MINA: Sign language is the most-used language at the holy sites, as it can be used to guide crowds, organize them safely at the Jamarat and warn people about overcrowding.
Crowd flow expert Akram Jann said there are more than 100 languages used at the holy sites, but the only one that can unify them is sign language, which does not need dictionaries and can help pilgrims of all nationalities.
Fayza Netou, president of the Deaf and Mute Club, said signing is used to guide lost people, and is not limited to the hard of hearing.
“I’ve seen many pilgrims lose their way, and sign language has been the only solution to help and guide them. This made me and the volunteer teams want to serve pilgrims,” said Netou.
She added that the club, in cooperation with the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, has organized training sessions for presidency members to teach them about sign language in order to help pilgrims.
Volunteer teams have used sign language at the holy sites for 16 years. There are eight sessions organized at the Haram in Makkah to train women and men to use sign language.
The sessions help workers who do not speak the most common languages, enabling them to communicate with all pilgrims.
Catering to pilgrims’ food requests in Makkah
More than 210 companies in the food and catering sector in Makkah try to meet all food requests from pilgrims, the head of the catering committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Shaker Al-Harthi, told Arab News.
There are many cuisines offered, such as Indian, Indonesian, European, Turkish, Egyptian and Shami. This gives pilgrims an opportunity to experience different civilizations through food.
Catering companies provide meals according to their contracts with the Hajj delegations, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menus differ according to demand.
Al-Harthi said the food sector in Makkah is facing challenges, especially with population growth, expansion of the holy city and the resulting increase in the number of visitors and pilgrims.
These factors mean small companies need more support from chambers of commerce to help them compete with larger companies, he said, adding that supporting small companies will provide greater employment and investment opportunities.
Al-Harthi said a number of goals are being pursued. “The first one is the establishment of an electronic portal that will soon provide several services. The most important of these will facilitate and identify service providers, and show contracts offered during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.”