‘Smart Hajj’: More services planned to improve pilgrims’ experience

Time: October 09, 2019  

Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, left, and Dr. AbdulRahman Aljadhai, CEO of Elm company, sign two memorandums of understanding to develop and operate an electronic platform for subsistence, health, environment, and to establish and operate the Qualifying and Licensing Center for Employees of Hajj and Umrah Sectors. (Photos/Supplied)

  • The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is one of the participants in GITEX 2019, an annual technological event in Dubai

JEDDAH: The first phase of “Smart Hajj” helped the movement, transportation and safety of pilgrims this year, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced.
Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, and Dr. AbdulRahman Aljadhai, CEO of Elm Co., signed two memorandums of understanding to develop and operate the electronic platform for subsistence, health, environment, and to establish and operate the Qualifying and Licensing Center for Employees of Hajj and Umrah Sectors.
“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is undergoing digital transformation in cooperation with leading technology companies to promote the concepts of using smart solutions to provide high-quality services for the Guests of Allah, which will contribute to improving and enriching pilgrims’ experience in the Kingdom as well as achieve one of the main goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” Dr. Mashat said during a press statement at GITEX 2019.
“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in accordance with the instructions and guidance of the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammad Salih Bentin, has made many strategic partnerships with the private sector to improve the quality of services and the development of ‘Smart Hajj’ solutions, including the signing of memorandums of understanding last year with SAP in the field of technology, digital infrastructure, cloud computing, geospatial cloud computing platforms, Internet of Things, and smart cards to improve services,” he said.
Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said: “Our Smart Hajj ensures that millions of pilgrims from around the world are transported quickly, easily and safely to religious sites on set schedules.
“The successful digital transformation allows real-time insights to optimize travel and crowd experiences and during our second phase of Smart Hajj we will roll-out predictive modeling and simulation for millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.”
The “Smart Hajj” captures in real time pilgrims using the Internet of Things, geospatial and camera analytics, along with data from the pilgrim experience mobile feedback platform.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is one of the participants in GITEX 2019, an annual technological event in Dubai. The ministry is showcasing its latest technologies in serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and enriching their experience in Saudi Arabia.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Health Ministry treats 649,690 Hajj pilgrims

Time: August 24, 2019  

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The number of participants in serving pilgrims this year reached 30,000 employees of the Ministry of Health. (SPA)
  • For the first time this year, the ministry used robotic technology for medical consultations, which gave hospitals in Mina remote access to consultants in micro specialties

RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has revealed specialized services provided by its hospitals and health centers in Makkah, Madinah and holy sites for pilgrims during Hajj.
The ministry said that the number of pilgrims who received treatment in hospitals and health centers reached 649,690.
The number of participants in serving pilgrims this year reached 30,000 employees of the Ministry of Health, while 25 hospitals were prepared in Makkah and Madinah, with a total capacity of 5,000 beds.
For the first time this year, the ministry used robotic technology for medical consultations, which gave hospitals in Mina remote access to consultants in micro specialties.

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Sudanese pilgrims thank king for Hajj hosting

Time: August 19, 2019  

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The program, which was implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, invited 1,000 pilgrims from Sudan to perform Hajj. (SPA)
  • The worshippers said that the hosting reflects King Salman’s appreciation for their sacrifices in defending their Yemeni brothers against Iranian-backed Houthi militias

MAKKAH: Sudanese pilgrims who came as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah thanked King Salman for hosting them.
The program, which was implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, invited 1,000 pilgrims from Sudan to perform Hajj.
Of them, 500 came from the Sudanese Army and those belonging to the families of fallen Sudanese troops who fought with the Arab coalition forces to support the legitimate government in Yemen.
The worshippers said that the hosting reflects King Salman’s appreciation for their sacrifices in defending their Yemeni brothers against Iranian-backed Houthi militias, that violated all international laws. They said that the kind gesture represents the historical relations and unrivaled support shown to Sudan by Saudi Arabia.

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KSA transports 43,000 pilgrims free of charge from Mina to Grand Mosque

Time: August 18, 2019  

The service of transporting pilgrims was implemented under the governor of Makkah, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, to provide best facilities. (SPA)
  • The first route is dedicated to pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, America, Australia and the Southeast Asia Foundation

MAKKAH: For the first time during this year’s Hajj season, 43,000 pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, America and Australia were transported free of charge from Mina to the Grand Mosque to perform Tawaf Al-Ifadah.
Adel Qari, the supervisor of the transport sector at the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkey Muslims of Europe, America and Australia, said that this was part of preparations for future expansion and development of this experiment. Coordination can then be done in advance for the establishment of stops, the use of distinctive buses, and the employment of the largest number of them.
Qari told Arab News that the service of transporting pilgrims from Mina to the Grand Mosque during the Days of Tashreeq was implemented under the governor of Makkah, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who directed the Supreme Commission for Transport Control to implement the service on four dedicated routes.

