Bandar Seri Begawan:
Brunei's polo-playing Prince Abdul Mateen, one of Asia's most eligible bachelors, will marry his commoner fiancée on Thursday in a lavish 10-day celebration in the oil-rich sultanate.
An Islamic wedding ceremony for the 32-year-old prince and Yang Mulia Anisha Rosnah, 29, will take place at a golden-domed mosque in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.
Mateen is the tenth child of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah – the world's longest-reigning monarch and once the world's richest man – and is low in the line of succession to the throne.
His bride – the granddaughter of one of his father's top advisors – reportedly owns a fashion brand and co-owns a tourism business.
The royal wedding celebrations reach their climax on Sunday with a glittering ceremony in the 1,788-room palace and a lavish procession.
The guest list is expected to include international royalty and political leaders.
“It's like a fairy tale,” 22-year-old university student Syahida Wafa Mohamed Shah told AFP on Wednesday near the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque where the wedding is being celebrated.
Many Bruneians plan to line the streets for Sunday's procession, when the couple will ride by in a royal carriage.
“It’s like something out of a movie,” said Nazatul Izzati Saifulrizal, 19.
The pomp and pageantry of the royal extravagance underscores the small country's enormous wealth, which is based almost entirely on its enormous oil reserves.
Brunei, a piece of land on the northern edge of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, was influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism before its rulers converted to Islam in the 14th century.
It fell under British rule in the 19th century and gained independence in 1984.
An absolute monarchy with strict Islamic laws and a population of only about 450,000 people, Brunei is one of the richest countries in the world.
According to the International Monetary Fund, annual GDP per capita is nearly $36,000. But analysts have warned that Brunei faces major challenges in diversifying its economy away from oil as crude prices remain volatile and its reserves dwindle.
While the Sultan has long since lost the title of world's richest man to tech billionaires, his wealth remains the stuff of legends.
He reportedly has a huge collection of luxury vehicles and his official riverside residence is one of the largest palaces in the world.
Although it is unlikely that Mateen will ever ascend the throne, his matinee idol looks and large social media following have made him one of the most recognizable members of the royal family.
A helicopter pilot in his country's air force, he has often been compared in the media to Britain's Prince Harry and has previously been dubbed the “hot royal.”
Mateen graduated as an officer candidate from Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and represented his country in polo at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
In recent years he has played an increasing role in international diplomacy.
The prince accompanied his father to the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla in May last year and to Queen Elizabeth's funeral in 2022.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)