About Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain offers a lifestyle that is vibrant, cosmopolitan, safe and relaxed. It combines Arab culture, a modern infrastructure and the archaelogical legacy of five thousand years of civilization.

History

The island was once known as Dilmun, and was home to an ancient civilisation that played a central trading role between the peoples of the Indus Valley (now India) to the south and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) to the north. Dilmun’s capital was a major port whose remains are visible today at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bahrain Fort (Qal’at al Bahrain).

The Kingdom also features in one of the world’s oldest and most enduring pieces of literature – the Epic of Gilgamesh, where the island was home to the source of eternal youth. The tale is believed to refer to the pearls from the shallow gulf waters around Bahrain, which were one of Bahrain’s biggest exports for generations.

In more recent years, Bahrain has been a regional pioneer and became a specialist business centre. The Kingdom has a whole series of Gulf ‘firsts’ under its belt - from discovering oil, to diversifying the economy, to providing education for both males and females from the 1920s onwards, to becoming the first democracy with universal suffrage in the region.

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Key facts

Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands in the Arabian Gulf midway between the Qatar peninsula and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain Island is a pear-shaped land mass 48 km. long and 16 km. wide.

> Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia by 23-km causeway, which opened in November 1986
> Capital: Manama
> Total Land Area: Bahrain has a total area of 770 sq km
> Climate: hot summers, pleasant winters
> Bahrain Time Difference: GMT + 3 (Winter)/GMT + 2 (Summer)
> Total Population: 1. 4 million
> Official Languages: Whilst the official language is Arabic, English is very widely spoken and is the principal language of commerce.
> Country dialing code: 973
> Education: There is a choice of Bahraini, British, American, and Lebanese curricula in private schools
> Healthcare: 18 hospitals and 293 private clinics
> Electricity: 240 volts (3 pin plugs)
> Local Media: There are 8 daily newspapers, 2 of which are in English; The Gulf Daily News and The Tribune. Bahrain Television transmits local and international news, current affairs, documentaries, educational programmes, as well as entertainment series and films. Bahrain TV also runs Channel 55, which broadcasts in English.

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Government

Parliament: Bahrain has a bicameral legislature with a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, elected by universal suffrage and the upper house, the Shura Council, appointed by the King. Both houses have forty members. The inaugural elections were held in 2002, with parliamentarians serving four year terms.

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Currency & taxation

> There are no exchange controls on the repatriation of money.
> Bahrain’s currency is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), which is pegged to the US Dollar.
  • 1 Bahraini Dinar (BHD) is worth 2.65 American Dollars (USD)


> Bahrain has the lowest corporate and personal taxes in the GCC with:
  • No capital gains tax and no withholding tax
  • No personal income tax
  • No tax on capital gains
  • No withholding tax
  • No restriction on repatriation of capital, profits or dividends
  • Few indrect taxes (e.g. 10% municipal tax on rents)


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Transportation & Logistics

> Bahrain has an excellent road network with causeway connections to Muharraq and Sitra islands and to Saudi Arabia. A road link is also planned between Bahrain and Qatar - construction is due to complete in 2013.
> Bahrain International Airport in Muharraq is one of the busiest airports in the Middle East with the most connections to the rest of the region.
> Steamers run scheduled services from Bahrain to other Gulf ports, Pakistan and India. Bahrain has the shortest travel time between its seaport, airport and the logistics processing zone of anywhere in the Gulf enabling more efficient and faster processing of trade goods. Bahrain also offers the lowest costs and best value for money when it comes to operating costs.

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