Maximum technology utilized by Saudi authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims

In the 2019 Hajj season, the Ministry of Health introduced a robot that remotely provided consultations and checks with the use of artificial intelligence. (SPA)
1 / 4
In the 2019 Hajj season, the Ministry of Health introduced a robot that remotely provided consultations and checks with the use of artificial intelligence. (SPA)
Maximum technology utilized by Saudi authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims
2 / 4
Photo/Supplied
Maximum technology utilized by Saudi authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims
3 / 4
Photo/Supplied
Maximum technology utilized by Saudi authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims
4 / 4
Photo/Supplied
Short Url
Updated 21 July 2021

Maximum technology utilized by Saudi authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims

In the 2019 Hajj season, the Ministry of Health introduced a robot that remotely provided consultations and checks with the use of artificial intelligence. (SPA)
  • Hajis at holy sites have direct access to smart card service, smart bracelets, and smart robots to ‘enrich their experience’

MAKKAH/JEDDAH: To ensure safety during the Hajj season and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Saudi authorities are utilizing technology to help pilgrims perform their rituals in peace and comfort.

The yearly pilgrimage to Makkah is considered the world’s largest human gathering, with almost 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Hajj is restricted to 60,000 pilgrims, all coming from within the Kingdom.  
When Saudi pilgrims arrived, they had direct access to smart cards, smart bracelets, and a smart robot service — all intended to make Hajj a more convenient experience.
The features of the smart cards, introduced by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, include near-field communication (NFC) and barcodes that will hold personal, medical, and residence information. They will also guide pilgrims to their residences in the holy sites.
According to Hamad Al-Eshiwan, director of the media center at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the smart cards were manufactured locally and were given to this year’s pilgrims and will be available for Umrah performers in the future.
“We will be also providing this technology to other international Hajj companies for future Hajj and Umrah clients,” he said.
Al-Eshiwan also said each card is color-coded as the different colors link the cardholders to their respective housing at the holy sites. They also allow access to smart doors and entrances to campsites in the holy sites.
In addition to pilgrims’ vital information, the cards also allow the pilgrims to check their pre-planned journey routes and schedules for Hajj. Through these cards, pilgrims can choose their daily meals, which will help avoid crowded places.




Built locally, smart cards are color-coded as the different colors link the cardholders to their respective housing at the holy sites. (SPA)

Explaining the need for these cards, Amr Al-Maddah, deputy minister for Hajj and Umrah Services, said the smart cards were launched to put the pilgrims’ safety and convenience as top priorities and to “enrich their experience.”
He added that pilgrims can fill out a service evaluation questionnaire of their experiences as their feedback will help improve services and meet pilgrims’ highest expectations.
The smart cards can also be linked and read through the “Sha’ir” application, which will also assist authorities in providing any requested service.
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) launched its smart bracelet service in cooperation with the Guests of God Service Program, in partnership with the Saudi Telecom Company Group (STC).
Some 5,000 bracelets were distributed among this year’s pilgrims as the bracelet, which comes in the form of a wristwatch, is equipped with GPS and uses the data for Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
The bracelet provides integrated services that include all personal data of a pilgrim, including his or her health status related to COVID-19.




Fully automatic robots have been deployed to sanitize Makkah’s Grand Mosque and keep it free from bacteria in the wake of the pandemic. (SPA)

Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, SDAIA president, described the initiative as an important step to serve the pilgrims.
“Pilgrims wearing these bracelets can check their heartbeats and oxygen level,” Al-Ghamdi said. “They can also review their health status as these bracelets are connected with the Tawakkalna app.” Pilgrims with bracelets can report a security issue or seek assistance from their control center, which includes representatives from various health, security, and Hajj authorities.
“This center monitors everything happening to the pilgrims, whether it is a security or health issue, or even an accident,” Al-Ghamdi said. “These bracelets can also help authorities take action when needed.”
The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque launched its smart robot service last month as 10 robots joined the Grand Mosque’s disinfection team.
To help thwart the spread of COVID-19, the robots are helping in the Grand Mosque’s disinfection routine. The robots are equipped with a special program to analyze the disinfection requirements of assigned areas. They can operate between five and eight hours without human intervention.
In the 2019 Hajj season, the Ministry of Health introduced the first Hajj robot that remotely provided medical consultations and checks with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
AI assistant professor at Umm Al-Qura University, Tahani Al-Subait, told Arab News that a physician in Riyadh, for instance, can provide medical assistance through a robot to a patient in the holy sites. “The physician can remotely monitor the robot and give it an order to take the patient’s temperature and check their pulse with a stethoscope,” she said.


