Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims

Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. The app is named ‘Murshid,’ which means ‘guidance.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi inventor develops digital solution for lost pilgrims

  • Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea launches Murshid app to enhance pilgrim safety during Hajj

JEDDAH: With more than two million Muslims expected in Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year, the annual pilgrimage is becoming increasingly hi-tech, with apps to help the faithful navigate Islam’s holiest sites.

In a landmark step to address the issue of Hajj pilgrims who go missing, especially the elderly and those with special needs, Saudi inventor Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea recently launched a mobile application that offers hope to the thousands of pilgrims who get lost during the Hajj period.

The app, named “Murshid,” which means guidance, connects pilgrims and Umrah performers with guides, Hajj and Umrah companies, volunteers and scouts. Moreover, it promptly deals with requests from people with disabilities and the elderly.

The app has two features — the ability to report lost pilgrims, as well as being able to detect the location and movement of pilgrims to ease the search process if they get lost or separated from their group.

Al-Dhalea, who invented the app, told Arab News that overcrowding often leads to lost pilgrims at Hajj sites, meaning pilgrims get separated from their groups and are unable to rejoin them.

“This project was designed as a result of the difficulty of dealing with the different communities within the holy sites, such as Makkah, Mina, Arafa and Madinah,” he said.

“Our main aim is to know where the missing pilgrim is,” Al-Dhalea said.

He affirmed that with the Murshid app, no one will get lost during Hajj.

“This is to ensure providing the pilgrims who come to Saudi Arabia with distinguished services so that they perform the duty of the fifth pillar of Islam and all its rituals correctly in the best conditions,” he said.

“Though we have many volunteers and scouts helping missing pilgrims find their way, most fail to effectively explain where they are, making it difficult for officials to find them. This new app will help us overcome logistical problems encountered during this busy season,” Al-Dhalea said.

He said the app will be operational this year and that they have already teamed up with five of the largest Hajj and Umrah companies.

“To date we are working with these companies and, additionally, men, women, taxi drivers and other locals can also work with us as guides.”

Al-Dhalea, who is from Qassim, said the invention of the app is not a commercial project, and that he is not concerned with how much money it will make.

“Saudi Arabia’s great efforts toward serving the pilgrims of the House of Allah led me to think of something to stand by my country and also think of a project which could solve some of the problems pilgrims face,” he said.

After helping an Iranian pilgrim and his wife this week, Al-Dhalea told Arab News that his contribution to serving this pilgrim has added a lot to him both personally and practically.

"It was my first case this Hajj; his name is Hossein Almasi from Iran. He got lost in Makkah before the Hajj season started, and it was reported to us through our app. We immediately started searching and found him.

"As soon as we found him, we guided him along with his wife to the Iranian campaign headquarters, and the man was very happy. When he got there, he asked us how much money to pay for this service. We told him it is a free service. He hugged me and said thank you," said Al-Dhalea.

Unsurprisingly, Al-Dhalea’s app for finding missing people during Hajj saw off the challenges of 450 local and international projects for sustainable solutions for pilgrims organized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah during the Hajj Expo.

Decoder

What is Murshid?

It is a mobile phone app developed recently by Saudi inventor Suliman Saleh Al-Dhalea to assist Muslims performing Hajj or Umrah in Makkah. The app has the ability to report lost pilgrims and it is also able to detect the location and movement of pilgrims to ease the search process if they get lost or separated from their group.


Diriyah Co. signs $2bn contract for Wadi Safar 

Updated 10 sec ago
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Diriyah Co. signs $2bn contract for Wadi Safar 

  • Deal includes equestrian club, polo grounds, luxury resorts
  • Jerry Inzerillo: Wadi Safar will be one of the most beautiful residential developments in the world

RIYADH: Diriyah Co. has signed a $2 billion contract with Urbacon Saudi Co. and Al-Bawani Group to develop the Wadi Safar project, including the Royal Diriyah Equestrian and Polo Club and several luxury hotels.

“Today is a very big day,” Diriyah Co. Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told Arab News. “It is unusual for development companies worldwide to sign $2 billion contracts, but this is a giant construction package for our Wadi Safar, which will be one of the most beautiful residential developments in the world,” he said.

The MoU was signed on Wednesday at the DGDA headquarters in Riyadh by Inzerillo, Urbacon Trading & Contracting President Ramez Al-Khayyat, and Al-Bawani Group CEO Fakher Al Shawaf.

“Wadi Safar will be home to the Royal Diriyah Equestrian and Polo Club, a Greg Norman-designed 27-hole golf course, and 10 spectacular resorts,” Inzerillo said. “Four of these resorts are included in this package: Aman, which will be one of the most beautiful Amans in the world, Oberoi, a spectacular hotel operator from India, Faena from Argentina and Miami, and Chedi from the Far East. These four resorts are beautiful.”

The CEO said that Wadi Safar “will be one of the greatest luxury residential high-end developments in the world, with a $2 billion package.”

Inzerillo said that last week they signed another $2 billion package for their multi-use northern district, which will include King Salman Library, King Salman University, and Diriyah Square.

“And before December, we will be issuing additional contracts with big numbers close to this as well,” he said. 

“This indicates that Diriyah is moving full speed ahead to realize Vision 2030. Diriyah will be finished in time for Expo 2030 Riyadh, which will be the greatest expo in the world.”

Located west of Diriyah, Wadi Safar aims to be a residential cultural hub offering the world’s finest experiences in polo, luxury hotels, and golf courses.

Mohamed Saad, president of Diriyah Co., highlighted the significance of the new partnership: “This is the main construction of many assets in Wadi Safar, including the Royal Diriyah Equestrian and Polo Club, which will be the largest equestrian polo club in the region. This will also include a range of hotels: Amaala Resort, Six Senses, and Chedi.

