Bahrain has a relatively low crime rate when compared with other countries. However, it has risen in the last couple of years, particularly petty crime against low-income foreign workers and smash-and-grab offences against parked cars in the Exhibition Road area. Be discreet with large amounts of cash, your belongings and travel documents; keep anything valuable in the hotel safe. There are few tricksters about, but be sensible. Statistics show that more than half the people who commit crimes in Bahrain are actually from other countries.
Be a little more cautious with locking your hotel room at night. Most hotels have discos frequented by some unsavoury characters. Though the hotels have proper security systems including cameras installed, there are instances of tourists having their rooms burglarised.
Large demonstrations can occur at any time, can sometimes become violent but are typically not anti-Western. Avoid areas where crowds of people appear to be assembling.
Expatriates should be aware that Bahrain, along with a number of other Gulf States, is a potential target for terrorist attacks. The amount of Western investment and the number of international companies based there mean that an act of terrorism there could cause considerable harm and disruption and terrorists often issue threats towards these targets. It is important to be generally safety conscious and aware of what is going on around you and visitors are advised to avoid protests and demonstrations, as these have a tendency to become violent.
Female visitors to the country should be extra vigilant if travelling alone, particularly at night, and are advised to use only a recommended taxi firm. It is important to be aware of local customs to avoid causing offence, as this could lead to unnecessary trouble. Visitors are advised to dress conservatively when at work or out in public and to observe any religious and cultural beliefs.
There are a number of laws which may seem a little strange to westerners but should be observed. It is illegal to bring DVDs or video tapes in to Bahrain. Homosexuality is still illegal in Bahrain, as it is in a number of the Gulf States. It is important to carry your ID card at all times as the authorities can ask to see it at any time. Unlike a number of other Gulf States, alcohol is available for non-Muslims to buy, but should never be consumed in the street.
Police in Bahrain are divided into Public Security forces and Traffic Police. The Public Security officers wear pale green uniforms, while Traffic Police uniforms are white in the summer and light green and white in the winter. The majority of Public Security police are armed with handguns, but when on duty guarding strategic locations, such as embassies and ministries, they tend to be better armed.
Traffic police cars are white and black, with blue lights on the roof. Public Security vehicles are mostly SUVs and are generally dark blue, again with blue lights on the roof. While the police are generally approachable, many of them speak no English, so may not be much help if you are lost. The emergency number for the police in Bahrain is 999. To report a traffic accident, the number is 199. However, for accidents where the cars can be moved, the drivers should go directly to one of the Traffic Directorate offices and obtain an accident report from there.