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Dubai start-up creates app for Muslim pilgrimages
"The purpose of this app is simply to have a better, more involved experience, while avoiding possible pitfalls," says founder
August 28, 2013 5:05 by Muhammad Aldalou
Inspired by the stories of the pilgrims that undertook Hajj and Umrah, a Dubai-based start-up has developed a virtual guide app to improve the pilgrimage experience for millions of Muslims around the world.
UmrahSalam will cater to an enormous, largely untapped, market. It will include features such as social media, camera and map integration, a frequently updated database of nearby hotels and landmarks, a digital journal and instructional videos.
With a ‘mobile first’ strategy, ex-banker Ali Dabaja, founder of Hajjnet, says the company’s first app will be a differentiator for them – as he imagines there will be copycats in the future.
“We’re not exactly an ‘app company’ per se, our goal is to use technology to make Islamic faith-fulfilments, Umrah and Hajj in particular, more informed and convenient. We started with an app, but that’s just the beginning,” explains Dabaja.
Other features include prompting pilgrims to read or hear the appropriate Duas (prayers) at the right time and place, and counting the number of Tawaf as they are being performed, as well as visualising the process and key routes.
Dabaja says there was a tremendous need for an app that could support pilgrims every step of the way, adding that he wanted to help Muslims focus on the spiritual aspects by relieving some of the pressure and logistical problems of the process.
He adds: “The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages are extremely important to many of us not only in the region but all over the world, and we wanted to make their travels easier. The purpose of this app is simply to have a better, more involved experience, while avoiding possible pitfalls.”
UmrahSalam is available for a limited time as a free download on the iPhone and soon on Android. Currently, the app is only available in English, but an Arabic version will be launched shortly. Dabaja says it could become a paid app, but they haven’t yet decided when.