20230627 hajj 2023
Flying taxis and drones will enhance the overall pilgrimage experience at the Hajj in 2024. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj season will have a unique opportunity to utilise flying taxis and drones for transportation, Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics, Saleh Al Jasser announced.

Speaking at a press briefing after welcoming the first batch of foreign pilgrims at Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina, Al Jasser said that these cutting-edge modes of transport, including taxi applications, aim to enhance the overall pilgrimage experience.

Al Jasser highlighted that several specialised companies in the transportation sector are in a race to provide the best means of transport in the coming years. He emphasised the importance of understanding these technologies and creating a suitable environment for their operation during the Hajj season.

Al Jasser stressed that Saudi Arabia is committed to being at the forefront of utilising such services, noting that the Hajj season will witness the largest deployment of these advanced transportation modes.

Last year, Al Jasser had announced plans to test flying taxis during future Hajj seasons. Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, previously unveiled its intention to operate flying taxis to transport Hajj pilgrims between King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and hotels in Mecca. The airline aims to procure approximately 100 aircraft to facilitate this service.

In January, Abdullah Al Shahrani, director of corporate communications and spokesman for the Saudia Group, revealed preparations to introduce air taxis as a new mode of transportation during the Hajj season. The airline has entered into a contract to purchase 100 Lilium jets, German electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, for transportation between Jeddah airport and airstrips in Makkah hotels near the Grand Mosque and other holy sites.

Al Shahrani highlighted that the Lilium aircraft operate entirely on electric power, making them environmentally friendly. Once the necessary arrangements are completed, these planes will transport pilgrims from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to airstrips near the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.