KAUST Teams Up With Makkah Cultural Forum, Ministry Of Hajj And Umrah, And Doyof Al Rahman Program For Inaugural KAUST Challenge

The KAUST Challenge is aimed at improving the Hajj and Umrah experience of pilgrims across the world, as well as paving the path to making Makkah a smart city.

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is partnering up partners Makkah Cultural Forum, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Doyof Al Rahman Program (DARP) for the KAUST Challenge: Ideas And Solutions for Hajj and Umrah 2020. Aligned with Saudi Arabia’s priorities and Vision 2030, the KAUST Challenge is aimed at improving the Hajj and Umrah experience of pilgrims across the world, as well as paving the path to making Makkah a smart city.

KAUST
KAUST campus

The initiative is seeking to crowdsource ideas and solutions from local and international talent to propose scientific and tech-based ideas under its three themes: healthcare, mobility and crowd management. Themes were chosen based on recent research that showcased key priorities for today’s pilgrims. Healthcare focuses on stepping up preventing measures for the health and well-being of all pilgrims, an issue that is prevalent due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus. Also, the mobility theme looks to ensure accessibility to public and private transportation, and the crowd management theme delves to enhance infrastructure and meet capacity requirements for large crowds.

Source: KAUST

As strategic partners, a representative from Makkah Cultural Forum, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and DARP will sit on the independent jury to examine submission to choose the winning ideas and solutions for each theme. With over 1,300 participants, participants are vying to compete to win for the grand prize of SAR1 million (US$260,000) in cash and other prizes.

In a release, Najah Ashry, Vice President for Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, notes how the partnerships with the three KSA entities boosts the outcome of the KAUST Challenge, “We are confident that their expertise will support the Challenge in addressing national priorities of better serving the increasing number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and improving their experiences in the two holy cities.” He continues, “We are excited by the possibilities that crowdsourcing can provide– hi-tech advances that might spur creative ideas and quickly assist in solving old and new challenges that Hajj and Umrah pilgrims face.”

The KAUST Challenge, powered by Accenture, will reveal its winners on its virtual finale, set to take place on an immersive platform in late February 2021.

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