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With never ending, barren deserts on one side, and cosmopolitan cities on the other, Bahrain has quickly become the number one destination in the Middle East for internationals who want to discover this part of the world. This Arab archipelago boasts a culturally diverse society with a traditionally more liberal environment than its neighbouring countries, with a thriving banking and infrastructure sector offering a wide range of interesting jobs. As most of the locals practice the Islamic faith, Bahrain’s skyline is dotted with spectacular mosques that contrast the high-rise buildings and make for a truly individual sight. Moreover, the Islamic calendar and list of traditions make for a very interesting experience, and will allow you to discover and experience Middle Eastern society to the fullest. Moving to Bahrain does require a little research on the customs and logistics, so we’ve gathered some essential information on this exciting destination.
As a soon-to-be Bahrain resident, you will find that it is possible to purchase or rent a home, and prices will vary according to location and size. Compounds are a popular choice for expats as they benefit from high security and swimming pools. Expats living in Manama will benefit from an excellent public transport system as well as good accommodation offers. However most of the islands in the archipelago are connected by bridges, which means you can chose one of the smaller islands when searching for a residence. Many expats will thus choose to live in Bahrain even though their job may be located in Qatar or Saudi Arabia.
Amongst the many attributes, Bahrain prides itself for its top-of-the-line education system, both in public and private schools, however the former is not usually an option for internationals due to a language and religious barrier. Indeed, it ranks 3rd globally for education, which inevitably means that waiting lists for private and international schools are long. Consequently, signing up your children should be the first thing you do once you officially decide to move to Bahrain. Most schools operate from Saturday to Wednesday, which may clash with your workweek (typically Sunday to Thursday), although childcare services are available.
As a country founded on religious belief, Bahrain is an especially interesting place to see as its inhabitants are incredibly proud of their Islamic heritage, and keen to tackle stereotypes and let internationals discover the beauty behind the faith. With a conservative legal system, prayer calls five times a day and the Holy Month of Ramadan, living in Bahrain is drastically different to western countries. However, the gastronomy, traditional music and art rival any other nation and it is a true privilege to be able to discover all that this kingdom has to offer in such a picturesque setting.
While the Kingdom allows visitors to stay for 14 days, you’ll need to apply for both a working and residency visa to move to Bahrain. In this case a sponsorship letter is needed, as well as a passport valid for at least six months and a health assessment. The process can take time but is relatively easy as long as all the documents are provided. With temperatures soaring most of the year, evenings are a great time to discover the local way of life. However, conservative dress is preferred, and getting around on foot is discouraged. You will be better off renting or buying a car during your time there.
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