In 2012, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Oman’s Muscat Municipality collaborated on an iconic project to redevelop Muscat Street, highlighting the close links between Singapore and Oman. It was officially opened on 8 November 2012 by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam and Omani Guest-of-Honour His Excellency Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.
Singapore and Oman share warm and friendly relations. Since the launch of the Jewel of Muscat project in 2007, there have been many high-level visits between Singapore and Oman, including a State Visit by then President S R Nathan in 2009.
About Muscat Street
Nestled between North Bridge Road and Baghdad Street, Muscat Street leads up to the imposing golden-domed Masjid Sultan (masjid means mosque in Malay). Masjid Sultan is of historical significance to the Malay and Arab communities in Singapore. The street is named after Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman which is situated north of the Arabian Sea.
At both ends of Muscat Street are 8 metre-high granite arches displaying ornate Omani carvings. The street is also decorated with granite murals and mosaic artwork. The murals were painted by Omani artists and the tiles were specially selected and imported from Oman. The murals present unique aspects of Omani culture. The khanjar, for example, is a traditional Omani dagger; it is curved and sharpened on both edges and is normally carried in a sheath decorated in silver filigree. The dallah is a metal pot with a long spout used to make and serve Arabic coffee. The murals also depict one of Oman's many forts, which give a glimpse of Oman's rich history. Combined with the new patterned tiling along the road, the new features are reminiscent of traditional Omani style and architecture.
The Jewel of Muscat
A mural along Muscat Street also features the Jewel of Muscat, a State Gift from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said to the Government and People of Singapore. The Jewel of Muscat project symbolises the revival of the ancient trading routes that linked Asia and the Middle East. It is a replica of a 9th century Arabian ship carrying Chinese artefacts ("Tang Shipwreck Treasure"), which had been salvaged off Belitung Island in the Java Sea in 1998. The dhow is 18 metres long and 6 metres wide and was constructed using planks hand-sewn together with coconut fibres, similar to 9th century Arab shipbuilding methods.
The crew comprised 15 sailors, including Omanis and Singaporeans. It was led by an experienced Omani sailor, Captain Saleh Bin Said Al Jabri. The Jewel of Muscat spent 68 days at sea, while the full voyage lasted 138 days, and covered 3580 nautical miles (the equivalent of 4119 miles or 6630 kilometres). The crew used 9th century navigational methods throughout the voyage. The main tool used is a kamal that determines a ship's latitude based on the sightings of known stars. The dhow arrived in Singapore on 3 July 2010.
In 2011, the National Geographic produced a documentary on the construction and voyage of the Jewel of Muscat titled "Ancient Treasure Ship".
The Jewel of Muscat is now the centrepiece of Resort World Sentosa’s Maritime Experiential Museum, which opened on 15 October 2011. More information on the dhow is available at: www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/ThingsToDo/MaritimeExperientialMuseum.