728 x 90

Hajj amid COVID-19: Saudi Arabia implements smart cards for virus-free pilgrimage

Hajj amid COVID-19: Saudi Arabia implements smart cards for virus-free pilgrimage

During this year’s Hajj, Saudi Arabian authorities rolled out electronic ‘Hajj cards’ that allowed pilgrims contactless access to religious sites, accommodation, and transportation. For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page. The Hajj cards aimed to “to ensure the safety and health of pilgrims, and the safety of personnel working in the service of pilgrims,”

During this year’s Hajj, Saudi Arabian authorities rolled out electronic ‘Hajj cards’ that allowed pilgrims contactless access to religious sites, accommodation, and transportation.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

The Hajj cards aimed to “to ensure the safety and health of pilgrims, and the safety of personnel working in the service of pilgrims,” King Salman bin Abdulaziz said during his speech on the first day of Eid al-Adha.

The annual pilgrimage – seen as a rite for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to take part in it – usually welcomes millions of Muslims from around the world.

Crowding, which has resulted in deaths before, had always been a concern for the authorities in the past.

A Saudi member of staff scans a pilgrim’s hajj card, allowing contactless access to religious sites, accommodation and transport, at a reception centre in Mecca on July 18, 2021. (AFP)

For the past two years, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kingdom limited the number of attendees allowed to perform Hajj to only 60,000 citizens and residents in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

The Hajj cards will allow “all transactions to be contactless,” and is expected to be developed into a virtual wallet as well for future pilgrimages, the Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Amro al-Maddah, said.

The pilgrims were each given a smart card in either green, red, yellow, or blue. The colors correspond to markings on the ground that lead the pilgrims throughout the different stages of the Hajj, as well as indicate which guide they must follow.

A guide leads Muslims as they begin the Hajj ritual on July 17, 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

A guide leads Muslims as they begin the Hajj ritual on July 17, 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

The cards also contain basic information about each pilgrim, including: their registration number, exact location of their accommodation, mobile phone number, and the ID number of their guide.

“Things were completely different before. We got lost on our way for prayers or we arrived late… all of our efforts were in vain,” Ahmed Achour, an Egyptian pharmacist living in Jeddah, told AFP.

Robots were also set up around the Kaaba to hand out bottled Zamzam water to pilgrims and personnel.

“Bottled Zamzam water is much better. There are fewer people and there’s no need to queue,” Pakistani-American Aneela, 37, told AFP.

Egyptian pilgrim Siam said the new technologies meant the Hajj was “keeping up with the times.”

(With AFP)

Read more:

Female pilgrims perform Hajj without male guardians as part of new reforms

In pictures: Heartwarming scenes of pilgrims performing Hajj amid COVID-19

No COVID-19 cases among Hajj pilgrims: Saudi Arabia’s health ministry

Mo
ADMINISTRATOR
PROFILE

Posts Carousel

Latest Posts

Top Authors

  • Mo
    ADMINISTRATOR

Most Commented

Featured Videos