Pakistan’s Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for Middle East green initiative summit

Pakistan’s Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for Middle East green initiative summit
Updated 1 min 34 sec ago

Pakistan’s Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for Middle East green initiative summit

Pakistan’s Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for Middle East green initiative summit
  • Libyan president and Morocco’s prime minister also arrived in Riyadh to attend the regional summit
  • The inaugural summit will see world leaders and representatives gather on Monday to define green policy solutions

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his accompanying delegation arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Sunday, to participate in the Middle East Green Initiative Summit.
Khan was received at King Khalid International Airport by Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, acting governor of Riyadh, and other Saudi officials.
The inaugural summit will see world leaders and representatives gather on Monday to examine green policy solutions to climate challenges, as part of a regional initiative launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this year.

Later on Sunday, Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council Mohamed Al-Menfi, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, and Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden also arrived at King Khalid International Airport and were received by Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman.
The Middle East Green Initiative aims to apply a number of ambitious programs that will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region and plant 50 billion trees in the world’s biggest afforestation project.


Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 47 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 47 new infections
Updated 24 October 2021

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 47 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 47 new infections
  • Ministry of Interior records 824 violations against precautionary measures in the past week
  • Municipalities close three businesses and issue fines to 500 others for violating precautionary measures

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed two new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,778.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 47 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 548,252 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 79 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 13, followed by Jeddah with nine, Makkah with four, and Madinah recorded three cases.
The health ministry also announced that 36 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 537,282.
Over 45.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 21.1 million people have been fully vaccinated.


Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Interior reported 824 violations in the past week, compared to 22,746 the previous week. The highest number of breaches was recorded in Riyadh with 344, followed by Makkah with 298, Madinah with 59, and the Eastern Province with 56. Al-Jawf recorded the lowest number of violations with three.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of the Eastern Province carried out 8,872 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past week. Authorities found 475 violations and closed three businesses for not adhering to the precautionary measures.
Rafha Municipality in the Northern Borders Province also carried out 280 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the last week and authorities issued fines to 25 commercial outlets for breaching protocols.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 244 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.96 million.


Saudi Arabia to extend residency, visitor visas

Saudi Arabia to extend residency, visitor visas
Updated 24 October 2021

Saudi Arabia to extend residency, visitor visas

Saudi Arabia to extend residency, visitor visas
  • The foreign ministry said visas would be automatically extended until Nov. 30 without any charge

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it will extend residency and visitor visas for people still unable to reach the Kingdom due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The foreign ministry said visas would be automatically extended until Nov. 30 without any charge.
The ministry said the move, which was done in cooperation with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (National Information Center), the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Interior, comes as part of the Saudi government’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
The ministry added that the beneficiaries have been notified of the extension via email, which includes an attached e-visa form.


King Salman to head Saudi Arabia’s delegation at G20 meeting in Italy

King Salman to head Saudi Arabia’s delegation at G20 meeting in Italy
Updated 24 October 2021

King Salman to head Saudi Arabia’s delegation at G20 meeting in Italy

King Salman to head Saudi Arabia’s delegation at G20 meeting in Italy
  • The decision comes in response to an invitation from Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is set to head the Kingdom’s delegation at the annual G20 summit in the Italian capital, Rome, next week, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
The king’s decision to head the delegation virtually comes “in response to the kind invitation received by King Salman from Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit to be held on Oct. 30-31,” the statement said.
“The Kingdom expresses its appreciation for the efforts made by Italy to ensure the work of the G20 presidency succeeds this year through joint collective action,” it added.
As a member of the group’s Troika, Saudi Arabia also reaffirmed its keenness to continue efforts to make the summit a success.
The current members of the Troika include Saudi Arabia, former president of the G20, Italy, the current president and Indonesia, next year’s president.


Saudi and US officials discuss climate change initiatives

Saudi and US officials discuss climate change initiatives
Updated 24 October 2021

Saudi and US officials discuss climate change initiatives

Saudi and US officials discuss climate change initiatives

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir on Sunday met with the US envoy for climate, John Kerry, on the sidelines of the Saudi Green Initiative forum, which is being held in the capital, Riyadh.
During the meeting, they discussed the Kingdom’s efforts to confront climate change and the qualitative initiatives it has launched to protect the planet and nature. 
The two sides also discussed regional and international developments of common interest. the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.