Over 2m flock to Mina as Hajj begins

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers from around the world on Wednesday began moving from the holy city of Makkah to Mina for the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (Adnan Al-Mahdali)
Updated 31 August 2017

Over 2m flock to Mina as Hajj begins

MINA: More than two million Muslims from around the world arrived in Mina to spend the day of Tarwiyah and follow the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Pilgrims will then head to Mount Arafat on Thursday.
Thousands of security men accompanied the flows of pilgrims along Mina’s wide roads, bridges and tunnels. The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) mission at the holy sites monitored the pilgrims heading from Makkah to Mina. Their journey went smoothly despite the huge number of vehicles and pedestrians. Traffic patrols were assisted by security forces in their efforts to organize the traffic, guide pilgrims and maintain security.
The Ministry of Health is offering medical and health care services to pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season by providing thousands of doctors, nurses and specialists appointed to serve pilgrims. These members work at hospitals near the holy sites and Makkah. The ministry assists the relevant authorities in carrying out the general emergency plan and dealing with emergencies that might arise during the pilgrims’ stop in Mina and Jamaarat bridge.
Along with the ministry, medical service departments of the National Guard Ministry, and the Defense Ministry and its hospitals appointed hundreds of their members to offer medical and treatment services to pilgrims at the holy sites.
The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) is providing its services through thousands of members appointed to serve Hajjis. The organization designated a fleet of 100 ambulances spread throughout the holy sites.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 9 min 33 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.