Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bandar Seri Begawan, the Capital of Brunei Darussalam; Image Gallery

Sekolah Menengah  Awang Semaun Secondary School, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun, or SMAS, is a co-educational government high school in Brunei Darussalam. The school campus is located alongside the nation's largest water village known as Kampong Ayer, close to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. Kampong Ayer is a settlement situated on the Brunei River. The school celebrated its silver jubilee at the end of 2008.

Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun was built in 1983. The national curriculum is taught to students entering Year 7 through to Year 11. National examinations plus Cambridge external examinations are available to students. A range of technical and business courses are also offered as well as pure sciences i.e. physics, chemistry and biology, computer studies and art. 

The staff include local and expatriate teachers. The medium of instruction for most subjects is English. The school has a multipurpose hall, library, full size football field and running tracks with a covered grandstand for spectators. 

At the end of each school day the school campus doubles as a venue for religious classes administered by the government. 

Brunei International Airport, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Brunei International Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Brunei; (Jawi): لاڤڠن تربڠ انتارابڠسا بروني ) (IATA: BWN, ICAO: WBSB) is the primary airport in the nation of Brunei. The Royal Brunei Air Force is also based at the Rimba Air Base which is located in the Brunei International Airport. It serves destinations across Asia and Oceania, with the only airport outside these continents being London Heathrow Airport. 

Commercial air transport in Brunei began in 1953, with the establishment of air service links connecting Bandar Seri Begawan with Anduki in the Belait District. Initial flights to Malaysia were made to accommodate travellers from Labuan in Sabah and Lutong in Sarawak. Airport services were operated from the Berakas area at an old runway site built by the Japanese during World War II. It was known then as the Brunei Airport. 

The growth in popularity of air travel in the '70s resulted in a significant increased in the civil aviation movement. Suddenly, the old airport was swamped with activity, operating beyond its capacity. This prompted the government to scout for a new site to build a modern airport. 

A new airport was constructed in Mukim Berakas in the Brunei-Muara District, because it was easily accessible from all areas of the country. The airport became operational in 1974 and opened Brunei to the world. 

The airport consists of an international terminal which can handle up to 2 million passengers, a cargo terminal with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes of cargo and a royal terminal where the sultan's flight is based at. In 2005, Brunei International Airport handled 1.3 million passengers. 

In 2008, it was announced that a study to review necessary expansions and modifications was completed, and a master plan was written up soon after. The master plan consists of different phases, and Phase 1, which includes upgrading the existing passenger terminal building and the cargo terminal, is targeted to be completed by 2013. At the moment, Phase 1A was already completed at the end of 2009. 

After Phase 1 is completed, Phase 2 could be initiated in 2020, which includes the construction of a new terminal, which will be able to accommodate up to 8 million passengers. 

The airport is located approximately 10 minutes from the centre of the capital. There are regular taxi services to and from the airport. There are also regular public bus services which goes around the capital.

Brunie Museum in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
The museum is the largest in Brunei Darussalam, four kilometres outside Bandar Seri Begawan on a hill at Kota Batu, which itself is an archaeological site of great importance. Lying in 48 hectares of parkland, the museum is a fine example of Islamic architecture with many of the engravings and designs taken from typical Brunei Malay patterns, some of which appear on Sultan Bolkiah's tomb. 

The galleries inside comprise an imaginative natural history section and a glittering collection of Islamic art, which includes many rare manuscripts, works of art and artefacts from the Islamic world dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries. Galleries are also devoted to Bruneian artefacts and customs, ceramics, fine art and the oil industry in - a display set up by Brunei Shell Petroleum. 

A sixth gallery is reserved for temporary exhibitions and the lower ground floor houses the administrative and technical section of the museum which is not normally open to the public. Some of the larger exhibits are in covered shelters in park land at the back of the museum. 

Getting there: Take Jalan Residency out of Bandar Seri Begawan keeping the Brunei river on your right. The name changes to Jalan Kota Batu and after four Kilometres the road rises past the acient tomb of Sultan Bolkiah and Sultan Sharif Ali The Museum is on the right on top of the hill. Public busses (Central and Eastern line 11 and 39), leaving from the central bus station, stop at the museum.

The Istana Nurul Iman palace, the Official Residence of the Sultan of Brunei in Bandar Seri Begawan
The Istana Nurul Iman palace (Jawi: ايستان نورول ايمان) is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, and the seat of the Brunei government. The palace is located on a leafy, riverside sprawl of hills on the banks of the Brunei River, a few kilometers south of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei's capital.The name “Istana Nurul Iman” is taken from Persian Astane and Arabic Nur-ol Imaan and means Palace of the Light of Faith. It was designed by Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin, who utilized the architectural motif of golden domes and vaulted roofs to echo Brunei's Islamic and Malay influences. The interior of the palace was designed by Khuan Chew, Design Principal of KCA International, whose other works include the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Construction was handled by Ayala International, a Filipino construction firm, and completed in 1984 at a total cost of around $1.4 Billion USD. 

