Bahrain's Business World

As of late, the nation of Bahrain has become more open to the rest of the world, thereby becoming more modern both socially and economically. The country is rich in natural resources (it's the first place in the Arabian Gulf where oil was found), has good infrastructure, and low taxes. Bahrain's current modernization efforts and its robust economy have made it a haven for investors. To be successful there, you must have a basic understanding of Bahrain's business world. This guide will provide the essential knowledge you will need to invest in Bahrain.

As Bahrain is a Muslim country, the work week begins on Saturday, and ends on Thursday. Friday is a holy day, and all banks, government offices and shops are closed. Bahraini office hours are usually 9 AM to 1 PM, and again from 4:30 PM to 8 PM, with variable hours during Ramadan and other holiday periods.

* Bahrainis have a different notion of 'personal space' than their Western counterparts, especially during conversation. To a Bahraini businessman, physical contact is commonly used as emphasis or to convey a feeling.

* When scheduling a meeting in Bahrain, schedule days in advance, and confirm no less than two days prior. As July and August are the hottest months of the year (and many Bahrainis stay indoors during the day then), make every effort not to schedule meetings during those two months.

* Keep in mind that most companies in Bahrain adhere to a strict hierarchy and a very authoritative style of leadership. Senior company members do the bulk of the decision-making.

* In Bahraini culture, age, family and wealth are an indicator of status. In business, show deference to those with a high authority level. The society is very rigid, with many rules in place to cut down on uncertainty and to bolster the ruling party's power.

* Business communications in Bahrain are very formal; the use of titles and the formal style of greeting are very important. When meeting Bahraini business contemporaries for the first time, shake hands with the most senior member first, and be sure to address everyone by their title.

*As is the case in most other parts of the Arab world, in Bahrain's business world, trust and close relationships are a key to success. It is very important to spend some time with the Bahrainis you'll be doing business with, in order to foster that closeness. It is common to be invited to a meal or a festive occasion, and it's important to accept those invitations whenever possible. Due to Muslim customs, men and women do not eat or celebrate with one another, so businesswomen should be ready to be segregated from the rest of the group.

At the end of the day, being successful in Bahrain's business world means building a relationship with your clients there. Personal relationships and family connections can often be the deciding factor in business dealings; take the time to become acquainted with your Bahraini counterparts, so you'll be at the top of their list.

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