Working in Bahrain?
Expat Business Info for Bahrain
Bahrain: Tax Haven… for Now
Taxation, or rather the lack of it, has always been one of the greatest benefits of working in Bahrain for expats. With no personal income tax, capital gains tax, or withholding tax, expats face only minor deductions from their monthly salary.
As foreigners do not qualify for most of the government’s social security schemes, there are few expenses on that front either: non-Bahraini employees pay 1% of their basic salary towards unemployment insurance, and their employer pays 3% of that salary into employment injuries insurance. The income ceiling is currently at 4,000 BHD per month. However, the pressure from low oil prices has led the Bahraini government to consider revising this policy, and an expat tax has been discussed.
In addition to low taxation, expats working in Bahrain are entitled to an end-of-contract payment when their assignment ends. Depending on how long they have been working in Bahrain, this bonus can amount to a considerable sum of money. Bahrain also has bilateral agreements with numerous countries in order to avoid double taxation. To see if your country of origin is on the list, please consult the Ministry of Finance website.
Staying Healthy in Bahrain
Bahrain has excellent healthcare facilities. There is no shortage of hospitals (both public and private) and doctors, and unless you need highly specialized treatment, there’s no reason to return to your home country if you fall ill. Doctors are highly qualified and can all speak English — in fact, many of them are expats themselves who work in Bahrain to enjoy the financial perks.
Although foreigners are not part of the social security system, they qualify for low cost health treatment — ca. 8 USD per doctor’s visit — offered through the public health system. However, most expats are either covered by their company’s private health insurance plan or take out an individual policy before they move to Bahrain. Treatment can be very expensive if you go to one of the luxurious private hospitals, which can seem more like 5-star hotels.
The only time you might encounter difficulties is in an emergency situation. Ambulance services are not always available, and may not have trained medical staff on board. The Bahrain “National Ambulance Project” has been ongoing since 2013, resulting in ten ambulance centers being established. There are plans to increase this by allocating two ambulances to each government hospital, bringing the total number to 14. It is therefore not uncommon to call a taxi instead of an ambulance if you need to get to the hospital quickly. Operators usually speak English, but it doesn’t hurt to at least know the Arabic word for emergency or for any chronic health condition you may have.
Bahraini Business Hotspots
Bahrain has several locations which were conceived with one thing in mind: attracting business. They are usually strategically placed, with excellent infrastructure and transportation connections. They include:
- The Bahrain Financial Harbor, a unique development right in the center of the capital Manama. Almost a city within a city, it combines a premium business location with residential and recreational developments on the waterfront.
- The Bahrain International Investment Park, a project of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, stands out due to its prime location: situated in close proximity to Bahrain International Airport and the new Khalifa Salman Port, it was built to attract export-oriented businesses. It also benefits from a highway connection to Saudi Arabia via a 25 km causeway connecting the countries.
- The Bahrain Logistics Zone, operated by the General Organization of Sea Ports in Bahrain, offers companies various on-site services to facilitate their operations. This includes an efficient customs process, a company registration office, and various other amenities.
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