GPS cards aid Chinese Muslims on hajj pilgrimage

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/30 21:53:39 Last Updated: 2018/7/31 0:06:57

More than 11,000 Chinese Muslims are heading in official groups to Mecca and Medina for the month-long hajj this year, and their Chinese organizers say that a special GPS card pilot program will make the trip better and safer.

About 500 Chinese Muslims wait to board a charter plane from Beijing to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. This year more than 10,000 Chinese Muslims are expected to travel to Mecca for the hajj. Photo: Li Ruohan/GT

 The electronic device includes the photo, passport number and name of the pilgrim in both Chinese and English.

It also contains a QR code on the back of the card which shows similar information, as well as a rescue call number, after scanning the code.

QR code displayed on the back of the electronic device for the pilgrim. Photo: Li Ruohan/GT

About 3,300 pilgrims will be wearing the card this year, Ma Mingyue, a staffer from the official China Islamic Association that helped organize the pilgrimage this year, told the Global Times on Monday.

"New functions for the device are under development and the card will be used by more pilgrims in the future," Ma said.

About 11,500 Chinese Muslims are joining the hajj this year, fewer than the 12,800 last year, Ma said.

The device also has an SOS button. If the pilgrim gets lost or encounters an emergency situation, organizers from the association will receive an alarm from an app installed on their mobile phone, according to an organizer who is accompanying a group of 500 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year. She refused to give her full name.

"Using the GPS, the app can also help Chinese organizers see the real-time location of the pilgrims, which organizers say will help facilitate management of the activity that lasts nearly 40 days," she said.

Since June 20, pilgrims have departed from Beijing and five regions: Southwest China's Yunnan Province and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Gansu and Qinghai provinces in Northwest China.

Most of the card users come from Yunnan and other regions with smaller groups of pilgrims. Pilgrims from Muslim-dense Xinjiang, Ningxia and Gansu are not wearing the card this year, Ma noted.

The last group of Chinese pilgrims will leave for Saudi Arabia from Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, on August 1.

Taking the pilgrimage to the holiest of all Islamic sites is one of the five tasks all Muslims are meant to undertake.


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