*** ----> Is Bahrain really the best place for expatriates? | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Is Bahrain really the best place for expatriates?

TDT | Manama                                        

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com   

Report by Julia Cassano

The latest Expat Essential Index 2023 by InterNations hails Bahrain as a place where placing your feet “appears to be a breeze.”

The report also ranks Bahrain first for being the ideal place for easy beginnings.

However, many residents told The Daily Tribune that this portrayal of life as an expatriate in the Kingdom is far from accurate!

They say that although Bahrain is the ideal place for easy beginnings, as the index says, it’s not an accurate portrayal of life as an expatriate in the Kingdom.

And when The Daily Tribune asked them why? They dropped the blame squarely on the absence of a minimum wage for expatriates!

Citing several examples, they explained this as the primary concern we need to address for low-income migrant workers to make Bahrain truly an ideal place for easy beginnings.

To know better, read it alongside a report by Bahrain’s Social Insurance Organization.

The report says that about 71% of expatriates employed in the private sector in Bahrain earn less than BD200.

Thus, experts point out that even though 82% of the expatriates say it is easy for them to find housing in Bahrain, “we should not ignore the fact that only 39% have found housing affordable in the Kingdom.”

The Expat Essential Index 2023 said Bahrain is first among the 52-nation ranking that identifies the best and worst destinations to get started in.

Evone Bhaskaran, head of the Action Committee for the Migrant Protection Society, told The Daily Tribune that she too agrees with this, citing the availability of several unfurnished, semi-furnished, or fully furnished towers, apartments, and compounds.

The concern, however, Evone points out, is about affordability.

“A significant number of labourers, service industry workers, and domestic workers earn only an average of BD150 to BD200 per month.”

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre also concurs with this assessment, stating that although the private sector is thriving, migrants in Bahrain are still grappling with meagre salaries and escalating living expenses.

Evone adds: “This is particularly true as the cost of living rises while their wages remain stagnant.”

“For many labourers, domestic workers, and service workers, splurging on a nice or even decent place to live seems out of reach,” Evone confirms.

“We are aware of situations where whole families are restricted to a single room and must make the most of it to create a comfortable living space,” she stated.

Explaining, she said, "A single room does not necessarily refer to a one-bedroom apartment; rather, it often means that a family of four must occupy a single room that either has a private bathroom or is shared with other families occupying adjacent rooms."

“This is usually how the lower and middle-income brackets make ends meet.”

“Blue-collar workers frequently express dissatisfaction with their living arrangements in camps and staff accommodations, which can be inhumane at times, with men and women crammed together with very little space to move,” Evone stated.

In addition, she mentioned that a significant number of low-income workers in Bahrain send their salaries to their families to improve their standard of living.

As the cost of living increases, low-income migrant workers in the Kingdom become even more susceptible to financial hardship.

A minimum wage is crucial.

In conclusion, they said that while Bahrain may be considered an ideal place for easy beginnings, the reality is that life as an expat in the Kingdom is far from accurate.

As the cost of living continues to rise, low-income migrant workers in the Kingdom become even more vulnerable to financial hardship.

Therefore, addressing the issue of the minimum wage is crucial to making Bahrain a truly ideal place for all.