Political Concerns for Travelers to Bahrain

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How to prepare for your journey to Bahrain, keeping a low profile, and personal security tips.

Traditional buildings of Muharraq, Bahrain Photo © Getty Images/Emad Aljumah

Bahrain has experienced large demonstrations in the main city of Manama, and the Bahraini authorities have drafted in military personnel from Saudi Arabia to control crowds which has led to many arrests and the deaths of a number of demonstrators. Here are some tips on how to stay safe during unrest in Bahrain.

Prepare For Your Journey

Before going to Bahrain it is vital to consider whether your journey is essential as there are Foreign Office recommendations not to go. Visiting Bahrain could invalidate some travel insurance should you need to make a claim.

Should you plan to travel to Bahrain make sure you have registered your details with the local embassy. This is so that you can be reached if foreign nationals are evacuated from the country. Also, make sure you have thought through an emergency exit plan. Ensure you have emergency contact details for critical agencies such as the airport, embassy, and your insurance provider.

Keep a Low Profile

It is really important to stay aware of the political situation in Bahrain by watching news bulletins and keeping in touch with key contacts. Having internet access on a cell phone is very useful however recent experiences in the unrest in North Africa saw governments blocking access to Facebook and other social media networks.

Bahrain has a very unpredictable political situation with the majority Shia population being ruled by Sunni Muslims who have drafted in Saudi troops to control riots. Most of the demonstrations have taken place in and around the Pearl Roundabout area and it is advisable to avoid gatherings here as they have been known to lead to violent reprisals from troops.

Other areas of unrest have occurred at the Sulmaniya Hospital which is near the Pearl Roundabout as the doctors have treated demonstrators and subsequently suffered reprisals. Ironically this hospital is also the best place to get medical attention in Bahrain. Hamad Town and the Sanabis district are other areas to avoid.

Women should stay away from the demonstrations as they could quickly become surrounded by men and people who may react violently towards them. Particular flashpoints are after midday prayers on a Friday and at festival time.

Funerals are also best avoided as they can result in violence. If you find yourself in an area where a protest is occurring it is best to leave at once or stay indoors, and keep away from any windows.

In several parts of Bahrain, including Seef and the Sheikh Isa bin Salman Bridge to Muharraq, there is a curfew in place. It is best to avoid these areas around the time of curfew as they are vulnerable to unrest.

Personal Security

International terrorist groups have called for attacks against Westerners in the Gulf Region. This includes oil installations, residential compounds and airfields, and extends to commercial areas where Westerners are known to go.

Vigilance and being aware of your surroundings is essential in Bahrain as future attacks cannot be dismissed.

Ensure you have a hotel room that can be locked and be aware of your personal belongings at all time. Dress conservatively and keep a low profile while in Bahrain.

Above all, stay safe.

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