Working in Bahrain
Expats working in Bahrain will fast find the high salaries and no personal taxes an easy incentive for putting in the hours the daily grind demands.
In the past, Bahrain has been regarded as a wealth hotspot among expat professionals and with most reporting a higher percentage of disposable income than they had in their home country. Unsurprisingly, this has drawn expats to Bahrain and by some accounts the majority of the population living in Bahrain are foreigners.
However, recently salaries in Bahrain have not been keeping up with the pace of global salary trends, which has slowed the flow of expats into the kingdom.
To legally work in Bahrain, expats need a sponsoring employer who can file an application for a work visa on their behalf. The company is required to justify why they were unable to source the particular candidate's skills from the existing Bahraini workforce.
Job market in Bahrain
Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1932, and while the oil industry is largely responsible for the country's initial rapid modernisation, the Bahraini government has taken large leaps towards diversifying the economy. The archipelago is still a petroleum player – more than half of export receipts and government revenue is derived from the oil sector, but Bahrain is also a banking and financial capital in the region.
As a result of Bahrain's economic growth, many multinational companies have established their regional headquarters in Manama, its capital and commercial centre.
Besides oil and banking, other sectors that are major employers in Bahrain include tourism and construction.
Finding a job in Bahrain
While it is possible to arrive in Bahrain on a tourist visa and attempt to find work, it is difficult to find a job in the limited amount of time allotted. Furthermore, the opportunities available to an expat depend very much on their network and connections.
Most expats working in Bahrain are hired from abroad by recruitment agencies, head-hunted by individual firms, or transferred from another branch of a multinational corporation.
Work culture in Bahrain
Bahrain is credited with having the most liberal economy in the Middle East, so expat women moving to Bahrain will find that it is common for them to participate in the working world. However, both businessmen and women should dress conservatively for the business environment.
Expats should have no difficulty in communicating with their Bahraini colleagues as English is the dominant language in the workplace. However, many will notice that the way in which work is conducted can differ from practices in the West. Small talk is common and expats will benefit from getting to know their colleagues on a personal as well as professional level.
Punctuality is highly valued in Bahraini society so expats should make sure they arrive on time for appointments. Arriving late or being unprepared can easily ruin a reputation.