The culture and festivals in Bahrain are largely influenced by the residing population, the great majority of which are Arab and Islamic. By this virtue, most of its culture and celebrations are taken from these two cultures. The interesting thing to note about Bahrain is its extremely diverse population, a large part of which is comprised of foreign nationals and immigrants providing the greater number of the labor force. The culture and attitudes of the nation are then much more lax than its neighboring states which are strictly conservative and Islamic in their ideals. Despite being the melting pot of different traditions, cultures, and religions, the core of Bahraini culture still has not changed.
The dress of the average Bahraini is conservative and influenced by the garb of Arabic styles. Although there is no formal dress code for men and women, citizens still dress quite conservatively with traditional and western clothing. Traditionally, women wear a Daffah, a black long loose fitting article of clothing with long sleeves and drapes down near the ankles. Although the practice of Hijab is not strictly enforced in Bahrain, women still dress in a conservative fashion even when in western garb. The sun-soaked archipelago may motion for skimpy clothing and beach attire, but tourists are suggested to still wear fairly conservative clothing.
Aside from western clothing, there is a host of different traditional garments that Bahraini men typically wear, an example of which is the Thobe. A Thobe is an ankle-length draping robe with long sleeves. They are typically white in color during the summer, but during winter time, Thobes of darker colors are worn and may be made from thicker wool. Clothing may be adorned with a red and white checkered square scarf known as a Ghutara which is worn by folding it in half into a triangle and draped over the head and held in place with a Keffiyeh. A Keffiyeh is a skull cap that holds the Ghutara in place.
The mixture of Islamic values and Western cultures, as well as a mixture of Asian populations has changed how the common Bahraini dresses. Despite this, however, the deep cultural roots of Islam still prevail amidst all the diversity. Most of the celebrations and festivals in Bahrain are Islamic and Arab in nature. Major Islamic holidays are celebrated all throughout the nation as they play a large role in the Bahraini culture. Eid UL-Fitr is an Islamic holiday that marks the end of the dawn until dusk fasting that Muslims do in accordance with the Islamic month of fasting known as Ramadan. During this time, the people feast in rejoice and it is typical for them to eat sweet foods. Fasting during Eid UL-Fitr is not allowed and can be likened to Thanksgiving in the western world. To properly greet people for Eid UL-Fitr, it is customary to say Eid Mubarak (“Blessed Eid UL-Fitr”) or Eid Sa‘eed (“Happy Eid UL-Fitr”).
There are so many great things to learn about the culture and festivals in Bahrain. Although a dominantly Islamic state, Bahrain is very much familiar with western customs and ideas. How they can still maintain their core cultural heritage is just simply admirable.