• Photo: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock

Kampong Glam

The Kampong Glam neighborhood was once the home of Malay groups before British colonization began in the early 1800s. Following the reallocation of ethnic groups, Kampong Glam was designated for the sultan, along with other Malays and with Arabs. Over the years it served as a gathering point for members of the Muslim immigrants from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Middle East. Some street names, such as Arab Street, Baghdad Street, and Kandahar Street, reflect that history.

These days this area north of the Singapore River remains primarily Muslim and is composed of ethnic Malays, Arabs, Chinese, and Indians. "Glam," pronounced "glum," refers either to the gelam trees that grew in the area, the Gelam tribe, or possibly both. ("Kampong" just means "village.") Now a shopping destination, Kampong Glam has standout streets like Haji Lane, which is a good place to pick up local designs. Along North Bridge Road you will find stores selling costumes and headdresses for Muslim weddings and clothes for traditional Malay dances. In between the shops are small, simple restaurants serving Muslim food.

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