Upon completion, Istana Nurul Iman, became the largest residential palace in the world and the largest single family residence ever built. 

The palace contains 1,788 rooms, which includes 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall that can be expanded to accommodate up to 5,000 guests, a mosque accommodating 1,500 people. The palace also includes a 110-car garage, an air conditioned stable for the Sultan's 200 polo ponies, and 5 swimming pools. In total, Istana Nurul Iman contains 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m²) of floorspace. 

Because of its massive size, Istana Nurul Iman makes use of 564 chandeliers, 51,000 light bulbs, 44 stairwells, and 18 elevators. 

The Sultan takes his official audiences at the palace. The palace is also used for all the State functions of the government of Brunei. In addition, the palace houses the prime minister's office, and serves as the seat of the Brunei government. 

In addition to Audience and State Rooms, there is a Throne Chamber used for various formal occasions such as the proclamation of the Crown Prince and the annual Birthday Investiture. 

However, in keeping with its primary use as the Sultan’s personal residence, the palace is home to the Sultan’s massive car collection, which includes custom-made Ferraris and Bentleys as well as 165 Rolls Royces. 

The palace is not open to the public except on the annual Islamic celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the festival at the end of the Muslim fasting month) when the palace receives about 110,000 visitors over a three-day period where the guests receive gifts of food as well as green packets containing money for young children. The palace is also open to Muslims during 10 days of the Ramadhan period for the Bertedarus prayer gathering. 

The title of the “world's largest palace” can be difficult to ascertain, and altogether controversial, as many different groups have motivations to use their own unique standards to advance the claim that a particular palace is the largest in the world. Using various self-serving definitions, a number of palaces are claimed to be the world’s largest: Istana Nurul Iman, Buckingham Palace, Royal Palace of Madrid, Stockholm Palace, The Forbidden City, The Palace of Versailles, The Winter Palace, The Louvre, Prague Castle, and Romania’s Palace of the Parliament. 

To be considered for the Guinness World Record, the palace must have once been intended for use as a royal residence, and only the actual combined area of the palace’s indoor floors (a measurement commonly known as floorspace) is considered. As measured by these standards, Guinness World Records currently considers Istana Nurul Iman to hold the title as the “world's largest palace.”
Jalan Tasek Lama Park, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Jalan Tasek Lama Park is a park, in Bandar Seri Begawan, the Capital of Brunei Darussalam, that looks a bit like a civilized jungle, and the beauty is that it is located in a short walking distance from the city center, probably one of the reasons why this place is such a popular trekking trail for the people of Bandar Seri Begawan. 

Tasek Lama Park has great walkaways and a few waterfalls, with spots for picnics and places to sit in the cool shade.

Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Masjid, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Considered as one of the grandest monuments to Islam in the whole region, the magnificent Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah and Yang Dipertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam. 

Known locally as the Kiarong Mosque as it is situated in Kampong Kiarong, a few kilometres from the capital, it was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne. The Mosque was officially opened on a Thursday, 14 July,1994. 

The fine artistry of the structure's basic design as well as the interiors shows the meticulous attention to details and reveals the depth of the love that inspired the vision to build this splendid symbol of devotion to Islam . The stunning edifice with its artfully landscaped gardens and fountains that add to the serene ambience, is a memorable place to visit and certainly a must for visitors. 

Visitors may enter the mosque but are asked to remove their shoes before entering and to exercise due consideration for people praying. Women are should cover their heads and dress conservatively. Visiting Hours: Sunday to Wednesday: 8am to 12noon, 2pm to 3pm & 5pm to 6pm.

The mosque is closed to non-Muslims on Thursdays. It is open on Saturday provided that there is no official function the following day.

Kampong Ayer/Water Village, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Kampong Ayer, or the Water Village (Malay: Kampong Ayer) is an area of Brunei's capital city Bandar Seri Begawan that is situated after the Brunei Bay. 39,000 people live in the Water Village. This represents roughly ten percent of the nation's total population. All of the Water Village buildings are constructed on stilts above the Brunei River. 

Built entirely of stilt houses and wooden walkways, this cluster of 42 villages housing more than 30,000 inhabitants is the world's largest water village. Some people refer to it as the 'Venice of the East'. 

