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Culture & Identity of Brunei

Introduction

Brunei is a fairly small and urbanized country whose economy is based on oil. In fact oil has done more to dictate the daily way of life than perhaps anything else, although religion and the urban lifestyle also take on prominent roles.

Due to the oil industry, today many jobs are in, or related to the oil industries. This has led to fairly regular working hours for the people and has given life in Brunei a fairly regular schedule for many people. Whether in the industrial side of oil, or any other occupation, or on the services side, hours tend to be consistent as many people work from about 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm. However, there are also evening and night shifts in many industries and many people also work Saturday mornings.

Religion also takes on an important role in the way of life for many people, from dress and diet (below) to schedule. Friday is Islam's holy day and as a primarily Muslim country many, but not all people take Friday evening to pray.

Since most people live in the city this contributes to the way of life as well. People live closer, public transportation is more common than private, and nearly any food or good is more easily accessible.

Leisure time in Brunei is spent in a huge number of ways. In the city there are plenty of entertainment options, but few people drink so bars are uncommon. Many people prefer spending free time with family or friends and due to relatively high incomes; many people have some discretionary income to enjoy their time off of work.

Identity

The ethnic Malays in Brunei tend to identify as Bruneian, which is primarily a political-based definition, but one that also has strong aspects of the culture associated with it. This identity is usually associated with being an ethnic Malay, speaking Malay, and being Muslim, but it also implies that the person is a citizen of Brunei, hence excluding ethnic Malays living elsewhere. The ethnic minorities tend to identify with their ethnicity, many of whom are ethnically Chinese or Indian, but numerous smaller groups also exist, such as the Lun Bawang people.

This page was last updated: November, 2013