|An expat's complete guide to Bahrain|
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Something I’ve not had to install before is a water fountain. This is a necessity in Bahrain as the advice is not to drink tap water. Buying individual bottles is inconvenient (and, as you can’t recycle easily, creates an environmental problem). One quick telephone call gets five gallon containers of water delivered like clockwork to our villa. Call Aquacool (tel. 1778 4101) or Al Manhal (tel. 1740 4435) who offer competitive packages. Be sure to give them your full address (villa, gate, avenue, town and post code) and not a P.O. Box number otherwise they’ll have no hope of finding you!
Many families in Bahrain have domestic help of some kind, ranging from a part time cleaner to a full time, live-in house maid. This can be arranged through one of the domestic help agencies or you can take over the sponsorship of a maid whose family is leaving. It’s not advisable to employ one of the many women who will arrive at your doorstep once you’ve moved in asking for work, unless you first check out their visa status carefully.
As luck (perhaps that’s the wrong word!) would have it, six weeks into my stay in Bahrain I found myself in the emergency room of the Bahrain Specialist Hospital (www.bsh.com.bh; tel 1781 2000) requiring an operation. I was terrified but I needn’t have worried. All I had to do was show my CPR and private medical insurance cards and everything was taken care of with the minimum of fuss.
The standard of care I received during my five-day stay at the hospital was excellent, my surgeon superb, the facilities second to none and the nursing staff delightful. Just make sure the hospital you visit is in your insurance company’s network otherwise you’ll have to pay up front and claim the money back. Oh, and get pre-approval for major expenses [See Hospitals and Clinics].
If you don’t have medical insurance, your CPR card will get you access to the free national medical service provided at Salmaniya Medical Complex (tel: 1728 8888; www.moh.gov.bh/SMC_contacts.asp).
I’ve been asked many times before (and since) arriving here: “What are you going to do in Bahrain?” Unless I can get an employer to sponsor me, as a trailing spouse on a family visa I’m not allowed to work. (A work permit is required from the Ministry of Labour and a No Objection Certificate from the Directorate of Immigration before an employment visa will be issued. For more information on this, visit www.gulfdnpr.gov.bh). But I’m in no hurry to find conventional employment just yet.
I’ve started to learn Arabic with Suhaib at Berlitz (www.berlitz.com; tel. 1782 7847), have done some volunteer work with the Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation (tel. 1778 9191) and at the Alia Early Intervention Centre (www.childbehavior.org; tel. 1773 0960), and have trained for, and run in, the Bahrain Relay Marathon. Oh and I walk Jack, the rescue dog I “adopted”, up to two hours a day.
You’ll find just about every recreational and sports club imaginable in Bahrain (check the directory pages of Bahrain this Month) so there’s no excuse to twiddle your thumbs.
Each evening as I drive home and marvel at yet another spectacular sunset and moonrise, I realise that while I do miss walking in a park and regularly dream of rain and in shades of green, the charm and beauty of this little island more than make up for it. Simply being two minutes from the sea is a joy. I’m certainly not planning to move on anytime soon – unless of course I get another of those phone calls…
Also see: Useful information for new residents