Bahrain is an island off of the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia with a population of around 150 000. While most countries in the Middle East prohibits the use of alcohol, the consumption laws in Bahrain is slightly more relaxed with alcohol being sold to non-Muslims by hotels and private license holders. . This makes Bahrain an ideal Middle Eastern break away for those looking for a party.
Bahrain attracts travellers from the Americas and Europe, as well as Saudi cities like Dharan and Al-Khobar. This creates an interesting mix of cultures – all pursuing what the island’s night life has to offer.
The city of Manama was listed as one of the world’s top 10 ‘sin cities’ in 2009 and the government as clamped down heavily on drug dealing and prostitution since then, making the area safer for locals and tourists alike. Today the city offer some of the best nightlife on the island with clubs hosting international DJ’s on the regular and pubs offering everything from live music to karaoke and quiz nights. Live music often include bands from Ethiopia, India, the Philippines and the west.
Most of the nightlife in Manama is centred around the hotels and aimed at foreign travellers. Still, the proper dress code and local cultures and customs should be respected. Here are some tips to keep in mind when out partying in Bahrain.
The use or possession of drugs is strongly prohibited in Bahrain, with deportation or even life imprisonment as consequences. While consuming alcohol is legal, drunken behaviour in public and driving under the influence (even trace amounts in your blood) could lead to a fine or imprisonment and/or deportation and withdrawal of your driver’s licence. So consume with caution.
While it is not uncommon to see men and women intermingling in Manama, extra marital sexual relationships are illegal as is cohabiting (even in hotels). Married couples are allowed to hold hands in public but kissing and hugging are seen as offences against public decency.
Offensive language, spitting and aggressive behaviour (even hand gestures) are not tolerated and could lead to imprisonment or deportation.
Bahrain is still conservative in many ways, this includes the way they dress. Visitors to public places like malls, restaurants and parks should take care to respect the local traditions and avoid clothing that is transparent, shows too much skin or have offensive pictures or slogans printed on it. Nudity and topless sunbathing is a big no-no.
During Ramadan eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public areas is forbidden during daylight hours.
For those who prefer to experience the nightlife in Manama alcohol-free, there are a number of options like going to the movies, visiting a sheesha restaurant or Moroccan tea house.
During the day you can soak up the cultures of the island, along with spectacular beaches, and even scuba diving for pearls! With laws around alcohol sale and consumption that are more relaxed than elsewhere in the Middle East, Bahrain truly is the party capital of the Middle East.
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com