Riyadh: The Saudi authorities will launch wearable hi-tech smart cards as part of a programme to keep pilgrims safe and secure.
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah will supply 25,000 Haj pilgrims in Mina this year in an experimental phase to test the viability of the new system.
The hi-tech smart cards have been designed to store pilgrims’ personal information, health status, residence and Haj tour details.
"It is the experimental stage of a smart Haj initiative we are working on, and we will study to what extent it might be advantageous to the pilgrims,” said chief planning and strategy officer Dr Amr Al Maddah.
He said that the numbers will increase in the coming years to include more pilgrims in other areas.
The ministry is also issuing up to 200,000 pilgrims ID cards, which will have the same information storage technology but without the location tracking feature.
These cards are scannable, allowing Haj service providers to quickly identify pilgrims, access their medical history and establish what assistance they may need.
The cards will be complemented this year by a Smart Haj ID application, which offer the same features as the smart ID card, including tracking location, identifying crowded spots on the map, and the transport schedule.
The smart card and mobile app also enable the ministry to simulate and predict crowd behaviour during Haj, according to Arab News.