Iranians Living in Singapore: Migration, Reasons and Settlement

Singapore is a country of diverse cultures and traditions. With five different communities of people making up the population, there is a good number of foreigners working, living, and doing business in the country.

Iranians are among the many foreign communities that have been living in Singapore for decades. This dates back to the time when a large number of Iranians migrated to Southeast Asia during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Since then, Iranians have been playing a vital part in the community, integrating with the Singaporean culture, incorporating their own traditions and religion, interacting with locals, and contributing to the community and economy.

Today, we are going to look into how much cultural influence they have had up until now, what their economic contributions are, how it feels to be an Iranian in Singapore, and whether Iranians can migrate to the country.

Iranians in Singapore: Migration, Reasons and Settlement

As a business and technological hub, Singapore has a small but firm community of Iranian people. Iran was once a part of the Persian Empire. Talking about Persia, the Parsi people were Zoroastrians, a religious belief that has been around for thousands of years.

During the 19th century, they started to migrate to Southeast Asia due to their beliefs and feelings of threat from the Qajar rulers.

To look into it more closely, we will have to dig deep into the matter of their early migration patterns and reasons.

Early Migration and Reasons for Iranians Settling in Singapore

Iranians have been migrating since the early 19th century, as we have said earlier. The number increased during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 when the Islamic Republic of Iran was formed, and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s monarchy was overthrown.

The Pahlavi monarchy introduced movements that revolutionized Iran into a modern and friendly state. This also sided with the Western world.

While the opposition kept on their protest, in 1979, the Pahlavi monarchy was overthrown, and Ayatollah Khomeini came into power, forming an Islamist state.

As Iran was a safe haven for other religious minorities and got used to a more Western-influenced life, a majority of the Iranian people didn’t feel safe. They started migrating to the West and, more importantly, to Singapore. Even the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was exiled to Egypt first and then to the USA, where their family still resides.

Singapore had a more liberal stance on religion, freedom of speech, and economic and political stability right after its independence in 1965. Though the distance seems huge, many Iranians migrated first to India and then to Singapore.

Although the Iranians moved to Singapore uncertainly, some events established their community in the country.

Events That Established the Iranian Community in Singapore

The most important event would be the political unrest in Iran in 1979, which led Iranians to migrate to Singapore. Other events that influenced the Iranians to form a community in Singapore were freedom, security, and cultural practices.

As a multicultural and multi traditional country, Singapore welcomes all nationalities worldwide. Their religious and traditional practices are respected, and in some cases, they are secured with national importance.

Hence, the Iranian community, with their diverse beliefs and cultures, found the country to be suitable for their future.

This was also fueled by the stability of constant educational improvement, economic stability, and a sense of belonging, which made them settle here. As there was an Arab community in the Kampong Glam area, this also helped them to integrate easily into society.

With the world sanctions, Iran is able to do business with other countries through Singapore. Their oil industry, in particular, made it to the world through Malaysia and Singapore.

This brings us to the topic of how much the Iranian community is contributing to local society. This issue will be addressed in the next section.

Contribution of Iranians to Singapore’s Society and Economy

While there is no clear marker of how many estimated Iranians reside in Singapore, the number stands around 500. Most of them consist of students, professionals, researchers, and business owners.

Although the number seems small, but the community is strong. They contribute to the vastly growing economy of Singapore by attracting more Iranian citizens to work, start a business, and study in the country.

Their practices and presence also show a growing number of tourists to the country every year. From 2024 up until March, the number of Iranians who visited Singapore was 2,207. This number is expected to increase in coming years.

Trends and Involvement of the Iranian Community in Singapore

The Iranian community is a small but growing community in Singapore. The main reason is the migration due to past unrest in Iran, which is now for study and work. Many students and skilled workers live in Singapore. Let’s look into that.

Iranian in Singapore

Population Size and Growth Trends

There is very little data about the Iranian community in Singapore. As Singapore does not have separate data about specific foreign population groups, it is hard to identify the exact population.

However, depending on the economic sources, the population of Iranians in Singapore is between 400-500.

This number is growing every year as there are more job and study opportunities. Investors in different sectors are settling down in Singapore as their home country.

Specific Areas in Singapore With the Iranian Community

Iranians do not live in a specific place but are scattered around the country. Most of them reside in areas like Orchard Road, Marina Bay, and the East Coast area. Some also reside in the Arabian quarters of Kampong Glam.

This is due to the diversity of international schools, dining options, and cultural activities in these areas.

Involvement in Society and Professions

The Iranian community contributes to different sectors of society and professions. This includes positions in finance, technology, education, and healthcare.

