets. There is no heartworm in Bahrain. Veterinarians are available and competent, but expensive.

An extensive drainage system is currently under construction in Bahrain. Some houses still have septic tanks that can occasionally overflow.

When participating in beach activities and/or water sports it is necessary to wear either plastic or canvas shoes to avoid stepping on sharp pieces of shell, buried pieces of metal or glass, sea urchins, stonefish, and cone shells that can sting painfully and sometimes dangerously. Sea snakes, jellyfish, stingrays, and sharks are found in Bahrain waters but rarely pose a threat close to shore. Minor ear infections are sometimes contracted through swimming in polluted water and should receive prompt medical attention. Seek advice on the location of clean and safe swimming areas.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:44 AM

Health precautions include preventing sunstroke and heatstroke, which are real risks during the summer and fall. Outdoor activities must be carefully planned and exertion kept to a minimum during the daytime in that period.

In the summer, good health is best maintained by drinking a lot of liquid, getting plenty of sleep, and taking extra salt on food, or, if preferred, salt tablets, with a physician’s guidance. The high summer humidity can be troublesome to those with asthmatic or bronchial ailments.

Summer colds are often brought on by sudden changes of temperature due to extensive air-conditioning in buildings and cars. Avoid direct drafts from air-conditioners.

Some medications are not available in Bahrain. Take an initial supply of prescribtion medicine from the U.S. that can be refilled through mail order by the RMO. A supply of favorite sinus and cold medications should also be brought with you.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:44 AM

The primary employment opportunities for family members are at the Embassy, the Navy Base, and the Bahrain School. There are approximately eleven full/part-time positions available for family members at the Embassy. While priority for these positions is given to Embassy spouses or other eligible family members, they must be qualified in order to apply.

A few spouses have also found work on the local market, where skilled help in a variety of fields is in great demand. However, active efforts to encourage “Bahrainization” of the workforce in recent years have yielded limited available opportunities, and this trend is expected to continue. In the large international business community, spouses with banking, legal, accounting, computer, or secretarial experience are likely to find suitable employment. Teaching experience is also marketable.

American Embassy - Manama

Post City Last Updated: 11/28/2005 8:20 AM

Manama, the capital of Bahrain, is a cosmopolitan city of about 144,000. Central Manama is undergoing extensive urban development, featuring new banks, hotels, offices, and six-lane, divided highways on land reclaimed from the sea during the past 15 years. The growth has resulted in moderately increased traffic congestion and the distinct beginnings of urban sprawl. Yet the city is livable, and many consider it the preferred location in the Gulf. The discomfort of the outdoor summer weather and the real, as well as psychological, isolation of living on a small island community cause frustration for some.

Personnel assigned to post are eligible for two R&Rs per 3-year tour. The designated R&R point is your home of reference.

Security Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:45 AM

In general, Bahrain is a safe place for residents of all nationalities, including Americans. Crime is low and violent crime is extremely rare. However, normal personal security precautions are wise. The Government of Bahrain takes the responsibility of protecting tourists and diplomats seriously.

On a comparison basis with other major metropolitan areas, crime is low. Nevertheless, be aware that thefts do occur and valuables such as jewelry, cash, purses, etc. should not be left unattended or exposed in vehicles. Robbery, such as grabbing shoulder bags or purses, although rare, does occur.

Employees may drive in Bahrain if they have a valid International Driver’s License or valid State Driver’s License. Keep in mind the primary Manama driving rule: drive defensively. While personal vehicles will carry diplomatic tags once registered in Bahrain, it is recommended that all stickers (county registration, inspection, college affiliation, etc.) that identify personnel specifically as American be removed from their vehicle.

In general, females should avoid traveling alone, especially at night. Harassment of females does occur, but is not prevalent. Reasonable cautions will, in nearly all cases, eliminate any potential problems. Direct any questions to the RSO.

This is an Islamic culture and moderation is essential. Dress should be very conservative for men and more so for women. Clothing should be somewhat loose fitting. Avoid shorts, sleeveless attire, short skirts, short dresses, excessively tight or revealing clothing. Ladies pants should not cling tightly. Material of clothing should not be sheer or what might be considered transparent. Material colors should not be excessively bright drawing attention to oneself. Avoid logos on clothing that might cause offense or attract attention. If in doubt on any item of clothing consult the Management Office or RSO.

