Enhanced Arab News Hajj app launched in partnership with Muslim World League

The free app — available to download on iOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play — includes new and improved features. (AN Photo)
Updated 09 August 2018
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Enhanced Arab News Hajj app launched in partnership with Muslim World League

  • Enhanced features to serve pilgrims and keep them connected to loved ones
  • Smartphone app complements newspaper’s annual Hajj news coverage

RIYADH: Arab News has launched the 2018 version of its smartphone Hajj app for use this month during the annual Muslim pilgrimage season.

The free app — available to download from Thursday for iOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play — has new and enhanced features, including live news updates and the signature “Hajj tracker,” which enables pilgrims to connect with their loved ones back home. 

The Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) will again be sponsoring the Hajj app. The partnership with MWL, which began last year, is part of the international Muslim body’s global outreach efforts to serve all Muslims.

The latest release of the app features several functions for use during the Hajj season, including safety features such as an emergency call number and list of embassies and important service providers during Hajj. 

New features include a digital Qibla compass, a real-time currency converter and Qur’an prayer audio files. 

The app also features improvements to the hugely useful “pilgrim tracker” function. The feature, which is optional, allows users who activate it to share their location and follow loved ones in real time, around the clock.

Mohammed Al-Sulami, Arab News Jeddah bureau chief and head of the paper’s Hajj coverage team, thanked MWL for its endorsement of the app and said the aim of this corporate social responsibility initiative was to provide a useful and free service for pilgrims on their unique spiritual journey. 

“Our mission is to make Arab News more global and more digital, and the Hajj App — thanks to the generous support from the MWL — does just that by providing a live news service and helpful, easy-to-use functions that every pilgrim can benefit from during Hajj,” he said.

The Muslim World League commended the newspaper’s initiative of deploying technology in such an innovative and useful way for the public good. 

“We are happy to renew our partnership with Arab News and our support of this app, which reinforces our position as an umbrella body seeking to serve Muslims worldwide,” the MWL said.

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.

More details about the app can be found at www.arabnews.com/Hajjapp

It can be downloaded via:

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/Hajj-app-by-arab-news/id1271217604?mt=8

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.srpc.arabnews_Hajjguide&hl=en


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.