Arab Street

Arab Street

Arab Street (Chinese: 阿拉伯街) is the name of a road and neighbourhood in Singapore. There are two explanations to exist of the road name. The first being that the area was owned by an Arab merchant, Syed Ali bin Mohamed Al Junied and the site of an Arab kampong, hence the name being known as 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 shophoses 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 situation already preexisted at the time of the nation's founding father Sir Stamford Raffles. When Raffles was planing the outline of areas to be allocated for government, as opposed to commercial and residential use, a community of Bugis seamen and merchants already existed 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 Mohammedan traders (Chulias) were also allocated to areas near Kampong Glam.


  • Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names, 2004, Eastern University Press, ISBN 981-210-364-3

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