From James Arthur to Michael Jackson: these 13 celebrities have all lived in Bahrain

A number of world-renowned stars have called the kingdom their home

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Michael Jackson performs on stage during is "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium November 10, 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Indian Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez poses for a picture as she attends the press conference for Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, in Mumbai on June 24, 2019. (Photo by Sujit Jaiswal / AFP)

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) James Arthur attends The BRIT Awards 2019 held at The O2 Arena on February 20, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Shakira performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.   Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

For a tiny island, Bahrain has certainly welcomed a lot of big stars

Not only have some of the most recognisable names in modern-day music and film visited the kingdom on holiday, but a number of them actually made it their home.

Here are a few of the most famous past and present island residents.

James Arthur

The 2012 X Factor winner and global chart-topping singer-songwriter moved to Bahrain with his mother and two sisters when he was just 9 years old, in 1997. He was there for four years, attending the British School of Bahrain – where he was known for starring in school plays. In April 2001, the family moved back to England.

Michael Jackson

After his acquittal of child abuse charges following a 14-week trial in America in 2005, the King of Pop moved to Bahrain.

But the king’s son, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, later sued Jackson in the British High Court, saying the pop star reneged on a contract after he accepted millions of dollars in advances.

He was supposed to produce a new album, an autobiography and a stage play with the advances, but didn't. The pop star ended up settling with the prince out of court.

Jermaine Jackson, Michael's brother, has also been to Bahrain and reportedly converted to Islam after a trip to the island in 1989.

FILE - In this Thursday, March 17, 2005, file photo, pop star Michael Jackson acknowledges his fans as he arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, in Santa Maria, Calif. The Michael Jackson estate is donating $300,000 to help people in the entertainment industry hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The donations will focus on Broadway workers, as well as workers in Las Vegas and in the music industry, Jackson's estate announced Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant, File)

Misha Nonoo

The British-Bahraini fashion designer, who is said to have introduced close friends Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was born and grew up in Bahrain. While she did her early education on the island, she later went to schools in London and Paris and ended up opening her eponymous line of women's ready-to-wear in 2011, famous fans of which include Markle, Pippa Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker. Read more about Nonoo's experience of giving birth to her first child amid the coronavirus outbreak here.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex embraces designer Misha Nonoo as she launches the Smart Works capsule collection on September 12, 2019 in London, England. Created in September 2013 Smart Works exists to help unemployed women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews and return to employment. (Photo by Mark Large - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Sandi Thom

Scottish singer Sandi Thom is best known for her hit 2006 single I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair). A lesser known fact about her is that she currently lives on the small Gulf island, running the Bahrain Animal Rescue Centre.

Thom moved to Bahrain three years ago, after her husband was offered a job there. She plans to stay for another year or two at least. Read our interview with the star about her time on the island here.

Jacqueline Fernandez

The Bollywood actress and winner of the 2006 Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant was born in Bahrain: her family moved there in the early 1980s.

She went to school on the island and even began a career in TV presenting, hosting a show called Tic-Tac-Toe when just 14. She went on to do her higher education in Australia.

MUMBAI, INDIA  NOVEMBER 12: Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez during a press conference of International Pop Singer Katy Perry, at St Regis Hotel, Lower Parel, ahead of her performance, on November 12, 2019 in Mumbai, India. Landing in India after a long gap of seven years, a rejuvenated Katy Perry shared her plans of going around the streets of Mumbai to try her hands on some local cuisine and also spilled the beans on chances of collaborating with Indian artists. On being asked if she admires any Indian artist or is looking forward to collaborating with them, Perry added, I think thats what the research and development this week is going to be all about. I am going to some really fun party, meet some people from Bollywood, will be hearing some incredible bands. This time is all about immersing and educating myself. (Photo by Aalok Soni/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)


It is widely reported that Colombian pop superstar Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known more commonly as Shakira (which is Arabic for "grateful" or "thankful"), lived on the island as a little girl, briefly attending the Bahrain School.

The Waka Waka singer, who speaks Arabic, even references the country in her song Ojos Asi when she sings in Spanish the words: "I travelled from Bahrain to Beirut".

Shemar Moore

The American actor and former fashion model, best known for his role as Derek Morgan in the hit TV show Criminal Minds, moved to Bahrain at the age of 4.

His mother was a teacher and Moore attended a private British school there for three years.

A handout photo of CRIMINAL MINDS - "Criminal Minds" stars Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia,  Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan, A.J. Cook as Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, Joe Mantegna as David Rossi, Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner and Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid. (ABC Studios/Cliff Lipson) (Courtesy: OSN)
 *** Local Caption ***  al28ju-cover-minds.jpg

Kitty Aldridge

While British actress Kitty Aldridge, who was born in Bahrain in 1962, hasn't acted in anything since 1998, she is remembered for starring in A Room with a View (1985) and TV series The Paradise Club (1989).

She turned to writing in her thirties and has been married to renowned singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler since 1997. The pair have two children. She lived in Bahrain for the first four years of her life.

Mamta Mohandas

The award-winning Indian actress and playback singer – best known for her work on King (2008), Kadha Thudarunnu (2010) and Two Countries (2015) – was born in Bahrain in 1985.

Mohandas grew up there, attending the Indian School until 2002. She often visits the island, as she still has family there.


Three out of four of the members from four-piece alternative rock band Flamingods were brought up in Bahrain.

Kamal Rasool, the band’s founder, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest all went to school on the island and still visit to this day. While they currently live in London, the members spent lengthy periods living apart in different countries and so they craft much of their music via the internet. Rasool also spent quite a bit of time in Dubai.

Bruno Campos

You might recognise Brazilian-American actor and lawyer Bruno Campos from his role in the award-winning TV show Nip/Tuck. Or else you might just remember his voice from animated film The Princess and the Frog, in which he played Prince Naveen.

The son of an international banker and actress, Campos moved around a lot when he was younger, growing up across Brazil, Canada, America and, of course, Bahrain.


Read more:

Why UK chart-topping singer Sandi Thom moved to Bahrain to help animals

'In the kitchen, every single second counts': Tala Bashmi on her mission to reinvent Bahraini cuisine

48 reasons to love Bahrain: from its Unesco world heritage sites to Manama’s souq