Muslim worshippers from around the world pray at the Grand mosque in Mecca on August 29, 2017. Suhaib Salem / Reuters
Muslim worshippers from around the world pray at the Grand mosque in Mecca on August 29, 2017. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

The Hajj is a powerful symbol of unity in our divided world



This week, nearly two million Muslim pilgrims from almost every corner of the Earth, representing virtually every nation in the world, took part in the Hajj, the spiritual journey to Makkah that all Muslims yearn to make at least once in their lifetime. The destructive prejudices and the petty differences that rend humanity all year round are washed away by the force of faith at Makkah. The gathering epitomises the revolutionary message of human equality advanced by the Prophet Mohammed in his last sermon on Mount Arafat. All pilgrims dress in seamless white garments. There is no hierarchy.

If the Hajj is an awe-inspiring spectacle for those beholding it, it is a healing, humbling, empowering and transformative experience for those participating in it. As the American civil rights activist Malik El-Shabbaz, better known as Malcolm X, wrote in a letter from Makkah in 1964, the Hajj induces an “overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood” among “people of all colours and races”.

It is possible, however, in the swirl of spirituality, to neglect the fact that the Hajj presents a gargantuan logistical and administrative challenge for Saudi Arabia. Planning for the Hajj is no less arduous than preparing for the Olympics – except that Saudi Arabia does this every year. Hosting millions of visitors annually requires Riyadh to mobilise extraordinary resources. Troops must be deployed to ensure the safety of pilgrims and detailed strategies must be drawn up to regulate their movement. Then there are the clean-up operations. In spite of the best efforts, new challenges present themselves every year.

Grumbles directed at the organisers of the Hajj are often overplayed by the traditional media and amplified by users on social media. The heat – when Hajj occurs in the summer – and the crowded conditions are sometimes no doubt difficult to bear and there have, regrettably, been fatalities in stampedes over the years. Some pilgrims also have experienced bureaucratic hurdles while travelling to Makkah, while others have complained about the impediments generated by construction around the Grand Mosque.

However, it is important to bear in mind that Riyadh has been making steady improvements over the years. It has introduced cooling systems, positioned more volunteers and expanded the tawaf lanes in which pilgrims circle the Kaaba, including specially designated lanes for disabled pilgrims. It has also gone out of its way to ensure that pilgrims from countries that are notorious for causing trouble in region are accorded fair treatment.

In the meantime, the rest of us should not allow material discomforts and physical challenges to distract attention from the spiritual significance of the Hajj. For the message of tolerance, coexistence and unity that radiates from the multitudes who have assembled in Makkah is the most powerful antidote to the divisions and hatreds that stalk humanity. And on that note, the end of this year's Hajj of course also means the celebration of Eid Al Adha. To all our readers, we wish you a blessed Eid.

Suggested picnic spots

Abu Dhabi
Umm Al Emarat Park
Yas Gateway Park
Delma Park
Al Bateen beach
Saadiyaat beach
The Corniche
Zayed Sports City
 
Dubai
Kite Beach
Zabeel Park
Al Nahda Pond Park
Mushrif Park
Safa Park
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Al Qudrah Lakes 

RESULTS

1.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,400m
Winner: Dirilis Ertugrul, Fabrice Veron (jockey), Ismail Mohammed (trainer)
2.15pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,400m
Winner: Kidd Malibu, Sandro Paiva, Musabah Al Muhairi
2.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,000m
Winner: Raakezz, Tadhg O’Shea, Nicholas Bachalard
3.15pm: Handicap Dh105,000 1,200m
Winner: Au Couer, Sean Kirrane, Satish Seemar
3.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,600m
Winner: Rayig, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson
4.15pm: Handicap Dh105,000 1,600m
Winner: Chiefdom, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer
4.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,800m
Winner: King’s Shadow, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar

Superliminal

Developer: Pillow Castle Games
Publisher: Pillow Castle Games
Console: PlayStation 4&5, Xbox Series One & X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

Mica

Director: Ismael Ferroukhi

Stars: Zakaria Inan, Sabrina Ouazani

3 stars

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Leap of Faith

Michael J Mazarr

Public Affairs

Dh67
 

Most match wins on clay

Guillermo Vilas - 659

Manuel Orantes - 501

Thomas Muster - 422

Rafael Nadal - 399 *

Jose Higueras - 378

Eddie Dibbs - 370

Ilie Nastase - 338

Carlos Moya - 337

Ivan Lendl - 329

Andres Gomez - 322

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

What drives subscription retailing?

Once the domain of newspaper home deliveries, subscription model retailing has combined with e-commerce to permeate myriad products and services.

The concept has grown tremendously around the world and is forecast to thrive further, according to UnivDatos Market Insights’ report on recent and predicted trends in the sector.

The global subscription e-commerce market was valued at $13.2 billion (Dh48.5bn) in 2018. It is forecast to touch $478.2bn in 2025, and include the entertainment, fitness, food, cosmetics, baby care and fashion sectors.

The report says subscription-based services currently constitute “a small trend within e-commerce”. The US hosts almost 70 per cent of recurring plan firms, including leaders Dollar Shave Club, Hello Fresh and Netflix. Walmart and Sephora are among longer established retailers entering the space.

UnivDatos cites younger and affluent urbanites as prime subscription targets, with women currently the largest share of end-users.

That’s expected to remain unchanged until 2025, when women will represent a $246.6bn market share, owing to increasing numbers of start-ups targeting women.

Personal care and beauty occupy the largest chunk of the worldwide subscription e-commerce market, with changing lifestyles, work schedules, customisation and convenience among the chief future drivers.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside