Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brunei's New Jerudong Park: 200,000 Visitors in 8 months

Nadzri Zailani
Monday, January 19, 2015

THE revamped Jerudong Park Playground has attracted more than 200,000 visitors since it reopened eight months ago, said Jerudong Park Country Club’s head of finance.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Hj Jeff Hadiman Dato Paduka Hj Danial said the figures were more than they expected and showed how people sorely missed the amusement park.

“To reach a number like 200,000 was a very happy surprise for us, seeing that the population of Brunei Darussalam is over 400,000 – it is nice to think that half of the population had visited Jerudong Park Playground in less than a year of its re-launch,” he said.

It is not known how many Bruneians accounted for the total number of visitors.

Hj Jeff said November and December had recorded the most number of visitors of over 50,000 visitors, mainly due to its promotion and opening of Brunei’s largest water park last month.

“The highest (daily) attendance that Jerudong Park Playground has achieved so far is around 9,000 visitors. This happened in November last year, which coincided with our very successful November Weekend Promotion,” he added.

Currently the park has over 20 attractions ranging from family-friendly rides such as the Double Decker Carousel and Junior Bumper Cars, to the more thrilling rides such as the Junior Roller Coaster and high-tech Laser Maze.

The head of finance said once a guest has purchased the wristband to enter the park, they are allowed to ride the attractions for an unlimited amount of time throughout the day depending on height and safety restrictions.

“Since the re-launch, the number of times our guests have enjoyed our many attractions at the Playground has totalled an amazing half a million times… With half a million rides already enjoyed so far, I personally can’t wait to celebrate the one millionth ride enjoyed at the Playground since our re-launch,” he added.

He went on to say that their most popular new attractions were the Junior Coaster, the Double Decker Carousel and Brunei’s only ferris wheel, while the water park received an overwhelming response in its opening month.

“Every water park session was fully booked by our guests during December,” he said.

The head of finance added that he would not be surprised if the water park became the most popular attraction at Jerudong Park Playground.

He said the Playground aims to become a destination where people in the country could hold events. “Not only is our Playground available for the public, we are also available for private, corporate and social events as well as birthday parties – so we hope to have more families, groups and organisations looking to us for their next function or event.”

According to the Jerudong Park Facebook Page, the amusement park was initially a gift from His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the Bruneian people in conjunction with his 48th birthday in 1994.

Between 1994 and 2000, the public were allowed free admission into the park and it was known as one of the largest and most expensive amusement parks in Southeast Asia.

Hj Jeff Hadiman said they will focus on continuing the momentum they have had from 2014 and work together with Brunei tourism players to lure more foreigners this year.

“We want to work together with all the stakeholders of Brunei Tourism (travel agents, hotels, government agencies) to ensure we can all benefit from tourists coming to Brunei,” he said.

They also hope to make Jerudong Park one of the most attractive places in Brunei, and a destination not to be missed by tourists.

“There are many beautiful and exciting places to visit in our wonderful country, and it’s our goal to make sure Jerudong Park Playground establishes itself once again as one of these places. We hope Jerudong Park Playground comes to mind to all those who visit Brunei, and is considered one of the “must-sees” on their list,” he said.

Siti Khairunnisa Hj Ramli, a traffic assistant at Royal Brunei airlines, said she wished there were more rides that cater to adults.

“In my opinion, they need some extreme rides for the adult visitors. Most of their current rides mainly target the younger generation, it would be better if they could also cater to thrill seekers who just want to let off steam and have a good time,” said the 24-year-old who has visited the park twice.

She also suggested adding more indoor rides or activities as visitors can still enjoy the Playground during rainy days.

The Brunei Times

Friday, January 30, 2015

Keeping The Satay Tradition in Brunei

Azli Azney

Monday, January 19, 2015

THE fragrant smell was distinct to that of sizzling meat and charcoal smoke as Hj Zaini Hj Jahiri, a 64-year-old man, deftly fans the stove while keeping a keen eye on the doneness of the skewered meat arranged on the grill at the Tutong Town wet market.

Hj Zaini comes from a line of purveyors of satay and the accompanying condiments which started with his grandfather who was a Dusun that hailed from Kampung Bakiau in Lamunin, Tutong.

His grandfather started selling satay since his youth, taking the business with him everywhere he went, before settling at Subok in Bandar. He worked as a secretary in a logging company while perfecting his satay and peanut sauce recipes, and selling his creations.

It was there that Hj Zaini’s father and mother, along with their siblings, learned how to prepare and cook satay as they grew up.

“Everyone in my dad’s family — my aunts and uncles — are satay makers. They learned the craft from my grandfather and they passed it on,” said Hj Zaini with a smile.

The elderly man then said that his father, Jahiri, moved to Kuala Belait after the Japanese occupation of Brunei, and stayed there to sell his food while working with the government.

“I was born in Belait and for as long as I remembered, my father always sold satay,” said the man. He went on to say that he and his siblings all helped out with the business.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 11 or 12 years old. Back then, if you laze around the house or don’t do your chores, you don’t get to eat,” he smiled ruefully.

He said that this house rule was not imposed out of cruelty but to impart an important life lesson: “If you don’t work then you don’t get to eat.” Hj Zaini and his siblings took the lesson to heart, along with a love of making and serving the skewered meats.

Now that he’s 64 years old, Hj Zaini has been in the business, with the help of his wife and children, for half a century daily non-stop, with the exception of events such as marriages or deaths.

He did this while holding a day job as a supervisor with Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd and as a manager for HHRM Company, a catering service until he retired a little more than seven years ago.

“My wife usually holds the fort whenever I get too busy with work, preparing and cooking the satay and keeping the business going,” he explained.

Everyday, the family receives a delivery of meat from their supplier, a decades-old arrangement, where his wife and children, if they were available, would prepare the meat. Care is taken when removing the bones and making sure that the meat were the proper sizes and are tender.

Here, his wife, 62-year-old Hjh Lenny Abdullah, interjected. “For the beef, we don’t use just any parts of it. It has to be either premium or choice cuts because any other cuts would be tough and hard to bite into.”

