• Iran!

    Iran: Details on a Mosque. Go Now!

    Iran
    Iran is home to a unique language, culture, foods, and history. Even within the Middle East Iran is unlike any other country. Explore Iran!

  • Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    Bangladesh
    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Bahrain

Behavior

How most Bahrainis behave and the expectations for how foreigners must behave is deeply rooted in the people's Islamic faith. It is also improper for a man to touch a woman, even holding your spouse's hand or offering to shake the hand of a person who is of the opposite sex can be considered inappropriate to a conservative Muslim, but in Bahrain you'll rarely encounter this issue from the locals.

Also due to Islam, pork products and alcohol are forbidden in Bahrain; however the country is aware of foreign interest in these items so they can be found with a bit of searching. Alcohol can be purchased at any "foreigner" hotel restaurant or bar, however outside of hotels there are no bars or pubs and alcohol cannot be bought for home consumption unless you're a foreigner residing in the country, in which case you can purchase a certain amount of alcohol each month. Pork can also be bought at certain stores by foreign residents, but it is not sold in restaurants, not even in restaurants catered to foreigners.

In addition to following the dress restrictions mentioned below and following the local dining etiquette (see our Bahrain Dining & Food Page), the most important behavioral restrictions tend to be common sense. Avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Dress

As a Muslim country, there are a number of religious laws which should be obeyed by everyone in Bahrain, although few foreigners seem to actually follow them. A large percentage of the local population is foreign, many of whom come from Europe, North America, India, and the Far East, so local religious dress and dietary restrictions have little meaning to these non-Muslims.

The locals dress very conservatively as they cover themselves entirely with loose fitting clothing so they reveal nothing. The men generally wear all white, including a white keffiyeh or head scarf. Foreign men are not required to imitate this local dress, although men are expected to cover up, meaning everything from the elbows and ankles up should be covered. The local women tend to wear black with a hair covering, but rarely do women in Bahrain cover their faces.

Despite these rules, which any culturally sensitive visitor should follow, the locals are quite forgiving. Generally speaking, the locals dress one way and most foreigners dress in whatever way they want. Most visitors and tourists to the country wear shorts and short sleeve shirts, which the locals are tolerant of, especially on beaches and in resorts. Although following local dress isn't necessary, covering up is greatly appreciated and respected by the local population and by visitors from neighboring Muslim countries. However, there is no expectation that foreign women cover their hair.

This page was last updated: December, 2013