Hajar Ali (on Instagram @hajarali) is the founder of Urbane Nomads, a company specializing in luxury travel to off-the-beaten-path places. Though she’s based in Singapore, the entrepreneur spends much of her time roaming the globe in search of adventure.

More often than not she finds it. Case in point: In 2012, Hajar became the first woman to cross the Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest contiguous sand desert on Earth.

But no matter how far she wanders, Hajar’s always happy to be back in her hometown. “Singapore is one of those miraculous transformation stories,” she says. “[It’s gone from] a carefully scripted ‘sleepy fishing village’ to a bustling cosmopolitan city in a short period of time.” Here are a few of her favorite things about the place she’s proud to call home.

Singapore Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is to the Singapore Zoo, set in the lush rain forests of the central catchment area, the largest nature reserve in the city.

Lemurs at Singapore Zoo (Photograph by haplm, flickr)
Lemurs at the Singapore Zoo (Photograph by haplm, flickr)

Any time is the best time to visit my city because the weather is fairly consistent all year.

You can see my city best from the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Resort. The views are spectacular.

Locals know to skip the chilli crab at the East Coast Seafood Centre and check out Mellben Seafood instead.

In the past, notable people like Singapore founder Sir Stamford Raffles, Srivijayan Prince Sang Nila Utama, and former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Singapore Art Museum owing to its fantastic line up of special events, including the annual Night Festival.

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