‘You can smell the holy Kaaba’: Dubai pilgrims experience Haj even before flying out

The immersive session was organised to prepare the 80 first-time pilgrims from the UAE who will embark on their journey on June 11

The Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Islamic Culture in Dubai hosted a virtual ‘Haj experience’ for the faithful on May 30. This session was organised to prepare 80 first-time pilgrims from the UAE, who are set to embark on their Haj journey on June 11.

“The interactive room, will guide people on where to start (the Haj journey), how to perform the rituals, and importantly, it will simulate the crowdedness of the Haj and teach pilgrims how to navigate through it,” explained Mohammed Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, Head of the official Haj delegation of the Dubai Government. The room is designed to make participants feel as if they are in the Kaaba itself, even emitting the distinctive scent of the Kaaba, enhancing the immersive experience and preparing the pilgrims for the real journey.

In the room, the pilgrims will be explained everything about Haj and get more information with a single touch (on the massive screens),” Al Falasi said.

The 80 pilgrims were carefully selected from different government offices and circles in Dubai. Haj, which has been held every year since Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) time, is one of Islam’s five pillars. Muslims must undertake it at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so.

Virtual room
Virtual room

Saeed Al Zaabi, from the Al-Furqan campaign for Haj and Umrah, emphasised the importance of preparedness and how this journey is different from any other journey. “This journey (to Haj) is different than all the journeys you have experienced in your life. It will be the most beautiful experience will have in your life.”


In addition to the immersive virtual experience, the pilgrims also received medical guidance and checkups from a team of healthcare professionals. “We want to make sure everyone is healthy and prepared for the Haj rigours,” said a medical staff member.

medical checkups
medical checkups

“It is very important to stay hydrated. If you have unusual symptoms, like a high temperature or physical stress, you must inform one of the medical staff,” advised the medical staff member. “We also do not recommend painkillers or stimulants like tea or coffee, as they can exacerbate dehydration in the heat.”

The medical team also checked that all pilgrims received vaccinations before their journey. “Ensuring everyone’s health and safety is our top priority,” a staff member emphasised.

After the session, each pilgrim received a special bag with all the essential items they would need for their spiritual journey, including ihram garments.

Bags to the pilgrims
Bags to the pilgrims

“This bag has everything pilgrims will need for their Haj journey, from clothing to hygiene products and other necessary supplies,” Al Falasi told Khaleej Times. “We want to make sure they are fully prepared physically and spiritually for this life-changing experience.”


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