Upon arrival, Embassy personnel will be given a full security briefing and issued a security badge. All visitors must obtain ID badges, which must be displayed at all times while on Embassy grounds.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:46 AM

The U.S. Embassy is located in Manama. The Chancery is an attractive, modern, three-story structure, located in the residential suburb of Zinj, approximately 10 minutes from central Manama. The building was designed to conform with Department of State security criteria and dedicated on July 4, 1990 for occupancy that December.

The Embassy is organized along traditional lines with Executive, Consular, Political/Economic/Commercial, Political/Military, Public Affairs, and Management Sections. In addition to the Department of State, the mission includes the Office of Military Cooperation, Defense Attaché Office, and Voice of America.

Embassy business hours are Saturday through Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Embassy’s telephone number is 17-242-700. The afterhours telephone number is 17-242-957. The Embassy’s unclassified FAX number is 17-242-594. The country code for Bahrain is 973.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:46 AM

Every effort is made to immediately assign new personnel to their permanent quarters upon arrival. In rare cases, however, a short stay in a local hotel or temporary apartment is necessary. The Embassy does not maintain temporary housing for visitors or TDYers.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:47 AM

All residential housing in Manama is U.S. Government leased and scattered throughout the principal residential areas of Manama or nearby suburbs. The majority of homes are within a 20–25-minute drive of the Embassy. All are fully air-conditioned.

The Ambassador’s residence is a two-story villa located just outside Manama, about 20 minutes from the Embassy. It is set on an acre of land and is enclosed by a high boundary wall. The residence consists of six bedrooms, one “majlis” (living) room, a den, dining room, and two kitchens. It has a two-car garage, an enclosed swimming pool, a sauna, and an extensive garden, with a gazebo. Separate servants’ quarters and a guardhouse are located on the premises.

The DCM’s house is two-stories and has four-bedrooms and is located about 20 minutes from the Embassy. The house has ample representational space, a large garden, a swimming pool, a garage, and detached servants quarters.

Although some single employees live in comfortable two- and three-bedroom apartments, most personnel live in single-family homes. Housing in Manama is more spacious, but sometimes less functional and less aesthetically pleasing than housing in the U.S. A typical single-family home is a one or two-story masonry structure, enclosed by a 4–5 foot high fence or perimeter wall. Garden and lawn areas are small. Most single-family homes have three bedrooms and a sitting room, separate living and dining rooms, a kitchen, servants’ quarters, and a carport. Housing assignments are made by the Interagency Housing Board based upon the employee’s grade and family size.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:47 AM

Government-provided furnishings include standard bedroom furniture (one queen-size bed and twin-size beds); dining and living room furniture; and major kitchen and laundry appliances, including a microwave oven, water dispenser, vacuum cleaner, and ironing board. Draperies; sheer curtains in the living, dining, and bedroom areas; bedspreads; fire extinguishers; smoke detectors; portable electric space heaters; and a stepladder are also part of the basic residential furniture and furnishings inventory.

Until the delivery of their unaccompanied baggage, new arrivals are loaned a modest Welcome Kit. It includes basic cooking and eating utensils, a clothes iron, blankets, and bed and bath linens. TVs and VCRs are available for temporary use on a first-come, first-serve basis, to be returned upon arrival of your HHE.

The Ambassador’s residence is also supplied with a TV and VCR, shortwave radio, sterling and stainless steel flatware, silver-plated coffee and tea service, crested china, crystal, glassware, stoneware family table service, cooking and serving utensils, and small kitchen appliances (toaster, blender, mixer). Blankets and bed, table, and bath linens are also provided. A full inventory is available from post or from the Department.

In addition to the basic residential inventory, the DCM’s home is furnished with a TV and VCR, official china, glassware, silver, and cooking and serving utensils. Blankets and bed, table, and bath linens are also provided. A full inventory is available from post or from the Department.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:47 AM

Electricity is 220v–240v, 50 hertz. The Embassy provides transformers and adapter plugs for all Government-owned appliances and three additional transformers to each house for 110v equipment. Because voltage fluctuates, delicate electrical equipment such as stereos should have voltage regulators. These are available locally, but at high prices.

Most tap water is not considered potable; therefore, the Embassy delivers bottled drinking water to all homes for drinking and cooking purposes.

Food Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:47 AM

Clean, modern U.S.-style supermarkets are numerous. Excellent prawns and fish, superb dates, good eggs, fresh chickens, and fresh dairy products, including pasteurized milk, are grown or produced on the island. Depending on the season, fresh fruits and vegetables are also available. The latter is supplemented by an abundance of imported fresh fruit and vegetables. Beef, mutton, lamb, veal, pork, poultry, cheeses, other dairy products, cereals, and canned or dry goods are all imported, primarily from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, and are readily available in the island’s supermarkets and shops. Prices, however, are often high. Smart shoppers spend time in the cheaper covered central market in downtown Manama or smaller local markets around Bahrain.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:47 AM

Fabrics and sewing supplies are plentiful and moderately priced. Tailors are good at copying patterns and models, but most do not create or design clothing. Modern malls offer expensive ready-made clothing of varying quality from Europe and the U.S. but one can find some good bargains at local stores. An alternative is catalog shopping using the FPO.

