Doing business in Singapore: The Perfect Blend of East and West

Singapore is small but perfectly formed, a delicious blend of old and new, East and West—and undoubtedly a hub for businesses globally. Covering an area of just 718 km but with a population of 5.3 million, people from all walks of life are packed into an Asian paradise, creating an inimitable way of living.

Singapore is a hot destination and hugely desirable place to live is without question, the facts speak for themselves. According to, Singapore is the third most popular country for people to move to globally and the fourth most popular city to visit in the world, with over eleven million tourists visiting every year.

Singapore commercial district at night

Exotic Locale with the Comforts of Home

For expats moving to the East, Singapore retains enough familiarity with the West to make them feel that they aren’t too far from home, whilst adding a bit of Asian spice. Singaporeans are largely made up of a mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay with a healthy dose of expats thrown in, but its culture whilst Asian at the core is strongly influenced by Europeans.

Take its education as an example; apart from being a very high standard, it is run to the British curriculum with students taking A level and O levels examinations. In sport Singapore loves the very British games of rugby and football (although more Tennis and Badminton is actually played). In religion Buddhism comes top in Singapore but Christianity is hugely prominent and comes second.

In business, the way of working is a mix of East and West. Website states that over 300,000 people in Singapore are working for foreign companies yet office life still observes intrinsically Asian customs. Despite, or perhaps because, of this, Singapore has been named the ‘best country to do business in’ for seven years in a row.

Businesswomen in Singapore
photo credit: Paul Lee / Flickr

The Asian culture of hierarchy at work is very much observed; a boss is a boss, not a friend as so often happens in the West and relationships between client and supplier tend to be more generous than in Europe, with gifts frequently being exchanged.

Digital technologies are advanced, possibly more so than in the West, and Singapore’s global nature means that communicating via video or conference call is essential. Companies such as Blue Jeans Singapore offers conference calls that are often used for meetings in which the technology promises to connect up to 100 users at once all over the world, meaning business in Singapore can be conducted globally.

Singapore, however, hasn’t forgotten who is it and its Asian influences remain a part of its heart and soul. Its official main language is Malay but English is considered the administrative language and the one used in schools and business, this means that wherever you go in Singapore you will find communicating easy with locals.

Marina Barrage Singapore

The Past Meets the Future

Look below the surface and Singapore is Asian in its architecture too. A short stroll away from 21st century soaring skyscrapers and the cleanest streets you’ve ever seen and you could easily imagine yourself on the streets of India or China.

The City Quarters are a throw back to 19th century Singapore, with the streets a warren of historical buildings and Shop houses. Little India, Chinatown and Arab Street; the names are self explanatory and the explosion of cultural influences that hit you when you walk into this ancient part of town is overwhelming. Temples, mosques, spices, fabrics, hawkers, electronics and massages are offered in abundance throughout the area and the hustle and bustle of this melting pot of cultures is entrancing.

All over Singapore it is the food that is undoubtedly and euphorically Asian. Whilst food from every culture and nationality is available in Singapore, Asian food reigns in a country where food is seen as cultural thread and an important part of daily life. Singapore borrows cooking tips from countries all over Asia, with Korean, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian foods all freely available. Spices abound with chili used liberally and curry an every day dish. Noodles, dim sum and fish head curries are available on hawker stalls throughout the city, cheap but delicious street food to tantalize the taste buds. Why not try Bak Kut Teh a as Pork Rib soup which is one of Singapore’s most popular dishes and one which has been around since Singapore was a developing country.

In Conclusion

There are a myriad of other facts and figures I could throw at you, the BBC cites the following examples of life in Singapore; it has one of the lowest crime rates and officially the lowest drug abuse rate in the world. It’s one of the healthiest places to live – with exercise being a way of life rather than a chore and the weather… well, it may rain a bit, but it’s still 365 days of warm t-shirt-wearing temperatures.

With so much on offer in Singapore, you can understand why there are so many people flocking from all over the world, to start a new life in this little group of islands.