Grand Mosque sees growing use of robots in serving pilgrims

Thursday, July 15, 2021

MAKKAH — The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has intensified the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Grand Mosques as it prepares to receive pilgrims for annual Hajj rites amid strict COVID-19 precautionary measures.

The presidency is increasingly using robots for sterilization, epidemic control, and the distribution of blessed Zamzam water in the Grand Mosque, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Commenting on the growing use of the AI, the assistant director of technical and service affairs, Mansour Al-Mansoori, said that that the presidency as part of its comprehensive development plan 2024 is trying to keep pace with the Kingdom’s Vision (2030) by the use of modern technologies and artificial intelligence technology in the service of the Two Holy Mosques.

He further said the artificial intelligence is used in operating robots inside the Grand Mosque according to maps programmed through Google Map, covering all parts of the mosque, including the Mataf courtyard, Al-Masaa, and all its facilities.

Al-Mansoori pointed out that the presidency is actively seeking to benefit from the innovations and technology for providing the world-class and finest services.

For his part, the director of the artificial intelligence office at the presidency, Sinan Al-Turkistani, stated that the presidency has kept pace with the Kingdom's trend toward technical and digital development and its interest in AI technology by introducing an office specialized in data and artificial intelligence, which carries out data handling policies, studies, ideas and initiatives for the use of AI in the Two Holy Mosques.

He added that the office is keen to develop qualitative initiatives aimed at improving the experience of pilgrims while performing their rituals by studying and taking advantage of techniques for identifying languages by sound, image and heat.

It will employ the latest mobile automatic devices that are directly linked to central processing systems and smart databases, which in turn stores data and uses it in planning, operations management and proactive decision-making.