Services to pilgrims based on latest technological innovations, minister says

Technology has made it easier for pilgrims and and agencies administering Hajj affairs and providing security during Hajj. (SPA)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Services to pilgrims based on latest technological innovations, minister says

RIYADH: Technology is being harnessed again this year to provide better services for pilgrims, according to Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah.

Mashat said that for the second year in a row, the ministry had implemented the “smart card” initiative, which aimed to provide high-quality services to pilgrims and facilitate the journey of worshippers while performing their rituals.

The “smart card” was an extension of the “Smart Hajj” platform, which covers the digital identity of the pilgrim. Mashat said that, with this year’s requirements, services related to the card had been developed to include the personal, medical and residential information of the pilgrim, including his Hajj regiment, bus and seat number, residence, room number and bed.

In addition, it helped to guide pilgrims to their homes and controlled their entry to site facilities, in addition to reducing irregular pilgrims.

Mashat said that one of the most important features of the “smart card” was its design — using a set of color groups related to program services, grouping and transfer — and included NFC technology to read Hajj data through self-service devices. In addition, it contained a barcode that Hajj workers were able to read to improve services provided to pilgrims.

He said that the ministry had started the implementation of the strategic executive plan for this year’s Hajj season early following the Kingdom’s decision to organize Hajj for very limited numbers. This was to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as it would have been impossible to ensure social distancing had a large number of pilgrims been received.

Mashat said: “The ministry, and all parties concerned with organizing this year’s Hajj season, were keen on procuring the best services to pilgrims while applying the highest health and safety standards, and the preventive and precautionary measures, according to the directions of the Kingdom’s leadership to provide the best services to the pilgrims.”


Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon

Updated 09 August 2020

Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon

Saudi Arabia has stepped up its relief efforts in Lebanon following the deadly explosions in Beirut.

Saudi Ambassador Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari said the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center began organizing emergency aid immediately after the incident.

Bukhari has been the Saudi envoy to Lebanon since December 2018. He previously served as charge d’affaires at the embassy from March 2018 until his current appointment.

Bukhari obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science with distinction at the King Abdul Aziz University in 1995.

He obtained a higher diploma in diplomatic studies at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh in 2000, and a master’s in international politics from California State University, Fullerton.

He joined the Saudi diplomatic corps in 1996. In 1999, he was appointed deputy head of the mission of the Kingdom’s embassy in Niger.

Bukhari served as the consul general in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2006. In 2007, he was appointed to the office of the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He became director of total quality management in 2009.

In 2013, he was assigned a role at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin. He was appointed assistant director general of planning and development at the ministry in 2016. He also served as the director general of diplomatic affairs and protocol and deputy undersecretary for protocol affairs in 2017.