Even though the oil and petrol industry has declined in recent years in Bahrain, it is still the mainstay of the Manama economy, accounting for about 60% of exports, 70% of government revenue and 11% of the GDP of Bahrain. Other key exports are aluminum and other metal ores, cars, electronics and some food stuffs. Manama also has an extremely strong financial industry with large banks and insurance agencies present in the city.
A number of multinational corporations have headquarters in Manama and retail also plays a hand in the growing economy, with luxury shopping malls and designer shops in areas, such as Seef. These shops draw tourists from the Middle East, and tourism on the whole is a factor of the local economy. Events such as the Bahrain Grand Prix have put Manama on the tourist map, and there is some religious tourism as well.
Expatriates moving to Manama for work will require a work visa. The application needs to be submitted to the Labor Market Regulatory Authority and must include:
Once approved, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority will issue the work visa. To live and work in Bahrain, expats will require a Residency Permit, which is issued by the General Department for Nationality and Passport Residence, and a CPR Card; a type of identification card issued by the Central Informatics Organization.
Expatriates may be drawn to working in Manama on account of the low taxes. In effect, there is no income taxation, but instead, a 1% social insurance tax that is levied to provide for unemployed university graduates. This tax is paid directly from salaries, on top of a 5% social security contribution.
Income from rented or sold properties is also not taxable, and neither is property or wealth that is inherited. While there is no income tax — nor is there any value added tax on anything except fuel — it is worth noting for expats working in Manama, that there is a municipal tax payable for rented property, that equates to 10% of the value of the property. One more thing to note is that expatriates wanting to send money home may be taxed on this.