Bahrain : The most expat friendly nation
11-Sep-2017


This week’s news report of ‘Expat Insider 2017 Survey’ is simply a ratification of my long term belief.

For expatriates, Bahrain is the best place to live and work. I have been telling this to others for many years. And I am sure others were saying the same.

Now, this survey proves it.

It rated Bahrain as the number one choice of country, for expats, followed by Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore and Spain, in that order.

After spending 39 years in Bahrain, as an expatriate, and after visiting tens of countries across the globe, I must say, my respect for this beautiful kingdom just keeps on increasing.

But, before I give you the reasons for my belief, let us look at how the survey was conducted.

According to InterNations, which conducted the survey, 13,000 expats representing 166 nationalities, living in 188 countries or territories, were asked to rate 43 different aspects of their life in their host country.

The aspects were pooled into six categories: quality of life; ease of settling in; working abroad; family life; personal finance; and the cost of living index.

And what the survey found is that an astounding number was favouring this island nation, as the best place to work and to raise a family, over many others.

Nearly 9 out of 10 expats (87 per cent, to be precise) said they were happy with their lives in Bahrain.

Why?

As one of them, I can talk for hours giving many reasons. But let me briefly touch upon three.

Firstly, let us consider the country and its residents. Bahrain is a beautiful small country that offers to all, a lifestyle that is a midpoint on the conservatism-liberalism continuum; moderate, and not extreme. So, people of all nationalities and cultures can find themselves easily at home.

Climate wise, though the summers could get very hot, and the winters very cold, the availability of excellent air conditioning in public places like huge malls and office buildings, entertainment centres and public transport buses, and even some bus-stops now, make it a convenient place to stay.

The Bahraini citizens themselves are welcoming towards foreign residents. Most of the Bahrainis are well-educated and have travelled around the word. Perhaps, that is why they are open to accepting people of different cultures.

Unlike in the past, and unlike in some neighbouring countries, English is widely spoken here and expats have no problem in communicating and integrating with the locals. Many expats have also become fluent in Arabic.

Secondly, the social life for expats is noteworthy. Even if salaries for expats are lower than those of UAE or Qatar, I think, it is the social life that keeps them grounded to this place. The social networks expats create for themselves sustain them, for years.

The government allows for many social and cultural clubs here. Most of them are active and have become the bedrock of community strength. The Indian, British, Philippine, Pakistan, Bangladesh and International Schools make it an ideal place to raise children with native country’s curriculum.

In my book, ‘Shukran Bahrain’, published 10 years ago, I had devoted an entire chapter to Bahrain’s religious tolerance. Even though it is an Islamic country, expats are given the freedom to worship in numerous temples, mosques, churches, and gurudwaras. There is even a synagogue here.

Bahrain is, I feel, a microcosm of United Nations, with people of many nationalities working together enjoying peace and joy that is rare in many other countries.

Thirdly, rulers and the government need a special mention. If it were not for the progressive outlook of His Majesty the King, His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, the positive attitude of its citizens and residents would have been entirely lost to us.

The government’s policies are very friendly towards the migrant worker. Whether it is the protection of the workforce (many company-owners were recently arrested for making their workers work in summer heat -- in timings not allowed by law) or the setting up of labour tribunals (many migrant workers were able to get a redressal of grievances related to their work), the country promises a safe and secure place to work.

It is therefore of little wonder to me that Bahrain is rated as the number one place for expats. 

I just hope that everyone will continue to work in such a way that this rating is maintained for years to come.


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