As the one that prepares and seasons the meat, Hjh Lenny added that for 30 to 40 kilograms of meat, cutting the meat can take two to three hours if done alone. This happens more often lately as most of his children have families of their own and venturing into their own satay business as well, and his youngest daughter is busy with school and only able to help during holidays.

After preparing the meat, the beef is then marinated in a sealed tub outside while the chicken is marinated in the freezer. Here, the couple became quite secretive about the proportions of the ingredients other than saying that the marinade is made out of cumin, anise, turmeric, coriander, salt, sugar, curry powder and some other ingredients which are a family secret.

“I hope you don’t mind because my grandfather has expressly forbid us from disclosing the whole ingredients as well as letting people see the preparation process,” said Hj Zaini, while his wife nodded in agreement.

“However, I can say that the most essential ingredient to the preparation of the food is time,” said Hjh Lenny. She added that the meats are marinated for at least 24 hours to make sure the taste of the marinade soaks within the meat and makes the meat more tender.

“Honestly, no matter how good the ingredients are, without enough time to let the taste properly soak in, the satay will never taste good,” said Hjh Lenny.

After marinating, the couple will then skewer the meat. Using their decades of experience to gauge the demand, the couple will prepare 1,000 to 2,000 sticks of meat daily. However, this amount does not include orders and reservations.

“We usually go home and continue cutting, preparing, skewering the meat till late at night, just to meet the demand,” said Hj Zaini. His wife added that their orders go through the roof during the Raya festivities, adding that 20,000 sticks per day is normal.

“We usually don’t get any sleep during that time,” Hjh Lenny said with a laugh while her husband just shakes his head with a grin.

Hj Zaini remarked that they are passing the skills and knowledge along to their children, saying that the business is a family legacy and inheritance. The business does not make a lot of profit, especially as prices of the raw materials have gone up recently, but it makes enough money to pay for everything with some extra for savings.

“Satay making and selling is not easy. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to be successful. It’s also hard work for not much money,” said Hj Zainin, adding that while they would never be rich making and selling satay, it is good and honest work and it pays the bills.

Hjh Lenny added that while they’ve never thought of quitting because not only does the business pay for their bills, they also have a lot of regulars who would be sad if they were to close shop.

“We have regulars that have been with us for years, if not decades,” said Hj Lenny. “If we quit now, they’ll come looking.”

The couple said that they’ll continue on making their satay until they are physically unable to do so. Then, it’ll be their children who will continue on the business with the hope that the trade and the recipe stays within their family.

“Hopefully forever,” Hj Zaini said, with a parting smile.

The Brunei Times

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paris-based Brunei Film Director Showing Artistic Brunei

The film director with local actress Faridah Ibrahim

Posted date: January 19, 2015
| Hamidah Ismail |

ABDUL Zainidi, an independent Paris-based Bruneian film director, is no stranger to Brunei’s videography scene. One of his first works that gained him recognition among the locals was the comedic web-series called ‘Brunei in Paris’, which he created three years ago.

He gained international recognition with his short film called ‘Bread Dream’, which became the first Bruneian film to be selected for the Cannes Short Film Corner in France in 2012. His other internationally recognised works include ‘Gagak dan Merak’, ‘Lobak’ and ‘Sakana Dream’. ‘Sakana Dream’ was presented at the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) in October 2014.

Abdul Zainidi recently returned to the Sultanate to film a documentary called ‘Family and Artists of Brunei’ or ‘FAB’. The filming took two weeks and covered different locations in all four districts featuring the local people.

According to Abdul Zainidi, the documentary is hoped to bring out the ‘true standpoint’ of the Bruneian art scene. Over the course of two weeks, he interviewed 10 local artists, among them were Harlif Haji Mohammad of Regal Blue productions who directed Brunei’s first feature length film ‘Apa ada dengan Rina’, Jamairul Jamair a local singer and composer, Bruneian actress Faridah Ibrahim and Chinese-Bruneian artist Hui Fong. The interviewees spoke on their views of the local artistic scene such as music, acting and cinema.

“Not many people abroad would associate this artistic side of Brunei, which is what my documentary aims to do. I purposely conducted the filming during functions such as ‘Makan 100 hari’ and other festivities in front of different mosques to showcase the country’s colours and splendour,” said Abdul Zaini in an interview.

He intended to show real Bruneian people in traditional ‘baju melayu’ and ‘baju kurung’ to portray the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) to international audiences. He also focused on showcasing smaller and less documented mosques such as the Sengkurong mosques.

“This will show the international community just how different and unique each of our mosques are.”

The director plans to first screen the documentary in festivals and preview it for Brunei’s national day in Paris and Belgium. He plans to bring the documentary back to Brunei to have it screened on RTB and the cinemas.

During his short stay in Brunei, he also managed to complete another two short horror films called ‘Jentingkai’ and ‘Vanishing Children’, both of which are also incorporated in his FAB documentary.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brunei A Role Model for Muslim Nations

Saturday, January 17, 2015

BRUNEI needs to share the secret to its success as a “functional modern Muslim state” as part of ASEAN’s counter-terrorism strategy, said a lecturer from Malaysia’s National Defence University.

Associate Professor Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad (pic), on Thursday, called for greater regional cooperation to combat the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group by leveraging on the experiences of ASEAN member countries.

“Brunei has a lot of success stories. You need to share it with the rest of the world,” he said at the Social Issues Seminar organised by the Malay Muslim Monarchy Supreme Council.

Commending the nation’s dual education system, he said the combination of religious knowledge and mainstream subjects is “remarkable” as it has resulted in “people who are progressive, (leading to) a functional modern Muslim state”.

He explained “a good Muslim education system” is needed to stamp out extremism in ASEAN countries with a Muslim majority.

“Brunei is maybe the only example (of a good Muslim education system). Malaysia, until now, has yet to achieve Brunei’s level of religious education. Your religious education is very comprehensive,” said the associate professor.