Bahrain has no official clothing taboos. As guests of a society that traditionally is strict among its own members, especially the women, Embassy personnel are expected to dress modestly. Shorts, short dresses, and bare shoulders are inappropriate outside the home. Pants, skirts and dresses for women and long pants for men are recommended for general wear. Purchase shoes in the U.S. or from catalogs. Sneakers for tennis and other sports are locally available but at high prices. Since winter is also the rainy season and some streets are unpaved, boots and galoshes are useful to negotiate the many puddles that linger after heavy rains.

Men Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:48 AM

Take cool, lightweight suits for summer wear and many cotton shirts. Shirt and tie are part of the required Embassy workday dress. In the winter, medium-weight suits suitable for Washington, D.C., are sufficient.

Formal entertaining is rare in Bahrain. If you have black tie, take it, but it is not essential except for the Ambassador and DCM. Neither white tie nor morning coat is required. Sweaters and a moderate supply of light winter clothes are necessary as winter nights can be as chilly as 45°F.

Women Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:48 AM

Shoe shopping presents a problem, especially for women. While shoe shops abound, finding a simple good quality shoe at reasonable price is difficult. Only the latest European styles are available at local boutiques.

Because of the heat and humidity, natural clothing fibers (especially cotton) are best during summer. Double-knits and synthetic materials are very uncomfortable during the hot season.

Work attire should include pant suits, and mid-length skirts and dresses. Correspond with predecessors regarding specific clothing needs, as entertainment and representational responsibilities differ among staff members. There are one-two optional formal events each year. You can have an evening dress/ball gown tailored locally or you may want to bring one or two formal dresses with you.

Children Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:48 AM

Children’s shoes and clothing are available but are usually expensive. Local stores offer some good bargains if you don't mind locally made or non brand name items. Shoes are of poor quality though one can sometimes find good German or Italian brands at prices comparable to the U.S. Its best to bring a supply of children's shoes or use the mail order option.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:49 AM

Almost everything is available in Bahrain, but is invariably more expensive. Laundry soaps and bleaches are readily available locally. Bring an iron with household effects (HHE). Ironing boards are provided. Sundries are plentiful and varied. Small appliances, linens, utensils, tools, cosmetics, soaps, and perfumes are available but are also expensive. Specific brand names may not be available, but suitable substitutes abound. Color film is expensive. It may be processed locally or in the U.S. through FPO. Dog, cat, and bird foods are available locally. Kitty litter, dog collars, leashes, and toys are usually available, but are expensive, and the selection is limited.

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:49 AM

A large variety of personal and professional services are available in Bahrain, from picture framing to motor vehicle rust-proofing, legal and tax counseling, to insect extermination.

Shoe repair shops provide reasonably priced and satisfactory work. Dry-cleaners are adequate for materials not requiring special treatment. Men’s suits are cleaned and pressed for $5. For women’s silk clothing, however, reliable dry-cleaning may be $7 for a dress.

Beauty shops are found throughout Manama. Their work is good and at prices comparable to those in the U.S. Barbershops are also common and fairly inexpensive.

Repairs for automobiles, radios, and electrical appliances are usually satisfactory. Long delays sometimes occur due to a prevailing lack of spare parts.

Finished carpentry products are inferior to and more expensive than U.S. products. However, there are good carpenters that can replicate furniture pieces, such as enternainment centers and bookcases for reasonable prices. Ready-made residential furniture is expensive

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:49 AM

Most middle-class Bahraini families and Westerners in Bahrain employ domestic servants. U.S. Government personnel currently in Bahrain employ servants ranging from the small permanent staff at the Ambassador’s and DCM’s residences to those who work only a few hours a week. Going rates (as of 2004) for domestic servants are as follows:

Full-time cooking and cleaning $250–$350/month Part-time cooking and cleaning $2.65–$5/hour Part-time gardener $65–$95/month Babysitter (American teenagers) $2.56–$5/hour