“Everything we do has to go back to the roots and culture of Diriyah. We are designing all of our buildings and assets to present and celebrate the legacy, culture and heritage of Diriyah,” he said. 

Saad highlighted that assets would open gradually each year, and by 2030, all of Diriyah’s assets would be operational.

“We have already delivered the golf course at Wadi Safar and will soon invite people to play on it,” he said.

He said that the Wadi Safar hotels would gradually begin opening in 2026.


MoU to drive job creation, training in Saudi hospitality 

Updated 21 min 31 sec ago
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MoU to drive job creation, training in Saudi hospitality 

  • MoU focuses on improving hospitality services in Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district
  • Collaboration will create local jobs and develop a skilled workforce in the fields of hospitality, heritage tourism, and tourist guidance

RIYADH: The Ministry of Tourism and Al-Balad Development Co., a Public Investment Fund subsidiary, signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday to collaborate in empowering national human capital in the tourism sector.

The MoU focuses on improving hospitality services in Jeddah’s historic district, Al-Balad, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The collaboration will create local jobs and develop a skilled workforce in the fields of hospitality, heritage tourism, and tourist guidance.

The agreement, signed by Al-Balad Development Co. CEO Jamil Ghaznawi and the ministry’s acting Undersecretary for Tourism Human Resources Development Hind Al-Zahid in the presence of Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, stipulates a collaborative effort to harness shared resources and expertise.

The partnership aims to empower Saudi nationals through comprehensive training, education, and job opportunities.

The initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s National Tourism Strategy, which seeks to attract 150 million visitors annually by 2030 and create 1.6 million tourism-related jobs.


Saudi Arabia welcomes statement on agreement between Yemeni parties to lift economic sanctions

Yemen’s government and Houthis agreed to increase the frequency of Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from 1 to 3 a day.
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia welcomes statement on agreement between Yemeni parties to lift economic sanctions

  • Yemen’s government and Houthis agreed to increase the frequency of Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from one to three a day and to introduce other flights

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday a statement issued by the UN’s special envoy for Yemen about an agreement between the country’s internationally recognized government and the Houthis to lift economic sanctions.

Hans Grundberg, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, said on Tuesday that both parties agreed to ease economic hostilities by canceling their most recent actions taken against banks in areas the other controls and pledged to halt all such measures in the future.

They also agreed to increase the frequency of national carrier Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from one to three a day and to introduce daily flights from the capital to Cairo and India. In addition, the two sides will hold discussions about administrative, technological and budgetary issues related to the airline.

The Kingdom affirmed its continued support for Yemen, its government, and people, and its keenness to encourage efforts to reduce escalation and maintain calm.

The Kingdom hopes the agreement will contribute to dialogue between the Yemeni parties under the auspices of the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen to discuss all economic and humanitarian issues in order to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis within the framework of the road map to support the peace process in Yemen.


Camel culture comes to life at Jeddah Season 

Updated 24 July 2024
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Camel culture comes to life at Jeddah Season 

  • Special pavilion highlights camels’ economic, cultural significance in Saudi society
  • Through illuminated murals and interactive touch screens, visitors are invited to delve into history

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Culture is bringing the “Year of the Camel” to life at Jeddah Season 2024 with a dedicated pavilion offering visitors an immersive experience of these iconic animals.

From life-size camel sculptures to interactive displays, the pavilion in City Walk, one of the Jeddah Season zones, showcases the camel’s enduring significance in society, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Through illuminated murals and interactive touch screens, visitors are invited to delve into history and understand why 2024 was designated as the “Year of the Camel.”

These displays offer insights into the objectives behind honoring camels, and are provided in Arabic and English to provide access for a global audience.

The pavilion provides historical inscriptions dedicated to the animal, and the vast camel-related vocabulary in the Arabic language, the SPA stated.

One of the highlights of the pavilion is audio of camel sounds, each with its own name. These hold special significance in the daily lives of those who have long cherished the companionship of these remarkable animals.

The displays showcase the economic importance of camels, their role in ensuring food security, and the unique capabilities that have cemented their place in Saudi Arabia culture.


Design program for architects wraps up in Riyadh

Updated 24 July 2024
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Design program for architects wraps up in Riyadh

  • A presentation showcased the journey of the participants during the program and highlighted the activities they took part in
  • Commission CEO Sumayah Al-Solaiman delivered a speech highlighting the commission’s “unwavering commitment” to investing in the development of Saudi architects and designers

RIYADH: The Architecture and Design Commission concluded the first Design Leadership Program with a ceremony in Riyadh attended by architecture and design experts, as well as program participants.

A presentation showcased the journey of the participants during the program and highlighted the activities they took part in, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Commission CEO Sumayah Al-Solaiman delivered a speech highlighting the commission’s “unwavering commitment” to investing in the development of Saudi architects and designers.

Improving the skills of Saudis in the industry will allow them to become influential leaders, she added.

The developer of the Creative Leadership Course at the Future London Academy, Matt Hexemer, said in a speech that the Saudi program is a “pioneering initiative” that nurtures the Kingdom’s talents and fosters creativity.

Dialogue sessions were held at the ceremony, led by prominent speakers including Sarah Fayad, strategy and urban design senior manager at The Line in NEOM; and Ali Al-Shuaibi, president and founder of BEEAH Planners, Architects and Engineers Co.

The commission launched the program in May to cultivate the leadership skills of architects and designers, bolster their capacity to lead projects, and foster an environment that promotes collaboration in the local architecture and design community.