Although there is no known ISIS activity in Brunei, he said the country has been identified as a transit point used by militant recruits to evade detection on their journey to Syria.

He stressed the need to enhance regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism, pointing out that ASEAN should focus its efforts on intelligence sharing and joint investigations, as well as utilising extraditions or arrest warrants.

The lecturer said they should also employ a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy and empower its Chiefs of ASEAN Police (ASEANAPOL) framework.

“Despite the ASEAN framework, a lot of cooperation in the fight against terrorism is at the bilateral level. However, the problem with ASEAN is that there is no tangible plan of action,” he said, describing IS as the regional bloc’s biggest terror threat.

The Social Issues Seminar took place at the Centrepoint Hotel, Gadong, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Brunei Times


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brunei Muslims Must Be Wary of Extremism

ariah High Court Judge Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki makes a point during the recently concluded two-day seminar on social ills co-organised by the MIB Supreme Council and the Academy of Brunei Studies. Picture: BT/Nabilah Haris

Nabilah Haris

Sunday, January 18, 2015

MUSLIMS were reminded not to be swayed by recent acts of religious extremism.

During a recently concluded seminar on social ills co-organised by the MIB Supreme Council and the Academy of Brunei Studies, Syariah High Court Judge Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Metussin Hj Baki said it is important for Muslims to maintain their aqidah (religious faith) despite these recent occurrences.

“In Islam, the term ‘jihad’ is defined as striving to better oneself to carry out our Islamic duties. Jihad is not to be defined as a Holy War,” he told the audience as he presented his paper “Hukuman Hudud Sebagai Iktibar dan Pengajaran” as part of one of the working papers for the seminar.

He said the misconstrued perceptions some individuals have regarding Islam had given rise to misguided teachings that resulted in extremism among some Muslims.

Muslims should be wary and not follow such misguided and deviant teachings, he said, explaining that one should keep their faith, piety and morals strong.

In his paper, he also outlined the benefits of Islamic laws which are educational, preventive and act as a safeguard for noble characteristics and morals.

The two-day seminar, themed ‘ “Harmonious Society, Peaceful Nation”, featured 17 local and foreign speakers who presented working papers.

The Brunei Times


Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 List of Private Education Institutions in Brunei

THE Ministry of Education (MoE) through the Private Education Division has issued a list of formal private educational institutions that are registered for 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Trade, Investment on Agenda of Visiting Brunei Delegation

Trade, investment on agenda of visiting Brunei delegation
byTimes News Service | January 17, 2015 , 6 : 01 pm GST    

Sheikh Ali Al Balushi, acting deputy chairman of Ithraa, said that following the visit to Brunei in April 2014, Ithraa is looking to strengthen trade and investment ties with Brunei. Photo - Supplied

Muscat: Ithraa will host a Brunei trade delegation headed by DatoPaduka Haji Ali Haji Apong, deputy minister, Prime Minister's Office and chairman of Brunei's Economic Development Board (BEDB), on Monday.

Topics on the agenda include ways of increasing trade and investment links particularly in the oil and gas, and food and beverage sectors as well as opportunities open to Omani businesses looking to improve commercial ties with Brunei and further penetrate the growing Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market.

Sheikh Ali Al Balushi, acting deputy chairman of Ithraa said:"Following on from our visit to Brunei in April 2014, we are looking to strengthen trade and investment ties with Brunei, an economy that is at the heart of one of the fastest growing regional economies in the world. Indeed, it provides an excellent regional base for Omani companies looking to expand beyond Brunei's domestic market."

Brunei's economy is dominated by the oil and gas sector, which provides over 60 per cent of GDP and over 90 per cent of foreign exports. While developing the downstream side of oil and gas, the Brunei government is also actively encouraging economic diversification, including the development of a knowledge economy.

"Ithraa's fully committed to opening new markets for Omani businesses in Southeast Asia, which we know will sustain and create local jobs and prosperity. During our trip to Brunei last year, we saw the potential that exists within this emerging market. For instance, Brunei's manufacturing sector has the potential to develop new industries both within and beyond the oil and gas industry not only through the utilisation of its rich biodiversity and natural resources but also its strategic location in the Asean region. In this regard, there are certainly opportunities for Omani companies to explore," commented Faris Al Farsi director-general of Investment, Ithraa.

Brunei's Economic Development Board is particularly interested in the food industry and is looking to attract major food and food ingredients companies into the country for exports. Brunei also has the potential to establish Research and Development centres for the development of innovative nutritional products through the utilisation of authentic local food ingredients that can lead to the manufacturing and processing of customised food products for global markets.

With approximately 600 million consumers, a growing middle class and abundant natural resources, Southeast Asia is a region of significant and growing economic interest to many Omani businesses.
Courtesy of The Times of Oman

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brunei's Foreign Minister meets Archbishop Joseph Marino

Bandar Seri Begawan, 23rd January 2015 - HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, yesterday received a courtesy call from Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia and Apostolic Delegate to Brunei Darussalam, at the Balai Penghadapan, Bukit Kayangan. The Apostolic Nuncio is in the country on a four-day visit. – MUIZ MATDANI

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

UN: Brunei Economic Growth Projection 2.5% in 2015

Brunei projected to reach 2.5 per cent economic growth this year
Posted date: January 14, 2015

BRUNEI Darussalam is projected to reach a 2.5 per cent economic growth with an inflation rate at 0.7 per cent this year, compared to the GDP growth of 5.1 per cent and inflation rate of 0.2 per cent last year, a report from the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.

The unemployment rate for this year stands at around four per cent, almost similar to that of 2014.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) late last year said the GDP growth should rise to five-and-a-half per cent in 2014, and projected the Sultanate’s GDP to be 3.0 per cent in 2015 and 3.4 per cent in 2016.

UN in its report noted growth in Asia-Pacific developing economies will pick up moderately in 2015. Prospects for growth would be better if supported by much-needed structural reforms, and could also be boosted by lower oil prices, which is an opportunity to mobilise resources for inclusive and sustainable development.

