Focus on: Hajj Safe
Like any journey, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca can put travellers at risk of robbery. Laura Gelder meets a man who designed a solution which airlines snapped up
It was during his first year as a design and technology teacher that Brit Kamal Ali got a flash of inspiration for a unique product designed to help Muslim pilgrims taking their most important journey.
“I received a phone call from a good friend whose relative had his bag cut and stolen while performing Umrah,” says Ali. “My friend was aware of my design background and asked me if I could find a solution to this sadly common problem. After weeks of research it occurred to me that reinforcing the strap could make it theft-proof.”
It would take 50 prototypes and two years to create the Hajj Safe anti-theft waist bag, which has unique features including a metal wire around the waist strap making it difficult to cut and steal, water resistant material and secure zipped pockets. In 2010 Ali was able to trial it himself on the Hajj and on his return had 1,000 units made which sold within two weeks.
It was after this that onboard amenity specialist FORMIA heard about the new product and approached him to work on a kit for Turkish Airlines. The onboard version was released in 2013 and while it is less heavy duty, it was the first amenity kit specifically for Umrah and Hajj and designed for travellers to use on the ground, with pilgrimage essentials like a prayer mat as well as a dental kit, socks and eye-mask.
Ali also worked with FORMIA to provide an amenity kit for Qatar Airways which was first handed out to pilgrims travelling on its Jeddah and Madinah flights during Hajj season in September 2015.
This version also included a prayer counter and prayer beads and the small
stone-coloured bag could convert into a larger bag designed for storing shoes when visiting the haram or other mosques while on pilgrimage.
Ali’s original kit is currently sold in nearly 50 cities in 16 different countries but Ali’s vision for Hajj Safe is to have his products in every city worldwide. “We have a long way to go,” he says. “Another area I would like to develop would be exposure in the duty free market.”
It took 50 prototypes
and two years to create the first Hajj Safe anti-theft bag
Did you know?
Both Umrah and Hajj are Muslim pilgrimages. The former is known as a minor pilgrimage and is not compulsory. The Hajj is a major pilgrimage and is obligatory for Muslims who are well and have the means. Umrah takes place any time of year while Hajj is a specific time set by the Islamic lunar calendar.