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

Onboard Hospitality - - Inside This Issue -

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.

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