SOAS, Jame’ ’Asr mosques continue to draw tourists
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
TWO of Brunei’s landmark mosques – Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) and Jame’ 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah – remain a popular destination for tourists visiting the country.
Muhammad Hj Salihi, caretaker of the SOAS mosque in the capital, said that over the past two years, the mosque has received at least 25,000 tourists from countries as far as China, Australia and parts of Europe.
Although the mosque has a visitor’s book where tourists can sign in upon visiting it, he said that they have not yet tallied the amount of people who signed in, and that the figure was only a rough estimate.
According to Muhammad, the mosque received an estimated 13,000 tourists in 2014 and that number increased to over 15,000 the following year.
So far this year, they have received around 4,000 tourists, he said.
This month alone, we have received more than 1,200 tourists, he added.
“We get big groups of tourists from cruise tours during the months of February, June and October, and they visit the mosque in groups throughout the day. On these days, there can be up to more than 2,000 of them visiting,” he said.
“We are closed to tourists on Thursdays and Fridays, but on other days, we normally get 30 to 60 tourists a day,” he said.
Meanwhile, a representative from the Jame’ 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque said that there has also been an increase in tourist visits over the past two years.
On average, we receive 150-200 tourists a day, and the number will increase during cruise ship tour arrivals as well as during holidays in the tourists’ respective countries, he said.
“The majority of tourists we received were from China, Taiwan and Europe,” he said.
He also said that the mosque is closed on Thursdays and Fridays as well as during Islamic public holidays, or if there is an event being held at the mosque.
Vietnamese Chau Nguyen, who was visiting the Jame’ Asr’ Hassanil Bolkiah mosque, yesterday said that she found the mosque “to be very beautiful.”
It was her first to enter such a large mosque.
Chau, who was travelling with her three friends, said that she was told that the Jame’ Asr’ Hassanil Bolkiah mosque is one of the country’s most famous landmarks popular among tourists.
She added that she would definitely recommend visiting the mosque to her friends.
Meanwhile, Ute Wegener, from Australia, who was visiting SOAS with her husband, said that she found the mosque “to be beautiful although it was not as elaborate as the mosque she visited in Abu Dhabi”.
She added that she wished there were more information available at the mosque, such as details of its design and architecture, especially for tourists visiting without a tour guide.
“It’s beautiful, the grounds are very nice and clean. I love the peace and quiet (inside the mosque).”
The Brunei Times