Safety in Bahrain
Safety in Bahrain has been negatively affected by a politically turbulent period since early 2011. This instability has largely been a consequence of protests and unrest among the predominantly Shia Muslim population, who are demanding political reforms and devolution of power from the Sunni Muslim royal family to the elected legislature.
The unrest has largely occurred outside of the capital, but protest activity in Manama is occasionally reported. The political instability and associated civil unrest in Bahrain is ongoing and unlikely to end unless the Sunni-dominated government cedes significant power to the legislature.
Expats are advised to avoid crowded places when protests and demonstrations are taking place. From time to time, when political violence flares up the Bahraini government will enforce a curfew and it is recommended that expats respect these regulations for their own safety.
Crime in Bahrain
The crime rate in Bahrain is low and unlikely to impact expats. Crimes are generally petty in nature and include opportunistic theft, burglary and pickpocketing.
Common sense precautions, such as avoiding travel at night in lower income areas and securing valuables, will lower the risk of being targeted.
Terrorism in Bahrain
Bahrain has not been affected by terrorism to the same degree as some of its neighbours in recent years; however, the local authorities frequently report the disruption of terrorist cells and thwarting of plots. The legitimacy of these plots is questionable as many of the suspected terrorists are members of the local Shia population and have been involved in anti-government demonstrations, suggesting a possible political motivation.
Nonetheless, Bahrain is occasionally affected by low-level and relatively unsophisticated incendiary attacks. These typically occur during demonstrations or periods of civil unrest and are used against the police services. There are concerns that local Shia opposition groups may be improving the standard of their explosive devices. In addition, a number of low-yield bomb attacks have been reported.
The impact on expats has to date been low but in light of the tacit support the USA and other Western powers offer to the Bahraini government, attacks on foreigners in the future are possible.
Road safety in Bahrain
The standard of driving in Bahrain is poor and the country experiences a high number of road traffic accidents. Aggressive driving, speeding and general disregard for traffic laws are the primary causes.
Expats are advised not to drive, but instead hire a local driver who is more familiar with Bahraini road behaviour. Expats who do opt to drive should do so defensively and with caution, particularly on major highways and at high-risk times.