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Job offer in Bahrain: cultural questions?

Posted in Bahrain forum

I've been offered a job in Bahrain for £70,000 (BHD 40,775) a year plus relocation expenses.

I have a couple of questions:

1. I will be offered housing in Amwaj Islands. How safe and good is this, and how far from the city center?

2. I assume the salary is fairly high for the region. I want to save more than half of it. If I get about BHD 5,800 a month can I save about BHD 3,000 or more? Will this be possible while having a monthly spending account for shopping and entertainment?

3. Will I be ok to drive my own car, or am I advised to hire a driver? Roughly how much is a driver (high end car)?

4. What is there to do for a woman in Bahrain on my spare time? Do women go openly to cinemas, beaches, sports clubs, sailing? Or is it considered unsuitable for women? I am not married so I would be on my own at times and at other times with friends.
What other things are there to do except shopping and eating?

5. Do I have access or option to get foreign TV in Bahrain? If I'd like Sky-TV for example, is the options there for private installations?

6. I am very well traveled, but have never been to Bahrain. I am well aware of some of the problems women experience with personal freedom in these regions of the world.

Is there any foreign women who can tell me about their experience of living in Bahrain? How common is harassment and what measures to take to minimize any chances of it apart from modest clothing, etc?
(Let's be frank here: no country in the East compares by a million miles to the West and sexual harassment of women is extreme all over the East and Asia. I know this from 15 years of travels. In the west I have never even once experienced any form of sexual harassment. I just want to know what to prepare for to make my stay easier to prepare for).

7. How does Bahrain, as a culture, react to socializing by foreigners? If I meet friends for lunch or a beer - or take a stroll with them in public, go to sports events or other events, and if any men are in the group, will we stand a risk for fines or is it ignored? Or should mixed socializing be kept indoors to not cause misunderstandings?

8. Is there anywhere women are sort of "banned" to go?

Thanks for all honest and sincere answers!

  • Adel lek


    posted by  Adel lek in Bahrain forum 

    Welcome to Bahrain...

    Its easy and safe and business friendly, you may have the same living level out your country, everything is available and there for you.

    Let me know if we could do business togather...


  • Go to N.C. Lawrence's profile

    Email response sent

    posted by  N.C. Lawrence in Bahrain forum 

    Thanks Ali for all the advice and recommendations about Bahrain. The broad availability of entertainment in the form of different sports, courses, social outings etc sound great. I assume wealthy nations like Bahrain, Saudi etc have plenty - if selective - high quality courses one can take. I am planning to learn Arabic. Might as well!
    With a hectic work schedule which likely involve a lot of overtime I am sure it will be more than enough for me!

    I've sent you a pm in response to your email.


  • Ali C

    posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    Hello Ms. Lawrence,

    can you please check your inbox? I have sent you an email to your justlanded account.

    Many thanks,

  • Ali C

    posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    You're welcome. I know how stressful relocation can be! Glad to be of assistance.

    You might want to stay away from areas like Sitra or some places in Manama. The police is everywhere now and many of the affected areas are being monitored and controlled. However, majority of the areas in Bahrain are safe. Especially Amwaj.

    London traffic. Yep, totally with you on that one! But, in Bahrain, the roads are MASSIVE! Bahrain's got 6 lane highways that make commuting very easy and comfortable (some highways are constructed over the sea and they look simply beautiful). Traffic jams are common as you would expect in some places, particularly during rush hour. Even so, the driving situation is very calm and organised.

    Bahrain offers quite a few options for desert (and water) sports, after all, it is a country totally surrounded by sand and water! Yes, there are plenty of evening classes for people to enroll themselves in. Everything from music to photography and almost everything in between. Then again, Bahrain IS quite small, so your options are sort of limited in terms of variety, I believe.

