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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Bahrain

Bahrain: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Bahrain

Working attire is formal (suits and ties for men, business clothes for women). Commercial interaction is facilitated through personal introduction and greetings and polite conversation are expected before business discussions begin. Bargaining is common practice. Arabs regard their word as their bond and expect others to do the same. The best time to visit is October to April.

Office Hours

Office hours are usually from 08:30 or 9am to 17:30 or 6pm; Sunday to Thursday.

Economy

Oil dominates Bahrain's economy and, together with gas and petrochemicals, accounts for the bulk of exports and government revenue. That proportion is falling, however, as reserves dwindle. Recognising the need to diversify the economy, the government took early measures to build the banking sector and encourage international investment in large-scale projects such as the Bahrain Financial Harbour in Manama.

Local tourism (largely from Saudi Arabia) accounts for a robust service industry, and international tourists have been won back through the inauguration of the Grand Prix in April 2004 and high-profile spending in tourist infrastructure, particularly at complexes such as Al-Areen and Durrat al-Bahrain.

In September 2004, Bahrain signed a Free Trade Pact with the USA but continues to discuss regional economic integration and a proposed single currency.

GDP

US$31.86 billion (2016)

Main exports

Petroleum and petroleum products, aluminium, gold and textiles.

Main imports

Crude oil, machinery and chemicals.

Main trading partners

USA, Saudi Arabia, Japan, UAE and China.

Keeping in Touch in Bahrain

Telephone

Blue phone booths are coin-operated, red booths are phonecard operated and silver booths are operated by both cards and coins. Facilities are provided for video conferencing, digital data networks and mobile links.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is average.

Internet

Available in large towns and resorts.

Media

Bahrain's domestic radio and television stations are state-run. Some households have satellite TV. Bahrain is keen to promote itself as a regional media hub, and the London-based pan-Arab satellite broadcaster MBC chose Bahrain as the base for its MBC-2 channel. Journalists have the legal right to operate independently and freely, but can be imprisoned for some offences, which include insulting the king. Self-censorship is practised.

Post

Airmail service to Europe takes three to four days. The main post office is near Bab al-Bahrain in Manama. Efficient one-day international courier services operate out of Bahrain.

Post Office hours

Sat-Thurs 0700-2000.