Hajj 2023 Symposium: Self-driving buses to transport pilgrims

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Authorities at the Ritz Carlton showcased Hajj preparations and the services and facilities available for pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and at the holy sites, including self-driving buses.

The 47th symposium is happening under the title “Jurisprudence Facilitation in Hajj”. Other events have taken place in Makkah and Madinah.

“With this event we invite locals and residents to visit and learn about Saudi Arabia's initiatives,” said Abdullah Al Maghlouth, director general of the Centre for Government Communication.

Abdulfattah Mashat, Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, and Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, President of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, were at the exhibition, along with Hajj delegations.

Modern facilities

Self-driving buses will transport pilgrims from Arafah to Muzdalifah for the first time this Hajj season.

The vehicles will drive a specific route using artificial intelligence, cameras and sensors. Buses seat 11 people and have a top speed of 30kph.

A total of 400 service packages are on offer to more than a million pilgrims this year, with 20,000 buses deployed as Hajj returns to its pre-pandemic capacity.

Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, spoke at the event about the modern facilities and streamlined procedures for pilgrims.

Saudi Railways is stepping up its services on the Haramain Express route to provide more than 3,400 journeys to more than 1.5 million pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Saudi Arabia is deploying 32,000 health professionals at 14 health centres.

Technological advancements are a key part of Hajj, Mr Mashat said. He pointed to smart Hajj bracelets with each pilgrim's complete information and the Tafweej platform to map and manage crowd movements to avoid overcrowding, both being used this year.

At the exhibit in Jeddah, visitors could watch a black and white film of King Abdulaziz, founder of Saudi Arabia, and other recordings of early Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages.

A live embroidery session allowed visitors to learn about the Kiswa covering of the Kaaba at the heart of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Other stands showcase the Nusuk Hajj planning application and its numerous features, alongside new projects under way in the kingdom.


Source: https://www.thenationalnews.com/gulf-news/2023/06/22/hajj-2023-symposium-self-driving-buses-to-transport-pilgrims/