Arab Street

Arab Street, true to its name, epitomizes the Arabian way of life. Here, one can freely observe conservatively-dressed Muslims hurrying towards the Sultan Mosque once the call for prayer reverberates, robe-clad Arab men puffing away on their apple-flavoured sheeshas (tobacco pipes) and cigars, and black abaya (robes for Middle Eastern women)-clad women haggling over the prices of Oriental carpets. All these, coupled with the existence of various shophouses selling a variety of ethnic Arab goods like Qurans, prayer mats, Muslim apparel, carpets, sarongs, rattan baskets, brassware, perfumes, intrigue fabric materials and unique leather products used by the Malay community confirm the very essence of Arab Street.
Although observably a Muslim district, everyone from all walks of life gather here to indulge in Arab Street’s rich culture, if not to savour the ethnic cuisines, the souk-style retail experience or the rich history.
Arab Street today is still a key Muslim centre in Singapore. Many of Singapore’s “first generation” shophouses of squat two-storey buildings, with one or two windows on the upper floor façade, are found here on Arab Street. Each block of these shophouses are 135metres long and 8metres deep. Here, amidst the heady smells of Arab Street, were import-export businesses, wholesale and retail textile merchants, all catering to the needs of the various ethnic Muslim communities settled here although it became popular with other Singaporeans and even foreigners. Some of the stuff you can find selling in the shops are jewellery, perfumes, carpets, curio, rattan and other basketware, preserved food and other delicacies, spices, flowers, Muslim restaurants and money-changers too. Travel agents here specialise in the travel needs oof Muslim pilgrims heading for Mecca.

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