Every year a number of pilgrims face problems in locating their tents and places of accommodation in Makkah, and at the holy sites of Mina and Arafat.
To solve this problem, the Pakistan Haj Volunteer Group (PHVG) and the India Fraternity Forum developed a navigation app which will work from Dul Haj 7, when authorities start numbering the tents.
Waseem Bukhari, media spokesperson from PHVG, told Arab News that they are going to use this Mina tent location app, which Muhammad Shahid Farooq, a PHVG volunteer, developed to assist pilgrims of every nationality while they stay in Mina. He said majority of the pilgrims who come to perform Haj are elderly and feeble. Most of the pilgrims lose track of their groups and spend several hours searching for their tent.
Communication becomes difficult when they don’t know the language, and identical tents make it even more difficult for them to reach their camps or destination.
He explained that with the help of technology such problems can be easily solved, and understanding the importance of this issue, PHVG launched its mobile application called “Mina Locator,” which is a very useful app for pilgrims.
He said the PHVG field staff, with this app, could easily identify the route to different camps (Maktabs), train stations, mosques, hospitals, PHVG posts and other important locations in Mina with the reference of their current location using an Android smartphone.
If pilgrims need further assistance like a wheel chair or in-person guidance, they can navigate to the nearest PHVG volunteer location in Mina.
“We will have all the building locations by this coming Friday, and as soon as the Haj mission offices are allocated and tents are given numbers, we will update our apps. We are working in close coordination with the Pakistan Haj mission and the Punjab IT board,” he said.
He also explained that this year their target is to coordinate with all South Asian Hujaj Maktabs, pilgrims’ foundations and establishments as they already have some links and awareness about South Asian Maktabs and foundations.
He requested Saudi authorities, or any relevant organization, to provide PHVG with the database of GPS coordinates for camps of all local and foreign pilgrims for the current year (2016) and in the future.
He said in the coming year they are planning to launch a compatible version for iPhone users.
India Fraternity Forum, Saudi Arabia is also introducing a Mina tent locator this year for pilgrims to navigate easily to their tents without an Internet connection through smartphones.