JEDDAH: The first smart Hajj card for this year’s pilgrimage was issued in the presence of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also the chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, and his deputy Prince Badr bin Sultan.
This came during an inspection visit to the holy sites on Monday to check on the readiness of the facilities to receive pilgrims. This will be the first time the technology is used to serve pilgrims throughout their journey.
The tour began with Prince Khaled inaugurating the Al-Shumaisi Security Control Center project.
The project covers an area of 1.6 million square meters and is supported by smart systems for screening and a unified digital gateway that facilitates traffic and reduces the waiting period of people arriving in Makkah during peak times from 45 to seven minutes.
The number of vehicle lanes has been also increased from six to 16, and special lanes have been dedicated to buses, transport vehicles, trucks and emergency vehicles.
The center includes administrative offices, a mosque, a center for civil defense and another for the Red Crescent Authority, and a building for security and governmental authorities.
The governor also inaugurated the Al-Zaidi Reception Center project in the presence of Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, Saudi deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah. The center aims to facilitate the movement of pilgrims from and into Makkah, reduce the waiting time for buses and improve the visual image at screening points.
The center includes a parking lot that fits over 8,000 vehicles, entry and exit gates and an inspection zone for vehicles.
It also issues the smart Hajj card, provides an automatic reading of the Hajj permits and offers hospitality services, including transportation of luggage to the holy sites and of pilgrims to the mosque to perform Tawaf or to visit Mina.
Mashat explained that the Hajj smart card is linked to all services provided for pilgrims, allowing them to enter the camps and hotels and use the available transportation.
The card is also used to pay at points of sales and ATMs, guide lost pilgrims, control entry to the camps and time movements.
The Makkah governor visited the holy sites and inspected the readiness of Arafat and Mina, where he visited a model of the camps and listened to a briefing on its plans to receive pilgrims.
He also reviewed the precautionary measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), such as visual and thermal screening upon entry to living accommodations.
The sanitization process has been intensified, and masks and sanitizers will be distributed among pilgrims. Social distancing will also be enforced on-site, inside the rooms and during transportation.
Ready meals will be available for each pilgrim in their rooms, without the need to gather at dining halls. More than 1 million meals have been prepared for the Hajj season this year, taking into consideration the highest standards of quality and safety.
Prince Khaled also reviewed transportation plans: 3,000 passenger buses have been readied for pilgrims, with each accommodating 20 people. The buses will be distributed over four tracks, based on the colors red, green, yellow and blue. Each track is linked to the housing location of pilgrims. To organize and manage crowds, a smart program designed specifically for this purpose will be used.
Hajj will start on Dul Hijjah 8 (July 18). The day of Arafat will fall on Dul Hijjah 9 corresponding to July 19.