The steep decline in oil prices in recent months may be the start of a longer-term trend. It will have a significant, yet varying impact across the region.

The year-end update estimates that for energy-importing countries, a $10 per barrel fall in the oil price in 2015 would translate into an increase in GDP growth of up to 0.5 percentage points.

Declining global oil prices are a valuable opportunity for Asia-Pacific economies to reduce fuel subsidies that account for a large share of national budgets in many countries in the region. Regressive fossil fuel subsidies more often benefit the rich and have little impact on reducing poverty.

The savings from a cut in these could be better invested into more productive and inclusive development, the report added.

UN Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) estimated that savings from energy subsidies could, for example, finance the provision of income security to all elderly and persons with disabilities as well as universal access to health and education in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

“This is a particularly critical and opportune time to decrease subsidies,” ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr Shamshad Akhtar said, noting that this would not only reduce budgetary strains but also prepare governments for the near future when global financing may be even more challenging to secure.

“Reducing subsidies can raise significant public financial resources forproductive investment in the region and could make needed funds available for financing sustainable development,” Dr Shamshad Akhtar added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, January 23, 2015

HM Sultan Brunei Receives Invite For 5th Coronation of Sultan Johor

22nd January 2015, BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, yesterday consented to receive an official call by His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Iskandar, the Sultan of Johor Darul Ta'zim at Istana Nurul Iman.

Also present at the ceremony was His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at The Prime Minister's Office.

During the ceremony, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam also consented to receive an invitation from His Royal Highness the Sultan of Johor Darul Ta'zim to attend the Coronation Ceremony of the 5th Sultan of Johor which will be held at the Istana Besar Johor on March 23, 2015.

Also attending the ceremony was the delegation of His Royal Highness the Sultan of Johor, comprising of Yang Di-Pertua of the Privy Council of the State of Johor, Yang Berhormat Dato' Hj Abd Rahim Ramli, the Secretary of the State of Johor, Yang Berhormat Dato Hj Ismail Karim, member of the Privy Council of the State of Johor, Yang Berhormat Dato Hj Nooh Gadot, and the Confidential Secretary, Hj Jaba Md Noah.

A Doa Selamat was read by the State Mufti, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr. Ustaz Awg Hj Abd Aziz Juned.

Also present at the ceremony were yang Di-Pertua of the Adat Istiadat Negara, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, the state Mufti, Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr. Ustaz Awg Haji Abdul Aziz bin Juned, Grand Chamberlain, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Penggawa Laila Bentera Istiadat Di-Raja Dalam Istana, Pengiran Haji Alauddin bin Pengiran Paduka Tuan Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, and the Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, Awg Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos.

PMO Press Release

Brunei's Central Library & US Embassy Launch American Shelf

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar and Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Mark S Dieker launch-ing the ‘American Shelf’

Posted date: January 16, 2015

| Achong Tanjong |

THE Language and Literature Bureau (DBP) of Brunei Darussalam and the US Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan yesterday launched Brunei’s first-ever “American Shelf”.

The event was jointly launched by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar, and Mark S Dieker, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam.

Also present were Director of Language and Literature Bureau, Hajah Aminah binti Haji Momin, Chief Librarian Haji Sahari bin Haji Nassar, librarians and invited guests.

The American Shelf is a collection of resources on American culture, education, and English-language programmes, which was donated to the National Library by the American Embassy. It is located in the youth section of the library and offers to the public the use of free books, magazines and electronic databases on topics related to the United States of America.

Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam said, “We are delighted and honoured that the National Library of Brunei Darussalam has provided us with a section to showcase books representing the United States.

“The American Shelf exemplifythe US commitment to building bridges of mutual respect and understanding between the United States and Brunei. The establishment of the American Shelf is a great opportunity for those interested in the United States to learn more about the culture and educational programme.”

He said he hoped that students and professionals would find a comprehensive list of resources on undergraduate and graduate studies in America, as well as review books for admission tests such as the SAT, GRE and GMAT.

Sara Ziebell, a Regional Information Resources Officer based in Indonesia, said the American Shelves would provide a place for Bruneians and Americans to gather, exchange ideas and learn from one another.

It also offer spaces for people to obtain up-to-date and accurate information about US, both through printed materials as well as via eLibraryUSA, an online resource that contains access to around 20 world-class databases on such topics as English language learning, study and travel to the US, historical and cultural information, civil society, business and entrepreneurship, and science and technology.

It also acts as hub for people interested in improving their English as well as obtaining accurate information about opportunities for pursuing both US higher education and short-term exchanges, for example our Asean-focused Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative, she said.

The US Embassy and the National Library look forward to expanding the American Shelf as a space that will allow more people –to- people connections between Brunei and US through cultural programmes and open online courses.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brunei's BISAM 2015 Welcomes Debut Participation of USA, China, Thailand and Philippines


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

HIS Royal Highness Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, yesterday opened the 11th Brunei International Shooting Skill at Arms Meet (BISAM) at the Binturan Shooting Range Complex in Penanjong Garrison.

This year’s event boasts the largest participation with 18 contingents, comprising 478 of the finest marksmen and shooters from 16 countries.

The Crown Prince, who is also the General of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), showcased his exceptional marksmanship at the opening ceremony, where his team emerged victorious in the VVIP Pistol Novelty Shooting Competition.

Eight teams of high-ranking defence officials participated in the competition, which took place at the 350m Point of Gallery 1.

His Royal Highness won the match alongside Malaysian Army Chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, Chinese People Liberation Army official Major General Ma Kaiping and RBAF Special Forces Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Saiful Rizal Abdul Latif.

The Crown Prince then presented prizes to the winners before receiving a pesambah and signing the royal parchment.

Earlier during the opening ceremony, His Royal Highness was greeted upon arrival by Deputy Defence Minister Dato Paduka Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat and RBAF Commander Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih Abdullah.

The Crown Prince was introduced to the contingent commanders, followed by a group photo session with senior defence officials, defence advisors and contingent representatives.

