24th April 2014 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Baroness Warsi visits Brunei

Baroness Warsi has just completed a two day visit. She is Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Her visit to Brunei was part of a regional tour which also included Malaysia (Sabah and Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore.


The Minister had a very full programme, including an Audience with His Majesty The Sultan and Foreign Minister HRH Prince Mohamed. In her meeting with HRH the Crown Prince, Baroness Warsi extended an invitation for him to visit the UK later this year, as Guest of the British Government.

One theme to the visit was the UK’s recent initiatives on Islamic finance. Last October, the World Islamic Economic Forum was held in London. HM The Sultan was one of the high level participants. Baroness Warsi took the opportunity to inform him of follow up action. Baroness Warsi’s recently formed international advisory group on Islamic finance includes a Bruneian participant, Mr Javed Ahmad, Managing Director BIBD. Javed was one of the guests at a dinner I held for Baroness Warsi, with Minister Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, government officials and representatives from the banking sector and academia, to discuss how best for Brunei and the UK to collaborate. We agreed this might include both investment opportunities and leveraging British universities’ Islamic finance expertise. The Minister was interested to hear too about the Brunei Halal brand and its investment in the UK.


Baroness Warsi is also Minister for Faith and Communities. She called on the State Mufti and chaired a lively roundtable discussion with staff and students from the religious university UNISSA and the SOASCIS Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Brunei Darussalam. The implications of the new sharia penal code were discussed. On the Saturday, the Minister visited the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. On the Sunday, she attended an Easter Service at St Andrew’s Church.



It was the Minister’s first visit to Brunei. She met a range of other personalities here. There was a particularly interesting discussion over breakfast with prominent Bruneian women, including the Attorney General, the Acting Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Permanent Secretaries, academics and the first woman pilot on Royal Brunei Airlines.


Throughout, Baroness Warsi was struck by the many close links that exist with Brunei, with many of the people she met mentioning that they had studied in the UK or that their children were at British Universities. It was great to have the Minister visit during Brunei’s special 30th year of independence.

(More photos from Baroness Warsi’s visit here)