Bahrain Country Report
The ruling Al Khalifa monarchy's reconciliation with the majority Shia population is unlikely in the coming year. Saudi military, financial, and political backing reduces state stability risks emanating from Bahrain's acute sectarian divisions. Despite growing fiscal pressures as a result of low oil prices and stagnating production, there is a low risk of unrest spreading to the capital Manama and other major commercial centres. The business environment is likely to remain favourable to foreign investment. Intent by Bahrain's Shia militants to launch attacks in major cities and disrupt commercial activity is offset by limited capabilities, and attacks on relatively secure assets in urban centres or mass-casualty attacks targeting the government or security forces would likely requireexternal assistance from Iran or its Iraq- or Lebanon-based proxies.
By regional standards, Bahrain offers a relatively streamlined regulatory framework, while also allowing 100% foreign ownership in most sectors. Government tendering processes are relatively opaque and likely to offer preferential treatment to state monopolies and royal family-linked business interests. Organised labour strikes are uncommon and rarely become disruptive.
Shia militant attacks in Bahrain are set to continue over the coming year, although the sophistication of IEDs is unlikely to increase substantially. Attacks will overwhelmingly remain restricted to areas outside of central Manama. Targeting the majority Shia population is consistent with the Islamic State's ideology and primary target set. However, Islamic State propaganda and activity indicate that Bahrain is more likely to be selected as a staging ground for attacks than a target, and that the group's priority is to gradually radicalise the Sunni minority, and turn Sunnis against the monarchy.
Intensifying regional Saudi-Iranian proxy conflict carries an elevated risk of minor naval incidents surrounding allegations of Iranian attempts to smuggle weapons to supply Shia militants in Bahrain and undermine the Saudi-backed Al-Khalifa monarchy. Although Iranian media and politicians will likely periodically state territorial claims to Bahrain, this is unlikely to move beyond rhetoric. Domestically, although violent Shia protests and crude IED attacks on government properties are likely to intensify, this does not pose a threat to the government, with attacks largely contained to peripheral areas outside of central Manama.
Nearly daily protests and riots are likely in Shia districts such as Jidhafs, Karbabad, and Sanabis. These include incendiary attacks on police stations and patrols, roadblocks using burning debris that are usually cleared within several hours, and crude IED attacks at entertainment venues, malls, hotels, and other soft targets frequented by foreigners. There have been fewer incidents in areas around Palace Avenue in al-Hoora because of the heavy security presence. Bahrain International Airport operations are very unlikely to be disrupted by protests. Large-scale demonstrations involving hundreds of participants are also likely around political or religious events/anniversaries, particularly along the Budaiya Highway.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Country requirement: a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
In terms of weather-related concerns, sand and dust storms, as well as periodic drought, are not uncommon.
During the summer (April to October) temperatures can rise to 50°C with humidity.
In November 2015 the country was hit by flash floods that led to substantial material damage.
Located off the Dammam coast of Saudi Arabia, the island of Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia by a 24 km (15 mi) bridge.
Bahrain's road network is well developed.
Vehicles are driven on the right side of roadways. Only Bahraini and international driving licenses are accepted. The country has strict drunk driving laws. With a "zero tolerance" policy, Bahraini authorities can arrest drivers or levy a fine of more than USD 1067 (EUR 1000) if caught drinking and driving.
Public transportation and taxis are usually safe and reliable. However, some sexual harassment cases have been reported. Uber ridesharing is also well established in the country.
The Bahrain international airport is located 7 km (4 mi) away from Manama and connects Bahrain to many countries. It is considered a hub for the airline company Gulf Air. In January 2016, Bahrain banned flights to and from Iran.
Foggy conditions and sandstorms commonly occur and can disrupt traffic. Bahrain also experiences heavy rains that can lead to flooding.
The government has imposed a curfew in its territorial waters from 18:00 until 04:00 (local time).
Bahrain is very hot (38°C) and humid from April until October. Sandstorms can strike during the summer months. From November until the end of April, temperatures are mild (18°C in January) but nights are cool. Rain can fall between December and March, sometimes accompanied by strong winds.
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