Saudi Arabia will introduce electronic identification bracelets for all pilgrims to Mecca as part of a safety drive this year
As many as 2,070 people died when thousands of pilgrims converged on a walkway intersection near the Muslim holy city of Mecca last September, according to a Reuters count.
Containing personal and medical information, the bracelets will help authorities provide care and identify people, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Water-resistant and connected to GPS, the devices will also instruct worshippers on timings of prayers and a multi-lingual help desk to guide especially non-Arabic speaking pilgrims around the various rituals of the annual Islamic event.
Saudi Arabia oversees the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by more than two million Muslims from around the world. The hajj, world’s largest annual gathering of Muslims, has witnessed numerous deadly stampedes, fires and riots in the past with authorities having only limited ability to control the masses.
Nearly a thousand new surveillance cameras were installed last month at Mecca’s Grand Mosque and linked to control rooms staffed by special forces monitoring pilgrim movements for the event scheduled for August, Saudi Arabia’s newspapers reported.