Technology Infuses Ancient Haj Rites Amid Global Pandemic – Kashmir Observer


Riyadh- The huge white marble flooring surrounding Islam’s holiest website, the Holy Kaaba in Makkah, would usually be full of tons of of hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world the day earlier than the Haj.

On Tuesday, nevertheless, only some officers and employees placing final minute preparations in place had been seen on the Grand Mosque housing the Kaaba.

In place of the two.5 million pilgrims who preformed the Haj final yr, solely a really restricted variety of devoted wherever from 1,000 to 10,000 are being allowed to participate in what is essentially a symbolic pilgrimage amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The choose few accredited for this yr’s Haj have been examined for the virus and are self-isolating in lodge rooms in Makkah, the place they may expertise an historical pilgrimage, albeit tailor-made this yr for a modern-day international pandemic.

Amr Al-Maddah, the chief planning officer on the Ministry of Haj, helps incorporate the newest expertise into the pilgrimage corresponding to thermal scanners and digital ID playing cards.

“Right now, technology is our black horse to developing the whole Haj journey,” mentioned Al-Maddah, an electronics engineer with a PhD in robotics and synthetic intelligence.

“We are taking every step possible to make sure that this Haj will end with zero cases of Covid-19 and also with zero deaths in our total Haj numbers,” he advised The Associated Press.

Before pilgrims may even enter Makkah, they got wristbands by the Saudi well being ministry to watch their actions and make sure the necessary quarantine was noticed. Thermal scanners are getting used throughout the holy website to watch folks’s temperatures.

Each pilgrim is assigned to a bunch of round 20 others. A gaggle chief will information them all through the Haj to every vacation spot at a specified time, to keep away from crowding in locations just like the Grand Mosque, the place the pilgrims circle the Kaaba and comply with a path traveled by the Prophet Abraham’s spouse, who Muslims consider ran between two hills looking for water for her dying son.

While on Mount Arafat, the place the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his ultimate sermon practically 1,400 years in the past and the place pilgrims will spend Thursday in deep prayer and repentance, pilgrims can be carrying high-tech ID playing cards that connect with an utility on their telephones.

The card and app permits the federal government to simply monitor the pilgrims, and provides them a technique to attain out to their group chief and make particular meal requests.

The card shops the pilgrims’ private data, well being standing, residence and different Haj-related particulars. In the longer term, Al-Maddah mentioned the playing cards can be fitted with a location tracker to comply with particular person pilgrims’ actions. The tracker can be managed by a management room, and can be utilized as a pay card instead of money.

Pilgrims have additionally been given particular apparel to put on throughout the Haj laced with silver nano expertise that helps kill micro organism and makes garments water resistant.

Al-Maddah mentioned the measure is a precaution, even when it might have an effect on virtually nothing or has a minimal probability of enhancing well being situations.

It’s all a part of the particular remedy pilgrims are receiving this yr. Other perks corresponding to meals, lodge lodging, transportation and healthcare is paid for by the Saudi authorities. Typically, the Haj can value hundreds of {dollars} for pilgrims who save for a lifetime for the journey.

This yr marks the primary time in practically a century of Saudi rule over Makkah that folks from exterior the dominion is not going to participate within the five-day Haj, which is a as soon as in a lifetime requirement of Muslims.

Al-Maddah, who sits on the Haj planning committee, mentioned permitting folks to enter Saudi Arabia from overseas would have posed a worldwide well being danger.

Two thirds of pilgrims this yr are foreigners already residing in Saudi Arabia from among the many 160 completely different nationalities that may have usually been represented on the Haj. The different one third are Saudi safety personnel and medical employees.

All pilgrims needed to be between the ages of 20 and 50 with no terminal sicknesses and displaying no signs of the coronavirus.

Each yr, the Haj poses an enormous logistical problem for Saudi authorities. As not too long ago as 2015, a stampede killed greater than 2,400 folks.

Crowd management measures require using hundreds of cameras and safety officers to coordinate the actions of the greater than 2.5 million folks densely packed into slender streets, walkways and paths.

Facial recognition expertise and different high-tech safety methods need to be superior sufficient to decipher between pilgrims, wearing practically an identical terry white fabric clothes.

“For us, safety comes first,” Al-Maddah mentioned. “We are employing technology to make sure that these services and these precautions are met and delivered in the highest standard.”


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