- Ministry of Hajj and Umrah signs MoU with technology leader SAP to develop cloud-based solutions
- In a separate ceremony, the Ministry also signed an MoU with leading multinational Cisco to enhance the Ministry’s digital infrastructure
- Together the MoUs will help develop cloud-based solutions and enhance digital infrastructure to transform the pilgrim experience supporting crowd management, travel and transportation
- Government IT cost savings will be in the order of 25% to 50%
Riyadh, 24th October: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that it had signed two MoUs to enhance its digital capabilities around the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. The agreements were signed on the sidelines of the Oct 23-25 Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.
An agreement was signed with German-based technology multinational, SAP, to develop innovative cloud technologies to transform the operations required to host millions of pilgrims every year. H.E. Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, signed the MoU with Steve Tzikakis, President EMEA South, SAP.
In a separate ceremony, H.E. Dr. Benten signed an MoU with Salman Faqeeh, Managing Director, Cisco Saudi Arabia. Cisco will help to enhance the Ministry’s digital infrastructure and services.
Under the digital-transformation MoUs, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will explore the use of a cloud-based digital platform to unify all pilgrim-related data. By using technology in collaboration with hundreds of travel agencies worldwide, the Ministry will gain real-time insights into the travel experience of pilgrims. This will allow the Ministry to improve crowd management and transport and logistics, while ensuring the health and safety of pilgrims at all times.
H.E. Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, commented: “The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s digital transformation is aligned with our vision of making the pilgrims’ journey easy and predictable within an environment of peace and tranquility. As the number of pilgrims on Hajj and Umrah grows steadily, we can easily scale up on the cloud to enhance our operations. This helps improve the effectiveness of both our staff and infrastructure in order to optimize travel experiences for all.”
It is anticipated that the potential government IT cost-saving from moving operations to the cloud will be 25% to 50%. This will be achieved by reducing hardware costs and exploiting synergies with existing cloud-based services.
Khaled Alsaleh, Managing Director, SAP Saudi Arabia, said: “”By using our real-time analytics and Internet of Things solutions in the cloud, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah can enhance travel processes, optimize transportation routes, and support digital payments for the more than 2 million pilgrims from 168 countries who arrive in the Holy City of Makkah each year. We are pleased to play an important role in supporting the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in providing a peaceful, more enjoyable, safe travel and visit experience.”
The announcement follows SAP’s commitment earlier this year to invest SAR 285 million (US$ 76 million) over four years to create a digital hub that supports the digital transformation of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
Salman Faqeeh, Managing Director, Cisco Saudi Arabia, said: “We are delighted to sign this MoU with the Ministry of Hajj and we collectively are keen to serve the Kingdom as well as the pilgrims coming to perform Hajj and Umrah. Cisco will work closely to ensure that we are providing solutions and contributing into solutions that serve for crowd management, for utilizing analytics, Artificial Intelligence as well as safety and security.
“So utilizing technology to make a real transformation in the experience of people coming to perform Hajj and Umrah the minute they start their journey coming to Saudi Arabia all the way until they go back is an honor to all of us.”
The investment came under the banner of a new initiative “INVEST SAUDI”. With the advent of this program the Kingdom’s investment attraction and promotion plans are witnessing an accelerated progress. INVEST SAUDI forms part of the National Transformation Plan. The aims are to consolidate efforts in identifying, developing and marketing the vast opportunities across sectors that Saudi Arabia has to offer for multi-national, regional and local investors.
The Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a religious obligation which every adult Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. It is one of the world’s largest annual religious journeys, with more than two million pilgrims performing the ritual in 2018.