Celebrate our birthday and tell us why YOU love Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
As Time Out Bahrain prepared to celebrate its fifth year in the kingdom, we considered what makes the island such a great place to live - and asked for your thoughts on the matter too. Click forward for 50 reasons why living in Bahrain rocks.
The Habibi Lifestyle Accommodation The properties in Bahrain are often larger and better located than many expats could expect to own or lease at home and our rents are more reasonable than virtually anywhere else in the Gulf. Plus, with Bahrain’s history as a business hub, landlords recognise the importance of catering to an often transient population and we don’t have to shell out a year’s rent in advance like our neighbours in the UAE.
Affordable domestic help How many of us could afford to have a cleaner at home, let alone a live-in housemaid or nanny?
And then there’s the gas Or petrol if you come from the Brit side of the pond, where else can you run a car for 80fils a litre and even if the suggested changes to the fuel subsidy system are approved, it will still be way cheaper than at home! Plus, unlike at home, you don’t have to pump your own!
Beauty Salon treatments quickly become a regular thing for those who would never normally set foot inside a spa and, for the boys, could you imagine actually going for a shave at home in Scunthorpe high street?
Education The schools are good and plentiful with several of them having won international acclaim making the island the ideal choice for families relocating to the Gulf.
Health care Our health system is good. Emergency care’s free for everyone and you won’t find yourself waiting on a trolley for hours.
It’s tax free Yes, as expats, we might pay more for some items than at home but our pay is our own when it arrives without seeing a large chunk of it disappearing into government coffers.
National pride Bahrain might have its troubles, but every local person we’ve met is very proudly Bahraini and we love how the island makes a big occasion of National Day with gorgeous light decorations and events across the kingdom.
Service culture It’s the ultimate in lazy but don’t tell us you’ve never driven up to the cold store and tooted your horn for service without leaving your vehicle. And even though you probably get a little fed up answering to ‘Mamsir’ from the ever-hovering shop assistants, it is actually rather nice not to be ignored.
The people The Bahraini people are rightly famed for their hospitality and friendliness but Bahrain’s expat community is also probably one of the friendliest you’ll find, perhaps because it’s a small island. Those who move here from elsewhere in the Gulf always comment on it and those who make the move away from the island always miss it.
The weather Admittedly the summers can be pretty unpleasant but the winter months more than make up for the sweltering days of August and it’s worth it to know you can pretty much plan a barbie any weekend of the year and not have to worry about rain.
Tolerance It’s great to see so many different races, colours and creeds living side by side from the Bangladeshi building worker to the CEO. Bahrain also has a refreshing attitude to women encouraging local ladies to get out into the workplace.
Wildlife Camels at the roadside, flamingos in Arad Bay, dolphins occasionally visible from the beaches and the almost certainty of seeing them in the wild if you take a short boat trip out from the island. With all this to offer, it’s hard to believe we live in the desert.
Art Al Riwaq Art Space For a small island, Bahrain certainly bats above its weight in the art stakes and we’re particularly fond of this non-profit in the heart of Adliya which welcomes up-and-coming talents and brings life to the surrounding streets with its regular events and exhibitions.
Albareh A name to be reckoned with internationally, Albareh hosts local and visiting talents and also has regular film screenings and workshops which are really friendly and accessible.
Hue Less well known than some of the other galleries but we love that Hue is also a really good eatery where you can find one-off pieces from paintings to furniture and it looks beautiful too.
Ministry of Culture It’s not often we get to say we love a whole government department but Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture is doing a great job with the Bab Market, Art Market, Spring of Culture and festivals throughout the year so a big thumbs up to Sheikha Mai and her team.
Community Charity Bahrain not only has official government charities looking out for Bahraini citizens but there are also groups involved with migrant workers, animals, the environment and all manner of other good causes. They’re a good place to meet likeminded individuals and do some great work.
