Just moved here? Daren’t leave the house? Time Out catches up with the Sunday Newcomers who make moving to Bahrain a breeze
Arriving in a new country and embarking on the expatriate adventure can be daunting even to the seasoned globetrotter. As more new arrivals touchdown on the desert landscape of Bahrain, adapting to a new culture and foreign language can be daunting. Here to assist in the challenge are the Sunday Newcomers, a friendly face to the overwhelmed offering support in taking those first few steps of adjustment. Marhaba! Welcome to Bahrain.
Sunday Newcomers meet for coffee every second Sunday and have been doing so for nearly seven years. The group was established by the Saar Fellowship (an international, interdenominational and contemporary church) as a community service for expatriate ladies new to Bahrain. Sally Visser, Allison Dunkley and Judith Perez (the latter two pictured above right) are the volunteer team behind the Newcomers with over 15 years of expatriate experience to draw upon. The group attracts ladies from all over the world with a cultural diversity that creates interesting conversations in English about different cultures, ways of thinking and expectations. Most of the ladies attend for a few months, gradually leaving the group as they establish new friendships and routines. These women are quickly replaced by other newcomers so the group continues to thrive.
On arrival at the Sunday coffee expect to be warmly welcomed and introduced to the other attendees, in an atmosphere were conversation is quick to establish in a comfortable and relaxed setting. The aim is always to ease the difficulty and discomfort of the transitional process of arriving in a new country. Questions are answered, or alternatively contacts offered to put people directly in touch with the source of information, inspiring one to explore the new turf. Everyone buys their own coffee and a group discussion is conducted with interaction between the ladies.
The Newcomers have prepared a comprehensive booklet that is freely distributed and contains useful information about Bahrain. For example, where to find certain products/items, where to get keys cut or perhaps charities that welcome volunteers. All of this is provided free of charge and the Newcomers are delighted to meet new people and help them get settled. It’s run purely as a community service but they do get involved in other activities such as collections for second-hand clothing which are distributed to men’s and ladies prisons and various centres.
The Newcomers meet on the 2nd Sunday of each month at Starbucks in Cypress Gardens on Budaiya Highway and the 4th Sunday of each month at the Dome Restaurant in Juffair. Both gatherings are at 9.30am – 11.00am. You don’t need an invitation to attend a Sunday coffee; it’s open to all newcomers who are ready to meet friendly and helpful expatriates and fellow beginners. Remember the most important step for any newcomer is to get out and start meeting new people!
Top tips for newcomers
• Remember Bahrain is a Muslim country so be respectful of customs and religious practices especially during Ramadan.
• Please dress appropriately: no short skirts and shorts in public places, no low tops etc. Modesty is highly recommended, especially for teenagers.
• Remember it is a privilege for expatriates to live here and not a right!
• Accept all invitations initially. The people you first meet may not end up being your closest long term friends but it is a step in the right direction.
• Start driving straight away – the longer you delay the more intimidating it can be.
• Sort out a mobile phone so you are always contactable. The camera could be useful too in case of a traffic accident dispute.
• Enter the number of the traffic police into your mobile 17 688 888
• In your mobile phone under ICE put the contact details of someone other than your partner or children. ICE stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’.
• Enter your home address, including block number and other location details, into your mobile.
• Always carry BD16 in your purse/wallet, tucked away so you are not tempted to spend it! If you have a car accident you are expected to pay a “fine” on the spot BD16 if you are found guilty and BD6 if the other person is guilty.
• Keep a copy of your CPR and Driving License in your car.
• Subscribe to local publications to get to know local events and happenings. Time Out being indisputably the best option.
• Keep a Newcomers business card with you and invite other new people along to the group. Everyone’s welcome, and it’s free! For more information, contact the Sunday Newcomers: (Sally 39 270 413, Allison 39 038 581, Judith 36 637 137).