His Royal Highness proceeded to the briefing room at the STATS Centre, where the RBAF Commander delivered his welcoming remarks. BISAM chairman Lieutenant Colonel Hasmee Hj Abdul Wahab also presented a briefing.

The Crown Prince was then invited to the royal dais to receive the royal salute led by the parade commander of the opening ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Azman Hj Bangkol.

Afterwards, the BISAM Sultan Cup was handed over by the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) contingent commander to Chief Jury Lieutenant Colonel Hj Mohd Norfahssin Hj Abdul Karim. TNI were the champions of the previous competition in 2012.

His Royal Highness opened the 11th series of BISAM as fireworks and colourful smokes filled the shooting field, while flags were hoisted for the 16 participating countries.

Following the recital of doa, the Crown Prince visited the Chief Range Executive Officer Secretariat Office, Medical Centre and Statistics Centre. His Royal Highness departed from the Binturan Shooting Range Complex after presenting the prizes at the Range Officers’ Mess.

Brunei’s premier shooting competition this year saw the inaugural participation of contingents from the United States, China, Philippines and Thailand.

Also taking part in the event are contingents from Brunei, Laos, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Pakistan, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

The sultanate is represented by shooters from the RBAF and Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF).
BISAM will take place with a series of shooting matches over 11 days from January 20 to 31.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE biggest Brunei International Shooting Skill at Arms Meet (BISAM) kicked off yesterday with 478 marksmen and shooters from 16 countries eyeing for victory in the competition.

Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih Abdullah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), said the 11-day event serves as an avenue for professional shooters to showcase their skills and potential in a “healthy, competitive” atmosphere.

“To win in any competition, team spirit, skills, discipline and perseverance must be present and enforced among team members,” he said in his welcoming message.

Besides offering opportunities for participants to vie for top honours, Pehin Major General Dato Mohd Tawih explained that BISAM also provides a platform for all contingents to strengthen ties and foster the spirit of friendship and comradeship.

He said the presence of 18 contingents, the largest since 1985, reflected the strong friendship, commitment and support for BISAM and RBAF.

The commander said the theme of ‘Solidarity and Unity as Catalyst for Excellence’ underscored the importance of friendship, cooperation and mutual respect to address the contemporary challenges they face in the era of modernisation and globalisation.

This year’s BISAM also welcomed the debut participation of the United States, China, Philippines and Thailand.

Event chairman Lieutenant Colonel Hasmee Hj Abdul Wahab said the competition seeks to promote solidarity by upholding a positive outlook, while enabling an exchange of experiences and ideas to further develop a network of skilled military personnel.

He hoped BISAM would foster understanding, facilitate harmonious cooperation as well as maintain and enhance defence ties among the countries.

Major General Ma Kaiping of the People’s Liberation Army said China was honoured to partake in the competition for the first time, adding they aimed to learn from the different contingents and strengthen friendship with other armed forces.

“We did not come here to win as many medals as we can. That is not our purpose. We came here for peace and friendship,” said the high-ranking official in an interview.

Brunei’s contingent leader Lieutenant Colonel Abidin Hj Timbang told local media they were determined to achieve success and win the highly-coveted BISAM Sultan Cup from the Indonesian Armed Forces, who were crowned champions of the 2012 competition.

He said their contingent, comprising 114 marksmen and shooters, have undergone intensive training since last December.

The contingent leader for New Zealand, Captain Alex Bowyer, said they hoped to compete well in addition to making new friends. With a large number of countries participating, he said they would be able to learn from the experiences of their counterparts.

“We have participated before, but not in the last BISAM. It’s great to be back,” he said on the sidelines of the event.

The opening ceremony was held at the Binturan Shooting Range Complex in Penanjong Garrison. Hosted by the RBAF, the competition is scheduled to take place from January 20 to 31.

The Brunei Times

Brunei Year in Review 2014

Brunei Darussalam: Year in Review 2014
by Paulius Kuncinas. Posted on January 10, 2015, Saturday

A string of major international trade agreements, due to be implemented in 2015, promise to strengthen and diversify Brunei Darussalam’s exports as it ramps up efforts to reduce its dependency on crude oil sales in the wake of plummeting prices.

The value of exports slumped 23.2 per cent in October, due to lower shipments of oil, according to the latest figures from the Department of Economic Planning and Development.

A 7.3 per cent decline in oil exports was directly caused by the fall in average oil prices, it noted.

Brunei is a substantial producer and exporter of crude oil and natural gas for Asia and relies on hydrocarbon revenues for nearly two-thirds of its GDP according to the US Energy Information Administration. With Brent crude having nosedived since the end of last year – it was trading at 51/2-year lows of just above US$50 per barrel in early January – there is likely to be more pain in store in 2015.

The IMF noted in July that the main risks to the economy stem from energy prices, but Brunei “appears well-cushioned by substantial fiscal buffers” thanks to prudent policymaking, which has provided large fiscal and current account surpluses.

The Sultanate is making strides to diversify its economy, as part of its Vision 2035 strategy, which aims to reduce its reliance on oil and gas and increase private-sector employment.

The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said in November that it is looking to attract more investments in the exports, manufacturing and services sector while halal food processing, petrochemicals, ICT and high-tech industries remain a priority.

Competing trade deals

A number of regional and international trade agreements are in the pipeline for 2015. The most significant among them is the creation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) – a single market for the Asean bloc to promote free movement of goods, investment, services and labour – which is due to be implemented by December.

According to Tim Gardener, global head of institutional client group at AXA Investment Managers, the AEC single market will help attract more investors through the introduction of a common set of rules that will alleviate any political risks.

Another key regional initiative with major implications for Bruneian exports is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would encompass 16 countries and a population of more than three billion. RCEP, dubbed one of the world’s largest free trade pacts, was established by Asean and its six major trading partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand on the sidelines of the 21st Asean Summit held in Cambodia in 2012.

RCEP, also due to come into effect by the end of 2015, will allow member states to reduce trade barriers and harmonise the regulatory environment.

