His Majesty opens Islamic Tourism and Exhibition
By Rokiah Mahmud

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to officiate the launch of the Islamic Tourism and Exhibition 2011 at the Darul-Ifta Building in Jalan Pengiran Babu Raja, which houses the State's Mufti's Office and the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Islamic Exhibition Gallery.

Also attending the launching ceremony were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim and His Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul Malik.

The Islamic Tourism and Exhibition 2011 is the outcome of collaboration between the State Mufti's Office and the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. The gallery showcases some 15 artefacts of the exact replicas from Sacred Trust Exhibition from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey with revered relics such as a number of swords belonging to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the staff of Prophet Moses (pbuh). They are on display in Brunei Darussalam for the first time. The exhibition also features various priceless Islamic artefacts and ancient relics from His Majesty's private collection.

His Majesty was introduced to Brunei Tourism Development Department's Islamic initiative, themed "Brunei Darussalam: Tracing the Beauty of Islam" consisting a new Islamic tourism brochure promoting places of historical or religious significance in Brunei Darussalam as well as promoting the Sultanate's Islamic way of life as exemplified through the MIB philosophy and Negara Zikir concept.

His Majesty later toured the Islamic Tourism and Exhibition and the Sacred Trust (Prophet's sword). One of the swords, Al-Ma'tsur, was owned by Prophet Muhammad before he was proclaimed as Prophet and was a personal gift from Prophet's Father, Abdullah. The 99cm-long sword engraved with Khufi Calligraphy and bearing the name of 'Abdullah bin Abdul Muthallib' was used in major events such as the War of Badar, Uhud and Khandaq.

His Majesty and the royal entourage also took a closer look at the exhibition on Holy Mission to enforce holy faith, exhibition of Beduk Besar and exhibition on large petrified wood fossil.

The "Brunei, the Islamic Experience" tour package and brochure created by Darussalam Holdings with support from Brunei Tourism offers a 4-day/3-night Islamic-themed travel experience in Brunei Darussalam, targeting not only fellow Malays with Nusantara interests in seeing a sovereign Malay Islamic monarchy, but also the Ummah at large who is keen to learn more on the Islamic practices and also to raise the interest among non-Muslims in the region to learn more on the Malay civilisation, religious practices and Malay cultural heritage, which are often linked with Islamic teachings.

The Islamic Tourism initiative was energised into action following the meeting held during last year's Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) between Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, and Dato' Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia's Minister of Tourism. They explored how Brunei and Malaysia could create respective Islamic Tourism packages that could complement each other in order to create an Islamic Civilisation Trail in Southeast Asia and allow interested visitors to follow the development, progress as well as ancient and modern cultural practices of Islam in the Malay archipelago.

Although Brunei lacks pilgrimage sites or ancients monuments of strong historical religious significance, it is indeed endowed with some of the region's most striking examples of timeless Islamic architecture, particularly the two national mosques that harmoniously combine a variety of styles.

His Majesty's collection of Islamic artefacts on display either at Brunei Museum or at the SHHB Islamic Exhibition Gallery, also attracts tourists especially those from the region who marvel at exquisite and often unique Islamic art and miniature al-Quran, calligraphy in various styles, weaponry, scientific instruments and everyday objects from the Muslim world.

Furthermore with Brunei's Islamic way of life, where piety and religious precepts are part of governance that allows for development, modernity, gender equality, tolerance and protection of other religions and minorities. All these could attract visitors who can appreciate the fact that they can visit Brunei without any religious concern and experience food and activities the Halal way that are not always available in other popular tourism spots.

The Islamic Tourism and Exhibition 2011 is open for the public from today until April 5. The visiting hours are from 9am to 9pm daily while on Fridays the exhibition will be open from 2pm to 9pm.

Entrance fee for adult is $5 and $2 for children. For more inquiries and information, the public can visit the website www.IslamicTourismBrunei.com. - Borneo Bulletin (17th March 2011)