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Hajj: an increasingly connected tradition

Muslim male pilgrim with mobile phone

Between mobile applications, gadgets and digital versions of holy texts, technology is increasingly becoming an important vector in the practice of Islam. The 2019 hadj was a perfect example of this...

More than 2.5 million people came to Mecca to make the holy pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of the Muslim religion. Such an event requires careful management for those who wish to avoid any overflow or malfunction. What better reinforcement than technology to overcome human limitations? 

With the deployment of 5G, for the first time in the region, pilgrims were able to use the various mobile applications available to them as part of their holy journey: Reading the verses of the Qur’an in digital form, geolocation of Mecca’s points of interest, alarms at prayer times, data sharing with relatives (selfies, Facetime, prayers), are just some of the features found in apps such as Hajj App by Arab News, or WeSalam, available on the App Store or Google Play. 

VR to open the hadj to the greatest number of people 

In addition, this year, telecommunications companies Zain and Nokia announced an “advanced virtual reality demonstration” aimed at “enabling visitors to experience hadj from a distance” by transmitting “360-degree video streams in high definition” in real-time. 

Ease and security 

The simple organization of travel has been greatly facilitated by the creation of digital hadj visas or “e-visa”, which can be applied for directly online. 

Because the pilgrimage did not always take place without an accident, it was necessary to put technology at the service of safety. With this in mind, this edition saw pilgrims equipped with individual electronic bracelets, centralizing all the data concerning their wearers, in the manner of an identity document. This is particularly useful when a person is separated from his group or gets lost in the city for example… 

The question that remains is the following: what surprises does the 2020 edition of the hadj have in store for us?