Where to Go - Middle East / India
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Population : 635,000 (includes 228,000 non-nationals)
Literacy rate : 85.2%
Life expectancy at birth : male 70.58 yrs, female 75.45 yrs
Infant mortality rate : 20.48 deaths /1,000 live births
Population growth rate : 1.78%
GDP growth rate : 4%
GDP per capita : £9,300
Unemployment : 15%
Inflation rate : 0.5%
Climate : arid; mild pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers.
Time : GMT +3
Electricty : In Awali (capital), 110v AC, 60Hz. Outside, 230v AC, single phase and 400v. 2 pin plugs are used.
US Library of Congress country guide: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/bhtoc.html
Bahrain Tourism website: http://www.bahraintourism.com/
Of all the Arab oil states, this is perhaps the most liberal. However, you should not forget that this is an Islamic country with old strong traditions and a strong local culture. Unacceptable are the following; smoking in public during Ramadan, drinking alcohol anywhere else but in your own home, pork or pork products, using ones left hand at table (or preferably not at all) and womens clothing that is revealing in any way. Some ex-pats brew their own alcohol and sell it to other ex-pats. This is a very risky thing to get involved in. Penalties are severe.
You will have to choose a lifestyle here, as in any Islamic country go with the flow, learn some Arabic (although Farsi and Urdu are both spoken as well), make some local friends and broaden your horizons, or keep company with your compatriots. Do be aware of political conditions; recent unrest has still not disappeared.
Life can be very easy here for foreigners electronic goods are cheap and the cost of living is not too high. There is also the fact that there is no income tax. However, all is not rosy. The population figures above show the size of the foreign workforce. Coupled with the 15% unemployment rate and the tension between the Shiite community (75% of the population) and the Sunnis (25%) life for the nationals is not as good as the economic indicators may suggest.
Bahrain is a small island about 15km by 48km (total land area is 620 sq km) but has strong local industries. Obviously petroleum processing is the biggest (60%) but there is also aluminium smelting, ship repair and banking. In fact Bahrain is a sort of Cayman Islands for the Middle East. Bahrain was the first Arab state to discover oil (in 1931) and was also the first to establish an oil refinery. Its important strategic position has made it a centre for oil processing (as well as production) and for banking. The aluminium smelters use bauxite from Australia.
Your passport must not contain any Israeli visas or stamps and have at least 6 months validity. UK nationals born in the UK do not need visas. Other nationals may need a No Objection certificate before entering. Three and five day visas can be issued on arrival. It is better to get this done before traveling. You will also need to have a medical check-up. Check with your local embassy before leaving as the situation may change from time to time.
Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid
Tax and Insurance
No tax. Ain't life wonderful? Get health insurance - available locally at reasonable rates.
Gap Year Programmes
Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Bahrain