FASTFACT

43,000 pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, America and Australia were transported within 30 hours — between 1 p.m. on Dul Hijjah 10 (Aug. 11) and 7 p.m. on Dul Hijjah 11 (Aug. 12) — on 150 buses, which carried out successive trips from their camps in Mina to Jroul Station north of the Grand Mosque.

“The first route is dedicated to pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, America, Australia and the Southeast Asia Foundation. The second route starts from the Jamarat facility, passes through the Grand Mosque and ends at Talaat Sidqi Street. The third route starts from the end of the Jamarat facility, passes through the Grand Mosque and ends at Al-Shisha district. The fourth route runs from the King Khalid Bridge to the Grand Mosque,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince congratulate interior minister on Eid Al-Adha

Time: August 17, 2019  

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent cables to the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif congratulating him on Eid Al-Adha. (SPA)
  • Around 2.5 million pilgrims performed the Hajj this year
  • Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated by Muslims across the world who are not performing Hajj, began on Sunday Aug. 11, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent cables to the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif congratulating him on Eid Al-Adha and the success of Hajj 2019.
They also thanked Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif for his cables congratulating them on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
Previously, the interior minister had thanked the king for taking care of Hajj pilgrims and for providing them with all the facilities and services that they needed.
Around 2.5 million pilgrims performed the Hajj this year and all the measures put in place by authorities and agencies were successful, he added.
Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated by Muslims across the world who are not performing Hajj, began on Sunday Aug. 11, 2019.

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OIC chief praises Saudi leadership on Hajj success

Time: August 16, 2019  

OIC Secretary-General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen. (AFP)

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, congratulated the leadership, government and people of Saudi Arabia on the success of this year’s Hajj season.
He expressed thanks for the services and facilities provided to pilgrims from their arrival in the holy sites until their return to their countries.
Meanwhile, Arab Islamic affairs and information ministers and heads of pilgrims affairs offices, who led their counties’ Hajj missions, said that this year’s Hajj season was free from any difficulties and praised the cooperation among all bodies working during Hajj days.

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UK parliamentary group praises Hajj facilities

Time: August 16, 2019

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From left: British Consul-General Seif Usher, Yasmin Qureshi, MP, and Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis. (Photo/Supplied)
  • The Kingdom welcomed about 26,000 British pilgrims this year
  • More than 100,000 pilgrims traveled from the UK to perform Umrah

JEDDAH: The head of a British parliamentary group praised Saudi authorities for their efforts in ensuring another successful Hajj season. The Kingdom welcomed about 26,000 British pilgrims this year, many of them first-timers. In addition, more than 100,000 pilgrims traveled from the UK to perform Umrah.

MP Yasmin Qureshi, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah, was among the British Hajj pilgrims.

“I would like to thank the Saudi government for their logistics and preparations for Hajj, which has allowed British pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage with significant ease,” she said.

“At the Hajj Symposium, I had the opportunity to meet the Deputy Minister for Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan (an undersecretary at the ministry), who shared with us the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans. They are hoping to increase the number of pilgrims and enhance their experience. The number of Britons who attended Hajj is a promising sign of their future success.

“We look forward to developing close cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UK.”

British tour operators and pilgrims reported great improvements at Hajj this year, including an immigration process lasting less than five minutes and a journey to Makkah that took only a few hours.

“I was proud to receive the first group of Hajj pilgrims (from Britain) on arrival at Jeddah airport last month,” said British Consul-General Seif Usher. “During the course of Hajj, I have had the privilege of meeting pilgrims from across the United Kingdom. Their commitment to fulfilling this most important of religious undertakings in Islam, and especially during the high temperatures of August, has been an inspiration.”

Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis, also commended King Salman and the Saudi government for developing a range of services that ease and improve the Hajj experience.

“We are witnessing a transformation in the delivery of services for Hajj, and we are adapting by working with licensed Hajj organizers and local Saudi agencies to deliver support for British pilgrims,” he said.

