Doing Business in Bahrain

Expats anticipating doing business in Bahrain will find an environment that's well-acquainted with foreign influence, and arguably the most liberal in the Middle East.

Nearly 50 percent of Bahrain's population is made up of foreigners. However, the country takes its mandate from Islam, and expats will need to familiarise themselves with appropriate customs and practices.

Bahrain was ranked 66th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's 2018 Ease of Doing Business Survey. Bahrain did well in the categories of ease of paying taxes (5th) and registering property (25th), but fell short in enforcing contracts (111th).


Fact facts

Business hours

Usually Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 5pm, though this can vary from company to company, especially when it comes to multinational corporations

Business language

Arabic is Bahrain's official language, but English is commonly spoken and is often used in business.

Dress

Business attire is formal and conservative.

Gifts

Small gifts are acceptable. Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver and are typically saved for later.

Gender equality

Men and women are treated equally in business.

Greetings

A handshake is the most common greeting. When a man greets a woman, he should wait for her to extend her hand first.


Business culture in Bahrain

Personal relationships

Business moves slowly in Bahrain, and any attempt to rush it is considered improper. Similar to most Arab countries, business culture in Bahrain is based on personal relationships. A letter of introduction from a mutual acquaintance is a great way to facilitate meetings, as Bahrainis generally prefer doing business with people they know. It follows that initial meetings focus on building a relationship rather than hammering out details.

Business attire

Business attire in Bahrain is strictly formal. No matter how hot the weather, a suit and tie are mandatory. Women should dress modestly, keeping arms and legs covered at all times and wearing closed-toed shoes. Local businessmen may wear Western attire or a thobe, a flowing robe seen at nearly every type of occasion.

Communication

It is important to use formal titles when addressing local businesspeople.

Business language tends to be indirect, and care is taken to save face and avoid disappointing others with flat refusals. It is considered impolite to fast-track discussions or openly contradict another person.


Dos and don’ts of business in Bahrain

  • Do always wear a suit and tie

  • Don't rush into business talk

  • Do arrive on time, though locals may be late

  • Don't use high-pressure sales tactics

  • Do have one side of a business card translated into Arabic

  • Don't schedule meetings for July and August when many businesspeople are out of town

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Aetna is an award-winning insurance business that provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. Their high quality health insurance plans are tailored to meet the individual needs of expats living and working abroad.

Get a quote from Aetna International

Cigna_logo_300.png

Cigna Global

With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

Get a quote from Cigna Global