High-tech ‘smart’ cards to keep Hajj pilgrims safe and secure

Up to 25,000 Hajj pilgrims will be issued with wearable high-tech smart cards this year in a pilot program being launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. (AN file photo)
Updated 12 July 2019

High-tech ‘smart’ cards to keep Hajj pilgrims safe and secure

  • The smart cards will be fitted with a location tracker to follow individual pilgrims’ movements, managed by a control room in Mina
  • These cards are scannable, allowing Hajj service providers to quickly identify pilgrims, access their medical history and establish what assistance they may need

JEDDAH: Up to 25,000 Hajj pilgrims in Mina this year will be issued wearable high-tech smart cards in a pilot program being launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The cards will store the pilgrims’ personal information, health status, residence and Hajj tour details.

They will also be fitted with a location tracker to follow individual pilgrims’ movements, managed by a control room in Mina.

“It is the experimental stage of a smart Hajj initiative we are working on, and we will study to what extent it might be advantageous to the pilgrims.”

Dr. Amr Al-Maddah Chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

“It is the experimental stage of a smart Hajj initiative we are working on, and we will study to what extent it might be advantageous to the pilgrims,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah told Arab News.

“The numbers will increase in the coming years to include more pilgrims in the other areas.” The ministry is also issuing up to 200,000 pilgrims ID cards, which will have the same information storage technology but without the location tracking feature.

These cards are scannable, allowing Hajj service providers to quickly identify pilgrims, access their medical history and establish what assistance they may need.

The cards will be complemented this year by a Smart Hajj ID app, Al-Maddah said. “It will offer the same features as the smart ID card, including tracking location, identifying crowded spots on the map, and the transport schedule.”

The smart card and mobile app also enable the ministry to simulate and predict crowd behavior during Hajj. “This new technology will help us collect data through the cards, cameras, and sensors distributed around the pilgrimage sites,” said Al-Maddah.


Penguins and an ice rink to be part of Riyadh’s winter show

More than 300 trailers have been shipped from all over Europe to Riyadh for the English-style winter carnival. (AN photo/Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 16 October 2019

Penguins and an ice rink to be part of Riyadh’s winter show

  • More than 250 workers are busy setting it up in one of Riyadh’s busiest areas

RIYADH: Snow parks, penguins and ice-skating rinks are common winter attractions in cities with the weather to match — but Riyadh?

Still, there’s a first time for everything, and Riyadh Season is giving the Saudi capital the opportunity to prove it with the opening on Oct. 20 of Winter Wonderland.

More than 300 trailers have been shipped from all over Europe to Riyadh for the English-style winter carnival, and more than 250 workers are busy setting it up in one of Riyadh’s busiest areas.

The site, against the stunning backdrop of the King Abdullah Financial District skyscrapers, will accommodate up to 40,000 visitors a day. “It is challenging, but it is wonderful to be here,” events director Edward Mellors told Arab News. “We are really enjoying it. It’s nice to be involved in bringing such a big project to a country like this.”

As well as the snow park, the ice rink and the penguins, attractions include a Marvel excursion, with Iron Man and other superheroes from the franchise.

“We have been sourcing these rides from all over the world, getting them together and making lots of deals, getting them on ships,” said Mellors. “I can’t think of any one challenge that has been the biggest, but with all of them put together, it has been a mountain.”