When Sir Stamford Raffles laid out Singapore, he was quite specific that the area allotted to Malays, Arabs and other Muslim traders needed to cater to their requirements. These include the Sultan Mosque and the Istana, the palace of the local Malay sultan. The area is formally known as Kampong Glam, but just about all guide books refer to it as Arab Street.
The Sultan Mosque and shops of Arab Street
The shops lining the streets of Kampong Glam are famous for selling batiks and other fabrics from around Asia. Almost all of the shophouses have been lovingly restored to their original colorful details.
Former palace of the Malay rulers of Singapore
At the center of the area is the golden domed Sultan Mosque. The current structure dates from 1928, when it replaced the original mosque built in 1822. Next to the Mosque is the Istana, the former palace of the descendants of Sultan Hussein Shah, who ceded Singapore to Stamford Raffles. The descendants were technically entitled to live in the compound forever, but were asked to leave a few years ago, and the building has now been turned into the Malay Cultural Museum.