Adliya, Bahrain Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Adliya, Bahrain

Adliya, Bahrain 03/21/07

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

13 months.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

20 hours from the United States. We travel via KLM from Detroit to Amsterdam to Bahrain.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My husband works for a company here.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Stand-alone villas, apartment complexes, compounds with many amenities are common.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability is generally fine, though expats stock up on their favorite items as there are gaps in availability. Prices are higher because most everything is imported.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Shwarma Express, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the basics are here.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Most expats have housemaids at least part-time, and they are generally paid low wages - generally the equivalent of US$2.65 per hour (1 Bahraini dinar), though some are paid slightly more. Many are live-in.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, at least 2 English-speaking newspapers are available for home delivery. The Gulf Daily News costs 73 BD per year (roughly US$200).

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Everyone speaks English and the road signs are printed in Arabic and English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are local buses and taxis. Driving is treacherous in Bahrain because people drive recklessly and fast.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it is available. I don't know the cost.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

In general dogs are not respected in Bahrain, and the local BSPCA is swamped with unwanted and abused animals. Quality vet care is available. Feral cats roam the streets in search of food.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

You see it all here, but most people seem to respect the Muslim culture and avoid revealing clothing such as short shorts and skimpy tops.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very few really, considering the region. Demonstrations are common but are usually focused on internal issues rather than aimed at the expatriate community. The country is ruled by Sunnis with a majority of the population being Shia, so sectarian tensions exist.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care seems to be quite adequate, but I would be nervous if I or a loved one had a serious illness or major surgery here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

My only experience has been with the local U.S. Department of Defense school, which exists for the dependents of military personnel. Those dependents were evacuated in 2005 for security reasons, so the school has a very international feel, with students from wealthier Bahraini and Saudi families, and other expatriate children from around the world.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. There are almost 700,000 people living in Bahrain, and I'd say at last 1/3 of those are expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I wouldn't think so, since it is forbidden by Islam and the island is 98% Muslim.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Bahrain is one of the most open and progressive Muslim countries in the Middle East, and they pride themselves on their tolerance of others' beliefs. Christians and other religions are allowed to freely worship here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lots of furniture from Kashmir. Beautiful carpets from Iran and other countries.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes! Tax-free.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

iPod and internet connection. Podcasts keep me sane.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Much of what I've just answered is covered in my article.

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