Domestic servants are non-Bahrainis, and, therefore, must be sponsored by an employer. Such sponsorship involves providing international transportation to the domestic’s country of origin at the conclusion of a tour, plus providing accommodations and any necessary health care. The latter is not a problem since most residences have servant’s quarters; however, the former can be a significant expense. An employer of a part-time worker does not have sponsorship responsibilities.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:49 AM

Bahrain allows freedom of worship. Although most Bahrainis are Muslims, several Christian churches serve the foreign community. Both Protestant and Catholic services are held every Friday and Sunday on the navy base (NSA). Protestant Sunday school is available for kindergarten through adult levels at the National Evangelical Church in Manama. Sacred Heart (Roman Catholic), St. Christopher’s (Anglican), and the Church of the Latter-day Saints, as well as Syrian Orthodox churches, have active congregations. Most churches hold services on Friday to correspond to the local Sabbath, but Sunday services are also held. Many churches have nurseries to care for children during services, and services are conducted in a variety of languages. Bahrain’s Jewish community is too small to sustain a synagogue.

Education Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:51 AM

The Bahrain School is an international school of about 393 pupils representing 50 nationalities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The school is operated by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Europe (DODDSEUR). In addition to a standard American curriculum, it offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) program that is recognized in more than 40 countries for university entrance. American colleges will generally give one year’s advance placement for IB diploma holders. The Secondary School meets the accreditation standards of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCA). Under DODDS regulations, children of U.S. military personnel are accorded priority in admission, while other students, including children of U.S. civilian agency personnel, are accepted on a space-available basis. The Bahrain International School Association (BISA) is the local governing body, but management authority is held by DODDS.

The school year runs from early September through late June. The schoolweek conforms to the Muslim week—Saturday through Wednesday, with a Thursday–Friday weekend. The school day is from 8 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. for elementary and 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. for middle and high school.

Group registration is held before the beginning of the new school year. Thereafter, parents may register their children in the school’s administrative office upon arrival in Bahrain. Please notify the Embassy as early as possible, since it can assist with preliminary registration. Children must be accompanied by a parent or sponsor at registration and must present all records from prior schools, passport number, and immunization records. Placement tests are also required upon registration.

Dependents of Department of Defense employees may attend the school on a tuition-free basis, but some small material and activity fees can be expected. An education allowance is provided for the Embassy’s American employees, covering all tuition and associated costs.

St. Christopher's School is a non-profit British school consisting of 1,700 young people between the ages of 2 and 18 years drawn from about 50 nations. The school comprises of classes for Infants, Juniors and Seniors and has 43 years of experience in offering the "best of British education" in Bahrain. The school has a wide range of music, drama, sports and other activities. For admissions information, you can call Alice Houghton on (973) 17 788 116 or e-mail her on To access the school's website visit:

The Nadeen School offer a pre-nursery and beginning primary school syllabus to a predominantly British and American enrollment aged 2–7 years, at a cost of about $500–$600 a term (i.e., $1,500–$1,950 per school year). Half-day summer playschool is available for kindergarten and primary school-aged children.

Other schools, including the British School and one with a French curriculum, are also available.

Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:52 AM The Bahrain School in an international day school of about 389 pupils representing 51 nationalities for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The school is operated by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Europe (DODDSEUR). In addition to a standard American curriculum, Bahrain School offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) program that is recognized in over 40 countries for university entrance. American colleges will generally give one year’s advance placement for IB diploma holders. To visit the school's website go to:

The Secondary School meets the accreditation standards of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCA). Under DODDS regulations, dependents of U.S. military personnel are accorded priority in admission, while other students, including dependents of U.S. civilian agency personnel, are accepted on a space-available basis. The Bahrain International School Association (BISA) is the local governing body, but management authority is held by DODDS.

The school year runs from September through late June. The school week conforms to the Muslim week – Saturday through Wednesday with Thursday and Friday off. The school day runs from 8 a.m. until 2:35 p.m. for elementary and 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. for middle and high school. NSA provides bus transportation.

New arrivals may register their children in the school’s administrative office upon arrival in Bahrain. Please notify the Embassy as early as possible, since it can help with preliminary registration. Students must be accompanied by a parent or sponsor at registration. The following documents are required for registration:

Academic Reports/Grades for the current school year including three years previous academic reports/grades certified with school seal. Copy of student's passport Copy of CPR card Original immunization card Mantoux tuberculin test, not the Tine test most often used in the U.S. Agency orders Social Security number Children planning to participate in sports need a recent (within two months) physical examination. Placement tests are also required and will be administered by the school.

Dependents of Department of Defense employees may attend the school on a tuition-free basis, but some small material and activity fees can be expected. An education allowance is provided for the Embassy’s American employees covering all tuition and associated costs.

