Jeddah: A free smartphone application launched this year by the Indian mission here that guides Indian Haj pilgrims to their accommodations has become a huge hit with even the Saudi government looking at ways to adopt the novel app.
"The Indian HajiAccommodation Locater App has been a huge success and in fact the Saudi Ministry of Haj have said that they want to follow through how they can use it for other countries for other pilgrims," Indian Consul General BS Mubarak told PTI.
"We have over 9,600 downloads of the app from Google play and a further 1,000 from iTunes," he said.
Indian pilgrims due to non-familiarity of the region and language barriers often tend to loose their way in Mecca, Madina and Mina.
The app has been developed primarily to assist pilgrims find their housing. Indian pilgrims, Indian volunteers and members of the Haj mission have this app on their smartphone.
There are around 300 buildings in Mecca for Indian pilgrims, 100 buildings in Madina and 28 in camps in Mina.
The Indian Consulate in Jeddah has the data of the pilgrims as to who would stay in a particular building or camp.
"We have taken the coordinates of each of the building in Mecca, Madina and the camps in Mina and have linked it with the data of pilgrims who would stay in a particular building or camp," Mubarak said.
"When we feed the pilgrim's number or passport number in the software, it gives the details of the pilgrim and shows the location of his or her accommodation on the Google Map," he said.
The app can also help navigate to the location.
The idea for the app came during India's general election when google came up with an app using which voters could type in their election card number and get the location of their polling station.
Mubarak said even if some pilgrims do not have smartphones, volunteers, officials and other pilgrims with such phones can still help out a person unable to find his or her accommodation location.
A total of 1,36,020 Indians will perform Haj this year, out which 1,00,020 are through the Haj committee and 36,000 through private tour operators.
Over 2 million pilgrims, coming from all corners of the globe, will begin their trek to the tent city of Mina on Thursday in the first leg of the five-day pilgrimage.
The Haj will reach its zenith on Friday, October 3, when the nearly 3 million pilgrims stand on the plains of Arafat.
The pilgrimage will end after Eidal-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.
The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable.