Saudi robot sterilise hajj covid mosque
A Saudi staff works on a smart sterilising robot at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's Mecca. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: A Saudi state agency in charge of Islam’s two holiest sites has introduced a number of artificial intelligence-based services in the Grand Mosque in Makkah frequented by millions of Muslim worshippers.

The smart services include robots for sterilisation, disinfection, guiding visitors and pilgrims about rituals and providing fatwas (religious edicts) on queries, an official has said.

“There is a possible addition of simultaneous interpretation of different world languages and remote communication with the scholars,” added Eng. Wesam bin Mohammed, the deputy chief for technical affairs, digital transformations and artificial intelligence at the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

He also referred to a three dimension-sensor robot used for giving away gifts to the worshippers.

“Modern technology, electronic platforms, digital apps and AI tools help in implementing the operation plan and meeting needs of worshippers in the Grand mosque while undertaking their rites by giving them smooth and easy access to services,” the official said.

He referred to the Digital Service Platform, a portal combining several e-services including those related to Itikaf (seclusion in the holy month of Ramadan), reservations for the fast-breaking banquets, filing reports and requesting assistants for the ritual encircling of the Holy Kaaba in the Grand Mosque.

The General Presidency for Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina said in a statement that it continues comprehensive development plans of services in both sites to provide an integrated service system meeting needs of worshippers during the month of Ramadan due to begin in less than two weeks.

Ramadan usually marks the peak season of Umrah or minor pilgrimage in the Grand Mosque.