There are two other reputable private schools on the island, the British School and St. Christophers. Both follow a British curriclum.

Resources are available for special needs students.

Several pre-schools on the island offer a prenursery and beginning primary school syllabus to a predominantly British and American enrollment aged 2-7 years, at a cost of about $600 - $1000 a term (i.e., $1,200-$3,000 per school year). Half-day summer play school is available through some pre-schools.

Away From Post Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:52 AM As adequate schooling exists in Bahrain, post does not provide an away from post allowance except for special needs cases. Special educational needs will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:53 AM

Special needs education in Bahrain is very limited. Bahrain School can accommodate some but not all learning disabilities and handicaps. Please contact the school directly is you have questions regarding special needs education,, (973) 17-727-828.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:53 AM

The University of Bahrain offers bachelor’s degrees in business, science, education, engineering, art, and health sciences. The language of instruction is Arabic.

The University of Maryland is a U.S. institution that offers undergraduate courses through the Bahrain School and on a part-time basis for adults wishing to begin or continue work toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Additionally, seminar classes are scheduled at various times. These classes are one semester hour of credit that requires 16 hours of classroom instruction.

The Bahrain Government and some private schools offer Arabic-language, secretarial, business management, and computer classes. Several schools offer hands-on computer courses.

The Bahrain Arts Society and several other groups offer classes in drawing, painting, and poetry. The Music Institute provides instruction in a variety of musical instruments to adults and children at reasonable cost. As funds permit, the Embassy also maintains an Arabic-language program. Classes are also available through the Bahrain Ministry of Education or various schools and individuals. Ballet, ice skating, karate, aerobics, and yoga classes are available. Most of the five-star hotels also have thriving health clubs for men and women.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:53 AM

Summer is difficult for children and parents because the intense heat and humidity preclude outdoor activities. Bring games, handicrafts, hobby supplies, and beach toys. An outdoor grill and equipment for light camping are useful in winter.

Sports Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:54 AM

Power boating and sailing are popular with many Westerners in Bahrain. There are four sailing clubs on the island. Used pleasure boats and sailboats are sold, but at high prices when available. Groups rent Arab dhows for a day of water sightseeing, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. Only saltwater fishing is done; take your own gear, as it is expensive here. Scuba diving is popular, and the sea floor around Bahrain is interesting in parts; but the water is often murky. Rental costs are prohibitive. U.S.-certified scuba diving classes are available, and two clubs offer courses at reasonable tuition.

Some but not all of the residential compounds have recreational facilities that include a swimming pool, tennis court, and/or fitness center. NSA has two swimming pools open to the Embassy’s American personnel. The BAPCO (Bahrain Petroleum Company) Club at Awali permits some foreigners in the business and diplomatic communities to hold memberships to use its beach, bowling, dining, and swimming facilities. All the major hotels in Bahrain (Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Sheraton, and Crown Plaza) offer memberships in their swimming pool, health club, and tennis facilities. Several private clubs (Al-Bandar and the Marina) offer membership to foreigners and have attractive, well-located facilities. Embassy personnel may also participate in an active tennis league, and the tennis court at NSA is open on a first-come, first-served basis to Government employees. There is a small indoor ice-skating rink open to the public. Horseback riding and riding lessons are available.

Attending the weekly horse races at the racetrack about 20 minutes south of Manama is a pleasant way to spend a winter afternoon. Races are run using an excellent stock of Arabian horses and are free to all who wish to attend. Betting and alcoholic beverages are prohibited at the racing grounds.

A new sporting era has dawned in Bahrain. The Riffa Golf Club has created an 18-hole course on more than 150 acres. What was once a desert is now a green oasis of sporting excellence.

The Formula One race track officially opened in April 2004. The Bahrain International Circuit is the official racing site for The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The award-winning event is run annually in April.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:54 AM

Travel to places in the Middle East, India, the Far East, or Europe is relatively easy. Embassy personnel often plan their own trips or take advantage of 3-7 day package tours arranged by local travel agents. Popular destinations have been Egypt, Oman, Dubai, Germany, Thailand and South Africa. In addition, excellent half-day tours in Bahrain are available through NSA or private tour companies. Camping is possible in the central part of the island during the winter and spring. Embassy personnel or private groups frequently arrange boating and dhow trips for bird watching at Hawar Islands, dolphin watching, sunset dinner cruises, and picnics on the outer islands.

