Saudi Arabia a world leader in crowd management, use of technology in serving Hajj pilgrims

Monday, July 12, 2021

RIYADH: Following many successful achievements and through implementing expansion projects, Saudi Arabia has become a world leader in the management of crowds that perform Hajj every year.

However, this year the Kingdom has had to reduce the number of pilgrims due to coronavirus precautionary measures to protect their health and safety.

From early on, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah harnessed all its material and human energies, and launched its operational plan for this year’s Hajj season, which includes a package of services that support electronic applications and technical works to facilitate the pilgrim’s journey.

The ministry has also focused on improving services by raising the efficiency of performance and proficiency, which contributes to procedures running smoothly and completed quickly and with high accuracy.

The ministry has also completed all projects required for transporting pilgrims in order to improve the services and guarantee the rights of all parties. In a pioneering step, it has also implemented the electronic delivery of housing camps to pilgrims in the Holy Sites, and electronic linkage with the concerned authorities to follow up on reports and malfunctions in the camps, in addition to launching the pre-prepared meals project in cooperation with catering providers, as this would ensure a healthy environment for pilgrims under the exceptional circumstances which the Hajj pilgrimage is being performed this year.

In order to advance services to pilgrims, the ministry has enabled Hajj agencies to transform into shareholding companies, as part of their strategies to achieve the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by developing the Hajj and Umrah system, and move the serving of pilgrims to a specialized industry that is provided with professionalism.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also developed Hajj service agencies, with the aim of improving the services provided to pilgrims using the latest technology and employing human efforts and technical capabilities to achieve this.

The Kingdom decided to limit the number of pilgrims this year to 60,000 due to coronavirus pandemic as part of its keenness to continue to provide Hajj for pilgrims.

The ministry called on specialized institutions related to serving pilgrims to upgrade the skills of field service workers, to ensure they provide distinguished services to pilgrims, by adopting distinct and effective training programs.

The Ministry’s Vision Realization Office has worked hard to raise the level of coordination with supporting entities, and to provide specialized support to enhance the quality and harmonization of initiatives and projects, in light of the awareness of all employees of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of the importance of serving the pilgrims, as an approach that the Kingdom has been following since its establishment.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has also launched the electronic portal for domestic pilgrims to book and purchase packages for the Hajj season, as well as the introduction of the “Hajj smart card” that aims to link operations and services, which won the 12th Makkah Excellence Award. The card works using “near field communication technology” (NFC) that reads the card through self-service devices available in the holy sites, and includes many features, such as guiding pilgrims to their accommodation, controlling access to various facilities, and limiting illegal Hajj.

Another technical project employed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is the “electronic bracelet” that shows the identity of pilgrims and all their official data, in addition to the information included from the ministry’s website, the call center, and links to all partners in the Hajj and Umrah system.

The ministry also launched the “Smart Hajj Platform” and the “Service Monitoring” initiative to raise the level of accommodation services with the aim of providing additional spaces for pilgrims and regulate high-frequency transport routes.

The “Tafweej” program was launched dedicated to crowd management through an electronic system for preparing and monitoring the grouping dispatch plan, in addition to Increasing the absorptive capacity, building camps equipped with various services, and the “electronic system for the holy sites” initiative.