TOPSHOT - Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on August 28, 2017, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB
Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah before to the start of the Hajj pilgrimage in 2017. Karim Sahib / AFP

Make your selfies the souvenir, not the experience, at this year's Hajj

Which is the right Instagram filter to use when posting a selfie of yourself in front of the Kaaba in Makkah? And if you’re on Snapchat does it violate the state of ehram (pure white clothing) if you have a pink daisy chain on your head?

With Hajj season kicking in soon and the fortunate pilgrims starting to make preparations, such questions of social media behaviour are less crazy than you might think.

Everyone has a phone with a camera, and social media and the internet are bursting at the seams with Hajj, Umrah and Makkah selfies. And why not? For many it is a life changing moment, which they want to record for posterity and share with all those loved ones at home who have shared in the preparation and anticipation that surrounds these seminal journeys.

It wasn't like that 20, or even 10, years ago. But as social media and live broadcasting have become easier and more widespread, things have taken a different turn.

Authorities and other pilgrims have started to complain that the selfie takers are causing obstacles, delays and, perhaps most egregiously, distracting from the spiritual experience. If the purpose of the pilgrimage is indeed to discard the physical and engage with the spiritual, leaving behind worldly woes, is it okay to make a video call to friends and family? Is it okay to circle the kaaba while live broadcasting?

This week, the Association of British Hujjaj (pilgrims) issued a press release urging the Saudi authorities “to adopt a zero tolerance policy, confiscate any filming devices/cameras and make efforts to protect the sanctity of the holy places”.

The association described selfie-taking as a “dangerous phenomenon which is destroying the spirit of Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage.” It is not the first to do so; there are reports that Saudi authorities banned selfies in both Makkah and Madinah in November 2017. But it still happens.

I have a lot of sympathy for these concerns about the “growing culture of disregard” for the sanctity of the Al Haram. In the association's rather generous view, pilgrims are naive, rather than pre-occupied with themselves and the place as a tourist destination.

But I say that with my cheeks blushing because I too have taken the selfies. I even remember video-calling my Mum while sitting opposite the Kaaba. It’s easy and feels natural to do so – who wouldn’t want to share their most incredible moment with those they love? And why not make Hajj accessible to everyone, albeit via the small screen?


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One of the loveliest things about the Hajj season is the historic photos that emerge depicting Hajj through the ages, showing its architecture, crowds, clothes and meaning in that time and to those people. The way Hajj selfies are taken today will be no different.

One of the themes of the post-1990 Generation Z is the idea that if you didn’t Instagram it, it didn't really happen. That might make us laugh, but if that’s how pilgrims today will truly experience Hajj, maybe we ought to make some allowances for it. (Although I think once you’ve got a couple of selfies under your belt, it’s probably time to disconnect.)

The rise of the selfie offers an insight into how present individuals are and how much they are performing faith. I’m sure that is nothing new, because no human being can be fully immersed all the time. For instance, in my own visit to the Al Haram Mosque, what I found far more annoying were people chattering idle gossip or conducting business dealings whilst in the midst of Tawaf. But is that human beings just being human beings? 

The difference today is that we can quantify it, by the number of minutes of live broadcast, how many people watched your Snapchat story or how many likes you received on Facebook.

So if you’re going to Makkah this year, by all means take your selfies. But don’t make the selfie the experience – make it the souvenir.

And if you think it’s about sharing the experience, then be honest with yourself about whether it's really for the benefit of others, or merely your own status.

But most of all be mindful of not ruining the spirituality of the occasion for yourself or the other pilgrims immersed in it.

And if you do capture the spirit of prayer in your selfie, please be sure to tag me in it. All prayers – in selfie or otherwise – will be gratefully received.

Shelina Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Men from Barca's class of 99

Crystal Palace - Frank de Boer

Everton - Ronald Koeman

Manchester City - Pep Guardiola

Manchester United - Jose Mourinho

Southampton - Mauricio Pellegrino

'Spies in Disguise'

Director: Nick Bruno and Troy Quane

Stars: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan and Roshida Jones 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

match info

Maratha Arabians 138-2

C Lynn 91*, A Lyth 20, B Laughlin 1-15

Team Abu Dhabi 114-3

L Wright 40*, L Malinga 0-13, M McClenaghan 1-17

Maratha Arabians won by 24 runs

Joe Root's Test record

Tests: 53; Innings: 98; Not outs: 11; Runs: 4,594; Best score: 254; Average: 52.80; 100s: 11; 50s: 27


Who: France v Italy
When: Friday, 11pm (UAE)
TV: BeIN Sports

How it works

Each player begins with one of the great empires of history, from Julius Caesar's Rome to Ramses of Egypt, spread over Europe and the Middle East.

Round by round, the player expands their empire. The more land they have, the more money they can take from their coffers for each go.

As unruled land and soldiers are acquired, players must feed them. When a player comes up against land held by another army, they can choose to battle for supremacy.

A dice-based battle system is used and players can get the edge on their enemy with by deploying a renowned hero on the battlefield.

Players that lose battles and land will find their coffers dwindle and troops go hungry. The end goal? Global domination of course.

The specs: 2018 Infiniti QX80

Price: base / as tested: Dh335,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 400hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.1L / 100km


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


West Asia Premiership

Jebel Ali Dragons 13-34 Dubai Exiles

Dubai Knights Eagles 16-27 Dubai Tigers

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


Company name: HyperPay

Started: 2014

Founder: Muhannad Ebwini

Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Industry: FinTech

Funding size: $55m

Investors: AB Ventures, Amwal Capital, INet, Mada VC, Mastercard, SVC

Guns N’ Roses’s last gig before Abu Dhabi was in Hong Kong on November 21. We were there – and here’s what they played, and in what order. You were warned.

  • It’s So Easy
  • Mr Brownstone
  • Chinese Democracy
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Better
  • Estranged
  • Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
  • Slither (Velvet Revolver cover)
  • Rocket Queen
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Shadow of Your Love
  • Attitude (Misfits cover)
  • Civil War
  • Coma
  • Love Theme from The Godfather (movie cover)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb cover)
  • Wish You Were Here (instrumental Pink Floyd cover)
  • November Rain
  • Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Nightrain


  • Patience
  • Don’t Cry
  • The Seeker (The Who cover)
  • Paradise City

Elite men
1. Amare Hailemichael Samson (ERI) 2:07:10
2. Leornard Barsoton (KEN) 2:09:37
3. Ilham Ozbilan (TUR) 2:10:16
4. Gideon Chepkonga (KEN) 2:11:17
5. Isaac Timoi (KEN) 2:11:34
Elite women
1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:19:15
2. Hawi Feysa Gejia (ETH) 2:24:03
3. Sintayehu Dessi (ETH) 2:25:36
4. Aurelia Kiptui (KEN) 2:28:59
5. Emily Kipchumba (KEN) 2:29:52


6.30pm: Dubai Millennium Stakes Group Three US$200,000 (Turf) 2,000m; Winner: Ghaiyyath, William Buick (jockey), Charlie Appleby (trainer).

7.05pm: Handicap $135,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Cliffs Of Capri, Tadhg O’Shea, Jamie Osborne.

7.40pm: UAE Oaks Group Three $250,000 (Dirt) 1,900m; Winner: Down On Da Bayou, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

8.15pm: Zabeel Mile Group Two $250,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Zakouski, James Doyle, Charlie Appleby.

8.50pm: Meydan Sprint Group Two $250,000 (T) 1,000m; Winner: Waady, Jim Crowley, Doug Watson.

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