Old age factor, communication problem, getting lost and separated from the group are some of the causes the pilgrims get lost in the Grand Mosque and the central area nearby it. Supervisor of Turkish pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Halabi, mentioned many reasons and facts that why pilgrims lose their way back to their places. He said that the age of pilgrims should be considered and also their social and cultural upbringings. According to him, many pilgrims lose their way because of their extreme old age because it is difficult for the elderly pilgrims to remember the doors of the Grand Mosque through which they entered. The Grand Mosque is very big and the streets and roads around it are almost same which creates confusion. Another reason is that some of the pilgrims insist on leaving their hotels by themselves alone and refuse to be with their group. That is the reason when such accidents happen. He added that some pilgrims refuse to carry their wrist bands having their names and address of accommodation.[irp]
He lays stress on the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia, insisting the ministry to pay special attention to those pilgrims who lost their ways and make it possible that they reach their correct places or destinations. He said that the Makkah Municipality is working on the issue and trying to develop an indicative map. It’s a symptomatic map of Makkah and major important places in the city, served as a sign and symptom to facilitate the pilgrims. The newspaper Makkah Arabic daily has made a list of the top ten reasons. We are going to discuss these points separately.
Old age: Old age is one of the reasons pilgrims get lost. Elderly people go alone to the Grand Mosque and forget the way back to their hotels or accommodation. Older people do not memorize the exact location due to the elderly age. Old and elderly pilgrims are the factor that needs to be taken into account.
Language problem: Communication problem is another main reason of getting lost of the pilgrim in the Makkah. Generally, hajis or pilgrims try to find those people who can speak or understand their language or they mostly ask directions to their hotels or accommodations from the police officers. This is the main problem when a pilgrim is having a language problem and fails to communicate with a concerned official or when they are unable to tell the whereabouts such as name or location of their hotel or accommodation, they get lost their way.
Unfamiliarity with maps: Several pilgrims are those who are unaware of the maps published by the municipal ministry of the Saudi Arabia. These are the maps related to the Grand Mosque and cited areas nearby mosque. The pilgrims who are not familiar with the maps get lost their ways back to hotels.
Not knowing the concerned authorities: Another reason is that the pilgrims are unaware of the concerned authorities. They do not even know to whom they have to contact in case of emergency and what are the authorities dealing these affairs. They don’t even know the name of the offices responsible for these matters.
The unfamiliarity of places nearby: As the pilgrims are new to the places they do not even use to the surroundings. They do not even know the names of the streets or neighborhood places of the Grand Mosque. That is why they are facing problem to get back to their hotels.
Unfamiliar with the name of accommodation: Another reason of getting lost in Grand Mosque in Makkah is that the pilgrims do not know the name of the place where they are residing such as they are unfamiliar with the name of their hotels location or the accommodation so they forget its name and have to face problems in going back there.
Not paying attention to nearby landmark: Landmarks are to be remembered as a sign or mark of some place. We probably recall the address of any place by memorizing the nearby buildings. Most of the Pilgrim lost their ways back to the hotels because they do not pay heed to the nearby places and landmarks.
Ditching the group: Some of the pilgrims do not want to be with and stay with their group and want to go to the mosque alone. Leaving the group behind and moving outside of the hotel by you alone is also another reason of pilgrims getting lost.[irp]
Removing the wrist band: Every Pilgrim has a wrist band which contains their names and location. Everyone should wear this wrist band while going out of the hotel or accommodation. But some of the pilgrims do not bother to wear the wrist band and get lost because they do not know the address of their hotel
Going to Grand Mosque from one road and returning from another: As the pilgrims are unaware and unfamiliar with the roads and streets, they mostly get lost when they are going to Grand Mosque from one road and returning from another.
Source: Saudi Gazette