It is not easy to organize and manage the Hajj pilgrimage which is incumbent upon every able-financially and physically- Muslim once in a lifetime. The difficulties in managing the Hajj do not merely accrue from the volume, size and scale of the annual pilgrimage but also because of the very diversity that defines the Muslim world. It is from the Sub Saharan Africa, to the Sahel , to Norway, China , India and elsewhere that Muslims across the world visit Saudi Arabia to perform this incumbent pilgrimage.
The cultural differences and the different set of expectations and attitudes thereof render managing this extraordinarily huge event a challenge. In lieu of this and perhaps among other things, Saudi Arabia, the country that hosts the Hajj for axiomatic reasons has partnered with the Chinese firm to develop apps and technologies that would or could make the processes and management of the Hajj easier. This is a welcome step and development that bodes well.
The firm in contention Huawei is a bellwether Chinese firm that is a leader in the domain of technology. The firm, however, has run into some degree of trouble in the West, especially the United States. But, despite being a United States’ ally, Saudi Arabia has pressed on with the deal with Huawei. This goes onto demonstrate that in interstate politics and international relations, it is interests and not proclivities that reign supreme. Once there is a congruence and /or divergence of interests, states can and will do anything. Moreover, in terms of Saudi Arabia, the country appears to be diversifying its economy and rejigging its foreign and defense policy.
This , to an extent, explains its deal with Huawei. But, returning to the Hajj and technology thereof, it is a prudent and a good step to embed technology in the management of the whole and entire processes of the pilgrimage. This will make management easier and more efficient. It stands to reason to believe and posit that anyone who can afford the Hajj would almost axiomatically own a mobile phone, especially a smart one wherein apps can be downloaded with ease.
These apps can then be streamlined and embedded in processes of management and organization of the Hajj. This, in turn, would make it easier for pilgrims coming from diverse and variegated backgrounds in terms of logistics, communications and generic , quotidian affairs. All in all , the step is a welcome one in the right direction.