The Water Village is really made up of small villages linked together by more than 29,140 meters of foot-bridges, consisting of over 4200 structures including homes, mosques, restaurants, shops, schools, and a hospital. 36 kilometers of boardwalks connect the buildings. Private water taxis provide rapid transit. Most of these taxis resemble long wooden speed boats. From a distance the water village looks like a slum. It actually enjoys modern amenities including air conditioning, satellite television, Internet access, plumbing, and electricity. Some of the residents keep potted plants and chickens. The district has a unique architectural heritage of wooden homes with ornate interiors. 

The villages in Water Village are Mukim Sungai Kedayan including Bukit Salat, Sumbiling Lama, Sungai Kedayan 'A', Sungai Kedayan 'B', Ujong Tanjong and Kuala Peminyak; Mukim Tamoi including Tamoi Ujong, Tamoi Tengah, Pengiran Kerma Indera Lama, Pengiran Tajuddin Hitam, Ujong Bukit/Limbongan, Pengiran Bendahara Lama; Mukim Burong Pingai Ayer including Burong Pingai Ayer, Lurong Dalam, Pandai Besi 'A', Pandai Besi 'B', Sungai Pandan 'A', Sungai Pandan 'B', and Pengiran Setia Negara, Pekan Lama; Mukim Peramu including Peramu, Pekilong Muara, Bakut Pengiran Siraja Muda ' A', Bakut Pengiran Siraja Muda 'B', Bakut Berumput and Lurong Sikuna; Mukim Saba including Saba Tengah, Saba Ujong, Saba Laut, Saba Darat 'A' and Saba Darat 'B'. Mukim Sungai Kebun including Setia 'A', Sungai Siamas/Ujong Klinik, Setia 'B' Sungai Kebun, Bolkiah 'A' and Bolkiah 'B'. 

People have lived in Kampong Ayer for over 1300 years. Antonio Pigafetta dubbed it the "Venice of the East" when the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan visited in 1521. The district is a culturally important part of Brunei that preserves the nation's river dwelling origins. According to geography professor Abdul Aziz of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, this is the largest and most famous water settlement of Southeast Asia. "It was historically the very core of Brunei and one of the most important centres of trade in Borneo." 

In order to preserve Kampong Ayer as Brunei Darussalam's most valuable heritage, the Government through the District Office has provided it with numerous facilities including foot-bridges, concrete jetties, piped water, electricity supplies telephones, a school, mosques, clinics, a police station and a marine fire station. All of the six water village mukims (districts) are collectively known as the water village (Kampong Ayer) but are identified as separate mukims for administrative purposes. 

Visitors can have a personal experience of this heritage by taking one of the many water taxis that ply daily between the water taxi jetty in front of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in the centre of town and the water village itself.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Masjid, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is a royal Islamic mosque located in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei. The mosque considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific and a major landmark and tourist attraction of Brunei. 

Named after Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, the mosque as a symbol of the Islamic faith in Brunei dominates the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. The building was completed in 1958 and is an example of modern Islamic architecture. 

The mosque unites Mughal architecture and Italian styles. The plans were done by Booty and Edwards Chartered Architects according to designs by the Italian architect Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli, who had already for decades been working at the gulf of Siam. 

The mosque is built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer, the "village in the water". It has marble minarets and golden domes with courtyards and lush gardens full of fountains. The mosque is surrounded by a large number of trees and floral gardens which in Islam symbolizes heaven. A bridge reaches across the lagoon to Kampong Ayer in the middle of the river. Another marble bridge leads to a structure in the lagoon meant as a replica of a 16th Century Sultan Bolkiah mahligai barge. It was built to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of Nuzul Al-Quran (coming down of the Quran), completed in 1967 and used to stage Quran reading competitions. 

The mosque's most recognizable feature, the main dome, is covered in pure gold. The mosque stands 52 m (171 ft) high and can be seen from virtually anywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan. The main minaret is the mosque's tallest feature. In a unique way it mixes Renaissance and Italian architectural style. The minaret has an elevator to the top, where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. 

The interior of the mosque is for prayer only. It has magnificent stained glass windows, arches, semi-domes and marble columns. Nearly all the material used for the building has been imported from abroad: the marble from Italy, the granite from Shanghai, the crystal chandeliers from England and the carpets from Saudi Arabia. 

