Fifteen months and $3.65 million later, the iconic Sultan Mosque in Muscat Street yesterday declared its upgrading complete.
It 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 said at an event to mark the occasion that about half of the 3,000 people who fill the 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, gazetted a national monument in 1975, is often thought of as Singapore's unofficial national mosque.
Minister of Communications and Information and Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the mosque yesterday 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 lifts to get to the second floor."
Mr Lee described the upgraded mosque as simple, clean but dignified, adding: "I think it will... fulfil its function with the Muslim community in Singapore with greater power and success."