The culture of Bahrain is predominantly Arab as well as being Islamic. Thus, Bahrain's culture is similar to that of its neighbours in the Gulf region. In the past two centuries, Bahrain had become largely cosmopolitan, hosting people from a variety of places such as India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and others. Though the state religion is Islam, the country is tolerant towards other religions; Catholic and Orthodox churches, Hindu temples as well as a (now-disused) Jewish synagogue are present on the island.
Just around half of the population are Arabs, and most are native-born Bahrainis, but only a minority of them are Omanis, or Saudis. Foreign-born inhabitants, comprising more than half of the population, are mostly from Iran, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Britain, and the United States. About three-fifths of the largely Asian labor force is foreign.
The population is mostly Muslim and includes both the Sunni and Shia sects. Bahrain is also the only Persian Gulf Arab state with an active Jewish population, and has the largest Christian minority within the Persian Gulf Arab states. Roughly 1,000 Christians hold Bahraini citizenship, with the closest country, Kuwait, only having approximately 200. Arabic is the official language of Bahrain,and the G.C.C but English is widely used. Southern Persian (Bushehr) dialect is widely spoken by Bahrainis of Persian descent ajam and others. Many Bahrainis have a working knowledge not only of English but Hindi and Urdu as well.
In spite of its rapid economic development, Bahrain remains, in many respects, essentially Arab in its culture. Football (soccer) is the most popular modern sport, while traditional pastimes such as falconry, horse riding, and gazelle and hare hunting are still practiced by wealthier Bahrainis. Horse and camel racing are popular public entertainments.
Traditional handicraft industries enjoy state and popular support. The Bahrain National Museum in Manama contains local artifacts dating from antiquity, such as ivory figurines, pottery, copper articles, and gold rings, many of which reflect various cultural influences from outside Bahrain. There is also a small but flourishing avant-garde art community.
The typical Bahraini woman dresses conservatively, usually the abaya, a long loose-fitting black gown, is worn. However, there is no formal dress code in Bahrain, and foreigners as well as local women are seen wearing modern (but modest) outfits as well.
Bahraini men usually wear the Thobe (ثوب) and the traditional headdress which includes the Keffiyeh, Ghutra and Agal.
- The Thobe, or 'Dishdasha' in Kuwaiti, is a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. Summer Thobes are white and made of cotton and winter Thobes can be darker and made of wool.
- The Ghutra is a square scarf, made of cotton, and is folded in a triangle and worn over the Keffiyeh. In Bahrain, it is usually red and white checked or all white. There is no significance placed on which kind the man wears.
- The Keffiyeh is a white knitted skull cap worn under the Ghutra.
- The Agal is a thick, double, black cord that is worn on the top of the Ghutra to hold it in place.
In some occasions, Bahrainis wear a Bisht, which is a cloak made of wool, over the thobe. Unlike the thobe, the Bisht is soft, and it is usually black, brown, or grey.
Several weekly and daily papers are published in Arabic - Akhbar Al Khaleej, Al Ayam, Al Waqt to name a few. A small number of newspapers appear in English - Gulf Daily News, Daily Tribune. Most of the press is privately owned. The state television and radio stations broadcast most programs in Arabic, although there are channels in English and Hindi (radio).
Arts include readings of the Quran, ceremonial dances accompanied by flat drums, and storytelling. The poets of Bahrain are famous for their poetic verses and carry on established traditions while also exploring new themes. Births and marriages call for wide-scale celebrations in Bahrain, which often are a pleasure to take part in. Apart from this, the people of Bahrain are also known for their artistic skills, the boats used for fishing and pearling, being an example of this craftsmanship. The traditional jewelry also speaks volumes about the intricate designs that the people of Bahrain can come up with.
Khaleeji is a style of Persian Gulf-area folk music, played in Bahrain with polyrhythms. The style is strongly influenced by the music of Africa. The Bahraini male-only pearl diving tradition is known for the songs called Fidjeri. Fidjeri is a musical repertoire performed traditionally by male pearl divers of Bahrain. It involves singing, clapping, drums and dances with earthen water jars. Liwa is a type of music and dance performed mainly in communities which contain descendants of East Africans, such as Muharraq and Hidd.
The music of Bahrain follows the traditional Arabic mode. It is elaborate and repetitive. It is played on the oud (an ancestor of the lute) and the Rebaba (a one-stringed instrument). Bahrain also has a folk dance tradition. The Ardha is a men's sword dance, which is accompanied by traditional drummers and a poet, who sings the lyrics.
A small number of films have been made in the country.
- Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha
- Prophet's birthday
- Bahrain Independence Day
- Bahrain's National Day