Date :Monday, August 20th, 2018 | Time : 08:28 |ID: 69026 | Print

How “smart hajj” can help pilgrims?

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SHAFAQNA – over 2 million Muslim from all over the world descend on Makkah this week to take part in the Hajj.

Hajj begins on the eighth day of Dhu Al Hijjah, which falls on August 19 this year. It will end on August 24.

By Thursday, more than 1.6 million people had already arrived in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, which runs from Sunday to Friday.

Thousands could be seen arriving in Mecca, with groups from different countries wearing distinct colours to set them apart.

While a holy, once-in-a-lifetime experience for pilgrims, the hajj is by no means an easy journey. The temperature in Mecca and Mina will be around 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit).

Pilgrims walk between 5 to 15 kilometers (3 to 9 miles) a day. Long lines and even longer waits can strain even the most patient as they weave through the throngs of people, aol reported.

The event is a deeply spiritual experience for Muslims, and one that every believer aspires to take part in at some point in their life, if they are able, The National reported.

“I feel as light as a feather,” said Senegalese Fame Diouf, who travelled from Amsterdam. Laughing, she recounted the story of how she couldn’t stop crying near the Kaaba.

“This was my dream from childhood,” said Raja Amjad Hussein, who made the trip to Mecca from Pakistan.

“I can’t explain. I have no words,” the 40-year-old told AFP.

“For many Muslims this is the big, the biggest, dream of life, to see Kaaba and pray for yourself and the whole Muslim nation.”, FRANCE 24 reported.

Smart hajj

The hajj presents the Saudi authorities with major logistical challenges.

The Pew Research Center says the number of Muslims in the world is expected to rise from 1.8 billion in 2015 to three billion in 2060, FRANCE 24 reported.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced it will work with the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission to set up 16,000 communication towers and more than 3,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.

The towers will provide pilgrims with undisrupted 4G mobile internet to maintain contact with their families and make use of the ministry’s online services, The National reported.

This year, the Saudis have launched a “smart hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

Asefny, for example, is an app launched by Saudi Arabia’s Red Crescent.

This app allows users to send health reports through their phones and request medical care in emergencies. The app tracks a pilgrim’s location in order to provide them with services or assistance to those with special needs.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also launched the new version of the Manasikana app meant to guide pilgrims through every step of Hajj, from signing up for the pilgrimage to their return home. Available in eight different languages, it provides information that includes prayer times and flight schedules, the weather forecast for Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah, emergency numbers, the location of the nearest emergency centre and currency exchange rates.


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