Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, born on July 15, 1946, is the current Sultan and Prime Minister of Brunei, a small nation located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. He is the eldest son of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and the 29th ruler of the Brunei dynasty.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was educated in Brunei and later attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. He ascended to the throne in 1967, at the age of just 21, after his father abdicated.
The Sultan is known for his wealth, which has been estimated to be in excess of $20 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world. Much of his wealth comes from Brunei’s abundant oil and gas reserves, which have made the country one of the wealthiest in the world on a per capita basis.
In addition to his role as Sultan and Prime Minister, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has also served as Brunei’s Minister of Defence and Finance. He has played a significant role in the development of Brunei’s economy and has overseen numerous infrastructure projects, including the construction of new highways, hospitals, and schools.
Despite his immense wealth, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is known for his modest lifestyle and devotion to Islam. He is married to Queen Saleha, and they have six children together.
In 2019, the Sultan faced international criticism for implementing harsh new laws based on Sharia law, including the death penalty for homosexuality and adultery. The laws were later suspended due to widespread protests and condemnation from human rights organizations.
Despite the controversy surrounding his rule, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah remains one of the most influential leaders in Southeast Asia and a prominent figure in the international community. His wealth and influence have allowed him to play a significant role in shaping the political and economic landscape of the region.
Here’s a timeline of some key events in the life of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah:
- July 15, 1946: Hassanal Bolkiah is born in Brunei Town (now Bandar Seri Begawan), Brunei.
- 1961: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah becomes the Crown Prince of Brunei at the age of 15.
- August 5, 1967: Hassanal Bolkiah becomes the Sultan of Brunei after his father, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III, abdicates the throne.
- 1971: Brunei gains independence from the United Kingdom, with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah becoming the country’s first Prime Minister.
- 1984: Brunei becomes a fully independent state.
- 1997: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah celebrates his 50th birthday with a lavish ceremony that reportedly cost $27 million.
- 2013: Brunei introduces a new penal code based on Sharia law, which includes punishments such as stoning for adultery and homosexuality.
- 2019: The new Sharia-based penal code comes into effect, prompting international criticism and widespread protests.
- Present day: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah remains in power as the absolute monarch of Brunei and is one of the richest people in the world, with an estimated net worth of over $20 billion.
Here are 5 interesting facts about Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei:
- He is the second-longest reigning monarch in the world, after Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
- He has a vast car collection, including over 7,000 cars, many of which are custom-made and adorned with gold.
- Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has been known to donate large sums of money to charitable causes, particularly those related to education and healthcare.
- He is an avid sportsman and has competed in several international sporting events, including the Southeast Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
- The Sultan’s palace, Istana Nurul Iman, is one of the largest residential palaces in the world, with over 1,700 rooms.
And here are 5 quotes from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah:
- “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”
- “A nation can be considered great only if it takes care of its most vulnerable members.”
- “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.”
- “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”
- “Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.”