Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Also known as The Sultan of Brunei.
He is born 15 July 1946. 5 days ago he turned 71 and his birthday is a big thing here in Brunei. Apart from being celebrated on his actual birthday he also goes to 4 different places to be celebrated by and to meet the people. Today he came to Temburong. He arrives in style on his private helicopter accompanied by 2 military ones. On sight his limo and 20 police on motorcycles escorted him to the area especially built for official festivities.
Of course he never travels alone. He brings all his sons along. The female part of the family stays at home. And there are officials in smart suits, high ranked military and a huge crowd of bodyguards with bulked muscles and earpeaces circling around him.
For being a tiny country with less then 500 000 citizens there can’t be many newspapers produced here, but the press was represented by at least 20-30 reporters, photographers and cameramen.
The area where the celebration is held is Lima a square surrounded by tents and stands for the orchestra and another one for the sultan. The square was packed with people representing citizens of Temburong. So there is singing and dancing and flags and beautiful clothes and it all ends with confetti and a bang.
The sultan then takes the time to shake hands with everyone being part of the singing and dancing and then he proceeds to shaking hands with all the spectators. My guess is there are approximately 4 000 people. Everyone patiently waiting in the heat. And so are we, Yan, Ezz, Minah and I, waiting for the sultan, him slowly moving through the crowd. He is very well liked by the people of Brunei.
Being a foreigner in Brunei and especially in a small place like Temburong people notice you. They all look at me in a polite way, with a smile nodding at me, some asking me questions, wanting to have selfies with me. Suddenly a man introduces himself as a reporter from a newspaper, would I mind being interviewed? So I am interviewed, photographed and then he tells me what to do if I want to have a selfie with the sultan. He wouldn’t mind, I ask. No, on the contrary, he is very keen on taking the time for foreigners.
The sultan approaches us and i prepare myself. You Majesty, can I have a selfie? Where are you from, he says. Sweden. What are you doing here, he asks. I’m visiting your beautiful country, I reply. And then he’s gone.
An hour later his white helicopter elevates above us heading back to Bandar Seri Begawan.
Just another day in the sultanate of Brunei.