King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), alongside its strategic partners – the Makkah Cultural Forum, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Doyof Al Rahman Program (DARP) – today confirmed that 1,306 applications from 34 countries were submitted to the first edition of KAUST Challenge – Ideas and Solutions for Hajj and Umrah. The comprehensive multi-stage selection process, lasting over a month, resulted in shortlisting of 33 finalists.
KAUST also announced that six sponsors were selected for the Challenge. They include Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) for the healthcare theme, SAUDIA (formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines) and Saudi Railway Company (SAR) for the mobility theme, and Saudi Ground Services (SGS) for the crowd management theme. Microsoft was selected as the technology sponsor and Arab News as the media sponsor.
In line with Saudi Arabia’s national priorities and the objectives of Vision 2030, the first edition of the KAUST Challenge focused on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world and on advancing efforts to make Makkah a smart city. The Challenge focused on three themes – healthcare, mobility, and crowd management, which were selected after extensive research on the most pressing pain points of Hajj & Umrah pilgrims. Eleven finalists from each theme were selected for the finalist pool.
An expert panel of 30+ judges, drawn from KAUST, DARP, and the sponsors, evaluated the ideas and solutions from the 33 shortlisted finalists to select the winners.
The winners, who stand a chance to receive up to SAR 1.3 million in cash and other prizes, will be announced at the award ceremony to be held on 28th March 2021 at the Emarah Foyer in Jeddah. His Royal Highness Prince Khalid AlFaisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of Makkah, along with Dr. Tony F Chan, President of KAUST and Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President for Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, will be present at the award ceremony to award the winners.
By Waleed Basyouni (Ph.D) Vice-President AlMaghrib Institute In the Hajj of…