Experts predict growing number of ‘digital pilgrims’ as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Friday, June 18, 2021

JEDDAH: The growing role of digitization in media, advertising and services was the focus of a dialogue session held on Friday as part of the Makkah Region Digital Projects Exhibition.

Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, Saudi deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah; Esam Al-Wagait, director of Saudi Arabia’s National Information Center; and Tony Chan, president of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, were among speakers during the session.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, also attended the session.

Mashat said that this year’s Hajj will witness a qualitative leap in the use of smart cards, with pilgrims’ journeys digitized from start to finish.

So far more than 450,000 requests have made through the electronic portal launched a few days ago, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s communications commission has worked to serve the pilgrims through digital systems before their arrival in the Kingdom.

Mashat said that the Ministry of Hajj is using smart cards and surveillance cameras to serve pilgrims, while artificial intelligence will increase surveillance camera efficiency and enhance security operations.

Chan said that the digital revolution will lead the economy and contribute to the operation of smart cities.

To achieve this, digital infrastructure must be flexible, secure and focused on people since sustainability is a necessity for future smart cities, he added.