Malaysia’s Land of the Hornbills, Sarawak, puts out welcome mat for Middle East investors

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The largest state in Malaysia has a colourful history that encompasses the ‘White Rajahs’, colonial rule and finally, integration into Malaysia. It is also blessed with stunning rainforests and natural resources that have sustained an amazingly diverse ethnic population for centuries.

Sarawak began their emergence as an integral part of Malaysia after they joined the Federation in 1963. However, Sarawak’s recorded history goes back hundreds of years with the past two centuries, in particular, providing a period of dramatic change and development that has shaped the modern fortunes of Malaysia’s largest state.

Historians say evidence of modern man in Sarawak goes back some 40,000 years, though it was only in the last 5,000 years that the aborigine populations now residing in Borneo migrated to the area.

Arab traders brought Islam to the region in the 14th Century and, after a period of self-government, the region surrounding Kuching eventually became part of the Brunei Sultanate.

The middle of the 19th Century marked the start of Sarawak’s British legacy with James Brooke becoming the first “White Rajah”, the first of three Brookes who would rule the state for more than 100 years. Japanese occupation and sovereignty under the British crown eventually made way for independence culminating in the creation of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

With a land area of more than 124,000 square kilometres, Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and is also the richest in terms of natural resources and biodiversity.

The environment is dominated by rain-forest and, as a result, timber is by far its main economic driver. Sarawak remains among the world’s leading exporters of tropical-sourced timber.

Although years of logging have depleted rain forests in many areas, the Sarawak Government has implemented a number of programmes, including the Log Export Restriction Policy, that places a premium on value-added processing to manage the industry.

In 1994, Sarawak established the National Resources and Environment Board to protect and manage the environment, in addition to enhancing conservation efforts, in order to promote sustainable development of its natural resources.

Logging is only part of Sarawak’s multitude of businesses derived from natural resources. The state has thriving crude palm oil and natural gas industries.

Minerals are another major product from a terrain and subterrain that produce metallic and non-metallic resources. Kaolinitic coal, clay and silica sand, aluminium and gold deposits are testament to Sarawak’s mineral diversity.

Agro-based food processing, petrochemicals and gas and ship-building are among the other major industries in Sarawak, while the government is promoting the development of biotechnology and electronics and other viable sectors to boost the economy and create jobs.

Sarawak boasts some of the most diverse and numerous flora and fauna in the world.

The government is implementing a number of conservation initiatives in order to protect endangered species. The Heart 2 Heart campaign seeks to protect orangutan and turtle populations while efforts are also underway to save the Irrawaddy dolphin and dugongs.

The Reef Ball project is designed to revive marine ecosystems by sinking artificial reefs into the sea.

Sarawak’s lush and striking environment needs to be seen to be believed and that is why tourism also plays a key role in the local economy. In 2010, more than 3.2 million tourists from overseas and Malaysia visited the state, which is targeting 4 million visitors for 2011.

The administrative and commercial capital of Sarawak is Kuching, which has a population of close to 600,000. Other major cities include Miri (population 260,000) and Sibu (population 250,000).

Indigenous Ibans form the biggest ethnic group in Sarawak at 34 per cent of the population while the Chinese, who first arrived at these shores in the sixth century, make up 26 per cent.

Malays (21 per cent), Melanaus, Dayak Bidayuh and Dayak Orang Ulu also make up significant portions of the population. In addition, there are more than 30 tribes native to Sarawak that thrive throughout the state.

Kuching is the centre of government for Sarawak, its financial hub and the fourth-most populous city in Malaysia.

Miri is in northern Sarawak and is the home of the country’s petroleum industry. The first oil drill in Malaysia was built in Miri, in 1910, by Shell. Ibans, Chinese and Malays dominate the ethnic landscape in Miri, which is also home to dozens of other races and tribes.

Sibu, in eastern part of Sarawak, is an inland city and well-known tourist destination, especially for the many visitors wanting to see the famous longhouses of the Iban and Orang Ulu people along the Upper Rajang River.