    You wouldn't even have to catch a flight to Saudi. People just drive to Saudi as the two countries are connected via King Fahd Causeway. I've noticed that the shopping situation in Bahrain is not as good as England, but its in no way "bad" either. I don't think you'd need to go to Saudi for shopping. Bahrain has some very cool malls. Bahrain City Center is a place you'd probably fall in love with. Well I did. And good old Seef is an all time favourite as well. You'll have a wide variety of brands to choose from. Trust me.

    A point to be noted is that the 14th of February is fast approaching and it marks the date of the first wave of protests that took place in Bahrain last year. Some riots are bound to happen that day and might escalate, you never know. You might want to wait and see as to what the outcome is as tensions are already high. Just a word of warning.

    All the best!!

  • Go to N.C. Lawrence's profile

    posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    Inam, Dave, Ali, Aravinth - thanks so much for all your responses! I really appreciate it. Glad to hear that Amwaj Islands is high quality accommodation.

    And thanks for the feedback on the riots. What areas should I stay clear from until things calm down? Or is it already being reduced?

    Great to hear about the driving. I love to drive but London is pretty chaotic and too crowded for pleasant driving, and the parking situation is a nightmare. How is the traffic there? Organized or chaotic? Crowded?

    As for entertainment I am not too much into nightclubs, so I'm thinking of availability of sports, hobbies, do barbeques, once in a while bar hopping and other entertainment. I understand Bahrain is quite small so this may be limited? I'd love to do the sandune buggy but maybe that's in Saudi? Do they have a broad option of evening classes in various skills?

    I've heard the fashion shopping (clothes) is a bit restricted in Bahrain? And Saudi? Saudi Arabia seem to have the latest in just about everything (even if they're conservative). I guess they're not too keen on women driving over there... :) I could always fly over for a one day shopping trip.

    Quicksmile, I am not generalizing. Frankly I find you narrow minded. We're talking about a country with a small fine for assault and 2 week sentence for rape. I am well traveled. Women often have quite a challenge in a lot of countries in that part of the world, unless they live in the bubble of the expat community. Maybe you need to be assaulted yourself so you learn greater understanding what it's actually like. And how do you know how I live and what I drive in the UK and whether it will be "better" in Bahrain? I think you're off the top.

    Thanks for the advice on jobs in the financial sector. There are quite a few jobs advertised in the UK within the financial sector. They do tend to be mainly commissioned based (maybe that's why?).

    Ali: the job is in advertising and PR. Maybe a good career for those interested. I think IT and PR positions always have some form of demand, especially on senior levels.


  • Quicksmile The South African

    posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    Dear NC Lawrence...

    I'm not sure whether I should be amused or annoyed by the stereotypical perspective that you so eloquently (and almost shamelessly) spout...

    Notwithstanding, the responses here were largely spot on... Amwaj is gorgeous... I lived on the Island before moving on. Phenomenal infrastructure, but it still (relatively) new, and therefore lacks critical mass when it comes to shopping and entertainment. But Bahrain is awesome, and I trust you will soon realise that all your fears were totally misplaced. You will only be harassed in as much as you want to be harassed. In other words, if you go to places flaunting it, the guys will consider that an invitation to make idiots of themselves.

    You can get Sky, and probably every other channel you watched in any part of the world...

    As a single woman, you could pay for your car (upmarket (read 4x4)) and apartment for around BHD1000. Chances are, (at the risk of being considered presumptuous) that for that amount you'd get a better car and apartment than what you enjoy in the UK.

    For another BHD1000, as a single woman, you should be able to enjoy a very comfortable existence, including enjoying wining and dining out several times a week.

    On the downside though, it is essential to understand that the Kingdom is on a downward spiral, and if your job is anywhere in Financial Services, I would caution you to strongly reconsider, despite the very attractive offer you hold.

    Welcome to Bahrain.

  • posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    Dear N.C. Lawrence,

    First off, welcome to the forum!

    And to start off,

    1. Amwaj is a planned self sufficient gated community and quite a safe place considering the fact that it has its own security. But still -- >
    rassed-In-Amwaj-Island (not verifiable).

