Foreign students thrilled to meet Johor Ruler at open house

JOHOR BARU - Commoners at the Hari Raya open house at Istana Pasir Pelangi were ex­­cited to meet Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

The Johor Ruler, clad in a simple dark brown checkered shirt and long pants, spent about 15 minutes with his subjects, obliging requests for selfies and photos.

Among the delighted visitors was Nigerian Muslim Auwalu Mohammad, 34, who felt blessed to join the celebration here.

While the Malaysian and the Nigerian ways of celebrating Hari Raya - or Eid al-Fitr in his home country - bore some differences, he observed that people from both countries marked the festival by gathering at the Ruler's home.

"Just like here, our Nigerian ruler also invites his people to the palace to feast with him.

"The Johor Sultan is such a friendly and humble person, from how he went around greeting the crowd.

"I am lucky to have been able to shake his hand and take a selfie with him," he said, adding that he has not returned home for the festival for the past three years.

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Auwalu, who is pursuing a doctorate in electrical engineering, was among 100 Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) representatives who joined thousands of guests to celebrate Hari Raya with the Johor royal fa­mily.

His friend and fellow PhD student Sulaiman Aliyu, 40, was also over the moon to meet Sultan Ibrahim, whom they had come to learn about since joining UTM.

"I have read many good things about him and so when the university offered to bring us here, my family and I jumped at the opportunity," he said, adding that his wife and three young children are staying with him here.

He said that the warmth of the Johoreans and the close bond of the community were the best part of living in Malaysia.

At the open house, the visitors arrived as early as 9am and were treated to an array of local delicacies and Raya must-haves like ke­tupat and lemang.

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