Year after year, Hajj pilgrims are offered a host of new services and technology solutions that Saudi Arabia provides out of the goal of easing their spiritual journey to Islam’s holiest sites in the Kingdom.
For Hajj 2021, an exceptional pilgrimage season due to anti-coronavirus measures, many exemplary projects and qualitative initiatives were set up to raise the level of services offered to pilgrims. These programs are aligned with the goals of the national transformation plan, dubbed “Vision 2030.”
As the pilgrims flocked to Makkah, they were on a date with the latest tech-reinforced projects, especially at the security control center at the city’s Shimisi entrance, which is supervised by the Royal Commission for the Development of Makkah City and the Holy Sites.
At the Shimisi entrance, intelligent systems work to sort and inspect incoming pilgrims through a unified digital portal. The digital vetting system eases traffic volume and reduces waiting times from 45 minutes to 7 minutes.
More so, the entry gate was upgraded from six lanes to a whopping 16 tracks.
Smart Hajj cards, which provide an automatic reading of the Hajj permits and offer hospitality services, are also at the pilgrims’ disposal.
As for transportation, Hajj buses will be distributed over four tracks, based on the colors red, green, yellow, and blue. Each way is linked to the housing location of pilgrims. To organize and manage crowds, a smart program designed specifically for this purpose will be used.
Also, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has launched several initiatives to aid pilgrims with special needs in performing Hajj rites.
As for the environmental aspect, the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, represented by the “KIDANA” Development Company, launched the “Green Holy Sites” initiative to treat 260 tons of organic solid waste in the holy sites.
Robots have been deployed to spray sanitizing disinfectant around the cube-shaped Kaaba’s busiest walkways and distribute sacred water, Zamzam water, to pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia is also testing a smart bracelet this year in collaboration with the government’s artificial intelligence authority. The touchscreen bracelet includes information on the hajj, the pilgrim’s oxygen levels, and vaccine data and has an emergency feature to call for help.