Bahrain at a Glance
Moving to BahrainiStockphoto
Welcome to Bahrain, one of the most prosperous Gulf countries.
Bahrain prides itself on being the most liberal country in the Persian Gulf region. While this may be true to a large extent, don’t be tempted into thinking that your move to Bahrain will not require you to make major adjustments. For most expats, moving to Bahrain means moving to a country that differs significantly from their home or previous place of residence – be it because of the culture, the climate, the people, etc. But, as everybody knows: obstacles make us grow! So if you’re willing to take on the challenge of relocating to Bahrain, this is what you need to know.
A History of Expats
The Kingdom of Bahrain, as it has been known since 2002, had established itself as the preeminent trading centre in the Gulf by the mid-19th century. High trade volumes with India ensured a growing cultural influence of the subcontinent, aided by the influx of Indian merchant families. Wealthy Persian merchants moving to Bahrain also played their part in driving forward the country’s socio-economic development.
The discovery of oil in 1932 finally resulted in growing numbers of foreign investors moving to Bahrain in the hope of profiting from the boom started by the oil industry. The country went through a rapid modernization process overseen by the British Colonial Advisors. In 1971, British and Iranian claims over Bahrain were refuted as the country’s independence was asserted via referendum.
Bahrain Today: An Expat Destination
Today, the oil industry still drives many expats to Bahrain.. However, due to very limited oil reserves, the industry has shifted towards petroleum-processing and oil-refining based on crude oil imports. The country has also acquired a reputation as the financial hub of the Middle East, having replaced Beirut during the 1970s. While this initially opened up new opportunities in the financial services industries and attracted new business to Bahrain, the country’s reputation has suffered after the Bahraini uprising which started in February 2011.
The country’s history as a trading nation and former British colony provides the backdrop to its claim that Bahrain is a multi-cultural, multi-denominational and multi-ethnic society. People from all corners of the world have been moving to Bahrain for centuries now. Although there are tendencies in Bahraini politics to limit jobs open to expats in order to combat unemployment among young Bahrainis, the current trend of foreigners moving to Bahrain to fill managerial positions is set to continue at least for a little while – at least until confidence in Bahrain’s economy has been restored.
Expat Hotspot Manama
Most expats moving to Bahrain end up in Manama, the nation’s capital, situated in the north of the main island. A diverse population of approximately 155,000 people makes it the country’s largest city. It is here that Bahrain’s reputation as a centre of Islamic banking and financial hub for the Persian Gulf region proves its worth: Over 200 banks and financial institutions are situated in Bahrain’s capital, making financial services the primary field of employment in the city.
Several multinational companies run operations in or from Manama and function as major employers for expats in Bahrain. As the nation’s capital, Manama is not only the home of Bahrain’s national government offices but also accommodates all foreign diplomatic staff stationed in the country. High living standards, a multi-cultural environment, a good road and transport network are among the benefits awaiting expats moving to Bahrain’s capital.