Fortunately for English-speaking visitors, many businesses and newspapers publish in English rather than in Arabic. The Bahrain Post is an indispensable source of information about Manama: news, politics, business, and more. It is especially important to update yourself on these local matters before visiting because Bahrain is such a tiny, distant nation that it often doesn’t make the international newspapers.

Arabic speakers can read the Alayam Daily , a Manama-based publication that is helpful especially for its focus on religious news. The Tribune’s web site has PDF files of each daily paper, enabling remote readers to go as far back in the archives as they’d like.  

Guidebooks are essential reading material for anyone unfamiliar with Manama, Bahrain or the Middle East in general. Lonely Planet has published one of the only standard traveler’s guides for Bahrain, and even this one also includes Kuwait and Qatar. The guide is useful primarily for its maps of Manama and the countryside, as well as hotel and restaurant listings. A good supplement to this guide is Culture Shock! Bahrain by Harvey and Margaret Tripp. It is a solid attempt to demystify the cultural quirks you’ll encounter in Manama and provide informed advice for polite travelers.