They are also involved in the business sector of the country, catering to their cultural blends and artistic flairs.

Moreover, they participate in cultural and social events organized by any ethnic group in Singapore, which brings them closer to the local community.

Cultural Influence and Integration in Singapore

A foreign culture always influences the native culture and traditions of a country. Singapore is no different. Iranians who migrated to Singapore brought along their unique culture, cuisine, and customs. This has integrated into Singapore, and the country has accepted it wholeheartedly.

Iranian Living in Singapore

Iranian Culture and Traditions in Singapore

Iran is rich in their cuisine, music, art, and celebrations. As Singapore already has five different ethnicities, Iranians bring a twist with their own unique cultural blend.

Music cafes, Persian restaurants, their holidays, and traditions bring in a festive atmosphere. People from all walks of life can enjoy, learn, and appreciate the differences.

Art galleries showcase Iranian artists, as well as their customs and traditional household antiquities.

Many Iranian carpet businessmen bring the rich culture of storytelling in the form of carpets and other household items to Singapore. This enriches the already diverse landscape and culture present in Singapore.

Moreover, Iranians not only celebrate their own traditions and holidays but also involve themselves in the local cultural events and festivities.

Participation in Singaporean Cultural Events and Festivals

Iranians take part in all local festivities and events. Despite being from different cultures and backgrounds, they embrace Singaporean culture and traditions.

During the Chinese New Year, Deepavali, and Hari Raya festivals, Iranians take part and play an important role in forming a harmonious community. Moreover, the community observes traditional Iranian celebrations like Nowruz (Persian New Year) and Khordad (Zoroastrian Festival).

This connects all communities in a familiar bond, happiness, and harmony. Singapore has strict rules about traditional heritage and cultural values, which plays a significant role in Iranians observing their traditions accordingly.

Still, there are some challenges that they have to face in their day-to-day life in a foreign land. We will talk about that in our next segment.

Economic Contributions of Iranians

Iranian citizens living in Singapore, both working class and businessmen, play an important role in making economic contributions. If we break down them into three sections, like businessmen, professionals, and investors, it will be easier to understand.

Iranian Businesses in Singapore

There are several Iranian businesses in Singapore. This ranges from cafes to restaurants, art shops, craft stores, and other antiquities establishments.

The theme is based on Persian culture, which brings a different twist to Asian culture. Their rich heritage of art and cuisine is something that is unique and cannot be found in other countries.

This way, they put an identical mark on the economy, contributing to the country’s overall growth and attractions.

Employment Sectors for Iranians

Apart from the business establishments, a lot of Iranian service holders and professionals work in Singapore. They range from private sector employees to scientific researchers and medical doctors.

A lot of the Iranian exchange students start to work in their respective fields after they graduate. Which in return gives back to the overall economy of Singapore.

Any qualified Iranians can work in Singapore, as the country has options for any foreign nationals to work in the country with a Singapore work pass.

Apart from business and professionals, there is a good number of investors in Singapore. The investments are mostly related to technology research and real estate. This field needs its own section of explanation.

Investment and Trade Relations Between Iran and Singapore

Iranians are interested in Singapore for a number of reasons. One of them is the country’s large investment sector.

From entrepreneur startups, technology, and innovation to real estate, you will find that Iranians have invested in many of them.

In recent years, investment in finance, bilateral trade, partnership investment, and wealth management has also been on the rise in Singapore. The Iranian community is also looking into these sectors.

As Singapore is liberal with business and welcoming to investors, the Persian community takes full advantage of this. In return, they help grow the economy mutually.

The Iranian community, although small in number, has its own gatherings and festivities. These are observed in Singaporean society. Let’s talk about that a little.

Social and Community Life

As a different ethnic community in a foreign land, there are bound to be some differences. However, this does not affect them due to their individual organizations, practices, and social activities.

Iranian Community Organizations

There are numerous Iranian communities present in Singapore. The Zoroastrian community has been present for a long time in the country.

While there are specific ethnic communities in Iranian society, the well-known ones are the Iranian Association for Singapore and the Iranian Cultural Center of Singapore.

There is also the Iranian Immigrant Students Forum and community that works with students from the country.

They all actively work to get foreign Iranians to be more integrated into Singapore society.

Religious Practices and Institutions

The Persian Gulf, which Iran is a part of, has a long religious history. This means you will find Muslims, Jews, Shias, Zorostians, Bahas, and many other types of religious practices in Iran.

People who migrate to Singapore bring their practices to the country. So, you will find each of the practices and institutions present in Singapore.

The first institution established in Singapore would be the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. Then, the Muslims established the Sultan mosque.