The city has a rich Chinese culture and is one of the few places in Malaysia where Chinese writing is displayed on street and traffic signs.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

The largest state in Malaysia has a colourful history that encompasses the ‘White Rajahs’, colonial rule and finally, integration into Malaysia. It is also blessed with stunning rainforests and natural resources that have sustained an amazingly diverse ethnic population for centuries.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The largest state in Malaysia has a colourful history that encompasses the ‘White Rajahs’, colonial rule and finally, integration into Malaysia. It is also blessed with stunning rainforests and natural resources that have sustained an amazingly diverse ethnic population for centuries.

Sarawak began their emergence as an integral part of Malaysia after they joined the Federation in 1963. However, Sarawak’s recorded history goes back hundreds of years with the past two centuries, in particular, providing a period of dramatic change and development that has shaped the modern fortunes of Malaysia’s largest state.

Historians say evidence of modern man in Sarawak goes back some 40,000 years, though it was only in the last 5,000 years that the aborigine populations now residing in Borneo migrated to the area.

Arab traders brought Islam to the region in the 14th Century and, after a period of self-government, the region surrounding Kuching eventually became part of the Brunei Sultanate.

The middle of the 19th Century marked the start of Sarawak’s British legacy with James Brooke becoming the first “White Rajah”, the first of three Brookes who would rule the state for more than 100 years. Japanese occupation and sovereignty under the British crown eventually made way for independence culminating in the creation of the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

With a land area of more than 124,000 square kilometres, Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and is also the richest in terms of natural resources and biodiversity.

The environment is dominated by rain-forest and, as a result, timber is by far its main economic driver. Sarawak remains among the world’s leading exporters of tropical-sourced timber.

Although years of logging have depleted rain forests in many areas, the Sarawak Government has implemented a number of programmes, including the Log Export Restriction Policy, that places a premium on value-added processing to manage the industry.

In 1994, Sarawak established the National Resources and Environment Board to protect and manage the environment, in addition to enhancing conservation efforts, in order to promote sustainable development of its natural resources.

Logging is only part of Sarawak’s multitude of businesses derived from natural resources. The state has thriving crude palm oil and natural gas industries.

Minerals are another major product from a terrain and subterrain that produce metallic and non-metallic resources. Kaolinitic coal, clay and silica sand, aluminium and gold deposits are testament to Sarawak’s mineral diversity.

Agro-based food processing, petrochemicals and gas and ship-building are among the other major industries in Sarawak, while the government is promoting the development of biotechnology and electronics and other viable sectors to boost the economy and create jobs.

Sarawak boasts some of the most diverse and numerous flora and fauna in the world.

The government is implementing a number of conservation initiatives in order to protect endangered species. The Heart 2 Heart campaign seeks to protect orangutan and turtle populations while efforts are also underway to save the Irrawaddy dolphin and dugongs.

The Reef Ball project is designed to revive marine ecosystems by sinking artificial reefs into the sea.

Sarawak’s lush and striking environment needs to be seen to be believed and that is why tourism also plays a key role in the local economy. In 2010, more than 3.2 million tourists from overseas and Malaysia visited the state, which is targeting 4 million visitors for 2011.

The administrative and commercial capital of Sarawak is Kuching, which has a population of close to 600,000. Other major cities include Miri (population 260,000) and Sibu (population 250,000).

Indigenous Ibans form the biggest ethnic group in Sarawak at 34 per cent of the population while the Chinese, who first arrived at these shores in the sixth century, make up 26 per cent.

Malays (21 per cent), Melanaus, Dayak Bidayuh and Dayak Orang Ulu also make up significant portions of the population. In addition, there are more than 30 tribes native to Sarawak that thrive throughout the state.

Kuching is the centre of government for Sarawak, its financial hub and the fourth-most populous city in Malaysia.

Miri is in northern Sarawak and is the home of the country’s petroleum industry. The first oil drill in Malaysia was built in Miri, in 1910, by Shell. Ibans, Chinese and Malays dominate the ethnic landscape in Miri, which is also home to dozens of other races and tribes.

Sibu, in eastern part of Sarawak, is an inland city and well-known tourist destination, especially for the many visitors wanting to see the famous longhouses of the Iban and Orang Ulu people along the Upper Rajang River.

The city has a rich Chinese culture and is one of the few places in Malaysia where Chinese writing is displayed on street and traffic signs.

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