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Bahrain named best country in Middle East for expats

The souq at Bab al Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain. The country's trade with its GCC neighbours has dropped by 5% Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
The souq at Bab al Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain. The country's trade with its GCC neighbours has dropped by 5%
  • Bahrain ninth overall out of 53 ranked in InterNations survey
  • Expats award top marks for ease in setting up essential services
  • Kingdom’s economy growing at fastest pace in a decade

Bahrain is ranked among the top 10 countries in the world and number one in the Middle East for expatriates to live and work, according to the latest Expat Insider Survey by InterNations.

The survey ranked countries in 56 categories including quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and expat essentials.

Bahrain came ninth out of the 53 countries surveyed, ahead of the UAE in 11th, Oman 12th, Saudi Arabia in 28th and Qatar 31st. Kuwait was ranked last.

For the second consecutive year Bahrain was placed first globally on the expat essentials index, which measures the ease of setting up daily lifestyle services.

Almost nine in ten (86 percent) of respondents said that opening a local bank account in Bahrain is easy, against 62 percent globally. Fifty-nine percent do not struggle when dealing with bureaucracy and the local authorities as opposed to 39 percent globally.

Bahrain was also recognised for its ease of settling in for expats who were unable to speak the language, in addition to its “innovative and creative business culture”.

“Bahrain has emerged as a trailblazer in the region as a prominent fintech and financial services hub,” Carl Dowling, partner at CBD Corporate Services, which helps companies set up in the region, said.

Respondents highlighted improved career prospects and positive results across the board in terms of the friendliness of the Bahraini society and social life, earning the country sixth place globally in finding friends.

Bahrain’s economy is growing at its fastest pace in a decade, driven by a combination of continued fiscal reforms and higher oil prices, according to the International Monetary Fund. 

The kingdom’s economy grew by 4.9 percent in 2022 spurred by a surge in the non-oil sector, particularly hospitality, government services and real estate. 

Bahrain last month issued the first “golden licences” to five companies which have invested more than $1.4 billion in the Gulf nation and are expected to generate more than 1,400 jobs by 2026.

Licences were granted to Citi, Infracorp, Eagle Hills Diyar W.L.L, Whampoa Group and Saudi Telecommunication Company.

“International investors are attracted to Bahrain’s business-friendly environment and its pro-business policies,” Neil Wilson, director of strategy and commercial at Creation Business Consultants, said.

Kuwait has ranked bottom in nine out of the last 10 years – just 43 percent of expats said they were happy with their life in the country, compared to 72 percent globally.

Mexico, which has been consistently ranked in the top five since 2014, was named the best place for expats to live and work.

Based in Munich, InterNations is the world’s largest expat community with more than 4.8 million members. This year is the tenth edition of the annual Expat Insider survey and was based on data from 12,065 expats living in 172 countries or territories.

How expats rate life in Bahrain
Expat essentials index: 1st out of 53
1st Language and Admin topics
8th Digital life
10th Housing

Ease of settling in index: 9th out of 53
6th Finding friends
11th Culture and welcome
15th Local friendliness

Working abroad index: 19th out of 53
11th Career prospects
13th Work culture and satisfaction
20th Salary and job security
42nd Work and leisure

Quality of life index: 20th out of 53
13th Healthcare
14th Safety and security
20th Leisure options
28th Travel and transit
40th Environment and climate

Happiness level: Bahrain 71% (Global 72%)

(53 countries surveyed, 12,065 survey respondents ranked countries in 56 categories)

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