The pilgrimage was never merely about rites and rituals, for it has always involved science and progress, culture and intellection, and economics and humanities. Here we delve into Hajj as a civilizational ecosystem that speaks volumes on efforts, opportunities and prospects; past, present and future. Unveiling stories and tales of morals, values and meaning worthy of being heard by the world over in an attempt to raise awareness of this glorious timeless journey, the amazing people running it and those fortunate enough to embark on it .
Saudi Arabia, Muslims’ ultimate destination of reverence and worship, and the heart of all things Arab and Islamic, is tirelessly working to expand and provide opportunities for as many Muslims as possible to perform Hajj and Umrah and visit Mecca, Medina and holy sites. Not to mention religious, historical and cultural touristic sites, thus reflecting the honorable, bright and civilized image of the Kingdom’s efforts in service of all Muslims. Pursuant to the Kingdom's Vision 2030 programs and plans, the Kingdom had announced its intent on increasing the capacity for Hajj, Umrah and tourism visitors. The current figures have been doubled several times and will increase gradually over the next 10 to 15 years.
These quantitative expansions require across-the-board development of services, whether it be for airports, trains and ground transportation, or new construction of roads and bridges and of course enhancement in other service areas such as sources of food, water, treatment, housing and the like, thankfully the Kingdom has mega programs in progress for such developments and expansions. In short, the Kingdom will undoubtedly continue to do its level best in this regard.
One of the most pivotal themes that are constantly being worked on is organizational optimization of Hajj and Umrah through technology. The Kingdom has already fielded many technologies such pilgrims’ smart wrist bands, smart cards, electronic applications for translation and directions, to name but a few. This hi-tech realm is proving to be quite promising and can divided/viewed into two main areas:
1: Technologies such as the Internet and Wi-Fi, software programs such as Google Maps, applications such as translation from/to several languages, videos and traffic control sensors, and vehicle tracking devices (buses) and many other similar solutions.
2: Applications, which seem to be of paramount importance, elements such as "the Internet of Things" and "fifth-generation technologies" where you can dream and draft anything you want to do, and realize it in the simplest of ways through the Internet of Things and 5G technologies.
Here’s a thought to ponder in light of all of the abovementioned available technologies and applications; what if we were to imagine developing advanced applications -not to track, but to control movement and flow- of everyone (not by the minute but with each second) to and from everywhere while performing the timeless rituals of pilgrimage, that is, we simultaneously direct and monitor each pilgrim throughout the multitudes’ performance of all rites and rituals within the holy sites from Mina’s housing camps to buses and then to Arafa and Muzdalifah through to stone throwing all the way to Ka’bah circling and Safa/Marwa compassing, with every move carefully measured down to minutes, seconds even.
Question: Is it difficult for us to build a "simulation" hub in some of the world's largest hi-tech lab companies outfitted the globe’s finest programmers to carry out the task of mobilizing and organizing the pilgrims to perform Hajj over seven days?
Answer: There is no technical difficulty.
If the above I seriously considered, and we took to thinking outside the box (and any other box for that matter), this “technological based organizing” will provide us with ample additional space to accommodate larger numbers of pilgrims, especially if pilgrims are trained on this technological flow in their countries wek ahead of the Hajj season.
It takes but an idea to spark any change even if it seems far-reaching or difficult to implement. With the Kingdom's constant endeavors to improve and develop the Hajj system, we will soon, and I mean very soon, witness a ‘smart’ pilgrimage with excellence that exceeds all expectations and fulfills all aspirations, God willing.
- Barjas Albarjas