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Brunei sultan pilots his B-747 for second time to Delhi

New Delhi, Dec 21, 2012 (IANS) 21:36 IST
One of the wealthiest men on earth, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussulam, loves flying so much that he captained his huge Boeing 747 aircraft to New Delhi, as he did on his previous visit to India in 2008.

He is perhaps the only head of state to fly his own aircraft. The sultan piloted his jumbo luxury aircraft to Delhi to attend the Dec 20-21 ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit. He left Friday afternoon. It was a pleasant surprise for the protocol team led by Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh when the sultan was seen in the captain's seat.

The sultan then posed for his protocol welcome on the tarmac. He was accompanied by his wife Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha. The sultan was the world's richest man in the 1990s but lost the spot Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is currently second in Forbes list of Top 10 billionaires. His wealth is estimated to be around $20 billion - not enough to make the Top 10. Forbes has declared Brunei the fifth richest nation due to its petroleum and natural gas fields.

One of the world's longest serving monarchs, who assumed the throne in 1967, Sultan Bolkiah's jumbo shows off his taste for precious metals as his new aircraft is fitted with solid gold and Lalique crystal worth Rs.1,100 crore, according to media reports.

The Sultan has a personal wealth of Rs.218,200 crore. The only other monarch to have piloted his aircraft to New Delhi was Jordan's late King Hussein when he arrived here for the Non-Aligned Movement sunnit in 1983.

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