Brunei Darussalam


His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei in Kuala Belait

His Majesty’s 61st Birthday Celebrations in Kuala Belait Gallery

"Bersama Rakyat" or Meet The People session after the spectacular performances

A foggy morning usually means one thing—a hot day—and this morning, it was unusually foggy in Seria where I live. Today, the residents of Belait district got an opportunity to meet and greet with the Sultan as His Majesty celebrated his 61st birthday in Kuala Belait who witnessed a vibrant display of colorful performances and confetti along with a massive crowd, each trying to get a good look at the event proceedings. The hot and sunny morning saw many with paper fans of various shapes and sizes including battery operated mini fan.

Past birthday celebrations have been held at a number of venues in the Belait district including the Brunei Shell Recreation Club (BSRC) but more often than not, it’s held at the vast padang of the Kuala Belait Recreation Club (KBRC). This year, it’s the Taman Jubli (Jubilee Park) a stone’s throw from KBRC and a smaller, intimate setup. His Majesty arrived in his usual manner donning a black leather jacket with custom embroidered “HB” on the top left [“HB” is short for Hassanal Bolkiah]

The event proceeded with the singing of the national anthem, ‘Allah Peliharakan Sultan’, followed by three loud cheers of ‘Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik’ (Long Live His Majesty), by His Majesty’s subjects. Prior to the field performances, Hj Mohamad Hj Abd Rahman, Belait’s district officer, led the people of Belait in congratulating the monarch on his birthday, including penghulus, heads of villages, mukims and longhouses.

He said that under the wise leadership of His Majesty, Belait has seen positive transformations to the development of the district, whereby the people continue to live in peace and harmony.

Some 2,050 performers participated in a special seven-segmented performance entitled ‘Nostalgia Seni Klasik Silam,’ which was laid out in the form of a narrated drama that told of a story of how the people and the district of Belait developed and progressed from a sleepy fishing village into a booming oil and gas industrial hub for the entire country.

Dressed in a myriad of colourful costumes, performers comprised of civil servants, students, youth associations, residents of various mukims and villages, welfare bodies as well as the private sector. – The Brunei Times

A recent addition to the Royal household, I was delighted to meet Pg Ak Khairol a sentiment no doubt shared by many Belait residents who had probably only seen him on TV during the Royal Wedding ceremony.

Photo gallery from this morning’s celebration in Kuala Belait. In the spirit of the celebrations, I stopped taking pictures and joined the feverish and high spirited crowd and managed to shake the hands of with His Majesty, the Crown Prince, Prince Azim and Prince Mateen (last time I was this close to Azim and Mateen was when I was photographer to HSBC’s Tri Xtreme Challenge 2006), two hand shakes short of the royal entourage which also included Prince Mohamed (Foreign Minister) and Prince Malek.

Additional resource: The Brunei Times “Belait receives HM with big fanfare
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D, Speedlite 580EX-II, EF17-40mm L, EF100-400mm L, EF28-135mm

Wow, that must have been an amazing sight to see. I saw a CNN report on him a few years back, and the man’s lifestyle is beyond that of a dream.

Your photographs are beautiful. – AndrewMG


  1. Hey saw the photo of the prince in your gallery, he looks warm and friendly, you guys know each other? Seems like he turned around and recognise a familiar face amidst the crowd.

    Would like to send my wishes to the Sultan of Brunei. Im a frequent traveler to his nation. Can tell he loves his people and the people love him very much. And its a very well run nation. You guys are so lucky to have such a good ruler.

    Colin Q Photography


  2. A nice portrait shot of the Sultan! See you get to shoot Royals in Brunei and don’t have to pay tax and I have to pay taxes and shot funky looking wakesurfers…….sigh! ;P


  3. It is a lovely shot of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah with his “rakyat” and it shows that he is actualy enjoying the interactions with the people of Brunei. Long live the Sultan; Prosperity & Happiness for the people of Brunei with their Beloved Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Would love to visit the country one of this day …..


  4. Colin, thanks for visiting! By prince, I think you mean Pg Ak Khairol (His Majesty’s son-in-law). We were first acquainted some years back at a Human Resource Development Convention where former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahatir was the keynote speaker. It was at the time one of my earlier attempts at handling a large VIP event photography and till today, I’m grateful to have worked with someone who’s friendly and supportive despite a rather steep learning curve on my part.