Many interesting archeological and historical sites are in Bahrain. This is the largest ancient necropolis in the world with more than 100,000 grave mounds, ancient forts, temples, and city sites going back to the Dilmun era, circa 2500 BC. The Bahrain National Museum has an excellent display of both ancient Bahrain and the more recent Arab traditions. The Beit Al Qur'an houses an excellent collection of old and rare Qur'ans and is well worth a visit. Restored houses can be toured and traditional craftsmen still work in some villages. Al Jasra Handicraft Center and the Craft Center in Manama both support traditional Arab artisans. One can tour their studios and purchase finished pieces at the gift shops.

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:54 AM

Several air-conditioned movie theaters, including a small theater at the NSA, show recent films in English, French, Italian, Arabic, and Hindi at modest admission prices. Several video rental outlets carry the latest U.S. and European films and most Westerners own video equipment. The NSA has a small selection of video equipment to rent for short periods to Navy and Embassy personnel.

Many good but expensive restaurants feature international cuisine and music groups. The major hotels schedule well-known entertainers for brief engagements in the fall, spring, and winter. Some medium-priced restaurants specialize in tasty Chinese, Thai, Turkish, Arabic, and Indian foods. American fast food is available at high prices from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hardee’s, Burger King, Baskin-Robbins, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, Chili's, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Fuddrucker’s, Hole-in-One Donuts, and Subway for deli-style sandwiches. Much entertaining is done at home.

Social Activities Last Updated: 11/17/2003 9:20 AM

Bahrain has a well-developed tradition of club life directed mainly at the sporting community. The BAPCO Club, Dilmun Club, Yacht Club, and British Club have extensive recreational facilities. High fees at the Marina Club make membership unattractive; however, pier and mooring facilities are available at various other locations on the island.

The American Women’s Association is a focal point for American community activities, and the American Association arranges monthly luncheon meetings, an annual picnic, and other social events.

Bahrain abounds with attractive special interest clubs: the Historical and Archeological Society, Natural History Society, drama groups, the Garden Club, bridge groups, tennis league, and cross country and motor groups, plus some possibilities for Americans to enjoy rugby, soccer, and cricket.

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:56 AM Social activities among Americans revolve around dinners and gatherings at homes, clubs, and restaurants as well as outings around the island. The Community Liaison Office organizes monthly social gatherings as do the Marines. Recreational and entertainment programs at NSA offer an opportunity for Embassy personel to experience some Americana and interact with Americans outside the Embassy. The American Business Association and American Women's Association are both active but maintain an international membership.

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:57 AM Bahrain abounds with attractive special interest clubs: The Historical and Archeological Society, Natural History Society, art and drama groups, the Garden Club, bridge groups, tennis league, and cross country and motor groups, plus some possibilities for rugby, soccer, and cricket. The country also has a well developed tradition of club life directed mainly a the the sporting community. The BAPCO Club, Dilmun Club, Yacht Club, Bander Resort, and the British Club have extensive recreational facilities and organize special dinners and entertainment events.

The American Women's Association (AWA) has a membership of over 300 women from international backgrounds including American, Bahraini, Middle Eastern, and European. AWA holds monthly meetings and sponsors a variety of charity, holiday, and social activities throughout the year. The American Business Association arranges monthly luncheon meetings and other social events.

Official Functions Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:57 AM

Embassies in Bahrain normally celebrate their principal national holiday with a reception. Men usually wear business suits and women wear cocktail dresses. Formal attire is rarely required. Dinner gatherings are frequently buffet-style and informal. Business and calling cards are used extensively and are available locally.

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:57 AM

Embassies in Bahrain normally celebrate their principal national holiday with a reception. Official dinners and receptions often take place during conferences, trade exhibitions, visits by senior U.S. government officials and senior American business executives, and holidays. Men usually wear business suits and women wear business attire or cocktail dresses (not short or sleeveless). Formal attire is rarely necessary except for optional functions such as the Marine Ball. Dinner gatherings at homes are often casual.

Business and calling cards are used extensively and are available locally and through the Embassy.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:58 AM

Bahrain is a Muslim country and Islam touches all aspects of daily life, especially social activities. While it is a very cosmopolitan and friendly society, Bahrainis are socially conservative. Bahraini men and women socialize separately. For the most part, spouses of business contacts do not attend official dinners and receptions or even invitations to one's home. Social activities involving Bahrainis should be planned carefully. Dress in public should always be modest, i.e., no shorts, V-necks, halter-tops, sundresses, bare shoulders, etc. Professional, courteous behavior is respected and some knowledge of social customs is greatly appreciated by Bahrainis. All newcomers and visitors will receive a Welcome Kit that details prevailing standards of dress and social conduct.

