Expatriates moving to Manama may have to get used to the extreme climate, with summers typically seeing temperatures well in excess of 40°C. The city is seen as one of the most liberal in the Gulf region, with bars and restaurants serving alcohol, and a considerable entertainment scene, making it an attractive base for expats.
Around one third of the population in Manama is made up of expatriates, leading to a diverse and inclusive city culture. There are many expat influences to be seen here, with Indian, European and Arabian inputs. While part of the Gulf region, it can be said that Manama is more liberal and cosmopolitan than some of its neighboring countries, with a tolerance of alcohol served in bars and restaurants, and votes for women. During the Islamic month of Muharram, there are many processions through central Manama, attracting thousands of Shia Muslims from the Gulf region. The month commemorates the death of Imam Hussain, and is therefore a period of grieving, with processions taking on a sombre tone. The ninth and tenth days of Muharram are a public holiday in Bahrain. Expats who appreciate sports will find that football is popular, with three Manama teams in the Bahraini Premier League. The Bahrain Grand Prix is also held in the city.
There is a wide range of educational institutions in Manama. The Bahrain School offers education from kindergarten through to the 12th grade, with a choice of American diploma or International Baccalaureate. There is a selection of international schools, including British and American schools, as well as faith schools for Islam, Judaism and Christianity, providing lots of choice for expatriates with children. There are a number of universities in Manama, including the Arabian Gulf University which offers degrees in medicine and business, and the Delmon University for Science and Technology. The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance is also in Manama.
The phrase ‘all roads lead to Rome’ can be said of Manama also, as all roads in Bahrain lead to the capital. Perhaps this is why traffic can sometimes be a problem in the city. With most industries, hotels and the government all being situated in Manama, the number of cars on the road is increasing consistently. Consequently, some development is underway to ease the burden on the city’s roads. Within the city, there is a comprehensive bus network that is extremely economical to use. Bahrain International Airport is just 7km north east of Manama, on the island of Muharraq, which is connected to Manama via three causeways.