From Halal Food & Travel
The Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: البحرين , al-Baḥrayn) is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, tucked into a pocket of the sea flanked by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It displays relatively social liberalism compared with more conservative neighboring countries, where Islamic law is applied in a much stricter way. Case in point: alcohol is legal here. Although Bahrain has a heavily petroleum-based economy, its political, social and cultural peculiarities helped it develop a fairly cosmopolitan middle class and a politically conscious working class.
A string of political unrest (culminating in the demonstrations in 2011 and the following government crackdown) exposed significant discomfort as well as sectarian and social cleavages.
Bahrain means "two seas" in the Arabic language.
Other Muslim friendly Cities in Bahrain
- Manama GPS 26.216667,50.583333 (المنامة , al-Manāma) – the capital of Bahrain.
- Hamad Town GPS 26.112778,50.513889(مدينة حمد , Madīnat Ḥamad)
- Isa Town GPS 26.173611,50.547778(مدينة عيسى , Madīnat ʿĪsā)
- Muharraq GPS 26.25,50.616667(المحرق , Al-Muḥarraq)
- Riffa GPS 26.13,50.555(الرفاع , Ar-Rifāʿ)
- Sitra GPS 26.12,50.65(سترة or سِتْرَة , As-Sitra)
- Juffair GPS 26.211111,50.601111(الجفير)
Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Bahrain
- Hawar Islands GPS 25.647,50.776(جزر حوار , Juzur Ḩawār) – just off the coast of Qatar, these islands are very popular with birdwatchers.
Bahrain is the smallest of the independent Persian Gulf states and has often had to walk a diplomatic tightrope in relation to its larger neighbours. The country has few oil reserves, but it has established itself as a hub for refining and for international banking, while also achieving a socially liberal monarchy.
Despite being much closer to Qatar, the Hawar Islands are part of Bahrain after a long, drawn-out sovereignty dispute between the two nations.
The standard is 220 V 50 Hz. Most outlets are the British standard BS 1363 type. Generally speaking, U.S., Canadian and Continental Muslim travellers should pack converters/adapters for these outlets if they plan to use their electrical equipment in Bahrain.
Weather in Bahrain
The best time to visit Bahrain is November-March, with October and April being just bearable. Be sure to take along a sweater during December-March as evenings can be cool (~15 °C). Bahrain's summer, May-September, is very hot and humid, though occasional cool northerly winds blow to provide some relief. More frequent are the qaws, the hot, dry summer winds that can bring sandstorms.
Rain is occasional and happens only in the winter season.
Travel to Bahrain
Visa & Passport Requirements to enter Bahrain
Muslims of 67 countries may obtain a 14-day visa-on-arrival, while citizens of 114 countries, including all those eligible for a visa-on-arrival, are eligible to apply for a 14-day online visa. Check the web-site of the Ministry of Interior for the latest details. If your nationality is not eligible for either of these, or if you are visiting for purposes other than tourism or business, you will require a sponsor in Bahrain to file your visa application for you.
Bahrain is among the few Gulf states that accepts Israeli passports (although you'll need a visa) and passports with evidence of visits to Israel.
Visa is not required for nationals of GCC member states and a short stay visa will be granted on arrival to residents of GCC member states as well regardless of nationality. Qatar is an exception to this; due to the GCC diplomatic crisis of 2017, visa rules have been heavily tightened for nationals from that country.
What is the best way to fly to Bahrain
Bahrain International Airport (IATA Code: BAH), in Muharraq just east of Manama, is the main base for Gulf Air and has excellent connections throughout the region and to London and to South-East Asia. The airport has good duty-free shopping; a Transhotel offering beds and showers (for a fee) to those awaiting flights is being renovated. Many residents of eastern Saudi Arabia choose to fly out via Bahrain and Gulf Air offers shuttle services to Khobar and Dammam to cater to this market; inquire when booking.
