SINGAPORE - Fifteen months and $3.65 million later, the iconic Sultan Mosque in Muscat Street on Sautrday (Jan 16) declared its upgrading complete.
It now has elderly-friendly amenities, including a wheelchair ramp at its entrance and two glass lifts that will take worshippers from the first level to the prayer hall on the second level. The auditorium, office, and ablution area have been expanded, and the mosque given a fresh coat of paint.
Mosque chairman Mohamed Patail, speaking to reporters at an event to mark the occasion, said about half of the 3,000 people who fill the prayer hall during Friday prayers are elderly folk.
The upgraded facilities will make it more convenient for these worshippers.
He is already thinking of the next project: to air-condition the prayer hall. Mr Patail said this will make the mosque a more comfortable place for worshippers, especially the younger people who are known as "the air-con generation".
The mosque will raise its own funds for the upcoming project, though details have not been finalised. Mr Patail is hoping work can start in the middle of this year.
For its recent upgrade, part of the funds came from the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund, and from a $1.02 million grant disbursed by the National Heritage Board's National Monuments Fund.
Sultan Mosque was gazetted a national monument in 1975 and is often thought of as the unofficial national mosque here.
Minister of Communications and Information and Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the mosque on Saturday with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said: "We have been able to keep the mosque relevant, especially for our elderly population... who can now use the lift to get to the second floor."
Mr Lee, describing the upgraded mosque as "simple, clean, but dignified", said: "I think it will... fulfil its function with the Muslim community in Singapore with greater power and success."