Shah Alam is an interesting story, which explains my initial impressions posted in my podcast. Kuala Lumpur used to be the capital of Selangor State. In the early 1990s, Kuala Lumpur was made a separate territory, and Selangor was given funds to create a new capitol. Rather than making the city of Klang, which is the major port city for KL, the new capitol, Selangor chose to build a capitol from scratch on former rubber tree and palm oil plantations. Shah Alam was built about 1995, which explains why it all looks so (relatively) new. In addition, although the downtown area, where I am staying, is quite compact and very walkable, the rest of Shah Alam is sprawling with industries, warehouses, and subdivisions. It is the main industrial region for KL. This explains the middle class aura of downtown Shah Alam.
I walked over to the imposing Selangor Blue Mosque yesterday, but arrived just after 4pm, during which the mosque is closed for prayers for an hour. See the photo below.
After the conference today, several of us got a tour of the UiTM (University Technologi MARA) campus, which sprawls over several hills. The newer science and technology buildings are huge and very modernist! UiTM campus in Shah Alam is a comprehensive university with about 40,000 students,most of whom ar Bumiputra (at least partially of Malay or tribal ethnicity). Together with its satellite campuses found in every Malay state, it has about 100,000 students!
The "i" in UiTM is a holdover from the university's former name: Institute for Technology MARA. Before that (in the 1950s) it was MARA College. MARA stands for the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Act), which I believe translates as "Council of Trust for the Indigenous People." Click Here for an interesting article about UiTM.