Successful trial of Hajj Smart ID means more pilgrims to receive cards next year

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A pilot of the newly introduced Hajj Smart ID during this year’s Muslim pilgrimage was praised by a select few who tested it, who said that the card acts as a form of identification, credit card, hotel room key, and guide aiming to ease the pilgrimage for millions of Muslims in Mecca.

“The Hajj Smart ID will contain the pilgrim’s information and documentation instead of them having to carry official documents, like their passport,” said Faisal al-Abdulkareem, a Saudi media personality, in a video shared on Twitter by the Saudi minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten.

The card, which was used by 150 pilgrims during this year’s Hajj, is powered by a battery that runs for up to two years, al-Abdulkareem explained in the video. He added that it also stores each pilgrim’s health information.

“By next year, these cards will be distributed in pilgrims’ home countries,” he added.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also developed a smartphone app for smart ID services. These include guiding pilgrims to different holy sites in Mecca and identifying crowd behavior in their current location, said Tariq al-Jabri, an information technology consultant at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, during an interview with al-Abdulkareem in the video.

In addition to the app, al-Abdulkarem said that there are approximately 3,000 screens at holy sites in Mecca to help pilgrims with directions as well.

Hisham Hammami, who supervises information technology at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said the goal of the Hajj Smart ID is to serve pilgrims.

The card will be also be distributed among all Hajj pilgrims by next year, according to the video.

More than 2.3 million people performed the Islamic pilgrimage this year in Mecca. The Kingdom issued more than 1.8 million electronic visas for the 2019 Hajj season, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced earlier.

Earlier this month, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash lauded Saudi Arabia’s management of Hajj, calling it a remarkable success.

“The remarkable success of Saudi Arabia in the management of Hajj and the influential humanitarian scenes of the Saudi teams in the service of pilgrims is a testimony of which every Muslim is proud,” Gargash said.

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