The Tomb of sultan Sharif Ali, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Sultan Sharif Ali (also known as Barkat Ali ibnu Sharif Ajlan ibni Sharif Rumaithah) was the third sultan of Brunei. He was a scholar of Arab decent originating from Taif, Saudi Arabia. He ascended the throne in 1425 CE after Sultan Ahmad died without leaving any male descendants. However, the inauguration of Sultan Sharif Ali did not solely come from the royal family of Sultan Ahmad. Both Brunei citizens and Brunei royal counselors agreed Sultan Sharif Ali to be the third Sultan of Brunei because of his deep knowledge in Islam. His merit in spreading Islam cannot be separated from his position as royal ulama in Brunei Kingdom during the role of Sultan Ahmad. For that reason, his marriage to Puteri Ratna Kesuma, the daughter of Sultan Ahmad, was aimed at strengthening his position as a Sultan and an ulama. He was the first sultan of Brunei having no relational genealogy with former sultans of Brunei Kingdom. 

Sharif Ali was a very pious ruler and was therefore nicknamed "Sultan Berkat" (Blessed Sultan). He was the first sultan to build a mosque, and fortified the defense of Brunei by ordering his people to build a stone fortress and city (Kota Batu). Sharif Ali governed Brunei according to Islamic principles and his reign was popular and highly respected. After his death in 1432, His Royal Highness Sultan Sharif Ali was succeeded by his son Sulaiman. 

Sultan Sharif Ali was also the direct descendant of Muhammad (PBUH) through Hasan_ibn_Ali Saidina Hassan, the grandchild of Muhammad (PBUM). In addition, Sharif Ali has also served as the Emir of Mecca entitled Al-Amir Sharif 'Ali bin Sharif 'Ajlan bin Sharif Rumaithah bin Sharif Muhammad Abu Numaie Al-Awwal. Sultan Sharif Ali was also the ancestor of the Brunei & Sulu royal families. 

The royal symbol origin came from the world largest seed called "Coco de Mer". 

Sultan Sharif Ali made several changes closely linked to Islamic law including basing administration rule on Islamic law, straightening the direction of Qibla and creating a law prohibiting people from eating pork. The penalty for violating this law was death. 

Besides religious affairs, Ali's administration was responsible for a number of legacies including creating an emblem and banner- the "Tunggul Alam Bernaga"- which symbolized the dignity of Brunei and the Crown of the Sultan. These artifacts continue to be utilized by the current Sultanate. 

The mausoleum of Sharif Ali is situated close to the Brunei Museum and the mausoleum of Sultan Bolkiah, the 5th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam. Ali's mausoleum was built as a tribute and recognition of his contribution to strengthening the Islamic foundations of the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. In addition to building Ali's mausoleum, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (the 29th Sultan of Brunei) also built a grand mosque named Sultan Sharif Ali Mosque as an appreciation for his contributions to Islam. The mosque, which was inaugurated in 1986, is located in Kampong Senkurong; approximately 16 km from Bandar Seri Begawan. Several institutions in Brunei also carry Sultan Sharif Ali's name. These include the Masjid Sultan Sharif Ali in Kampong Sengkurong, the Sekolah Menengah Sultan Sharif Ali in Kampong Salambigar, Jalan Muara and the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali. 

University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
University of Brunei Darussalam (Abbreviation: UBD; Malay: Universiti Brunei Darussalam; Jawi: يونيبرسيتي بروني دارالسلام) is Brunei's oldest university. It is the largest university in the country in terms of student enrollment and curriculum offered.

Universiti Brunei Darussalam was established in 1985, only a year after the country regained full independence, with an intake of 176 students. In 1988, the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education was merged into the university.

UBD opened its doors to international students from its inception. Early on the majority of international students at UBD were from ASEAN countries. Today there is greater diversity with more students coming from East Asia (China and Japan), Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Construction on the university's Mosque began in 1992 on a site of 2.032 hectares of land, and was completed in 1994, with a total cost of BND $7,600,000. The Mosque was officially opened in 1995 by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. It has a capacity of 1800.

University Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (Abbreviation: UNISSA) is Brunei's second university. It was established in 2007 as an Islamic university. 

The idea of an a second university in Brunei was suggested by the Sultan in 2004 at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam's 16th convocation and in 2005 he made clear at the 17th convocation that the new university would be an Islamic university. The overall aim of the new university is to become a centre for the spread of Islam in the region. 

The University took its name from Sharif Ali who was the first sultan to embrace Islam and the first to build a mosque in Brunei. The first intake of students joined in August 2007 when 152 students were accepted for the programmes. 125 were undergraduates, 26 Masters students and one was following a PhD. On its launch UNISSA absorbed staff and students from the Sultan Hj Omar Ali Saifuddien Islamic Education Institute (IPI SHOAS) which was until that point part of Universiti Brunei Darussalam. 

In February 2009 the University proposed a move to a new campus in Gadong at the former Rashidah Sa'adatul Nursing College to allow more room for academic expansion, employment of staff and better facilities.

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