Another well restored historical area in Singapore is the old Arab Quarter of Kampong Glam, a few blocks east of Singapore’s core, collectively known as Arab Street. (although the actual Arab Street is just one of the several streets in the area).
Singapore became a melting pot under the British, with people from all corners of their empire settling in. In an effort to preserve order in their colony, they segregated the living quarters by ethnicity. This gave birth to places like Chinatown, Little India, and the until then lesser known Arab Quarter.
At the heart of the area is the Masjid Sultan, the most important mosque within Singapore. As in anything in Singapore, the Mosque looks immaculately clean and with its bright golden domes and minaret tops, it sure is an eye catcher. It’s probably the prettiest mosque I’ve seen next to the grandiose mosques of Brunei.
The streets around the mosque are filled with shops selling middle eastern textiles and clothing, as well as middle eastern restaurants. Yet such is the mish mash of cultures in Singapore, that it’s fairly common to see middle eastern restaurants with obviously Arabic names selling Indian and Malay food, like the Prata and Teh Tarik, beside such things as the Murtabak.
The Arab Street might have the air of all things…well…Arabic, but just block and a half to the southwest is a small alley with a completely different air to it. If there is such a thing as a bohemian piece of Singapore, then this is it – Haji Lane. Running parallel to the actual Arab Street, Haji Lane is the repressed, youthful, carefree soul of Singapore. This small alley is filled with everything eclectic left and right, from small shops selling artwork and music, to restaurants serving artisan stuff, and the walls are painted with wonderful graffiti. Obviously catering to the inner rebelliousness of teeners and tweeners, Haji lane gives a stark contrast to the obviously religious Arab Quarter just a corner away.
*Photos taken November, 2015.