is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Manama. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Bahrain.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s-Bahrain country page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Bahrain at Level
1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Manama as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. The targeting of non-citizen residents of Bahrain
for crime is uncommon. Harassment of women and sexual assault does occur,
although not all victims report cases to the police. Other reported crimes
include, but are not limited to, various types of immigration and residency fraud,
ATM/credit card theft, prostitution, white collar fraud, embezzlement,
possession or trafficking of illegal narcotics, and property theft. Violent
crime is rare, and firearms are illegal in Bahrain. Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
2012, the U.S. Embassy designated geographic boundaries (known as “red zones”) as
restricted travel areas. In 2013, the Embassy introduced “yellow zones,”
designated for daylight travel only. The Embassy is constantly assessing the nationwide
security situation to reevaluate the restricted zones. Find the current
restricted travel areas map online.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
the roads are generally very good, driving can be hazardous. Aggressive driving
coupled with high speeds creates a dangerous driving environment. The law
requires all vehicle passengers to wear seat belts. Police (Traffic
Enforcement) presence can be limited or irregular. However, police vehicles are
readily identifiable on the main traffic thoroughfares. Alcohol-related traffic
accidents increase over weekends (Thursday evening through Saturday).
driving in the far left lane on highways, as high-speed drivers may exhibit
aggressive behavior if blocked; common behaviors include flashing headlights
rapidly or tailgating. Night driving is particularly dangerous, because some
drivers do not turn on their headlights. Apart from periodic sandstorms, fog,
and rain, the road conditions and weather are favorable most of the year.
checkpoints are commonplace, and increase with little warning. Uniformed police
have the authority to make traffic stops. Remain in your vehicle with the doors
locked, but to lower the window and be polite when answering questions. Be
prepared to present identification, as the law requires people to carry a government-issued
ID. Do not attempt to evade an official police checkpoint. Review OSAC’s
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
involved in an accident should not move their vehicle, and should immediately
contact the traffic police at 199 if there are no injuries, or 999 (the general
emergency number) if the accident involves injuries. Drivers should wait until
the police arrive or direct them to one of several traffic police stations to
file an accident report. The driver should obtain a copy of the accident
report. Car rental and auto repair companies require a police accident report to
Public Transportation Conditions
use of marked taxis or transportation companies is generally safe and reliable.
is legal and operates in Bahrain. There have been incidents where Uber
customers met their driver at a taxi stand and a confrontation among drivers ensued.
RSO recommends that passengers choose a public location for Uber pick-ups, but
avoid marked taxi stands.
bus system exists, but ridership is limited. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Manama as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Bahrain’s large expatriate community, including
the large U.S. Department of Defense presence; the presence of violent
opposition groups; frequent travel between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia on the King
Fahad Causeway; and the country’s proximity to Iran. These factors make for a
dynamic security environment. Bahrain’s police and security forces are
competent and capable counterterrorism partners. During 2019, the Bahraini
government made gains in detecting and containing terrorist threats from
violent Bahraini Shia militants and ISIS sympathizers.
Bahraini Shia militants occasionally instigate low-level violence against
security forces using real and fake improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
According to the Government of Bahrain, there were attacks on police officers
in 2019. A few local Sunni extremists have radicalized in the past several
years and either joined local factions or left to fight with ISIS and other
militant groups in Syria and Iraq.
are limited reports of government or non-government efforts to rehabilitate and
reintegrate former violent extremists and returning foreign terrorist fighters.
There is also no overall strategic messaging campaign to counter terrorist
narratives, although government leaders often speak about tolerance and
reducing sectarian rhetoric.
call to radicalization, whether disseminated on extremist forums or through
social media, continues to be a global concern. It is difficult to determine
which message will inspire a violent extremist. Anti-U.S./anti-foreigner
sentiment does exist. However, terrorist incidents have not involved U.S. citizens,
and foreign residents were not the primary target of extremist groups.
Considering recent tension in the region, all U.S. nationals should remain
vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Manama as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. Bahrain is a monarchy governed by
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al
Khalifa. The constitution, ratified in 2002, established an elected lower house
of parliament, the Council of Representatives, and an appointed upper house,
the Shura Council. Elections for the Council of Representatives have occurred every
four years since 2006.
in 2011, the country experienced a sustained period of unrest, including mass
protests calling for political reform. Some anti-government demonstrations
resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. The
government has taken steps since 2011 to implement many of the recommendations of
the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which the government
tasked to review widespread allegations of police brutality, torture, arrests,
disappearances, and violence by both security forces and demonstrators that
year. The government has attempted to dilute the influence of religious leaders
in political life, and in 2016, required Sunni and Shi’a clerics alike to sign
a document, originally authored in 2009, committing them to certain standards
when delivering Friday sermons.
