Indonesia’s Smart Hajj app makes pilgrimage easier

A pilgrim uses her cell phone upon arrival at Jeddah airport. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018
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Indonesia’s Smart Hajj app makes pilgrimage easier

  • The Hajj Smart app is available to Android smartphone users
  • By entering the code of their flight group, pilgrims can find out which hotel they will stay at in Makkah and Madinah, plus other information

JAKARTA: Tech-conscious Indonesian pilgrims this year can count on their smartphones to make the pilgrimage easier by using the updated Smart Hajj application launched by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. 

Available only to Android smartphone users since 2016, the app is available on Google Play Store and has been updated from its earlier version with more features on its menu.

“We have added more detailed information about the pilgrimage,” ministry spokesman Mastuki told Arab News. Pilgrims can get information about their hotels, modes of transport, and a menu of the food they will eat throughout the journey by logging in the app, he added.

By entering the code of their flight group, pilgrims can find out which hotel they will stay at in Makkah and Madinah, along with the map and online directions to get to the hotel and information on the facilities the hotel provides.

The pilgrims can also get information on the kind of food on the menu prepared for them on a specific day during their stay. Mastuki said this is an updated feature which previously only showed an example of a menu for the pilgrims.

Other features include weather prediction, flight schedule, prayer times, currency exchange rate, a Hajjpedia which provides a glossary of Hajj terms, an Indonesian-to-Arabic translation service for simple, everyday phrases pilgrims will need to get around the holy sites and tutorial videos on how they can use the services provided during the pilgrimage.

The app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times and has received mixed reviews from 395 users, of which 240 gave the app five stars. Some complaints in the reviews said the screen sometimes goes black and white and that it was still “too buggy.”

“Pilgrims can also submit complaints on problems they found during this year’s pilgrimage by logging in to the feature using their passport numbers,” said Sri Ilhma Lubis, the ministry’s director for Hajj services, during the app launch on July 15.

Mastuki said in future the government plans to integrate data from the ministry’s Hajj management system portal as well as data from the smart wristband containing the personal information of each pilgrim to the application. According to data from the ministry, 81,618 Indonesian pilgrims had already arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and 13 have died.

Up to 221,000 pilgrims are expected to depart from Indonesia this year and the last Hajj departure will be on Aug. 14.


Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s

Updated 14 January 2019
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Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s

  • Study says Antarctica has lost almost 252 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2009
  • The recent melting rate is 15 percent higher than what a study found last year
WASHINGTON: Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s, a new study shows.
Scientists used aerial photographs, satellite measurements and computer models to track how fast the southern-most continent has been melting since 1979 in 176 individual basins. They found the ice loss to be accelerating dramatically — a key indicator of human-caused climate change.
Since 2009, Antarctica has lost almost 278 billion tons (252 billion metric tons) of ice per year, the new study found. In the 1980s, it was losing 40 billion metric tons a year.
The recent melting rate is 15 percent higher than what a study found last year.
Eric Rignot, a University of California, Irvine, ice scientist, was the lead author on the new study in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He said the big difference is that his satellite-based study found East Antarctica, which used to be considered stable, is losing 56 billion tons (51 billion metric tons) of ice a year. Last year’s study, which took several teams’ work into consideration, found little to no loss in East Antarctica recently and gains in the past.
Melting in West Antarctica and the Antarctica Peninsula account for about four-fifths of the ice loss. East Antarctica’s melting “increases the risk of multiple meter (more than 10 feet) sea level rise over the next century or so,” Rignot said.
Richard Alley, a Pennsylvania State University scientist not involved in Rignot’s study, called it “really good science.”