Customs & Traditions in Bahrain Every Expat Must Know

16 May, 2015 | 0 Comments

Customs & Traditions in Bahrain Every Expat Must Know

Often considered as one of the Gulf's more liberal nations, Bahrain's laws are based on Islamic principles and code of conduct.

Category: Guide & FAQ

A large number of expatriates from different countries call Bahrain home, and will attest to the fact that Bahrain is a more inclusive and tolerant state as compared to their neighbours. It would however be advisable to learn a few etiquettes and behaviours that will make your transition into Bahraini society a smoother one.

Here are some customs and traditions that expats and visitors should be aware of in Bahrain. If you are visiting Bahrain on a holiday, invest in comprehensive travel insurance. After all, isn't it better to have travel insurance and never need it, than the other way round?

Dress code
Most Bahrainis prefer to wear the national dress of a ‘disdasha’, a flowing garment for men, and an ‘abaya’, intricately detailed with decorations on the back or sleeves, for women. While expatriates aren’t expected to follow this particular dress code, modesty while dressing is advised. Women are expected to cover up their legs, elbows and head, when in public. Casual clothing is not frowned upon, but may attract undue attention in public spaces.

Ramadan code of conduct
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims, and in Bahrain, like anywhere else in the Arab world, is a period of solemnity. While expats aren’t expected to follow, or participate in the religious norms of this period, it is advisable torefrain from eating or drinking in public, between sun rise and sunset. Work times are often be adjusted according to the schedule of Ramadan, and certain companies will provide non-Muslim employees a space where they can eat and/or drink during office hours. Lastly avoid driving with your car stereo on, as loud music and celebrations are strictly forbidden during the holy month.

Social etiquettes
Bahrainis, like most Arab cultures take etiquette very seriously and these rules for social conduct can make a big difference in your successful acceptance into Bahraini society. Here are a few etiquettes that you should keep in mind:

  • When you accept an invitation to the home of a Bahraini national, always carry with you a non-alcoholic gift for the host. Chocolates or sweets work best, and there are shops where you can buy and wrap your gift.
  • Bahraini men normally greet each other with a handshake, a hug and a kiss on the cheeks. A warm acknowledgement and ‘salaam’ is normally, the right way to greet a Bahraini woman.
  • When entering a Bahraini home, it is customary to check your footwear at the door, as it is considered impolite otherwise.
  • Always make polite enquiries about family and well being, before discussing business with a Bahraini counterpart. Small talk is considered a very important part of business negotiations. Keep your enquiries general and refrain from asking probing personal questions, especially about the women of the house, as it is considered to be extremely rude.
  • Always accept any tea or coffee, your host may offer, as it is considered a slight to traditional Bahraini hospitality, if you don’t.
  • Alcohol is strictly forbidden for Muslims in Bahrain. Certain establishments like social clubs and 5-star hotels however are allowed to serve alcohol to members and guests.

Bahrain is one of the most liberal Emirates in the Persian Gulf, but following these rules will ensure that you adjust well to their customs and traditions,

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