The low cost carrier Air Arabia offers daily flights from the Sharjah Airport (IATA Code: SHJ) north of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Major carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways also offer regular services from Bahrain to Dubai/Abu Dhabi/
Unlike other airports, this one is comparatively small. This is beneficial for a quick and easy departure and arrival.
Travel by Bus to Bahrain
The Saudi-Bahraini Transport Company (SABTCO), tel. +973-17252959, runs eight buses daily from the Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) bus station in Dammam via Khobar in Saudi Arabia, across the King Fahd Causeway, to the bus terminal next to the Lulu Centre in central Manama.
The service uses comfortable aircon minibuses with a trailer for luggage. Tickets cost BD 6/SR 60 and can be purchased in advance, although they'll squeeze you in without a reservation if there is space. As crossing the Causeway involves two passport checks and two customs checks, figure on 2 hours for the trip, plus any traffic delays at busy times like Thursday evenings. At congested times, buses may actually be slightly faster than private cars, as they can use separate lanes at immigration and customs.
Bahrain Saudi Transport & Tourism (BASATCO) offers what seems to be similar buses for a slightly lower fare of BD 4, although four times a day only (2022).
The schedule for SABTCO in January 2011 was:
|From Dammam||From Khobar||From Manama|
How to travel to Bahrain by car
The 26-km King Fahd Causeway connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. SABTCO's BahrainLimo taxis that seat up to four can take you across for prices starting from BD 30/SR300. Unofficial taxis, found hanging around bus stations at both ends, can offer slightly lower fares.
Travel by boat to Bahrain
There are no official boat services between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
How to get around in Bahrain
Best way to travel in Bahrain by a Taxi
The official rates start from BD 1 plus 0.200 fils per kilometer. In practice, though, meters are often "broken", covered, missing or just ignored and you'll need to agree on fares in advance. Cabbies will often ask for ridiculous prices. Most taxis now use their meters. Rates vary from BD 3-5 for a ride within Manama.
The airport gives guidelines as to the official way of calculating taxi fares. An extra BD 2 will be added if you take a taxi waiting at the airport.
On the whole taxis offer a good service but you do encounter some bandits. When travelling from the airport always use the white with red roof or London-style taxis. There is a rule if the meter is not used there is no charge; hold your ground on this and call the police and the driver will cooperate very quickly with the correct fare for the trip.
Finding a taxi can be difficult, although major hotels and malls usually have a few waiting outside. Some privately owned companies operate in the kingdom, the most popular of which are:
However, there have been occasional reports of taxi drivers trying to charge overly expensive fares (like BD 50 for a short trip, when it should be BD 5), though they are generally rare. Sticking to the official taxi services is usually your best option.
Travel by Bus to Bahrain
There are also public buses that run to many parts of the island. Bus fares are low; English-language schedules and maps are available online].
For tourists the most important route is a1 (Airport-Manama). To get to the Bahrain Fort takeAa2 from airport via Manama and get out in Seef, from there walk 2 km to the fort.
How to travel to Bahrain by car
If planning on visiting several sites, consider renting a car. Prices are BD 10-20 per day, but allow you freedom to drive around the island.
If arriving by the bus at the Lulu centre parking, simply turn your back from the centre's entrance, walk out of the parking and you'll find car rentals in the group of buildings across the road. A map or a GPS is strongly advised, as road signs can be scarce and it is not too difficult to go from one part of the country and land up in another, though fortunately the country is small.
Speed limits are generally 50 km/h in the roads and 80-120 km/h in the highway. Fines for breaking the traffic law is pretty severe, though the rules are not always properly enforced.
What to see in Bahrain
The Qala'at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) is located off the northern shore and is a five to ten minute drive away from Manama city. It is restored and in good condition although it lacks furniture, signage, or exhibits. Admission is free.
Next door to the fort is a museum, completed in February 2008, which contains many artifacts ranging from the ancient Dilmun periods through the Islamic era, many of which were found at the fort and additional ruins next door. The museum is a large rectangular and white building with absolutely no signs to indicate that it is a museum. The hours are 8AM-2PM daily; admission is free.