    It was indeed nice to meet Khairol in my home town and the moment he noticed me in amongst the media personnnel, we had a brief exchange of assuring nods that life’s good and we’re going OK (under the circumstance it wasn’t appropriate for him to walk over for a catch-up chit chat).


  5. Hi there,

    nice photos, but i expected more on a Canon 5D. I am working with Sigma Camera and lenses and I love those Coulors and Quality of the Foveon chip. But of course a Canon would do better in Sport and Highspeed photography. So if i ever change to Canon i would take the 1D Line. I just started my Business so I can not spend that much Money for those 1Dxxx yet. Anyway whats going on in Brunei right now?

    Greetings from Germany,


  6. Hi Conny,

    Guten Tag!

    Thanks for visiting and leaving more than just a couple of words. I’m 100% Canon for personal reasons and I believe for the same reasons so many others are using Canon—after sales support. Canon is the only make that is represented by a distributor in Brunei, Interhouse Company, every other camera brand is gray marketed. Canon’s commitment to support its customers in Brunei is further demonstrated in EOS TRULY. A CANON SHOWCASE.

    I’m not certain if this gallery is any indication of the EOS 5D’s capabilities in terms of full frame DOF and colours. You are welcome to check out my other posts and galleries to see if they are what you expected. The contrast on a bright sunny day is too high from this outdoor Royal event. I do know that a certain associate who is a die-hard Olympus E1/E3 photog is now convinced he’s ready to switch to Canon system in particularly, the 5D—the vibrant colours is one he’s noticed. I think that says a lot.


  7. Of course I guess CANON is probably the best System. But I do not understand why its the only System wich is represented in Brunei. Its one of the richest Countrys in the World and I guess they sell quit a view Cameras in your Country. I think there are plenty people using even Nikon wich is far to expensiv.

    I dont think Canon is necessarily the “best” system available today but it’s by far one of the most popular and being popular means there’s economy of scale, distributors (when customers respect and pull their weight in helping local business developments) can the build a service and continue marketing and after sales support for years to come. I have not been in this industry long enough to know why there is no official Nikon representation here. One obvious reason is that the Brunei market is too small to be economically viable and since gray marketing seems to work, there’s no reason to upset that momentum.

    So how is it going in Brunei anyway? I read its very warm and the air is even more than wet. So how about this Klima for the Camera. Do you have any problems working with the Camera outdoor every day? Are you shooting photos in the Backlands (Busch) too? ( Animals, Reptils, Snakes)?

    The climate is indeed very humid and humidity levels can easily top 85% RH any day and it’s extremely important to store camera bodies and lenses in a dry cabinet as I do so. While I have wild boars, snakes, frogs, monkeys, Hornbills, egrets quite literary in the backyard, I am not a wild life photographer but have on odd occasions photographed the egrets that dominate our skies day and night (do a search and you’ll find some posts on them).

    And what about the Sultan and his Family? Are they living in Brunei or are they living in London and Paris or anywhere else?

    I do not live next door to His Majesty so I’m unable to update you on his whereabouts. I live over an hour away in the oil town called Seria where Oil & Gas is the predominant business activity so if needed I would be able to tell you how many nodding donkeys we have in a particular location, for instance.

    Thank you for your interests in one of the few remaining kingdoms of the world, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM, my home!


  8. assalammulakum saya ucapakan….
    saya berasal dari sabah,malaysia. saya ingin memberi sedikit hadiah yang boleh dikata tak seberapa…
    saya hanya ingin katakan SELAMAT MEYAMBUT HARI KELAHIRAN kepada SULTAN BRUNEI.Hanya kata-kata ini saja yang saya mampu katakan diiringi dengan doa dan semoga baginda akan selalu sihat dan diberkati oleh ALLAH S.W.T….

    sampai di sini saja yang saya ingn katakan,
    semoga kita akan berjuma lagi.




  9. A nice portrait shot of the Sultan, my 6 year old daughter says that Sultans are only in the movies like Aladdin. Funny how kids see the world through their imagination and what they perceive as real


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