Artificially intelligent algorithms to estimate Tawaf crowds at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

Worshipers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2017
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Artificially intelligent algorithms to estimate Tawaf crowds at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque said it applies simulation programs to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the mataf courtyard and on the upper floors, the roof and Al-Masaa at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The director of crowd management at the Grand Mosque, Fares bin Fayez Mulla, told Arab News that the Presidency is focused on the study and management of crowds and providing safety, convenience and ease of movement, and that the direction and distribution of densities is the responsibility of the security authorities.
“The body works with its partners in the security, government and academic agencies to provide the best services for all facilities and to follow the flow of crowds in the mataf courtyard and on the upper floors, the roof and Al-Masaa of all its floors with the latest technology and equipment,” he said.
Mulla also said: “Crowds management is available throughout the year to measure and study densities through field teams in all places at the specified times. It also collects information in order to analyze and find appropriate solutions and present them to officials to make the appropriate decisions.”
He pointed out that monitoring observations has now became better. The coming years will see an increase in the number of pilgrims to the Holy Mosque.
Mulla explained that the most prominent observations that were monitored are the misconduct of some pilgrims in not following the guidelines, and entering the wrong way in some entrances, corridors and doors despite the existence of signs in different languages throughout the Holy Mosque.
However, according to Mulla, repeated observations are being considered by specialists to seek solutions and alternatives through advanced systems and programs.
He also said that the capacity of the mataf courtyard along with its floors is 107,000 performers of circumambulation per hour, while the capacity of the mataf courtyard alone is 30,000 per hour, other than the floors.
Akram Jan, a crowd expert, said that calculations of densities and crowds in the mataf courtyard can be dealt with by calculating squares, which are digital virtual regions with specific human calculations; if filled, they indicate a certain density.
He explained that this method is used in the measurement of crowd densities in large squares in Europe to a high degree of accuracy. Through these measurements, observers and analysts can anticipate the nature of the crowds.


Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Updated 59 min 4 sec ago
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Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli is the vice rector for applied studies and research at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran.

He has been published more than 100 times in reputable journals and given lectures at more than 35 conferences. He has been involved in research grants exceeding SR120 million ($32 million) supported by companies and institutions such as the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Aramco, KFUPM and Lockheed Martin Aircraft Industries.

Al-Aqeeli has 17 patents registered with the US Patent Office and three with the Gulf Patent Office. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from KFUPM and his doctorate in materials engineering from McGill University in Canada.

He worked in the materials, science, and engineering department of MIT as a postdoctoral fellow and was a research scientist at Harvard.

Al-Aqeeli has won several awards, including the Almarai prize from KACST for creative achievement in 2015 and the Arab Creativity Award from the Arab Thought Foundation that same year. He is a member of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, the American Society for Metals-International, and chairman of the board at the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.

Female students of KFUPM represented the Kingdom at Intel ISEF 2019 in Arizona, US. They won five major awards. Shouq Faisal Madani received a scholarship from the University of Arizona. 

Commenting on the achievement of KFUPM students, Al-Aqeeli said: “We are proud of the students of the university.”

He also vowed to take measures to promote and nurture local talent.