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Dubai vs Bahrain – The Best Expat Choice Revealed

Bahrain or Dubai | The Vacation Builder

Middle Eastern relocation has become a very common career move for millions of expats across the globe. Thanks to lucrative packages and added benefits, cities in Middle Eastern countries are experiencing more and more influx of foreign professionals and skilled workers.

If you are considering moving to a Middle East city and wondering whether to choose Dubai or Bahrain, we are here to help you to make a conscious decision.

We compared location, climate conditions, cost of living, salaries, career opportunities, things to do & see, crime rates, education, population density and public transport. transportation to see who won when it came down to Dubai vs Bahrain.

Overall, we found Dubai to be the better expat choice with all aspects considered. However, Bahrain still presented many advantages.

Which is in the Best Location?

Dubai vs Bahrain - Where is Better for Expats - Locations | The Vacation Builder

Dubai, the most popular and populous city of the UAE, is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the North of the country. Dubai is one of the six emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates. The city of Dubai is very close to Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital.

The city of Dubai is filled with towering sky scrapers, luxury hotels and lined with gorgeous beaches with plenty going on. However, step outside of the city and you will be surprised to find the beautiful mountainous backdrops of Jebel Jais and Jebel Hafeet, as well as lots of wildlife.

On the other hand, Bahrain (more specifically the Kingdom of Bahrain) is nestled along the southwestern coastline of the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is an archipelago made up of more than 30 artificial islands and 70 natural islands and is the largest one, with 83% landmass of the country.

Aside from luxury hotels, restaurants, attractions and beaches; Bahrain doesn’t offer too much with relation to natural scenery.

One common thing for both Dubai and Bahrain is that they are not the capital cities of their respective countries. For UAE, it is Abu Dhabi and for the Kingdom of Bahrain, it is Manama.

If you take a look at the world map, you can spot Dubai and Bahrain along the lower coastal part of the Persian Gulf. The distance between these two is approximately 920 kilometres by road.

Location Advantages

Both Dubai and Bahrain sit in advantageous locations which can be easily travelled by people from Africa, Europe and Asia. These two gorgeous cities are dotted with so many luxury hotels, skyscrapers and beautiful beaches. In terms of giant shopping malls and plush restaurants, Dubai beats Bahrain, however Bahrain is an intriguing and western-living promoting place for sure.

Verdict – Dubai

Dubai vs Bahrain – Weather

When you consider the climatic conditions from Dubai and Bahrain, you will get almost similar factors influencing the weather.

Dubai flaunts warm weather all year round with two prominent seasons – summer and winter. The city receives an average of 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. So, you can expect to see clear skies and warm to hot weather year round in Dubai.

In Dubai, January is the coolest month and August marks the highest temperature. The temperature can drop down as low as to 20°C in January and soar up to 41°C in August. December to March is the most pleasant time of the year for venturing out in Dubai.

The climate of Bahrain is mild in winter but excessively hot in summer. Basically, it features two main seasons – summer and winter (quite similar to Dubai). Winter months include December, January and February with summer starting in April and finishing in October. Bahrain can see temperatures as low as 10°C in January while the highest summer temperature can go up to 40°C.

Both the places show very little precipitation rate. Most days of the year are dry and sunny.

Verdict – Tie

Whether you choose Dubai or Bahrain, there is no escaping the consistent immense heat during the summer months.

Dubai vs Bahrain for Cost of Living

Despite the glitz and glamour, Dubai continues to be substantially cheap when compared with any other major cities across the globe such as London, New York or Sydney. This is proven through our previous comparisons of Dubai vs London and Dubai vs Sydney.

Despite Dubai being cheap compared to other major cities, you are going to be pleasantly surprised with Bahrain!

Consumer prices in Dubai (without rent) are approximately 16% higher than it is in Bahrain. With rent, it is 33% higher in Dubai than in Bahrain. If we consider the Local Purchasing Power of these two places, Dubai shows an astonishing difference with 71% higher capacity than Bahrain.

The Cost of Living in Dubai is 48% higher than in Bahrain which means you have to earn nearly double in Dubai to enjoy the same living standard that you can have in Bahrain! You can find more details about a comparative analysis of the cost of living in these two places at Numbeo.com.

Verdict – Bahrain

Dubai or Bahrain for Higher Salaries?

There’s no denial to the fact that money plays a crucial role in decision-making process of relocating to a new place. If you are eyeing either for Dubai or for Bahrain, we are here to help you understand the money you can make here.

Before we start with the average salaries to be expected from different professions in Dubai vs Bahrain, let’s take a look at the income tax rules these cities follow.

Workers in Dubai and Bahrain, including expats, are exempted from paying any income tax. This is probably the most motivating factor for expats when considering which country to move to.

In the following table, we have tried to put together some of the most sought-after professions from both the places so that you can check out the average earnings one can make in Dubai compared to Bahrain.

Profession (Annual)DubaiBahrain
Civil Engineer$57,240$45,090
Business Development Manager$49,410$76,140
Admin Clerk$19,602$22,950
Graphic Designer$16,605$29,970
Air Traffic Controller$67,392$54,810
HR Manager$100,440$74,790
Petroleum Engineer$63,504$51,840
Hair Stylist$26,957$22,950
Occupational Therapist$40,176$59,400
Bar Manager$42,444$70,200
Real Estate Agent$57,672$86,400
Web Developer$57,996$44,550

Note: Remember that salaries mentioned here can fluctuate to several degree depending on the educational qualification and work experience of the candidate.

Verdict – Dubai

Where Has Better Career Opportunities?

Expats are pouring in numbers to settle in Middle East countries mostly because of attractive salary packages, explorable career opportunities and tax-free income.