The trade agreement, if it materialises, is expected to give Brunei a six per cent hike in GDP by 2025, according to some estimates, with the non-oil sector tipped to contribute the most to economic growth.

Diversification potential

Other broader international link-ups will help Brunei diversify its export commodities and partners. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in November that good momentum was building towards the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Scheduled to start at the end of 2015, the US-led trade pact would establish a free-trade bloc among 12 countries in the Pacific Rim, reaching some 800 million people.

“We hope that once the Trans-Pacific Partnership is concluded, more Bruneian companies will see opportunities to boost their exports to the US,” the US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Daniel Shields, said in September.

Some commentators have argued that the two trade agreements represent a mutually exclusive choice between a China-centric option in the RCEP and a US-centric trade agreement in the TPP.

However, this ignores the fact that the former is more based on the consolidation of Asean free trade agreements, while the latter covers a wider variety of barriers to trade and investment that occur beyond national and regional borders.

By positioning itself as a commerce hub, Brunei could become a bridge nation for the competing trade deals and maximise the potential to diversify its trade options.

Read more:

Courtesy of Borneo Post

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brunei Government Donates and Set Up Public Fund for Malaysian Flood Victims

Datin Adina, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports announcing the formation of the Fund

JALAN KEBANGSAAN, BRUNEI-MUARA: His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, has consented for the establishment of the Humanitarian Fund for Flood Victims in Malaysia.

In this regard, a committee for the National Fund was formed and held its first meeting this morning at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports at Jalan Kebangsaan.

The Acting Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, who is also the Co-Advisor of the committee, briefed the meeting that thousands of people in Malaysia were left homeless by the natural disaster.

Yang Mulia Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman said that in a show of sympathy for the flood victims in Malaysia, the Monarch has consented to establish the National Humanitarian Fund to assist the victims.

She added, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGO's) are welcomed to hold charity-based programs to raise fund. Members of the public are also encouraged to donate money through the collection boxes being placed at mosques, suraus and private premises nationwide.

The committee was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Meanwhile, members of the committee are made up officers of the government and private sectors.

The purpose of the Humanitarian Fund is to enable the public to donate money toward elevating the sufferings of the flood victims in Malaysia. The collection period runs for three months starting from today and ends on the 9th of April.

Among those who attended the meeting were the Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Pg Dato Paduka Hj Bahrom Pg Hj Bahar who is also the Co-Advisor of the Humanitarian Fund; the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Md Hamid Hj Md Jaafar; and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Hj Md Abdoh Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Salam.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times


In the meantime, the Government of His Majesty Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has given its donation to Malaysia:

Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (R), receiving the contribution of $500,000 from Dato Paduka Haji Alaihuddin bin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Lela Dato Seri Utama Haji Awang Mohd Taha, the High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia. – BERNAMA

Brunei donates $500K to flood-hit M’sia
Posted date: January 15, 2015

A CONTRIBUTION of half a million dollars in flood aid was handed over to the Malaysian Government by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday, Bernama reported.

The money was presented by Dato Paduka Haji Alaihuddin bin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Lela Dato Seri Utama Haji Awang Mohd Taha, the High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia, who paid a courtesy call on Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On behalf of the Government of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman conveyed the appreciation of the people and the Malaysian Government to the Brunei Government for the contribution.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brunei Companies: Only One Day to Register



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

THE Ministry of Finance (MoF) has launched a new online system which will allow a business owner to incorporate a new company in just one day.

The new online system, which can be accessed through, aims to reduce the time it takes for business owners to receive their certificate of incorporation, which is required to acquire a business license.

Under the previous system, reserving a business name can take up to two working days, while incorporating the company will take another two working days.

According to Mohd Saiful Adilin Hj Edin, assistant registrar at the Registry of Companies and Business Names (ROCBN), it will only take a few minutes to approve an application for a business name.

He said that reserving a business name requires the business owner to upload a scanned copy of his dentity card and a consent letter from a parent company for business with similar names. Afterwhich, the business owner will be redirected to the payment checkout page.

An officer from the ROCBN will approve the application if the proposed business name meets the requirement set by the registry. If the applicant’s proposed business name is already being used, the ROCBN officer will notify the applicant about the issue through email.

“This makes it easier for the applicants, because they are able to find out early,” Mohd Saiful Adilin said.

He said that in the past, applicants will only learn their business names were rejected only after they approach ROCBN counter.

After reserving the name, the business owner will then be able to continue with incorporating the company by uploading the required documents, submitting the online application and proceeding with the online payment.

An applicant who submitted a complete set of required documents can get the certificate of incorporation in one day. The business owner can print it and bring this to the counter set up at the MoF to obtain his business license.

Mohd Saiful Adilin said the new online system will continually be improved, such as the addition of more help texts to assist users of the new system.

To date, the online system can only be accessed by business owners who are setting up companies including private companies (Sdn Bhd), public companies (bhd) and foreign companies.

But Mohd Saiful Adilin said the ROCBN plans expand this service and by July the online system can also be accessed by sole proprietors and partnerships.

The Brunei Times


Monday, January 19, 2015

Brunei's GDP 2013 $22.6 billion in Revised National Accounts

Posted date: January 13, 2015

THE Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) under the Prime Minister’s Office has completed the revision and rebasing of the national accounts statistics for Brunei Darussalam.

The new series of national accounts with base year 2010 will now replace the existing series with base year 2000. The compilation of the 2010-based national accounts statistics for Brunei Darussalam is based on the latest international guidelines as outlined in the System of National Accounts 2008 of the United Nations.

One of the most important aggregates derived from the national accounts is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is used to measure the economic performance of a country in terms of the production of goods and services for a specific time period.

This new national accounts series has been compiled using results from the Supply and Use Tables (SUT) for the benchmark year 2010, which produced consistent GDP estimates by using three approaches, namely the production approach, expenditure approach and income approach.

GDP by income approach and other macro-economic aggregates of Gross National Income (GNI) and Gross National Saving (GNS) are compiled for the first time in the new series.

