Innovators challenged to improve pilgrim experience for people with mobility issues

Innovators challenged to improve pilgrim experience for people with mobility issues
Participants take on the challenge to look for innovative ways to help pilgrims with mobility issues in different categories, manual wheelchairs, electric vehicles, golf carts and trailers, and other creative mobility ideas. (SPA)
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Updated 16 May 2024
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Innovators challenged to improve pilgrim experience for people with mobility issues

Innovators challenged to improve pilgrim experience for people with mobility issues
  • During a week-long event, 250 people on 39 teams are working to develop innovative products and services to serve the mobility needs of pilgrims

MAKKAH: Innovators and entrepreneurs have been challenged to find ways to enhance the pilgrim experience in Makkah for people with mobility issues.

To help them develop solutions, provide support and encourage collaborations, the General Authority for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, Umm Al-Qura University and investment business Wadi Makkah Co. organized a week-long event that began at the company’s headquarters on Sunday.

The specific goal is to improve pilgrim services through the development of innovative ways to help people who find it difficult to complete Hajj rituals such as Tawaf (walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque seven times) and Sa’i (moving repeatedly between the Safa and Marwah hills at the mosque). The challenge includes four categories covering the use of manual wheelchairs, electric vehicles, golf carts and trailers, and a fifth, open section for creative mobility ideas.

Ali Al-Shaery, the CEO of Wadi Makkah, said he was proud of the company’s participation in this collaborative effort, and highlighted the significant role it can play in improving pilgrims’ mobility.

“We are contributing to realizing the Vision of our beloved kingdom, enriching the experience of pilgrims, and increasing the number of pilgrims and Umrah performers by 2030,” he said.

“Through this challenge, we aim to provide participants with a knowledge boost, cultural enrichment and empowerment through specialized workshops and expert mentors.”

The general authority is giving participants a sense of the nature of pilgrim-mobility issues, he added, while mentors from Wadi Makkah are providing technical, innovative and entrepreneurial knowledge.

A panel of judges from various sectors related to Hajj and Umrah will select the most promising solutions proposed during the event, Al-Shaery said.

Ammar Attar, a faculty member at Umm Al-Qura University and coordinator of the mobility vehicles category of the challenge, said it was important to engage the academic community in efforts to tackle real-world issues.

“We aim to activate the role of faculty members, students and researchers in designing creative and innovative solutions that enrich the Tawaf and Sa’i experience,” he said.

He added that 250 people on 39 teams are working with the best tools to develop innovative products and services that can best serve the needs of pilgrims.

Ahmed Morsi, an entrepreneurship projects engineer with Wadi Makkah, said participants in the challenge have been provided with the tools they need to help come up with ideas that can significantly improve the pilgrim experience through the use of manual and electric wheelchairs, golf carts and trailers.

“Mentors have been provided to offer guidance and advice during the challenge period in developing ideas, designing products and building the first model, with the aim of assisting innovators, entrepreneurs and the Makkah community in creating a conducive environment and providing all essentials for achieving success stories that enhance the experience of pilgrims and Umrah performers,” Morsi added.

Prizes of SR10,000 ($2,666) will be awarded to the best projects chosen by judges in each of the five categories.


Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa
Updated 25 sec ago
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Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

RIYAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan hosted Anne-Claire Legendre, the advisor to the French president for the Middle East and North Africa, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

During the meeting at the ministry on Friday, the two sides reviewed Saudi-French relations, ways to strengthen ties in various fields and the latest regional developments, particularly concerning the Gaza Strip.

The meeting was attended by Prince Saad bin Mansour Al-Saud, director general of the General Department for European Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.


Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours
Updated 9 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

RIYADH: King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center performed three successful heart transplants in Riyadh on Thursday, state news agency SPA reported.

A nine-year-old girl was among the patients who received a successful transplant.

She was suffering from heart muscle weakness and needed a donation urgently.

A suitable donor was found for her in coordination with the UAE’s Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation and the National Program for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue.

The heart was transported from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh by a private aircraft that kept the organ in a stable condition and ensured it arrived safely to the patient.

A second team of medical professionals flew to Jeddah to obtain a donation for a 40-year-old man suffering from heart disease.

The final patient received his donation from Riyadh. The 41-year-old man was suffering from heart failure and was successfully operated on. 

KFSHRC affirmed its dedication to saving lives, overcoming challenges and bringing hope to patients and their families.


KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad
Updated 10 min 45 sec ago
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KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed 1,200 food parcels in the Beheira region of Chad, benefiting 7,200 people most in need, as part of a project to support food security in Chad in 2024, the state news agency SPA reported late on Friday.

The assistance is part of a series of humanitarian projects Saudi Arabia implements through KSrelief to help countries and people worldwide.


KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund
Updated 14 min 2 sec ago
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KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief signed an agreement with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Thursday to support the Yemen Humanitarian Fund, state news agency SPA reported.

The aid agency committed $9 million to the cause, and the initiative is part of KSrelief’s humanitarian aid program in Yemen.

The agreement was signed via video conference by KSrelief Assistant Supervisor General of Operations and Programs Ahmed Al-Baiz and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya.


Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases

Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases
Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases

Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases
  • The arrests were made in Riyadh, Al-Baha and Al-Jouf
  • Border Guards also seized 274 kg of narcotic qat plant in Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have arrested five people for drug trafficking offenses, seizing a large volume of the narcotic plant qat and hashish, plus amphetamine tablets and other restricted drugs in separate operations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

Agents of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested three Egyptian residents in Riyadh during one operation and seized 35 kilograms of hashish, 12,260 amphetamine tablets and 24,991 prescription tablets. 

In the southwestern province of Al-Baha, the narcotics directorate caught an Ethiopian national violating the Kingdom’s border security system and selling hashish. 

In the northern province of Al-Jouf, anti-narcotics control agents arrested a citizen for selling amphetamine tablets.

All five arrested suspects had been referred to the Public Prosecution, SPA said.  

In the southwestern province of Jazan, Border Guard land patrols thwarted separate attempts to smuggle qat from Yemen, including 160 kg in Al-Aridhah governorate and 114 kg in the governorate of Farasan, SPA said. No arrests were mentioned in both cases.

In one of the biggest drug hauls, anti-narcotics authorities in Riyadh region seized 4.7 million Captagon tablets with a street value of up to $117.5 million. The General Directorate of Narcotics Control said that the tablets were found hidden in a shipment of concrete blocks.

Amphetamines are largely used by young men and teenage boys across the Middle East, and the funds raised through the sale of narcotics is usually ploughed back into the drug trade while some of it find its way into organized crime and terrorism, authorities say.

Security authorities called on citizens and residents to report any information related to drug smuggling or selling to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control by calling 911 for Makkah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Regions, or 999 for the rest of the regions, or by emailing [email protected]