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Arab Street

Arab Street is where you can take a glimpse of the Arabian culture.  From sheeshas (tobacco pipes) and cigars to Oriental carpets.  You can also find a variety of ethnic Arab goods, such as Qurans, prayer mats, apparel and wicker products.  The famous Sultan Mosque is just around the corner.

Arab Street is the name of a road and neighbourhood in Singapore. There are two explanations behind the name. The first one is that the area was owned by an Arab merchant, Syed Ali bin Mohamed Al Junied and that it was the site of an Arab kampong, hence the name Arab Street. The Chinese referred the street as jiau a koi (Javanese street), in the view of the Javanese who used to be the majority inhabitants of the area.

Spices, textiles, basketry items and Sonkoks are sold along this row of shophouses with five-foot way at Arab Street. In Tamil, Arab Street is known as pukadai sadkku (flower shops street), because of shops selling homegrown flowers, lime and other goods sold by Javanese women. In 1889, a huge fire occurred.

The other explanation is tied to the preexisting situation at the time of the nation's founding by Sir Stamford Raffles. When Raffles was planning the outline of areas to be allocated for the government, as opposed to commercial and residential use, a community of Bugis seamen and merchants were already near the Sultan's palace. He therefore allocated the area to them, near where their boats were sheltered in the river, bringing their annual cargo to a barter basis. That is how the name Bugis Street came about. The Arabs and other Muslim traders (Chulias) were also allocated to areas near Kampong Glam.