Other religions also have their institutions and practices scattered throughout the country. They practice their beliefs in harmony and peace alongside the locals.

Social Activities and Gatherings Within the Iranian Community

The Iranians have their unique cultural festivities and celebrations. They also celebrate those in Singapore.

The most well-known festivals include the Nowruz (New Year Celebration), Mehregan (Loves Festival), Yalda Night (Winter Festival), and Chaharshanbe Suri (Fire Festival).

Traditional music, dance, food, and rituals involve all of these festivals. The festive atmosphere transpires throughout the community during this time.

Families gather at community dinners and potluck parties throughout the year. Exchanging gifts, pleasantries, and getting together signifies their bond as a community.

Challenges Faced by Iranians in Singapore

One of the most common challenges that Iranians face in Singapore is language. The language barrier is the first challenge they encounter.

In the second place, cultural differences and norms come into play. It takes time to adapt to a new country, as well as its customs. Coming from a different background and ethnicity does have some impact on this.

With both these problems being the most obvious ones, Iranians do overcome them by learning the language and becoming familiar with the culture and customs. With different Iranian communities and organizations present in Singapore, they try to make the best out of it.

Numerous Iranians migrate to Singapore every year. Be it for investment, professional, or study purposes. Let’s look into how that happens.

Interested to Migrate in Singapore?

Traveling to Singapore has brought out a lot of opportunities for Iranians, and a lot of them are interested in migrating. Even though it may look confusing and uncertain, there is always the possibility of a better life later on.

Singapore offers citizenship to any eligible foreigners. If they fulfill the requirements perfectly, foreigners can apply for permanent residency and citizenship.

But if you are still wary about how the country is, you can always visit it to check it out for yourself. You can apply for a Singapore visa online and be on your way to Singapore. As Singapore offers an eVisa for Iranian citizens, it’s a convenient way to avoid visiting the embassy and queueing for it.

A visit to the country will give you an insight into the Iranian community, opportunities, and economic conditions. You will then have a first-hand experience of what you may expect once you get there.

This will help you make a more informed decision on whether you should go ahead with your plans or not.


While a lot of Iranians take Singapore as a holiday destination, others consider it as their second home or even a permanent home. The welcoming community, preserves traditions, and develops the system to ensure overall growth.

The bilateral relations between the two countries are also strong and will continue to grow in the future. This allows a sense of security of being a foreigner in an unknown country.

Also, there is the option of getting Singaporean citizenship, which is beneficial if you will live and work in Singapore for the rest of your life. There are a lot of opportunities as a resident and citizen in the country that are subsided if you are a foreigner.

With a community present for over a hundred years, Singapore is a safe haven for people from Iran. Till next time, Khoda hafez.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Iranian citizens can work in Singapore. To work in Singapore, you must have a work permit and an invitation letter from your employer.

At the moment, there is no Iranian embassy in Singapore. However, there is an Iranian Embassy in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The exact number of Iranians are unknown. However, the estimated number of Iranians in Singapore is around 500. 

Singapore offers visa-free transit if you have an onward ticket. Keep in mind that visa-free transit is only valid for 96 hours. 

No. The distance between Iran and Singapore is about 6295 km. It takes over 12 hours to travel from Iran to Singapore.

Although there is no mandatory requirement to show money for a visa to Singapore, you may need to show a sufficient amount of money to support yourself during your stay in Singapore. This includes SG$100 per night per person. 

Yes, Iranians need a visa to visit Singapore. The visa application process is quite simple and can be applied online prior to your trip. You can apply for a Singapore visa online from here

Yes, Singapore trades with Iran, as well as Iran with Singapore. The estimated Singapore-Iran export volume in 2022 was $10.4M, and Iran-Singapore export volume was  $3.15M.

Written by
Picture of Usama Jahangir

Usama Jahangir

"Words, research, music, repeat. Throw some words at me, and I will bring them back magnificently. You never know what hides behind a word, it's a mystery that keeps on unfolding. While writing is my passion, my hobbies include trying new cuisines and music."
Singapore Visa Online

Singapore Visa Online can help you with your tourist and business visa processing. Find out more details in Fees and requirements page. 

Join Our Social Network

Read more

Best Hotels for the Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix is a renowned Formula 1 motor race held annually in Singapore. Known for its dazzling night race format on the Marina ...

Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements for Travelers

Dear Travelers, To visit Singapore, travelers may be required to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination, depending on their travel history. The yellow fever vaccination ...
Singapore best sim networks

Best Mobile Networks and Sim Cards for Tourists Visiting Singapore

In Singapore, the number of people who can use public data networks for free has grown a lot, and today 95% of the inhabitants can ...