Hajj 2018 News Updates

 In Islam

Techies explore solutions to prevent calamities in Hajj Pilgrimage

This week in a marathon Saudi contest the techies explored high-tech solutions to prevent a repeat of past calamities in the annual hajj pilgrimage. In a cavernous hall in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, thousands of software professionals and students competed in the kingdom’s first-ever hackathon, a coding festival ahead of the world’s largest pilgrimage later this month.

The hajj, expected to draw more than two million pilgrims to Makkah this year, represents a key rite of passage for Muslims and a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites.

Launching headlong into 36 hours of software development, the participants from across the globe battled sleep deprivation to crowd source answers to a key question that has long vexed hajj organisers — how to avert future deadly disasters.

A group of five Saudi, Yemeni and Eritrean women, all in their 20s and covered head-to-toe in the Islamic niqab, hunched over their laptops to design an app for paramedics to speedily reach people in need of medical attention using geo-tracking technology. If multiple emergencies arise at once, the women hoped their app would help prioritise the most pressing cases.

Two Pakistani professionals paired up with two East Asian students to develop a “virtual leash” application to locate relatives lost in the sea of humanity by using bluetooth wristbands. Four Saudi men sought to design sensors for garbage bins that would alert cleaners when they are full to avert any hygiene scare.

And another group of Saudi women scrawled algorithms and programming codes on a whiteboard to design an app to help non-Arabic speakers translate instructions into multiple languages without an internet connection. With nearly 3,000 programmers — who ate and slept at the venue — organisers said Saudi Arabia had broken the Guinness World Record for the largest number of participants at a hackathon.

While their solutions are still untested, the event, which ended on Friday and offered cash prizes of around two million riyals ($533,000), was billed as an invention marathon by organisers.

Saudi to Open Nurseries and Kindergartens for Children of Pilgrims

Saudi Arabia’s Department of Education in Makkah, in collaboration with the coordination council of the local Haj companies and other concerned government and private bodies, will open seasonal nurseries and kindergartens in Makkah to take care of the children of pilgrims while their parents perform the pilgrimage rites.

Director of Education in Makkah Mohammed Bin Mahdi Al-Harithy said there would be 18 seasonal nurseries and kindergartens with a combined capacity of 585 seats to receive the children of the pilgrims at a fee of 2,500 riyals per head. He said all the teachers in the nursery and kindergartens would be women who are qualified and well trained.

Harithy said there would be nurses to provide healthcare to the children and follow up their health conditions 24 hours a day. “These institutions will meet the educational, entertainment, sustenance and healthcare needs of the children and will take good care of them until the Haj is over,” Al-Harithy said. He said the parents would be allowed to visit their children and stay with them especially on the Eid Al-Adha day.

Harithy said a language teacher would receive the children of various nationalities and would communicate with them in their own language. “We have prepared booklets about the nurseries and kindergartens in five languages in addition to Arabic,” he said, adding that the booklets are published in English, French, Turkish, Malay and Hindi.

The director said the seasonal nurseries and kindergartens would extend simplified educational programs, games, entertainment programs, and other activities in addition to religious and awareness programs about the Haj. Nutritious meals have been prepared for the children with assistance from nutritionists, Al-Harithy said.

A young Saudi honoured for saving a Turkish Pilgrim

A young Saudi man has been credited with saving the life of a 60-year-old Turkish pilgrim who fell unconscious in Madinah by conducting first aid emergency to the patient.

The Saudi man, Fahd Ghuwaizi Al Harbi, a specialized nurse who works as a hotel receptionist, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the Turkish pilgrim shortly after he fell unresponsive.

Footage captured by CCTV of Al Harbi’s heroic rescue incident went viral among social media users. He tells Al Arabiya English while on duty at the reception of a Madinah hotel, a Turkish pilgrim lost consciousness and fainted.“I immediately rushed to save the pilgrim and provide first aid, before the Red Crescent team arrived to the site, and within just two minutes, the pilgrim regained consciousness after several resuscitation attempts.”

The patient was then transferred to the hospital, as he sufferred from hypertension and diabetes. Al Harbi said he visited the pilgrim at hospital upon finishing his duty, adding that he followed up on the Turkish elderly’s case until he was dismissed.

Al Harbi told Al Arabiya English that he practiced nursing in some private hospitals, then decided to work as hotel receptionist despite holding a diploma in nursing, and holding many certificates that prove his excellence in this field. The young Saudi man said he carried several volunteering emergency services during Hajj season and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“We need to represent an honorable image for serving Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.” The health affairs directory in Madinah has reportedly reached the Saudi man Monday morning and has honored him for his role.

Ooredoo introduces new Hajj Passport offers for Pilgrims

With Hajj season beginning, Ooredoo has introduced a new Hajj Passport offer for customers travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. For just OMR 10, travellers can rest assured that they will stay connected with their families back home during their 10 day trip, with a generous 2GB data and 100 voice minutes, including local and received callsas well as calls to Oman.

Feras bin Abdullah Al Shaikh, Director of Consumer Sales at Ooredoo, said: “Hajj is a very spiritual and important journey in one’s life. We are always proud to be part of the sharing of this experience. This year, we have looked at how we can make our offer even better and more valuable to customers, therefore, we increased both our data and minutes allowances, so their trip remains worry-free. Our Ooredoo Passport Hajj bundle has been designed to allow travellers to stay connected with their loved ones without going through the hassle of buying a new SIM card or running out of data and minutes,”

Committed to supporting worthy initiatives which give back to local communities, Ooredoo is also teaming up with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Awqaf on a variety of Hajj-related CSR activities.

Katsina Pilgrims arrive in Madinah

The first batch of 554 Muslim pilgrims from Katsina State arrived in Madinah on Monday, along with six others from Jigawa, totalling 560.

The Public Relations Officer of the Katsina State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Badaru Bello, made this known in Katsina, adding that the pilgrims were from Funtua Zone, comprising Bakori, Danja, Dandume, Faskari, Funtua, Sabuwa local governments. He said that 366 of the Katsina State pilgrims were males, while 188 were females, and the six others from Jigawa were males.

He explained that some board members, state Hajj officials, local government Hajj officers, preachers and pilgrims’ guide were also among those transported. Bello said that the pilgrims were transported to the Holy land via Max Air airline.

According to him, the pilgrims left Umaru Musa Yar’adua International Airport, Katsina, on Monday at 3.30 a.m. The PRO said that the second flight was expected to transport the remaining pilgrims on Tuesday, as necessary arrangements had already been completed, saying that a total of 2,800 persons were expected to perform the pilgrimage from the state this year.


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