oppositionist activity increases in February and March to mark the
anniversaries of 2011 events. Spontaneous demonstrations and, at times, violent
anti-government activity continue to occur, particularly at night. This unrest
can be in response to local developments, calls for protests, or regional
events. Such actions are likely to spark forceful responses by government
security forces, including crowd control measures and impromptu checkpoints in
the Shi’a community, perceived economic and political disenfranchisement remain
the primary drivers of violent extremism and civil unrest. However, research
into this topic is politically sensitive, and although anecdotal evidence
exists, there is little public reporting or research on drivers of violent
extremism or even concrete data on whether economic disenfranchisement has
all Bahraini citizens are Muslim. Though the government does not publish
statistics on the population breakdown by sect, observers believe Shi’a
comprise a slight majority of the population. Bahrain regularly experiences
low-level violence between Shi’a youth – using Molotov cocktails and other
homemade devices – and the predominantly Sunni security forces in mostly-Shi’a
low desert plain and arid climate put it at risk for periodic droughts and dust
storms. Air pollution levels are higher
than in the United States.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
(cell phones and internet) are reliable, but during the 2011 uprising, the
government turned off cell service to prevent the organizing of demonstration
activity. During times of heightened tensions, access to the internet decreases
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
is an abundance of pirated merchandise for sale, readily available from street
Personal Identity Concerns
differences exist in Bahrain. Unwitting actions may invite unwanted attention. The
use of profane language and gestures in public can result in fines and arrests.
Modest dress, not engaging in “small talk,” not making constant eye contact,
and maintaining a low profile may deter harassment. Try to travel in pairs or
in groups, especially during hours of darkness. Visitors who find themselves
harassed should seek safe haven in a public area immediately, contact store
management or security personnel, and not move to a secluded area or drive to
their residences until the situation is resolved.
Women traveling alone should maintain vigilance. Seek legal
counsel and ascertain your rights in Bahrain before visiting the country if you
are a U.S. citizen divorced from/in the process of divorcing a Bahraini
citizen. This is particularly important regarding child custody issues. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.
While the law does not criminalize
consensual same-sex sexual activity between people over 21, LGBTI+ activities
are not accepted socially. Review the State Department’s webpage on security
for LGBTI+ travelers.
Transportation is not
wheelchair-accessible, and sidewalks and crosswalks—even in Manama—are not
accessible. Outside of the more expensive hotels in the capital, virtually no
hotels offer accessible accommodations. There are very few accessible
restaurants, shops, or historical sites. Handicap-accessible bathrooms, even in
major hospitals, are generally not available. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
There is a growing illegal drug
market in Bahrain. The government regularly interdicts illegal drugs entering
the country, reporting there were 943 drug-related cases in 2018. The 2019
statistics have not been released.
are no treaties in force between Bahrain and the United States concerning
international parental child abduction and custody cases. Bahraini courts may
ignore child custody decrees issued in the United States. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
It is illegal to photograph certain buildings in
Bahrain. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
emergency line in Bahrain is 999. Bahraini police are generally professional
and competent, although accusations of arbitrary arrest and police misconduct
do exist. The Interior Ministry (MOI) is responsible for law enforcement and
public safety. The Public Security Forces are the principal law enforcement arm
of the MOI, and are responsible for maintaining order and security. The Special
Security Forces of MOI are the paramilitary law enforcement arm and include the
riot police, SWAT and explosive team. VIP protection is a separate unit of the
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Investigations (CID): 992
Guard (CGD): 994
Violence against Women: 1787-03-02
a medical emergency, call 999 or go to the emergency department of a nearby
hospital. Basic modern medical care and medicine are available in several
hospitals and clinics. Three government hospitals, a network of primary care
clinics, and several private facilities offer a wide range of medical services.
Cardiac care, general surgery, ENT, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology,
pediatrics, orthopedics, and dentistry services are readily available, as are X-rays,
CT-scans, and MRI testing. The government hospitals house both trauma and ICU
units. For medical assistance, please refer to the Embassy’s Medical
are common throughout Bahrain, and carry a wide range of medications. Check
with Customs Affairs of Bahrain to ensure your medications are legal in the
country. Most narcotic painkillers, stimulants, and controlled
sedatives/hypnotics are not easily available, and may be illegal. Always carry
your prescription medication in original packaging along with your doctor’s
prescription. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with
at all medical facilities is due at the time of service. Some hospitals have
limited direct billing capability for certain insurance carriers. Billing and
insurance practices vary among the medical facilities. The U.S. Department of
State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before
traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Bahrain.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
Bahrain OSAC Country Council meets monthly. Contact OSAC’s Middle East & North Africa Team for
more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Building No. 979, Road 3119, Block
331, Zinj District, Manama
Hours of Operation: 0800 – 1700
Sunday to Thursday
Embassy Operator: +973 1724-2700
Department Emergency Line: +1-202-501-4444
you travel, consider the following resources:
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)