A slice of Muscat in Singapore
Singapore - This street in Singapore’s popular Kampong Glam heritage district reminds you of Muscat. Visitors from the Omani capital would be pardoned for thinking they are in home turf as they walk along the pathway lined with murals and mosaic artworks depicting common themes from the sultanate.
At both ends of the street, there are two 8m-high granite arches with Omani-style ornate carvings. Don’t be surprised. Indeed, you are in Muscat Street!
In fact, this is how the street would appear after the completion of the ongoing renovation project. Home to one of Singapore’s historic landmark, the imposing golden-domed Sultan Mosque, Muscat Street is currently undergoing a massive S$5.3mn (US$4.16mn) facelift in order to give it a more distinct Omani flavour. The formal opening of Muscat Street will take place after Eid al Fitr, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry officials told Muscat Daily.
The project, first suggested by the former Head of Muscat Municipality Abdulla Abbas in April 2007, aims to rejuvenate the architecture of Muscat Street along traditional Omani lines. Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Muscat Municipality collaborated on a design for the redevelopment of the street.
Oman’s Consul-General to Singapore Zakaria al Saadi stressed that the nearly 200-year-old street signifies the historic relationship between Oman and Singapore. “Muscat Street leads to the Sultan Mosque, which is of historic significance to the Malay and Arab communities in Singapore. The street is not only an attraction for Omani visitors to Singapore but also for GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) nationals and other tourists,” he said.
The street, named after the Omani capital, functioned normally as a service lane for neighbouring roads including Arab Street, Basorrah Street, Baghdad Street and Kandahar Street. “Once completed, Muscat Street will bring a distinct ethnic character to area thus enhancing Singapore’s cultural heritage,” added Edmund Chia, Deputy Director General (Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia) at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When this reporter visited Muscat Street on Friday, it was abuzz with construction activities. The granite arches with Omani-style ornate carvings were already in place at both ends of the street. The new pavement and patterned tiling for the road all add to the flavour of traditional Omani style and architecture. The murals and mosaic artworks were also installed along the sides of the walkway. They were hidden behind white covers, perhaps, waiting to be unveiled on the formal opening. However, Muscat Daily got a sneak peek of the artworks and captured it in camera for the benefit of its readers.
People from both Singapore and Oman are eagerly looking forward to the opening. Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Oman Teng Theng Dar felt that the renovated Muscat Street will promote awareness about the sultanate. “The project will introduce Oman to the international community within Singapore. It will help revitalise the whole area in and around the Arab Street. We are looking forward to it,” he said.
“Every time I visit Singapore, I make it a point to visit Muscat Street. It is nice to see that Singapore government has recognised Muscat by naming one of their streets after the Omani capital. I think the government of Oman should seriously consider returning the favour and have a Singapore Street in Muscat in the near future.” said H E Ali al Abri, the Undersecretary for Water Resources Affairs at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources in Oman, during his recent visit to Singapore.
Along with Muscat Street in Singapore’s Kampong Glam heritage district, the Jewel of Muscat is another attraction that offers a slice of Omani history in this Asian city state, also highlighting the historic ties between Singapore and Oman.
The Jewel of Muscat, a replica of a ninth-century Omani dhow, is celebrating the second anniversary of its arrival in Singapore this month. The 17m-long timber-and-coconut rope arrived in Singapore from Muscat on July 3, 2010
Modelled after a ninth-century dhow that was found shipwrecked in Indonesia's Belitung Straits, the Jewel of Muscat is a gift from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, who had presented it to Singapore to mark the revival of links between the Republic and the Middle East.
- From October 15, 2011, the Jewel of Muscat has been on exhibition at the Maritime Experiential Museum and Aquarium at Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa.