Restaurants / Cafes

  • It's appropriate in restaurants and cafes, 10-15% depending on how well you've been served. There is also a "service charge" added to the bill, but that normally just gets gobbled up by the owners, so it's meaningless.
  • In conjunction with the 10-15% rule, it is generally acceptable to round up the bill amount and consider the change involved as tip. (i.e. 3.700 BD >> Pay 4.000 and ask that change be kept) 


Every taxi is supposed to use a meter, but in practice the boys hide them or claim they are broken. Save yourself a fortune by using official metered taxis that you can call:

  • Speedy Motors (17682999) - (Note: If you go to the Europcar desk in the arrivals hall, they will call a Speedy for you; the taxi drivers at the airport are particular thieves, and charge you extra for the privilege of them sitting around doing nothing most of the day).

If a taxi is honest enough to put the meter on, a 10% tip would be a good idea.



Alcohol consumption 

  • Drinking alcohol in public is illegal, and who needs to, there are a ton of pubs, clubs and restaurants that serve it. There are also off-licenses (liquor stores like African and Eastern) which sell to "non-muslims"
  • Get a cab if you've been drinking - there is no minimum Blood/Alcohol content like Western countries. If the smell of alcohol is detected on your breath after being pulled over, then it will warrant an arrest.


  • By all means ask questions about Islam and Bahrain if you wish, but always be very careful before you say anything derogatory; they can be a bit touchy about things.
  • Keep in mind that not all Muslims are experts on Islam - nor do their opinions/actions represent the majority.

Interaction with Locals 

  • The left hand is considered unclean - always shake hands with your RIGHT one.
  • Feet are considered unclean as well - be wary of kickin' back and placing the soles of your feet (or even shoes/sandals) in the direction of someone.
  • Be wary about trying to shake hands with females; it is generally against the Muslim religion, although some women will happily do so in a business environment; the best call is NOT to try and initiate it, but to accept if offered.

Eating Traditional Food / Drinking Arabic Coffee

  • Traditional food consist of chicken/lamb/fish/shrimp served on a bed of rice in a large plate. The rice may vary in color and additional ingredients may be included. However, the way to eat such food is the same. The plate is shared between several (or all) members of a family/party. The person should use his right hand for eating (So wash up). Unlike what many people have led you to believe - DO NOT SCOOP food into your mouth!

    The proper way is to get some of the meat/fish - pick it up and place it on the section of rice immediately in front of you. Form your hand into a scoop-like shape, covering the meat/fish along with a sizeable quantity of rice. Turn your hand into a fist, in turn squeezing the meat/fish and rice that is inside into a round solid form (a roll). Do this repeatedly (2-4 times) until the rice roll is manageable and will not fall apart. Once it's done, you can pop the roll into your mouth (still with your right hand).
  • If you are served traditional arabic coffee, receive the "finjan" (small cup which coffee is poured to) with the right hand (using your right thumb and index finger only). Place your thumb close to your chin and drink the coffee in short sips. Do not make any slurping sounds. If the coffee is hot, gently blow on the coffee. Once the finjan is empty:

    (1) Return it to the host/person whom poured coffee for an instant refill
    (2) Hold the finjan using thumb/index finger. Extend arm forward. Tilt wrist slightly to right and left a couple of times to indicate that you have had enough.
  • If sweets/dates are served prior to or with the coffee, it is adviseable to eat the sweets/dates before drinking the coffee.



  • The work ethic is very laid back, so don't expect things to happen punctually or quickly - social chat and a cup of tea or coffee are the order of play before any serious business discussions take place.