The official language of Bahrain is Arabic, with Urdu, Farsi and English also being spoken.
Greetings between Men and Women
It’s quite infrequent to have social interactions between non-related members of the opposite sex so, because of this, a handshake usually won’t be included in an introduction. If a person is not interested in shaking hands they will probably fold their hands across their chest, letting you know they’re not interested. The best advice is to wait for the woman to initiate.
Men Greeting Men
Generally, Bahraini men greet each other using the phrase ‘Salaamu Aleikum’; which means ‘peace be upon you’. The response will normally be Wa'aleikum as-salamma, meaning ‘and on peace be you’. A warm handshake (with the right hand) usually accompanies these greetings.
Women Greeting Women
In Bahrain, women greet each other quite similar to the way men greet each other, with handshakes (using the right hand) and kisses on each cheek.
Touching and Personal Space
- A little less than arm’s-length is appropriate when it comes to personal space; however, when interacting with members of the opposite sex, more space should be given;
- Generally, Bahraini women like to hug each other, and this includes American women; however, you won’t see a Bahraini woman hug someone from the opposite sex;
- Touching in Bahrain is kept to a minimum; in fact, touching members of the opposite sex is taboo – even if accidental. This does not apply to family members.
- It’s advisable that westerners avoid public displays of affection, like kissing; however, it’s acceptable for a man and woman to hold hands.
- When speaking with members of the same gender, Bahrainis tend to favour direct eye contact;
- Foreign men should avoid looking directly into the eyes of a Bahraini woman, and this applies equally with foreign women and Bahraini men;
- Indirect eye contact can be viewed as a sign of respect when speaking with an elder.
Bahrainis and Their View of Time
- Punctuality is always appreciated and valued, particularly in business situations where it’s considered rude to be late. If you wish to leave a good impression, then you need to keep to your appointment time;
- Interestingly, Bahrainis are hardly ever on time themselves! Their view of punctuality is quite different to most Westerners. In addition, should a family or personal issue arise, they will automatically deal with that matter and either not show up, or cancel your meeting;
- Bahrainis are very generous with their time, and give it freely;
- Transportation services in Bahrain run on a regular basis; however, due to traffic conditions there are often long delays.
- In Bahrain, the left hand is viewed as unclean therefore one should always pass and receive objects (and this includes food) with the right hand;
- Before entering an Arab’s house, always remove your shoes at the doorway;
- Your legs should always be crossed at the ankle, never at the knee;
- Do not point to people! Pointing with one finger is to be used to point out a distant object. In these situations, it’s actually best to provide a verbal description;
- Bahrainis tend to beckon one another by extending the arm and using their fingers to make a scratching motion, with fingers pointed to the floor. It may be considered a threat or an insult to beckon someone with the palm up.
Translators in Bahrain
With the steady growth of the Bahrain economy, and more Western people moving to Bahrain, translation has become a necessity. Translators in Bahrain also serve other Middle Eastern countries like UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and so on. Although interpretation and translation are two entirely different professions, certain skills such as good researching and analytical skills, a good memory and concentration, are all important factors and vital to both professions.