The Kingdom of Bahrain is one filled with mystery and intrigue. The city of Bahrain itself is located on the island of Bahrain, the largest of the kingdom’s 33 Arabian Gulf islands. Believe it or not, causeways between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not open to the public until late in 1986, causing a welcome increase in local tourism. Anyone with the opportunity to visit will appreciate the area’s unique culture and history.
WHEN TO VISIT BAHRAIN
Bahrain Fort, Karbabad, Bahrain (Oct 1999)
The weather in Bahrain isn’t as easily separated by seasons as it is in some other countries. In Bahrain, you’ll find that the weather is typically pretty warm throughout the year. The months of June through September are usually considered very hot while the months of December through March tend to be a bit cooler. The months in between are transitional in nature, during which time you’ll experience a blend of both main climates.
Poolside – Ritz-Carlton Bahrain
If climate doesn’t matter, there is really no bad time to visit Bahrain. The Formula 1 race occurs during March or April of each year, so this time can be very crowded. The months of June, July, and August are often hottest, so if you really don’t like heat, humidity, swimming, or hitting the beach than you might not appreciate the city as much during this time of year.
The Grand Mosque in Manama, Bahrain
Always carry sunscreen, no matter when you visit, and make sure you have protective clothing like a baseball cap and sunglasses. Make sure you bring at least a sweater or light jacket during the winter months.
DRESS AND CULTURE IN BAHRAIN
Women’s cloths in Middle East
Bahrain is a Muslim country, so special care should be taken to follow traditional cultural guidelines while you are visiting. While Bahrain itself is generally open to foreign society, you must do your best to remain respectful at all times. And, remember – the surrounding countries you may be traveling to or through may not be as tolerant.
The citizens of Bahrain always look neat and dressed up when they are out in public, so you may not want to dress too casually during your stay. You’ll blend in with your hosts better and, at the same time, won’t make yourself stick out as a tourist.
Men should always wear neat clothing. In public, like in a mall or restaurant, you should not wear shorts. If you go to a market, you can dress a little less formally, mainly because the dusty conditions mean your clothing will get dirty. When in a Mosque, men should never wear shorts, sleeveless shirts, or clothing. Don’t wear overpowering scents, either – your regular deodorant is more than enough. Men should wear shorts to the beach, but never revealing clothing (like Speedos). If you are invited to a private residence, you should dress up unless otherwise instructed.
Amwaj Island – Kingdom of Bahrain
Women need to be more careful about the way they dress in Bahrain. No matter where you go, your skirt should fall below your knee. Shirts with spaghetti straps or that show cleavage are not generally acceptable. When in a mosque, you should wear loose clothing and your arms, hair, and legs must be completely covered. Women visiting private homes may be able to dress a bit less conservatively, as can women visiting restaurants in Adliya or in hotels. Women should wear makeup and take special note of their facial and body hair – make sure your eyebrows look neat and make sure other facial hair is bleached or waxed.
TIPPING AND ETIQUETTE IN BAHRAIN
The Bahrain World Trade Centre
When you enter a restaurant or café in Bahrain, you may see a “service charge” on your bill. If you value the services your waiter or waitress provided, you should leave a 10-15% tip for him or her. The service charge is generally kept by the restaurant owner, so don’t assume your server will see any part of that.
Bahrain taxi drivers_resize
When traveling, use an official metered taxi cab. If your driver claims that the meter is broken, or if he keeps it out of site, don’t get in the cab. If the driver is honest and shows the meter for the entire trip, a 10% tip is generally acceptable.
DSC00356 Bahrain National Museum (33)
The public consumption of alcohol in Bahrain is illegal. As such, you can drink in a club, restaurant, or bar, but if you are caught in public with alcohol on your breath (like if you get pulled over) you can be arrested, no matter how much you have had. If in doubt, take a cab back to your hotel in Bahrain.
Muslims generally consider the left hand and both feet to be unclean. If you are going to shake hands, use your right. Make sure you eat and pass food with your right hand as well. Never put your feet up on furniture and, if you do, make sure the soles of your feet never face another person, whether you have shoes on or not.
Try to avoid shaking hands with women. It is not acceptable in the Muslim religion and makes many uncomfortable. Some women in business will graciously shake your hand, but it is best to let a woman initiate the gesture.
Dusk at the 25km-long Bahrain-Saudi Causeway
The city of Bahrain, and the entire island, is an incredibly beautiful place to visit. You’ll find plenty to see and do throughout your stay but, as noted, you should take special care to observe cultural boundaries. Enjoy your stay!