Formal courtesy calls to the various ministries and diplomatic missions are not generally expected, except by the Ambassador, DCM, DATT, and OMC chief. Business cards, however, are important and are used extensively.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:58 AM

Personal greetings are important in Bahraini society. The most common way to say “Hello” is Assalam alikum (The peace of Allah be upon you). The usual reply is Alikum essalam, which has virtually the same meaning. The reply to Saba al-khair (Good morning) is Saba al-nur; the reply to Masa al-khair (Good evening) is Masa al-nur. People respond to “How are you?” (Eshloanak used to address a man, Eshloanich for a woman) with Zain, al-Humdulillah (Good, thanks be to Allah). “Good-bye” is Ma’assalameh.

Handshakes are common and may last the length of the conversation. This or a hand lightly grasping the person’s arm shows friendliness. Good friends of the same sex sometimes kiss a number of times on the right and left cheeks. It is socially unacceptable for a man to greet a woman, unless the greeting is part of business protocol. Let the woman initiate a handshake. Women, especially those from traditional rural families, look down in the presence of men.

One customarily greets the clergy or member of the royal family with the title of Shaikh (for a man) or Shaikha (for a woman). For instance, Mohammed bin Rashid al-Khalifa would be addressed as Shaikh Mohammed or Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Khalifa. Nicknames, formal and informal are common. Abu means “father of” when it is used before the given name of the oldest son. For example Abu Mohammed is the father of Mohammed. Bin and ibn both mean “son of.” So, bin Khuldoon is the son of Khuldoon. Informal nicknames used among friends are often adapted forms of a person’s given name: Aboud for Abdulla, Hamoud for Mohammed, Fatoum for Fatima, Abbasi for Abbas, Salmano for Salman, and so on.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:09 AM

Before arriving in Bahrain, obtain an entry visa, which is currently available from the Permanent Mission of the State of Bahrain, Consulate Section, 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, tel.: (212) 751–8805; or from the Bahrain Embassy, 3502 International Drive, NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, tel.: (202) 342–0741. If that is not possible, a two-week entry visa may be obtained on arrival at the airport. The extension of these short-term visas may be arranged by the Embassy before obtaining a full-resident visa.

Sponsors meet and assist new personnel upon arrival. Notify the Embassy of arrival information, including date, time, and flight numbers.

Make sure flight reservations are fully confirmed. If temporary housing is required, hotel reservations will be made by the Embassy. As soon as possible, mail documentation on personal effects shipments to allow the Embassy time to clear them through customs before arrival. Packing lists are needed for customs clearance of imported personal effects.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:09 AM

Those with diplomatic and official passports have no difficulty clearing personal accompanied luggage through Customs upon initial arrival or upon return from leave or TDY travel. Diplomatic personnel are accorded duty-free entry for all parcel post and freight shipments throughout their tours

Passage Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:10 AM

Those with diplomatic and official passports have no difficulty clearing personal accompanied luggage through Customs upon initial arrival or upon return from leave. Diplomatic-list personnel are accorded duty-free entry for all parcel post and freight shipments throughout their tours.

The following items are strictly prohibited: firearms and ammunition or other weaponry, including decorative knives; cultured, bleached, or tinted pearls and undrilled pearls produced outside the Arabian Gulf; pornography or seditious literature; and habit-forming or hallucinatory drugs. Videocassettes will be inspected and viewed on arrival and should not be shipped in hand or checked baggage.

Travelers should note that the local definition of pornography is considerably stricter than in the Western world. Magazines such as Playboy are likely to be confiscated at the airport. Adults may import two bottles of alcohol, and the duty-free shop at Bahrain’s International Airport is open to arriving as well as departing passengers.

Pets Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:10 AM

The Bahrain Minister of Commerce and Agriculture issued a Ministerial decree in 1984 that banned the importation of dogs, cats, and monkeys into Bahrain from countries where rabies is found. Exceptions to this rule, however, are allowed and the Embassy has had no serious problems importing pets for personnel. Please note: cats and dogs under three months of age will not be allowed in country.

Bahrain is rabies free and certain rules have to be met when importing a pet. Within one month of your departure date, obtain a veterinary health certificate that identifies the pet, states the origin and name of the exporter; verifies that the animals/birds were examined prior to shipment, confirms that the animal is free from all contagious diseases (as well as ecto-parasites), and is fit for travel. The following vaccination certificates must accompany the animal when it arrives in Bahrain:

Cats Dogs Rabies Rabies Feline Enteritis Distemper PARVOV

Please inform post prior to making any shipping arrangements if you plan to import a pet from the U.S. or from any other country. Fax copies of documents listed above and the details of your pet’s arrival to the GSO (973–242464). Carry all original documents with you. Prepare to quarantine your pet for up to 30 days in your home.

