Wednesday July 24, 2024

Saudi Arabia all set for flying taxis, drones' trials for Hajj pilgrims this year

Modern modes of commuting to be made permanent part of Hajj facilitation initiatives by Saudi Arabia

May 11, 2024
First air taxi test flight in Saudi Arabia. — Screen grab/YouTube/@GulfNewsVideo
First air taxi test flight in Saudi Arabia. — Screen grab/YouTube/@GulfNewsVideo

For the first time, Saudi Arabia is going to test flying taxis and drones for facilitating pilgrims arriving from across the globe on a sacred journey of Hajj this year.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh al-Jasser said: “Flying taxis and drones will undergo testing during this year’s Hajj season to ensure seamless operations and provide our guests with maximum comfort during their stay here.”

In an interview with Al Arabiya, a state-owned international Arabic news television channel, Saleh announced the use of flying taxis and drones. He said that there was an intense competition going on among various transportation companies "to provide a practical product in the upcoming years".

He emphasised that the authorities were thoroughly examining its integration as a permanent aspect of future facilitation initiatives.

As this sector witnessed gradual expansion, the minister said, it was vital for the ministry to introduce these new technologies and determine the optimal method for their incorporation, for the benefits of the pilgrims.

“Indeed, it’s crucial for us to take the lead, ensuring that we fully capitalise on the potential of these innovative services, and that the Hajj season derives the utmost benefits from them,” stressed the minister.

Pakistan’s Religious Ministry’s spokesperson Muhammad Umar praised Saudi authorities over the initiative and said: “Saudi Arabia’s commitment to modernising the pilgrimage experience through innovative technology demonstrates their dedication to ensuring pilgrims’ comfort and convenience.”

“I have witnessed firsthand the dedication and efforts of the Saudi government in facilitating the sacred journey of millions of pilgrims.

“Through initiatives such as the Hajj Portal and Nusuk app, introduced especially after the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saudi government has shown a commitment to modernise and streamline the pilgrimage experience," he added.

He said that Saudi proactive measures, including pre-booking of Riazal Jannah, implementation of biometric e-visas, and the development of a virtual Hajj app, reflected their dedication to ensuring the comfort and convenience of pilgrims.

The Pakistani official further stated that the two sides could work towards making the Hajj journey a truly transformative and spiritually fulfilling experience for all who embark on this sacred pilgrimage, through collaborative efforts and a shared commitment to serving the pilgrims.

Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, stands as the annual pilgrimage to the sacred city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

Typically occurring between the 8th and 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah, millions of Muslims from across the globe converge in Makkah to fulfill this sacred obligation.

This year, the anticipated start of the Hajj season is June 14th. Beyond the Hajj pilgrimage, pilgrims frequently visit the holy sites in Saudi Arabia throughout the year, particularly in large numbers during the revered month of Ramadan, for Umrah and are extended maximum facilitation by the Saudi authorities.