The official holidays in Bahrain are generally the same as those observed in most Muslim countries. These include the two festivals, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and, more recently, the celebration of Ashura among the country’s Shiites. Muslim holidays are often the occasion for large family meals. Bahrain is a Muslim country and many laws are in place to uphold the Pillars of Islam. These laws, such as fasting during Ramadan between sunrise and sunset, apply to all residents and visitors regardless of religious preference.
Western-style clothing is common in Bahrain, though some men still wear the traditional thawb (full-length tunic) and the kaffiyeh (white head cloth), bound in place by a black, camel-hair cord known as an iqal — the latter often more ornate, particularly among the political elite. The dress rules for women are relaxed compared to the more conservative, regional standards, although women in rural areas, and those in conservative communities in cities, still wear a veil (hijab) and a traditional long cloak known as an abayah.
Coffee is an important part of social life. Coffee shops are popular meeting places and coffee is offered as a sign of hospitality. It is often flavored with cardamom and saffron. Bahraini cuisine typically features fish, shrimp, meat, rice and dates. Machbous is a popular traditional dish of fish or meat served with rice. Other typical foods include muhammar (sweet brown rice with sugar or dates) and shawarmah (spit-roasted lamb, beef, or chicken). Halwa is another traditional sweet — a green, sticky dessert filled with spices and nuts. Snacks known as sambousas, which are pastries filled with meat and cheese or sugar and nuts, are also popular.
To learn more about Bahrain’s culture, please visit:
Commisceo Global Bahrain Guide
Countries and their Cultures