Saudi programmers develop app for "finding" Makkah
After Iran and its Basir, Saudi Arabia comes up with a second Islamic software as Shias and Sunnis try to match Google.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities said that it is developing an application for a geographic information system (GIS) to guide pilgrims on how to move around Makkah and perform the religious rituals in the holy city. The application will have the same functions as similar apps in other cities in the world.

"By using technology, one can take advantage of the possibilities the programme provides to best serve tourists and worshipers coming to Makkah," GIS expert Essam Khundaneh said. This will "enable them to perform their rituals easily and safely".

A GIS user can locate within seconds the streets leading to the Grand Mosque, as well as the state of traffic along the way.

A few months ago, Iranian authorities announced that by the end of August, Iran would have its own mapping service, called Basir, up and running. Some view it as a Shia Google Earth created for "guiding" every Muslim towards the "truth".

Funded by the Iranian government, Basir would provide pilgrims with the direction (Qibla) towards Makkah, and it is intended to rival Google and Wikipedia.

The Saudi project would have a very similar function.