National groups With expats coming to the island from virtually every corner of the globe, you’ll find national associations representing everywhere from Australia and America to the Philippines and Pakistan. They help newcomers settle, arrange social events, promote business interaction and often have active charity arms. There’s also a very active branch of online networking group Internations which has regular meet-ups.
Social media networks From mumsinbahrain to expats.com there’s a website in Bahrain for virtually everything whether you want to buy a car or find somewhere close to home to get your nails done, there’s always advice available and lots of willing voices to offer it.
Food Availability From Marmite to English tea bags, Hersheys chocolates, Indian spices and Chinese herbs, such is the multi-cultural nature of our society that there’s rarely any need to miss your favourite home comforts, if you look hard enough you’ll usually find them on offer here.
Markets An American friend recently said she will really miss the central market when she goes home. Huge piles of gleaming fruit and vegetables at really reasonable prices, not to mention a great curry for breakfast. Couple that with the fish market, the meat market, the weekly farmers’ market and the souqs, we can find the weird and wonderful right on our doorsteps.
Restaurants This section could easily be the most lengthy on our list but, given that we award our very favourites every year at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards, it’s sufficient to say the island’s eateries certainly do us proud from the street food to the classiest restaurant, you will find something here to satisfy every taste and budget.
History Burial mounds Bahrain has some of the largest ancient burial grounds in the world and you can actually visit them!
Forts The island’s surrounded by forts which are testimony to its historical strategic importance and they’re not just left to rot, you can go to concerts at Arad, visit a fab museum at Bahrain Fort, or just enjoy a magnificent view and a gorgeous café at Riffa.
The Pearling Trail The second of the kingdom’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites makes a fascinating place for a stroll where you can learn more about the island’s unique history. It’s also still being developed with a newly refurbished pearl diver’s house set to open this month.
Social Life Nightlife From the cool outdoor blues and talent nights of 338 Garden Restaurant to the thumping house beats at the likes of Klub 360 and Blaq Velvet Underground, the home-from-home that is JJ’s, dodgy karaoke at Kicks and the last-minute mini festivals of Boho Bahrain, our island has something to suit everyone. We might not have the glamour of our UAE neighbours but our nightspots have a character all their own and we love them for it.
Shopping Malls Much beloved of both Bahrainis and expats alike, from the giant Bahrain City Centre to the smaller, but no less varied, Seef Mall and the recently opened and very much up-and-coming Riyadat Mall, you could easily spend your whole life shopping here. And you can even join the Mall Walkers at City Centre and get fit at the same time.
More markets New markets seem to pop up almost weekly, from the Bab and Art Markets at Bab Al Bahrain to the Al Basta Market at the BIC and the regular Amwaj Marina Markets, we’re certainly well served for quirky bargain hunting. But there are certain places, such as the live animal section of Isa Town Market, we’d be very glad to see closed down.
It’s all material A visit to Bahrain wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the fabric section in the souq and a visit to Palace Avenue to take in the rainbow colours of the Indian fabric shops and if you have a favourite dress or suit, just pick out your material and take the item to one of the abundant tailors and seamstresses to get a copy made – designer duds at a fraction of the price and made to measure too.
All that glitters The same can be said for jewellers. Talented craftspeople abound in downtown Manama where you can have pieces made to your own designs which don’t cost the earth.
Pearls Bahrain’s love affair with pearls, on which the island’s early wealth was built, is well known. And we love that Bahrain is so proud of its pearling heritage that cultured pearls are still unwelcome.
Sport F1 Grand Prix The first Grand Prix in the Middle East and, to our minds, still the best. The Gulf Air Formula One Grand Prix celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and will be a night race for the first time. Whether you’re a motor racing fan or not, you can’t help but be caught up in the excitement the event brings to the island. How could we not love it.
Sport for all Bootcamps, training camps, kids’ camps, dance classes, yoga – hot, cold and laughter – pilates, running, triathlon even ice hockey (in the desert), if you can think of it, there’s probably someone in Bahrain doing and/or teaching it.