“Our dedicated Hajj Team has been moving with the tour groups and pilgrims throughout Hajj and supporting them as required, giving them reassurance during this enduring journey of faith.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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US ambassador praises Saudi Arabia for Hajj hospitality

Time: August 15, 2019  

US Ambassador John Abizaid

RIYADH: The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid has praised the Kingdom’s hospitality during this year’s Hajj season, saying the nation’s generosity was “truly on display for the world to see.”

Abizaid expressed his thanks and appreciation to the country’s leadership for their dedication in providing care and services to pilgrims.

“On behalf of the United States Mission to Saudi Arabia I would like to extend our best wishes to all Muslims in Saudi Arabia and around the world who are celebrating Eid-Al-Adha,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“I would also like to express our thanks to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin and Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh for welcoming the thousands of American Muslims participating in this year’s pilgrimage.”

Abizaid also thanked locals for their hospitality toward Muslims from the US and around the world. “Saudi generosity is truly on display for the world to see during this special time of year,” he added.

The ambassador signed off with an Eid greeting.

He was nominated to the post last November and the US Senate confirmed his appointment in April, arriving in Saudi Arabia a month later.

Abizaid retired from the United States Army in 2007.  He had a 34-year military career, rising from infantry platoon leader to four-star general, and became the longest-serving commander of United States Central Command.

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Saudi Arabia praised for successful Hajj season

Time: August 13, 2019  

The General Authority for Statistics said that the number of male pilgrims who performed Hajj this year reached 1,385,234, while the number of female pilgrims was 1,104,172. (SPA)
  • Chechnya President Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov extended his congratulations to the king and crown prince on Eid Al-Adha

MINA: King Salman received a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Erdogan also lauded the success of Saudia Arabia’s Hajj plans, praising the efforts under the king’s leadership to facilitate the annual pilgrimage for millions of Muslims.
King Salman said the Kingdom would do everything it could so that pilgrims could perform their rituals with ease, security and safety.
Chechnya President Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov also extended his congratulations to the king and crown prince on Eid Al-Adha.
He praised Saudi Arabia for its achievements and services at the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, stressing that these efforts were appreciated and welcomed by all Muslims.
He said the success of the Hajj was a message to anyone doubting the Kingdom’s leading role in the service of the Two Holy Mosques, calling on all Muslims to support Saudi Arabia in the challenges it faced.
The secretary-general of the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization, Dr. Saleh bin Hamad Al-Tuwaijri, also congratulated King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal on the success of this year’s Hajj season.
Al-Tuwaijri praised the Kingdom’s massive development projects, which are aimed at serving pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques.
Egypt’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Omar Marwan expressed his appreciation for the king and crown prince’s services to Hajj. He said that the good planning and wealth of experience among Saudi authorities and agencies meant that pilgrims were able to move between sites smoothly, as well as perform their Hajj rituals with ease.
The chairman of the African Scholars Forum, Sheikh Mohammed Alhafiz Alnahawi, remarked on the development of services provided to pilgrims in Makkah, the holy sites and Madinah.

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Saudi ‘White Vests’ set out to help pilgrims

Time: August 12, 2019  

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Video grab of White Vests volunteers in action.
  • “White Vests” is an umbrella organization of volunteer groups, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development

JEDDAH: A Saudi youth tradition of volunteering to help Hajj pilgrims complete their journey has been strengthened this year through a special government initiative.

The White Vests, an umbrella group covering a range of volunteering sectors, was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Many volunteer groups play a crucial role in helping pilgrims, offering medical assistance, safety advice and general guidance.

The Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association joined forces with the White Vests this year, complementing the efforts of government entities involved in Hajj season, such as the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Health and the Muslim World League.

The Twitter account @SaudiNVG has gained over 20,000 followers since joining the platform in January with a message for volunteers from around the Kingdom.

In a video posted by @SaudiNVG, orthopaedic surgeon and consultant Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nawas, a White Vests Hajj volunteer, said: “In Makkah, we are all servants to the guests of Allah, and we learn from them, and communicate with them with the right Islamic way of thinking. And we build with them a cultural bridge through technology.”

Boy scout Essam Al-Shaman, 20, a student at the University of Tabuk, has been a Hajj volunteer for seven years.

“I volunteered for the Ministry of Education for five years, and this is my second year volunteering with the university,” he told Arab News.

“I enjoy volunteering because of all the kind prayers I receive from pilgrims. It is a humanitarian service. I would like to pursue what I grew up doing and I hope to reach the level of scout commander — and hopefully I will continue to volunteer to help pilgrims every year,” he said.

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