Tree of Life. Although trees grow in Bahrain, this one is special because it is a over 400-years tree which had survived the harsh desert climatic conditions. You need a car to reach the tree, as it is far from the main roads and not on any public transportation route.
To reach the tree, take the Zallaq Highway heading east, which becomes the Al-Muaskar Highway. You will eventually see a sign for the Tree of Life indicating a right turn. (Although the sign seems to point you to turn onto a dirt road which actually goes nowhere, do not do so, instead wait until the next intersection which is several metres ahead.) There are no signs as you travel down this road, but pay attention to a scrap metal yard on your right. Before you reach a hill which warns you of a steep 10% incline, take a right. As you continue straight down this road (including roundabouts), you will begin to see Tree of Life signs again. The signs will lead you down a road which will then be devoid of these signs, but you will eventually see the tree in the distance on the right (it is large and wide, not to be mistaken for other smaller trees along the way). You turn onto a dirt path at Gas Well #371. You can drive up to just outside of the tree, but make sure you stay on the vehicle-worn path, as turning off of it is likely to get your car stuck in the softer sand.
Although it seems like a chore to reach, the Tree of Life is worth the visit for the oddity of it. The tree is covered in graffiti, although this is not visible until you get up close. Try to make your arrival near sunset for a picturesque view of the tree and the surrounding desert.
Top Muslim Travel Tips in Bahrain
Bahrain has history dating back 5000 years, from the ancient Dilmun period through the Islamic era. The country offers three forts which have been meticulously restored and opened to the public, although a lack of signs and general promotion by the country's tourist industry sometimes makes finding these sites difficult.
Bahrain's biggest yearly event is the Bahrain Grand Prix F1 race, held each April at the Bahrain International Circuit. Plan well in advance, as tickets sell out and hotel prices triple. Discounts are also offered to early bookers at rates of 10-30%. Tickets normally cost from BD 150 to BD 60 depending on the grandstand.
The high temperatures in Bahrain make sea activities seem extra tempting and water sports are extremely popular in Bahrain, with tourists and locals indulging in their sport of choice all year round in the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf. Sailing and scuba diving are particularly popular.
Although a desert country, Bahrain boasts an international 18-hole grass golf course, which is about 15 minutes outside the capital, Manama. The par 72 championship course features five lakes and is landscaped with hundreds of date palms and desert plains.
City Centre Bahrain is the most popular mall in Bahrain, which includes a cinema, a water-park and a lot of western brands.
Enjoy riding a camel along a highway.
Purchase souvenirs and buy some authentic pottery at A'ali Village Pottery.
Haggle for goods at the local souk markets.
Shopping in Bahrain
Money Matters & ATM's in Bahrain
The currency in Bahrain is the Bahraini dinar, denoted by the symbol " .د.ب " or "BD" (ISO code: BHD). It is divided into 1000 fils. One dinar is worth US$2.66, as the exchange rate is fixed, making this one of the world's highest-valued currencies (second only to Kuwait). This can get some getting used to: that seemingly affordable BD 10 taxi ride is in fact almost US$27 and thus an extortionate rip-off.
The dinar is a fully convertible currency and there are no restrictions on its import or export. Denominations for coins are 5 fils, 10 fils, 25 fils, 50 fils and 100 fils (500 fils coins are rarely seen, but are valid). Denominations for banknotes are 500 fils (BD 1/2), BD 1, BD 5, BD 10 and BD 20.
Being fixed to the US dollar means that it is effectively pegged to the Saudi riyal at 1:10. Saudi Riyals (SAR) are accepted almost everywhere at that rate, although odds are you'll get your change in dinars and hotels may try to screw you out of a few percent. If coming in from KSA, there's no reason to change your money, but do try to get rid of any excess dinars before you leave the country, as they're hard to exchange elsewhere, even in Saudi Arabia.
