By Abdulrahman Inayat*
Hajj carries a deep meaning to Muslims around the globe, being one off the most important pillars of Islam and a spiritual journey that every Muslim works to take on during their life time. This year, the pandemic represented a major challenge in managing this highly significant annual mass gathering of Muslims. Typically, every year, Saudi Arabia welcomes 2.5 million pilgrims from around the globe to visit the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah and perform Hajj.
The current circumstances call for the need for unifying people across the Kingdom through a message of hope and this is where businesses can support the Kingdom’s efforts to create a peaceful Hajj and festive Eid season with timely and meaningful community-building corporate messaging.
In June, the Saudi government took an extraordinary decision and announced that only a limited number of pilgrims – all of whom will be residents of the Kingdom – will be allowed to perform Hajj. One of the determining factors for the selection of the pilgrims was their field of profession i.e. health professionals working on the frontline to combat the threating virus were chosen to reward them for their service to society. This decision was taken to ensure that Hajj is performed in a safely while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect citizens from the risks associated with the pandemic.
This is a time when companies need to demonstrate good corporate citizenship and support each other in achieving the common goal of countering the disease. First and foremost, companies and organizations should positively reinforce government guidelines and public health messages about Hajj and Eid amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Corporate communications campaigns this year should resonate with their audience and aim at fostering relationships as well as reinforcing the unifying message of Hajj. The significance of the Muslims’ annual pilgrimage does not diminish despite the COVID-19 restrictions, in fact the opposite is true. Brands should adapt their messaging to project reassurance, harmony, and solidarity in the face of adversity.
With more people online than ever during the pandemic, digital platforms are an important means of connecting with customers and stakeholders. Brands can create a unique Hajj experience that brings people together digitally despite being apart. This can be done through interactive content such as Islamic initiatives, community heroes, special discounts, competitions, recipe ideas, polls, surveys, and case studies to engage viewers.
Every year, the global media’s focus is on Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season, reporting on the arrangements made for managing the large crowds. This year, it will be a hugely different experience and there is an opportunity for cultural education, helping others to understand the meaning, history and traditions of Hajj and Eid ul-Adha. Companies can help raise awareness about the positive efforts made by the Kingdom to facilitate this important event during an unprecedented global pandemic.
People have been through a lot and Eid ul-Adha is a valuable opportunity for CEOs to reinforce employee engagement, extend gratitude to their staff for their role in the ongoing survival of the business. Companies should celebrate and recognize individual and team contributions, and focus on the progress achieved in recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. They should promote mental and physical well-being by encouraging people to spend quality time with their families and in prayer, so they return rested and replenished after the public holiday.
Shared positive experiences will create a sense of community and enable companies to communicate with customers thoughtfully. Brands can come out with their own creative ways to positively promote the values of Hajj and celebrate Eid ul-Adha in the face of and despite the COVID-19 crisis. Companies need to send out messages that are empathetic, empowering, give hope and reinforce the idea that everyone is in this together.
This is an ideal time for brands to build personal connections with their people via content that promotes introspection, humanity, gratitude, and kinship. As a Saudi-based communications agency, W7Worldwide currently works with both private and public clients to implement their Hajj 2020 communications campaigns. To download W7Worldwide’s 7-step guide to a successful Hajj 2020 Corporate Communications Campaign, please
Abdulrahman Inayat, is the Co-Founder & Director at W7Worldwide wrote this piece from Saudi Arabia