    2. Your pay package is well on the high end, on the earning scale here. When you wrote that you would be offered housing in amwaj, I'm assuming your company would pay the rent. To be honest BD2,800 would suffice as total monthly expense, even if your co. did not pay your rent.

    3. You can drive your own car here. But since you asked, check this website --> They have a wide selection of cars for rental / purchase and I'm sure they could arrange a driver, if need be. They are reputable as well.

    4. Well we have malls & cinemas, fine dining, sailing clubs, modest beaches etc. Women can move around freely at all locations. There is a British Club here. The Nightlife is 'ok'. Get a couple of friends and you'd have a nice time here during the weekends / holidays. Its camping season here right now!

    5. Well i'm not sure about sky. I dont think we get it here. But most foreign channels are available here. As long as your dish can catch it :)

    6. Women have all the freedom here. Muslim women wear the abaya and hijab (hair/head covering), thats all.
    Apart from the link on just landed there are rare/no harassment cases on women here.

    7. Expatriates (men and women) are allowed to mix socially at clubs/malls/coffee shops etc. There are no fines.

    8. Banned areas for women - isolated alleyways! Relax.

    To be honest, Bahrain is a very nice and relaxed spot compared to most of Middle East. You might get bored a bit though but make some friends and this place would be comfy for your stay!

    Hope this helps! Good Luck!


  • Ali C

    posted by  in Bahrain forum 

    Well first of all, congratulations on getting the job! During these economic times, getting a job like this is rare and very hard to get.

    £70, 000 tax free is A LOT, even by UK standards. You say you are single, you should be able to save money easily. You wouldn't need to hire a driver at all. Arab women in Bahrain drive freely. There's no dress code either (of course you can't wear very revealing clothes either as it's frowned upon). Everyone from Arabs to Western tourists, wear pretty much whatever they prefer. Amwaj Islands is a dream location for anyone (I've been to some beautiful places and this for me, is definitely one of the best!). It is very secured, beautiful and quite serene. Night life is fun, but limited. Bahrain can sometimes get pretty boring as it is a small island after all.

    Bahrain, as compared to Saudi Arabia is a much liberal country. I've been to belly dancing clubs in Bahrain and a few decent night clubs (obviously, they're not as good as UK's, say Gatecrasher, but close). Bahrain is home to many foreigners and the locals are very welcoming and polite especially to Westerners. It has a huge British community and they all meet and socialise in public without any fear. Women do everything and almost anything they want. They do everything that you've mentioned in your question and much more, freely.

    However, there have been riots and there's a slight unrest in the region. But, the government is coping well with the situation. The situation is nothing like Libya or Syria.

    I love the place and obviously based on my experiences, I've tried my best to give you an overview. These are my opinions of the country. Hope this helped.

    Do you mind me asking what sort of job is it? I'd like to know the title if possible. :)

    All the best!

    Kindest Regards,

  • Go to Dave Brooks's profile


    posted by  Dave Brooks in Bahrain forum 

    This has just been circulated on our company web.

    - Multiple unauthorized demonstrations planned throughout Bahrain.
    Some demonstrators have engaged in clashes with the police and continue to employ tactics such as placing debris and oil on roadways, throwing steel spikes and Molotov cocktails. These actions often result in adverse driving conditions, an increased police presence, and significant traffic delays. E|xpect these tactics to continue. Please use caution as you drive and plan additional time to arrive at your destination.

    Probably sounds worse than it is. All of this is infrequent, and may well not be where you are. Its good to be aware of the situation though. generally 'foreigners' are not bothered / left alone. You can live quite frugaly, anywhere, if you want, and save most of it.

  • Go to Inam Ul Haq's profile


    posted by  Inam Ul Haq in Bahrain forum 

    dont worry about any thing you can move or go anywhere or you can do what you want no body can stop you if this is legal. you can drive your own car and you can save 3000 bd easily. you can ask me what you want i am here from last 3 years. u can contect me directly at [...] or 00973 38303669.
    take care.

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