What is the living cost in Bahrain
Like most Gulf countries, Bahrain is not cheap. With recent rising costs a decent dinner can cost around BD 5.0 and car rental at BD 10-20/day is reasonable, but hotel prices will put a dent in your budget: a perfectly ordinary room in a "good" hotel can set you back BD 50. Do not travel to Bahrain during the annual F1 race in April if looking for reasonable prices, as hotels will quadruple their rates. A room at the Gulf Hotel during this race could cost you upwards of BD 300/night.
Muslim Friendly Shopping in Bahrain
There are several major malls in Bahrain that offer international and luxury labels shops and botiques, supermarkets and so forth, as well as food courts, contemporary and traditional cafes, play areas and arcades, cinemas (3D & 2D) and even an indoor water park.
A visit to the local souq is a must. There you can negotiate the price on “rolexes”, jewellery and many other gifts. The souq is also home to many excellent tailors. If you're there for long enough (say a week) then you can take a favorite clothing item in and they will "clone" it precisely in any material you select from the huge range available.
Halal Restaurants & Food in Bahrain
Bahrain has an impressive dining scene, with numerous restaurants to choose from. The main dining area is Adliya, where you can take your pick among numerous cafes, trendy lounges and restaurants.
Restaurants in Bahrain run the gamut for affordable stalls offering local food to fancy restaurants in fancy hotels. American fast food franchises are ubiquitous. Western (mostly American) style-foods and franchises can be found around the malls and in the city centre, offering food for upper mid-range prices.
There is even a popular alley in Juffair called 'Americans' Alley', this is due to the huge variety of American-based restaurants in that area. Signature dishes
Snacks and bread
Bahrain has relatively liberal laws regarding and has long been a favorite getaway for visitors from Saudi Arabia and other nearby "dry" countries don't be surprised to see Arabs in thobe and gutra sipping cool brewskis as they watch dancers strut their stuff in the nightclubs, however alcohol can only be served by four-star hotels and higher and you wouldn't find it in supermarkets.
Under Bahraini law, any sign of having consumed alcohol may be taken as prima facie evidence of driving under the influence, which can lead to imprisonment and/or fines of up to BD 1,000.
Coffee, called gahwa ( قهوة ) locally, is considered a part of the traditional welcome in Bahrain. It is usually poured into a coffee-pot, which is called dalla ( دلة ) in Bahrain. It is served in a small cup made for coffee called finjan ( فنجان ).
Muslim Friendly Hotels in Bahrain
Study as a Muslim in Bahrain
Mostly public schools, but enough private schools to serve majority of overseas. Bahrain School, St Christopher's School educates to British GCSE, A-level and IB qualifications and has a very diverse base, with students from many ethnic backgrounds, although most British expats working in Bahrain send their children there. There are also schools (the most notable one being Indian School Bahrain mostly frequented by the children of Indian expats.
Also many private universities and the University of Bahrain is in Sakhir next to Bahrain International Circuit.
Stay safe in Bahrain
The ordinary social crime rate in Bahrain is fairly low and violent crime is rare, however burglary, petty theft and robberies do occur. Incidents of petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching are reported especially in the old market areas known as souks. Most hotels have discos frequented by some unsavoury characters.
Medical Issues in Bahrain
Drink plenty of water. April through August can be very hot (up to 40ºC) and humid and can occasionally feel like 60ºC. Use an umbrella to protect you from the harsh sun. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are outdoors during the day. Among the best brands are Nestlé, Arva and VOSS. Bottled water is sold practically everywhere in the city from "Cold Stores" to major supermarket chains at reasonable prices. In the souk, walking vendors offer small chilled bottles but you may end up paying more than the bottle is really worth. If you are living in Bahrain for an extended period of time, you can set up an arrangement for a neighborhood cold Store to deliver bottled water to your flat, common with Nestlé, or sign up for water delivery through several companies on the island. Many cold stores (and some hotels) also deliver your goods (or food) free to your hotel or flat.
Though tap water is reported to be potable, bottled or boiled water is recommended for drinking.
Telecommunications in Bahrain
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