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Bahrain the Pearl of the Arabian Sea, is a fascinating archipelago of over 30 islands in the Gulf of Salwa, located in the heart of the Arabian Gulf. It is situated between the east coast of Saudi Arabia and the Qatar Peninsula. It lies at a latitude 26 North, almost parallel to Miami.

The islands cover a total hand area of nearly 700 sq. .km, making it slightly smaller than Singapore.The word "Bahrain" literally means "two seas". It refers to the natural springs of water rising from beneath the sea which is used by its famous pearl divers. Bahrain has a rich heritage and culture which is revealed by its museums, archeological sites, handicraft centers and some preserved structures. There and landmarks of a civilization which dates back to 5000 years, when Bahrain was known as "The island of million palm trees". Ancient craft of dhow building, basket weaving, pottery and clothe weaving are still practiced.

Bahrain offers a unique blend of ancient and modern values which add to its charm. Modern skyscrapers rub shoulders with majestic looking mosques which are embodiments if Islamic architecture . There are big air- conditioned shopping malls with all modern amenities as well as colorful suqs with narrow streets lined with shops selling a myriad of items which cater to tastes of a variety of visitors.

Scientists believe that Bahrain has only been an island for about 6000 years, before which it was part of the Arabian peninsula. The King Fahad Causeway, a four lane highway, which was opened in 1986 linkning Bahrain to the world. This has resulted in an increased inflow of visitors from GCC countries. The country has a varied topography ranging from rocky deserts to lush green vegetation, sandy beaches, traditional architecture and parks spread over 30 islands accessible by off-shore cruises.

Year round fine weather offers scope for a wide range of leisure activities whether on land or sea. The island offers facilities for year round seeming, game fishing, and all types of water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, and diving, for those who are more at home on firmer grounds than water, there are golf courses, race courses, riding clubs, health clubs or can even rent-a-car and go for a long drive round the country.

Bahrain is developing into a premier vacation center in the Gulf. It has already become a popular weekend resort for neighboring countries. Bahrain's liberal, crime-free lifestyle, hospitality of its people, rich culture and heritage, natural attractions and strategic position as the hub of middle- east aviation makes these group of island an idyllic destination for holiday or for a stopover.

Travel Documents Required:

Visitors to Bahrain require entry visas unless they hold passports of the GCC states or UK. Visas are available from Bahrain's Embassies or Consulates. Transit visas permitting visitors 72 hours in Bahrain can be obtained upon arrival at the airport, port or causeway. 7 day visitors' visas may be obtained by businessmen, delegates, families and dependents. Extensions to these visas may be granted upon application to the Department of Immigration in Manama .International certificate of vaccination for yellow fever required if arriving from an infected area. Vaccinations for cholera, polio, tetanus, and typhoid are advised.

Money / Currency:

Bahrain dinar is linked with the US dollar at US$ 1=BD0.375. The dinar is divided into 1000 fils. Notes are available in the following denominations : 500 fils (brown), one dinar (red), five dinars (blue), ten dinars (green), and twenty dinars (riddish brown). Coins come in 5,10,25,50, and 100 fils denominations, Money can be changed easily at any commercial bank or at one of the money changers found in the Souk. There are no restrictions on the import and export of currency.

Credit Cards "Travelers" Cheques:

Both forms of payments are widely accepted in hotels and most business establishments, although some smaller shops may prefer to deal in cash . Though Bahrain has a very low crime rate, it is still important to note separately serial numbers of your cheques or credit cards and the telephone numbers to call in case of loss . The following numbers should be useful in case your card / Cheque is lost or stolen .

Credit Cards:

American Express - 228844
Diners Club - 530188
Master Card - 210808
Visa - 247525
Travellers cheque American Express - 256834
Interpayment Services - 532522
Thomas Cook Tcs - 530108
Dalil Exchange - 233464

Customs Duties:

Duty free allowances for passengers entering Bahrain are 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, a half- pound of tobacco, two bottles of spirits (nonmuslims only), and 8 oz. of perfume. Personal and used goods, sales samples and gifts under US$ 130 value are exempt.

Getting to Bahrain By Air:

Bahrain is the hub of Middle East aviation. It is the home base of Gulf Air. It is also the number one airport in the Middle East for charter flights. Bahrain International Airport is situated in Muharraq island the second largest among the group of islands.

Many of the world's international carriers fly to Bahrain or sleeveless dresses which may give offence to some members of the local community of Gulf Air. It also the number one airport in the Middle East for charter flights. Bahrain International Airport is situated in Muharraq island, the second largest among the group of islands. Many of the world's international carriers fly to Bahrain international Airport. Bahrain links with over 300 regional flight a week. Its new US$ 80 million international air port terminal is the most modern in the region. An Airport tax of BD 3 is levied on each airline passenger departing Bahrain.

By Road:

Air travel is not the only means of accessing Bahrain. Bahrain is connected to the Arabian mainland by a 25 kilometre four lane bridge King Fahad Causeway. It takes as little as 1/2 hours or less to drive from Dhahran in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. A toll fee of BD 2 is payable by cars leaving: Bahrain via the causeway, Insurance is not automatically included and you should check your vehicle's insurance policy prior to departure to ensure adequate coverage.

