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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/5/2005 11:42
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
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, www.bahrainthismonth.com and
www.newarabia.net. 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 Amazon.com.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. To access the
school's website visit: www.st-chris.net
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.
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
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
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, email@example.com,
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
Sponsors meet and assist new personnel upon arrival. Notify the
Embassy of arrival information, including date, time, and flight
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
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
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
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
Bahrain officially adopted the metric system of weights and
measures in December 1977.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/5/2005
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
Abercrombis, T.J. and S. Raymer. Bahrain: Midas Touch on the
Persian Gulf. National Geographic. September 1987.
Barrault, Michele, Regards Bahrain, Editions Michel Hetier,
Belgrave, James. Welcome to Bahrain. Augustan Press: Manama,
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,
Kay, Shirley. Bahrain – Island Heritage. Motivate Publishing, UAE,
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:
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
The Administrative Section will confirm/amend these holiday dates
by memo, as they approach.