This is a a magical little place that offers the luxuries of the new world against a rich and beautiful historical backdrop.

Being an inkblot of a nation has bruised neither Brunei’s self-image nor its prosperity. The Islamic pride and sovereign swishness are embodied in the flag – regal, striking and strict all at once – the yellow banner with white and black diagonal stripes bears a red insignia of wings, umbrellas and masts signifying justice, peace and prosperity. A lofty sense of all three permeates the watery ambience of Brunei, along with the sounds of Muslim prayer time emanating from its golden-domed mosques.

The modern face of Brunei is still in the making. The Sultan-owned national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines only started to promote its realm to the world in the mid 1990s. It has recently swung from marketing Brunei as a ‘stopover’ to Sabah and Sarawak to being a destination in itself. The country is aware of its size limitations, yet Bruneians love their high quality of life and boast that they have jungle, sea, mosques and malls on their doorstep. As local DJ and television presenter Jenny Malai Ali says, Brunei is ‘a magical little place that offers the luxuries of the new world against a rich and beautiful historical backdrop’.

Tamara Thiessen 

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