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Pilgrims cast pebbles at a symbolic anti-devil ritual in Mina. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has expanded a “smart ID” service for this year’s Haj pilgrims with the aim of exposing illegal pilgrims and facilitating the holy journey for the approved pilgrims.

“This step is part of the strategic plans of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah for digital transition,” the ministry’s supervisor-general for planning and development Omar Al Madah said.

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The “smart ID” service was launched last year when it was implemented on a small scale.

It contains pilgrims’ personal, medical and residency data, including the number of the group of which the pilgrim is a member and the number of the bus carrying him/her during movements in the holy places and the number of his room.

“This ID allows those serving the pilgrim to know his Haj programme, assembling points and the departure dates,” Al Madah said, according to the Saudi news agency SPA.

“The smart ID also helps direct pilgrims to their housing in the holy places and their access to different facilities. Moreover, it helps limit irregular pilgrims,” he added.

Such an identification card, the official elaborated, has a barcode by virtue of which the Haj workers can read to get information about the holder.

Saudi Arabia is holding a scaled-down Haj this year, confining it to nationalities who are already residing in the kingdom with the aim of containing the spread of the new coronavirus.