Around 15 percent of Singapore’s citizens are Muslims, meaning the city-state, along with much of Southeast Asia, celebrates the month of Ramadan. This year the period runs July 10 to August 7; it’s a great time if you’re in Singapore to get a flavour of the Malay culture here.
Singapore’s Arab street and Kampong Glam area, historically the Muslim quarter of Singapore, is bustling with activity during Ramadan. A visit to Arab Street ideally starts at Sultan Mosque, built in 1824 and considered the national mosque; visiting hours typically end at 16:00.
It is not uncommon for the inter-faith community to be allowed to join Muslims in breaking their fast, or Iftar sessions, so do enquire at the mosque if you’re interested.
Food bazaars are held at several places across the island during Ramadan. Stalls are set up near Sultan Mosque along Bussorah street and feature a wide range of foods for Iftar.
In recent times, the range of food at Arab Street has expanded in range to reflect the population diversity here. Cafes offer Iranian, Lebanese and Egyptian dishes, and even fruit-flavoured hookah.
Other restaurants in the area that serve Western cuisines will ensure that they’re not left out of the action, and bring on the spirit of Ramadan in their own creative ways.
Elsewhere in the east of the island, Geylang Serai, a predominantly Malay precinct, celebrates Ramadan in a big way too and usually features a glittering street light-up.
The bazaar is set up along the road and is much larger than the one at Arab Street. Many of the shops here are open late into the night, some even 24 hours, which adds to the festive atmosphere. It features stalls selling items other than food; besides ever-popular mobile phone accessories and traditional Malay clothes, you’ll find carpet auctions and games for children as well.
If you do visit Singapore at this time, enjoy the festivities. And a Ramly burger — a simple concoction of meat patty and egg, slathered with chilli sauce — is a perfect supper to end the day.
By Fen Chia
Last updated on 15th November, 2014.