If an animal is not permitted entry into Bahrain, it is the responsibility of the owner to pay for its return shipment.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:11 AM

Firearms and ammunition are not to be imported into Bahrain under any circumstances.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:11 AM

Citibank is the only American bank currently established in Bahrain that provides full commercial banking services (individual Bahraini dinar, U.S. dollar checking and savings accounts, fund transfers). Citibank and several other banks, as well as commercial money changers, accept U.S. Treasury dollar checks or travelers checks and will disburse either U.S. dollars or Bahrain dinars at the established rate, often with a surcharge. However, banks usually do not cash personal checks. Personal checks can be cashed at the NSA Dinar Exchange office and the Embassy. ATMs are available throughout the island.

The Embassy provides accommodation exchange.

The exchange rate is: US$1.00 = Bahrain Dinar (BD) .377 (or 377 fils); BD1=US$2.65. The Dinar is pegged to the US$; it will not fluctuate.

Bahrain officially adopted the metric system of weights and measures in December 1977.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:11 AM

Bahrain does not have personal or sales tax.

An active resale market in Bahrain is open to those seeking to sell personal property, including automobiles.

Bahrain has a free exchange of currency. Moneychangers will quickly convert dollars or travelers checks to virtually any currency desired. You may consider opening a dinar checking account in a local bank for convenience. Several U.S. banks in Bahrain will handle dollar accounts, but service charges are high.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:12 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Abercrombis, T.J. and S. Raymer. Bahrain: Midas Touch on the Persian Gulf. National Geographic. September 1987.

Barrault, Michele, Regards Bahrain, Editions Michel Hetier, Bahrain, 2003.

Belgrave, James. Welcome to Bahrain. Augustan Press: Manama, 1975.

Bibby, T.G. Looking for Dilmun. Penguin Books: New York, 1970.

Bullock, J. The Gulf: A Portrait of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and U.A.E. Century Publishing: London, 1984.

Cottrell, Alvin J., ed. The Persian Gulf States: A General Survey. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1980.

Clarke, Angela. Bahrain: A Heritage Explored. Gulf Public Relations Group, 1991.

Clark, Angela. Bahrain—Oil and Development 1929–1989. Immel Publishing, Ely House: London, 1986.

Clark, Angela. Bahrain—A Heritage Explored. Meed Books: London, 1986 (Reprinted, Gulf Public Relations Company: Bahrain, 1991).

Jenner, M. Bahrain: Heritage in Transition. Longman: London, 1984.

Kay, Shirley. Bahrain – Island Heritage. Motivate Publishing, UAE, November 1989.

Khuri, Fuad I. Tribe and State in Bahrain. University Press of Chicago: Chicago, 1980.

Lawson, Fred. Bahrain: Modernization of Autocracy. Westview Press, Inc.: Boulder, Colorado, 1989.

Nakhleh, Emile A. Bahrain: Political Development in a Modernized Society. Lexington Books: Lexington, 1976.

Owen, R. The Golden Bubble: Arabian Gulf Documentary. Collins: London, 1986.

Parsons, A. They Saw the Lion: Britain’s Legacy to the Arabs: A Personal Memoir. Jonathan Cape: London, 1986.

Rahman, Parween Abdul and Charles Walsham, Resident in Bahrain, North Star Publishing, London, 1998.

Runaihi, M.G. Bahrain, Social and Political Change Since the First World War. Bowker Press: London and New York, 1976.

For more information, the Overseas Briefing Center has slides and videotapes of Bahrain available. Also, a simple search on the Internet will reveal several good sites with information on Bahrain.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/5/2005 12:12 AM

The Embassy observes the holidays listed below. Local religious holidays are lunar and the dates provided are approximate. These lunar holidays progress 11–13 days each year.

New Year’s Day January 1 Martin Luther King’s Birthday January, Third Saturday Washington’s Birthday February, Third Saturday Eid al Fitr Varies by Lunar Calendar Memorial Day May, Last Saturday Eid al Adha Varies Islamic New Year Varies Ashoora Varies Independence Day July 4 Prophet’s Birthday Varies Labor Day September, First Saturday Columbus Day October 12 Veteran’s Day November 11 Thanksgiving Day November, Fourth Thursday National Day December 16 Christmas Day December 25

The Administrative Section will confirm/amend these holiday dates by memo, as they approach.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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