The revised GDP series also incorporated the latest data from the Household Expenditure Survey 2010/11, the Economic Census 2011 and the Population and Housing Census 2011 and hence shows a more accurate picture of the current economic developments in the country.

Based on the 2010-based series, GDP at current prices for the year 2013 was estimated at BND22.6 billion compared to BND20.2 billion based on the 2000-based series. The difference is due to the improvement made in the new GDP series as follows:

a) Comprehensive data coverage, especially for the private sector;

b) The adoption of new data sources;

c) Improved estimation methodology; and

d) The use of three different approaches to the compilation of GDP.

The major findings from the new GDP series for 2010 – 2013 are as follows:

– GDP for Brunei Darussalam in 2010 was estimated at BND18.7 billion and increased to BND22.6 billion in 2013.

– By the production approach, the industry sector contributed more than 70 per cent to the GDP, followed by the services sector at about 30 per cent and less than 1 per cent contributed by the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector.

– By the expenditure approach, exports of goods and services recorded the highest share at 67.4 per cent, followed by imports of goods and services 28 per cent, gross fixed capital formation 23.7 per cent, Government final consumption expenditure 22.2 per cent and household fixed consumption expenditure 14.7 per cent.

– By the income approach, net operating surplus/mixed income had a share of 72.7 per cent, followed by compensation of employees 24.8 per cent and consumption of fixed capital about 4 per cent. However, taxes less subsidies on products had a negative share of about 2 per cent.

In 2010, the Gross National Income (GNI) for Brunei Darussalam was estimated at BND18.6 billion and increased to BND22.4 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, the Gross National Saving (GNS) was estimated at BND11.2 billion in 2010 and increased to BND13.6 billion in 2013. GNI provides estimates of gross national income after taking into account income from abroad, while GNS is the surplus income after deducting final consumption expenditure for goods and services.

The revised GDP data showed that the economy grew by 3.7 per cent in 2011, followed by 0.9 per cent in 2012, however, decreased by 2.1 per cent in 2013. On average, the economy grew in real terms by 0.8 per cent per year from 2010 to 2013. The Oil & Gas sector decreased by 2.1 per cent per year, while the non-oil & gas sector rose by 5.7 per cent per annum.

The publications on the ‘Annual National Accounts (New Base Year 2010), 2010-2013’ and the ‘Supply and Use Tables and Input-Output Table for Brunei Darussalam 2010’ are available for sale at JPKE.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

UK, Australia, New Zealand among countries in Brunei's 11th BISAM

File photo from BISAM 2012


Friday, January 9, 2015

BRUNEI will be hosting the 11th Brunei International Skill-At-Arms Meet (BISAM) from Jan 20-31.

The 11th edition of the international shooting competition, hosted by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), will see 16 countries vie for top honours.

This will be the largest participation since the competition was first held in1985.

The competition will be held at the Binturan Firing Range Complex at the Penanjong Garrison in the Tutong District.

The Ministry of Defence (MinDef) in a statement said the 11-day event will see the inclusion of new marksmen and shooters from China, Philippines, Thailand and the United States.

Other nations competing in the event are Laos, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Pakistan, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Brunei.

The Sultanate will be represented by shooters from all three services of the RBAF and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF).

BISAM is Brunei’s premier military shooting tournament with a worldwide reputation.

“It is designed to pitch the best shooters against each other in a rigorous and demanding shooting environment. This focus ensures the contest is representative of the marksmanship skills required in a modern defence force,” the statement read.

BISAM sets to improve the standard of marksmanship in a top military-grade, international-shooting competition.

“But despite donning different uniforms, it is also an opportunity to enhance military cooperation amongst the participants in the spirit of sportsmanship.

“The competition serves as a meaningful platform to promote goodwill and establish closer relations, both personally and professionally,” the statement added.
-Abdul Azim Kassim

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Brunei's Oil Production Continue Despite Falling Oil Prices

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM: The drop in global oil prices will not hinder Brunei's production or downstream activities, and dealing with the price fluctuation is simply part of being in the oil and gas industry.

Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin,bin Haji Umar, said this in an interview after meeting with members of the industry as a second follow-up to the Oil and Gas Sector Job Fair 2014.

During the meeting, one of the points raised was linked to the drop in crude oil prices and how it could affect businesses here. Speaking to the Bulletin, he said, "This is normal for the oil and gas industry.

"When the price of oil hits $50, people do not stop producing. No one stops producing. Life goes on, and the prices will adjust themselves. It's market driven. This is the reality of the world; the reality of the market," he continued.

"A lot of our downstream activity will go on because there are good economics," he said Brunei will march on with its oil and gas production as well as its downstream activities, which the minister said other countries in the world are also continuing to do.

The meeting saw various members of the industry share their thoughts on issues pertaining to the oil and gas industry, including how oil prices would affect businesses and how employment could be boosted.

One hot topic was that of the Energy Industry Competency Framework (EICF). As a manpower consultant said in the session, the EICF is a world-class product that makes sure people are trained and have the necessary skills.

"In Brunei we make sure we are able to do the job, we prepare and train our people well and then we place a condition that they must be absorbed into the workforce," said the minister.

Many of those who applied at the Oil and Gas Sector Job Fair do not have technical qualifications. On this, the minister highlighted the need for things to get moving and for the relevant agencies dealing with employment to be aligned.

"Now is the time for all relevant agencies to work together. This is why in two to three weeks' time, we will sit down again and reproduce the actual demand profile of not only the oil and gas industry, but hopefully across the board.

"The supply and demand (for employment opportunities) of the industry is something that we should be able to do," he said. "We should be able to map out the demand profile. It's not impossible."

Another point raised during the meeting was that the EICF should be used as a model to help develop local workforces for other industries.

Asked in the interview if he agreed with this suggestion, he said, "Yes. Why would I not want to share something good with my colleagues from other ministries? It's good. It's good for the country, it's good for Brunei and it's good for all of us."

