Kampong Gelam and Arab Street - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Kampong Gelam and Arab Street

Kampong Gelam and Arab Street

Kampong Gelam is said to have taken its name from the Gelam tribe of sea gypsies who lived in the original Malay village southwest of the Rochor River. Sir Stamford Raffles allotted the area as an ethnic enclave to the Muslim population and it became the focal point for Arab trade and traditional Malay culture. Baghdad, Muscat Street and Haji Lane resonate with tradition as cane, straw, rattan and pandan leaf goods spill out onto the streets. The spectrum of fabrics flowing onto the pavements of Arab Street comprise chiffon, silk, cotton georgette and include the batiks of Indonesia and Malaysia. Located between Kandahar and Aliwal streets is the Istana Kampong Gelam. It was built as the royal palace of Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah, the son of Sultan Hussein who negotiated the handover of Singapore to Britain. The government recently took possession of the building with plans to transform it into a Malay heritage museum. Another significant building in the area is the Sultan Mosque (open daily 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm). The glistening necks of the domes are decorated with the bases of thousands of glass bottles.

Information & Facts

Singapores official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. A patois called Singlish, or Singaporean English is widely spoken. It is the by-product of mixing English, Chinese and Malay syntax and idiom.

Singapore's currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD), which is divided into 100 cents. The US and Australian Dollars, Yen and British Pound are also accepted in the larger shopping centres. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants. ATMs are widely distributed and banks advance cash against the major credit cards. Travellers cheques can be cashed at banks or licensed moneychangers and at selected hotels. Banks are open daily, but some do not do foreign exchange on Saturdays.

Local time is GMT +8.
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