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His Majesty the Sultan's Birthday

His Majesty the Sultan's Birthday 2018 and 2019

His Majesty the Sultan’s Birthday is a public holiday in Brunei, celebrating the birth of their sitting sultan back on July 15 of 1946, making him set to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2016.

201815 JulSunHis Majesty the Sultan's Birthday
16 JulMonHis Majesty the Sultan's Birthday Holiday
201915 JulMonHis Majesty the Sultan's Birthday

Hassanal Bolkiah is the 29th sultan of Brunei and has reigned since October 4th, 1967. He was sultan at the time of Brunei’s independence from the British Empire in 1984 and has been officially knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Immediately after his father abdicated the throne on October 4th, 1967, Hassanal Bolkiah became sultan, his ceremonial coronation occurring on August 1st of 1968. Although the sultan has made some moves toward democracy, bringing the congress back into session for the first time since 1962, he has retained most power and occupied numerous positions personally. The sultan is also, for example, the prime minister, the minister of finance, inspector general of the royal police, and chancellor over several Bruneian universities.

The sultan is also considered the defender of the Islamic religion, which has official-religion status in Brunei. As such, he has built numerous mosques, decreed Islamic holidays be kept in grand style, and banned Muslims from commemorating Christmas and Christmas decorations from being put up in public places.

Finally, the sultan’s palace, Istana Nurul Iman, is considered the largest in the world, and he himself is one of the world’s richest men, his total holdings being valued at over $20 billion.

Tourists visiting Brunei on His Majesty the Sultan’s Birthday will have plenty of things to do, including the following:

  • Attend the main celebrations, though you will be kept out of certain restricted areas, or you could see it all on TV. There is a military parade at the avenue grounds and Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien. There are also further parades for two full weeks after the Sultan’s birthday, along with frequent fireworks displays. The main ceremony includes the sultan giving a speech, giving out medals of honour to armed forces members, and inspecting the Guard of Honour. You will also hear a 21-gun salute, typically carried out by small cannons, and see helicopters and military planes flying overhead. And of course, there will be much cheering as everyone wishes their sultan a very happy birthday.
  • Go shopping in Bandar Seri Begawan, formerly called “Brunei Town.” It is only a town of 50,000, but it is packed with prime shopping opportunities. Modern shopping stops include: Gadong Central, with abundant shops and restaurants; Serusop Complex, near the airport; and Rimba, with its gigantic supermarket. The two main traditional Bruneian markets are: Tamu Kianggeh and Pasar Malam. The latter is right next to Gadong Mall, and both sell fresh, local produce and potted plants.
  • Go sightseeing in Bandar Seri Begawan. Top sights to see include: the golden-domed Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, which is exquisitely beautiful and has an ornately decorated “ceremonial ship” docked nearby; the Royal Mausoleum, where the previous four sultans are interred; and the Brunei Museum, which sits on the site of an actual archaeological dig and contains numerous exhibits on Bruneian culture, the history Islam in Brunei, the natural environment of Brunei, and the story of Brunei’s lucrative oil industry.