There are several factors that influence how a city is doing when it comes to generating job opportunities for the mass. Discussing each of these factors can take too much of your time. So we are considering two basic factors to gauge the scope of career opportunities – new job creation and unemployment rate.

In the following table, we have put together the figures from 2019. We purposefully avoided the 2020 data as figures during the Covid pandemic situation can be volatile and do not show a true reflection.

Unemployment Rate4.2%0.71%
New Jobs Created6,000 -73,260
Population Per Job Created1 in every 555 N/A

Although this chart does very little justice to draw the actual picture of career opportunity scenarios in Dubai and Bahrain, it is useful for laymen to get some idea about what to expect from both these places.

Despite Bahrain offering endless career opportunities, it actually experienced a decline in the number of people employed in 2019 in comparison to 2018, even though the overall population increased.

Verdict – Dubai

Dubai vs Bahrain – Things To Do

Dubai vs Bahrain - Where is Better for Expats - Which Has Better Things to Do - Bahrain Fort | The Vacation Builder
Bahrain Fort

Before moving to a new place, everyone becomes a little cautious about what kind of things they can do in and around the area. Whichever place you land yourself, both Dubai and Bahrain will keep you on your toes with a hoard of attractions.

Both these places have loads of free things to do, particularly exploring the wonderful beaches along the Arabian Gulf. Thanks to loads of sunlight and long hours of daytime, spending time on the beach and swimming in the open sea is truly overwhelming.

Let’s check out the best things to do and see in Bahrain:

  • Bahrain Fort – UNESCO World Heritage
  • Al Fateh Grand Mosque
  • Bahrain National Museum
  • Amwaj Islands
  • Al Dar Islands
  • Bahrain International Circuit
  • Dohat Arad Park
  • Bahrain World Trade Centre
  • Beit Al Quran
  • Shopping at Bab Al Bahrain
  • Pearl Diving
  • Dolphin Spotting

Here is the list of some of the best things to do and see in Dubai:

Dubai Vs Bahrain - Where is Better for Expats - Where Has Better Things to Do - La Mer Beach, Dubai | The Vacation Builder
La Mer Beach, Dubai

Both Bahrain and Dubai have got everything to keep boredom away. But Dubai is the land of amazing luxury hotels, world-class restaurants and gigantic shopping malls. Add to this, the natural sights of Jebel Hafeet, Jebel Jais and surrounding wadi’s and there is one clear winner.

Verdict – Dubai

Crime Rates

While thinking of relocating to a new place, your mind must be occupied with the safety and security of your family. But if you are heading for either Bahrain or Dubai, there is not much to worry about. Both places are extremely safe to live in with a family compared to any other major cities from USA and Europe.

Both the places don’t show any inclination towards crimes and that’s may be because of societal influence and strict laws to punish the criminals. As per Numbeo.com, the Crime Rate Index in Dubai is 16.49 and it is 21.99 in Bahrain. Both these numbers are pretty low compared to the Crime Rate Index of 53.19 in London and 47.23 in New York.

Another good way to determine the safety of people by looking at the Safety Scale of these two places. The higher the score, the more it is safe to live. Safety Scale Index in Dubai is 83.51 whereas Bahrain holds the score of 78.01.

Verdict – Dubai


You can never deny the utmost importance of having a good education for your children. This one of the primary factors that people take into account before relocation particularly for a foreign country.

You will be glad to hear that Dubai maintains a very high standard in all its schools, colleges and universities. But expats can’t enjoy free education at Dubai’s public schools. They must pay the fees for their child’s education, be it a private or public school.

Bahrain also boasts a very progressive and a highly valued education system. The best part is, education in public school is free for all Bahraini and non-Bahraini students.

Although Bahrain’s public schools are free to all, the education system is taught with strong Islamic influence. If you are happy with this, then Bahrain has you covered with education.

Verdict – Bahrain

Population Density

Another factor that can influence your decision to settle down in a foreign city is population density. It’s not rocket science to understand the impact of living in a highly populated city. You have to struggle everyday to beat heavy traffic on the way to your office, spend more time in long queues in front of touristy places and very little scope to enjoy some space away from the crowd.

Well, Dubai and Bahrain can make you happy with their relatively low Population Density Indexes in comparison to any major cities across the globe.

As per recent surveys, Population Density in Dubai is 860 persons per square kilometre while Bahrain has 2,240 people living per square kilometre. The small land area of Bahrain is the main reason that Bahrain is more densely populated than Dubai.

Verdict – Dubai

Where Has Better Public Transport?

Dubai vs Bahrain - Where is Better for Expats - Public Transport - Dubai Metro | The Vacation Builder
Dubai Metro

We will discuss the public transportation facilities available both in Dubai Bahrain as our last topic in this comparison. Public transport can be described as the lifeline of any modern city. A city with good and comfortable public transport will save loads of effort and lots of your money to shuttle between your office, school, market and home.

Bahrain’s public transport system is used by many people. Bus and taxi are the two most prominent pillars of Bahrain’s public transport network. Expats prefer to drive their own cars but many still hire taxis. Taxis are not at all cheap here. There are different taxi fares for day and night in Bahrain.

The average cost per mile of a taxi in Bahrain is 1.61BHD (16AED) in comparison to Dubai at just 2.91AED!

Dubai features a very well-maintained public transportation system backed by taxi, bus, metro, water taxi, tram and monorail. Getting around in Dubai is easier, cheaper and faster than any other major city in the world.

Verdict – Dubai

Conclusion – Dubai or Bahrain for Expats?

We have placed our findings and comparisons in front of you. All you need to do is to finalize your relocation spot depending on your career requirements and personal priorities.

Both places offer thriving environments and a great standard of living for its expats. Choose Bahrain if you are looking to save as much of your earnings as you can; because here the cost of living is cheaper. However, if you want to move for the experience of everything else, Dubai is the place to be!

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