Water Well we’re surrounded by it so it’s no surprise that there are people everywhere taking to the waves from diving at Coral Bay to boating at Amwaj Marina and the Yacht Club to paddle boarding round the canals of Floating City, kite surfing on the beaches and fishing and dolphin watching at Coral Bay and Al Dar. We’re an island nation and we love making the most of it.
We Love Bahrain Julie Lomas Bahrain has been my adopted home for over 30 years. I love the friendliness, the quirkyness, the way we have ultra modern with ancient and it all works together beautifully. When you go into Budayia, Saar Janaybia, Jasra, each corner brings different scenery and plays on the senses. I love that camels are often seen walking down the roads or grazing at the roadsides. No one gets cross when they saunter across your pathway, people just wait for them and smile.
Faith Walpole I love living in a country with such a diverse population! This has allowed me to experience so many different holidays that each country celebrates
Will Janssen (of Bahrain band making it big in Dubai The Boxtones) The welcoming atmosphere when The Boxtones set foot on Bahrain soil from time to time! What a fun place for a band to perform live music!
Rachel (sixth grader) I love Bahrain, because it has great schools. I have made two of my best friends at Modern Knowledge School. I also love Bahrain, because my parents have great jobs, which they enjoy, and are able to provide everything I need.
@hungry_fif I love it because of the food!
Nancy Cozart Alzain I love Bahrain. The greatest resource we have is the amazing people of Bahrain. We have such an abundance of creative people for such a small country. The warmth, kindness and hospitality are unrivalled in the Gulf.
Sarah McEntee I love Bahrain because it’s just the coolest, friendliest place to live with a super mix of cultures..so laid back.
Nabayit Afeworki I love Bahrain because I took up a new challenge in a career opportunity which enhanced my work experience. Through my role, I am closer to the Bahraini market, and I have managed to build a very good business network. here..
Kate Howell Bahrain is the only place that has felt like home, I love the place, the friends I have made and who have made me feel so welcome. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. There is so much to do and all of it is named and has been tried and tested in Time Out Bahrain magazine!
Katie Peterkova Bahrain is the most amazing place in the whole world! Within the first week living in this magical kingdom I knew it is my new home. The homey feeling surrounded by welcoming and caring people is priceless. I truly hope to spend the rest of my life here
Aghar Kanafani I love Bahrainfor its hospitable and down-to-earth people, who treat me with respect and make me feel welcome and at home wherever I go. I love the clean, safe and secure environment; a great place to raise a family. The modern services and outlets and the high standard of educational and training facilities.
Patricia Saldanha D’Almeida My five years in Bahrain, have been a few of my best years. Bahrain to me is more about the people……friendly, down-to-earth, helpful. Moving from Dubai to Bahrain was difficult as I left my family and friends to join my husband. So it was just the two of us starting over. Although initially it was lonely, the number of lovely friends we’ve made means I wouldn’t even want to think of moving. Bahrain is often in the news for the wrong things, but when you are here you know it’s not all about the negatives there are so many positives. The food streets, shopping, exhibitions, events and more.
Lisa Burston I love the friendly Bahraini people and meeting different nationalities from around the world. Also the weather and the huge choice of restaurants.
Susan Cook The weather is warm and sunny, we don’t pay tax and services are very inexpensive. We dine on a huge variety of international food, petrol is cheap, and, as a single person, I have a busy social life. I particularly enjoy the live music.
Michelle Meegan I love the restaurants, the food is fab here and I really enjoy brunches. Plus the price of fuel is amazing compared with filling up at home in Ireland.
Having stayed in Middle East for 14 years, this is my 2nd year in Bahrain and I just love Bahrain. Bahrain Land of Peace and happiness. So much ease with all the nationalities and culture. It embraces all whosoever comes here. I love the Manama souq, Khalifa Park, the shopping experience. most of the people.