Speaking on plans for the EICF in 2015, he said. "We have plans for new positions to be trained that will be available by April. We are on track for this, and we will also get feedback, and do some fine-tuning in terms of soft skills and resilience. as well as fine-tuning some of the EICF courses so that people who are sent offshore will be able to handle."

The target of the Energy Department at the Prime Minister's Office (EDPMO) last year was for 3,000 locals to be hired in the oil and gas industry. Sure enough, as the minister shared yesterday, the number at the end of 2014 showed 3,082 locals were hired, exceeding the target number.

On the EDPMO's plans going forward, the minister said they will be doing a lot more in terms of profiling, matching and synchronising job opportunities with applicants.

"Again, we want to help other people in the other sectors as well. We want to help them. We want to say 'please come and look at how we do things'." ©BRUDIRECT.COM

Friday, January 16, 2015

Brunei Minister Signs Charlie Hebdo Condolence Book

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng signs a condolence book for victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. BT/Quratul-Ain Bandial

Quratul-Ain Bandial
Friday, January 16, 2015

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng yesterday signed a condolence book at the French Embassy in honour of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

In his written message, Pehin Dato Lim expressed sympathies on behalf of the government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam towards the victims’ families as well as to the people and government of France.

Several government officials and members of the diplomatic community in Brunei have already signed the book, which will be open for signing until the end of the week.

Two masked gunmen stormed the Paris headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, killing 12 people. A related shooting and hostage crisis took place at a kosher supermarket in Paris just two days later, killing four more.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the massacre, citing the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the reason for the attack.

The Brunei Times

Brunei is the Ultimate Halal Vacation

Anis Ramli
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Sunday, January 11, 2015

HALAL Travel is fast becoming a catchphrase in the travel industry. The Muslim travel market segment was estimated to be worth US$140 billion ($187.33 billion) in 2013, representing almost 13 per cent of global travel expenditures. Brunei Darussalam joins an increasing number of countries that are now keen on tapping into this segment.

With 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide as potential customers expected to spend US$181 billion on travelling by 2018, Brunei would be remiss not to tap into this growing and lucrative market.

Already known internationally as one of the world’s foremost Islamic countries, many of Brunei’s tourism products and services are already Muslim-friendly while others are adapting their services to take into account the unique faith-based needs of Muslim travellers. In short, Brunei makes for a wonderful and easy destination for the Muslim vacationer as well as those interested to experience an Islamic country that is both modern and tolerant.

Mosques that are majestic in its design and highlight the unique culture and architecture of the country can easily be found everywhere. The larger and more well-known mosques, such as the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, also offer both Muslims and people of other faiths the opportunity to discover its history and architecture through its scheduled guided tour. Located in the heart of capital Bandar Seri Begawan, the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddin Mosque is a great starting point to understand Islam and its cultural context as well as its role in the community.

But halal travel means more than just mosque visits. Brunei as a Muslim-friendly destination also factors in the ease of vacationing in the 21st century, in compliance with the Quran and Sunnah. Hotels across the country have rooms equipped with the prayer direction (qiblah), prayer mats and in some rooms, Quran for remembrance. Minibars are Muslim-friendly as the entire country is alcohol-free.

The observation of the five daily prayers is made even easy as prayer times are provided in all local publications. Royal Brunei’s award-winning inflight magazine, Muhibah, available to guests of high-end hotels, also publish the prayer times for easy reference.

Meanwhile, the musolla (praying room) is also available in major tourist attractions. Tour companies that operate in Brunei also respect prayer times, further providing peace of mind and ease for the Muslim traveller as they vacation around the country.

It’s also interesting to note that on Fridays, the holy day for Muslims, businesses close for the duration of the entire Friday prayer as a sign of respect. This includes restaurants and eateries (although hotel staying guests can still make use of in-room dining facilities), and allows the visitor a unique insight into the everyday Islamic practices of the faithful in Brunei.

Ease of vacationing is further provided by the widespread availability of halal food. From fine dining to street food, there are plenty of choices to satisfy the traveller. All fast food and international F&B chains are halal certified, too. Muslim tourists visiting during the holy month of Ramadhan will also find a number of places that offer iftar (breaking fast) and Ramadhan bazaars. Major hotels also provide suhoor (pre-dawn meal) while the iftar spreads are often a culinary adventure in themselves.

For lovers of Islamic culture and history, Brunei will appease their appetite for these and more. It is simply a country filled with rich historical and Islamic references. Visitors can truly understand this when they visit the famed Kampong Ayer.

This cluster of homes built on stilts over Brunei River is where Brunei’s civilisation was thought to have stemmed from. It was through here that Islam first came to Brunei and, it was also once an important trading port for ships sailing from Straits of Malacca.

The Arabs that came to the Malay archipelago to trade spices would make Brunei their port of call. Fast forward to the present day, you will see how remnants of that trading have lodged itself into Brunei’s cultural realm. Those same spices have come full circle and used not only for local cooking, but extend into healing therapies unique to Brunei and the Southeast Asian region. Visitors may explore the spas in major hotels that highlight the use of these historically traded spices in various indulging and relaxing treatments.

It is also a good time to familiarise yourself with the local coffee shops, or ‘kopitiam’. Brunei’s kopitiam revive the art of coffeehouses that thrive in many early Muslim civilisations. Where once coffee beans were chewed to keep worshippers alert at night, Brunei has taken the coffee concept and localised it to reflect the country’s cultural diaspora.

Of course, other mainstream attractions are there too for the traveller to explore, such as the Royal Regalia Building, Brunei Museum and Ulu Temburong National Park.

Brunei is an easy country for one to have a syariah-compliant vacation. From the airlines to hotels and local businesses, Brunei’s everyday lifestyle centres around putting Islam first and everything else second. Royal Brunei, for instance, is the only Southeast Asian airline that maintains an alcohol-free environment. It is for these reasons that the country is poised to capture the huge halal travel market and remain among one of the top destinations for the Muslim vacationer.

Muhibah is the inflight magazine of Royal Brunei Airlines.


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