By Sea:

The traditional gateway to Bahrain has always been the sea. All three ports offer a quick and efficient entry into Bahrain from all parts of the world.

Climate :

June - October, hot and humid (44o ). December - April, mild (10c - 2Oc) December, January, and February could be quite cool with cardigans, sweaters and even electric heaters required occasionally.

Clothes:

Light weight clothing is suitable for May-October. Medium weight clothing is suitable for November - April. Sunglasses are necessary Bahrain is very modern in its approach to everyday life. While no formal dress code is imposed, for the sake of courtesy and common sense, visitors should dress sensibly when in town. This means, shorts are not normally acceptable for either sex, and women should not ware short, low-cut, backless or sleeveless dresses which may give offence to some members of the local community.

Business Hours:

The weekday holiday is on a Friday, When a public holiday falls on a Friday, the following day is normally given off as a day in lieu. Government offices are generally open from 0700 - 1415, Saturday- Wednesday. Commercial organisations' business hours vary from company / company but generally operate from 0800 - 1300 and then from 1500 - 1800, Saturday , Thursday. Weekends begin at lunch-time on Thursday for most companies. Banking Hours Banks are open Saturday - Wednesday 0730 - 1200 and 0730 1100 on Thursdays. Many branches are also open from 1530 ~ 1730 on weekday afternoons .

Shopping Hours:

Saturday - Thursday, 0800 - 1200 and 1530 - 1930 hrs. Some supermarkets stay open later than these hours. Cold Stores / convenience stores are open till midnight and some stay open 24 hours.

Customary Eating Hours:

Breakfast 07:00 - 0900 hrs
Lunch 12:00 -1400 hrs
Dinner 21:30 -2400 hrs

Post & Telephone Services:

The Central Post Office is situated in Manama opposite Bab AI Bahrain, open Saturday - Thursday, 0700 - 1930 (Contact number:225782). There are several branches of the post office spread throughout the island. Most of Bahrain's mail is delivered to private boxes which are available at the main post offices. Home deliveries are also made directly to the location address of your Office or residence as long as the building number, road number, and block number are clearly displayed on the envelope.

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) is in charge of all the telecommunication services within the country. The telephone system in Bahrain has been recently fully digitalised The region's first Earth Satellite Station was established in Bahrain. Credit card calls and reverse charge calls can be made to a number of countries. Public telephones now take new 100 coins and telephone cards. Telephone cards are available in most cold stores. Mobile phones may be rented from Batelco on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For further information contact Batelco 885555.

BateIco operates a number of telephone information lines providing regularly updated information on a range of topics like News line 268912, Recipe line 268300, Sports line268222, Video line 268888, Weather line 268700 Health line 268914, Tourist line 268444, Speaking clock 140 AT&T offers USA Direct Service from Bahrain on 800-001.

Time Zone:

Bahrain is three hours ahead of GMT. There is no seasonal change of time.

Public Utilities Electricity:

The electricity supply in Bahrain is 230 volts, 50 Hz except in Awali where it is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Bahrain uses 3-pin power outlets.

Water:

Tap water in Bahrain is clear, odourless and free from contamination but can sometimes be hard. it is a combination of ground water drinking purposes sweet: water, is mostly used and is generally available in cans or bottles, delivered directly to houses, It is recommended that you drink only sweet water or bottled

Language:

Arabic is the official language although English is widely used as the commercial language for business purposes.

Religion:

Islam is practised by 85 percent of the population. However, Bahrain being an extremely tolerant society allows freedom of worship to a number of other faiths including Hinduism, Parseeism, Judaism, Budhism, and Christianity. There are a variety of places of worship available on the island, including both Anglican and Catholic churches.

Medical Facilities:

Bahrain has a high standard of medical facilities. Emergency treatment is available for residents and. expatriates at a nominal fee of BD 1 in the main general hospital at Salmaniya. State medical services are largely free. State's limited private practice offers a range of choice within the established system at relatively low cost. There are a number of well stocked pharmacies some of which provide a 24 hour service.

Media:

Bahrain has four terrestrial television channels, two broadcast in English and two in Arabic.

Bahrain 57 : 24 hours BBC World Service
Bahrain 4 : 24 hours Arabic programmes
Bahrain 44 : 24 hours Arabic Programmes
Broadcasts from other GCC countries can be received, atmospheric conditions permitting.

Bahrain offers a satellite cable network facility featuring the Star TV channels as well as CNN on an annual subscription basis Radio Bahrain broadcasts in English 24 hours day on 96.5 and 101 FM serving a diet of mostly contemporary music interspersed with features and occasionally comedy programmes from England. Bahrain Broadcasting Service transmits in Arabic on 612 and 801 KHz VHF from 0600 - 2400.

Bahrain has four daily newspapers - two in Arabic and tow in English Akhbar AL Khaleej and AI Ayam are the Arabic papers, and Gulf Daily News and Bahrain Tribune are the English paper. A number of Arabic and English language business magazines are published locally. The two main UAE English papers also are circulated in Bahrain. International newspapers, magazines and publications are widely available.

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