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Saudi Arabia’s Hajj 2023 Expo Promises A High-Tech Pilgrimage

The Saudi Arabian government and private tech companies have shown off the latest solutions to help pilgrims enjoy a smooth experience during their journey.

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saudi arabia's hajj 2023 expo promises a high-tech pilgrimage

Hajj is one of Islam’s most important pilgrimages, with around 2.5 million people making the journey in 2019, before COVID-19 travel restrictions forced officials to limit numbers.

This year, Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, revealed that the number of pilgrims would be allowed to return to pre-pandemic levels. Due to the enormous scale of the annual Mecca festival, Saudi Arabian authorities must do everything in their power to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely.

During the Hajj Expo 2023, service providers from various fields came together to demonstrate their solutions, many of which involved emerging technologies.

saudi arabia hajj 2023 expo

One of the most notable new developments is the launch of a smartcard which, with the help of the Nusuk foundation, will store a user’s personal, residential, and health information in the Nusuk app. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) will also help with “everything from performing the rituals to leaving the holy sites and the Kingdom”. Last week, the Saudi government announced that registrations would open on the ministry’s website and the Nusuk application.

Along with official service providers, private companies also exhibited their solutions. The Tawkeel application was created by a Saudi-based tech startup and aims to help pilgrims “delegate rituals”. Often, worshippers cannot travel to Mecca due to disabilities or financial reasons. The new app will allow those people to track the progress of the person performing rituals on their behalf and can also be used to ask them to recite specific prayers.

Also Read: New Tech Allows Faster Breast Cancer Detection In Middle East

Due to the scale of the event, Hajj officials often have to deal with severe accidents, including stampedes and crushes that have injured hundreds or even thousands of people. With that in mind, Tuwaiq ambulance showcased their latest vehicle, capable of evacuating 10 patients during an emergency, complete with onboard oxygen and medical supplies.

As well as emergency vehicles, site infrastructure also needs careful consideration. This year’s event will see the addition of 25 km of new ring roads around the site, which will link “the First Ring Road with the Masar project and the Makkah Reconstruction and Development project”, according to Saleh Al Rasheed, chief executive of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites.

The Hajj expo 2023 has shown how seriously the Kingdom is taking digital transformation. This year’s pilgrimage is shaping up to be more technologically advanced than ever before, blending traditional and modern values without diluting the importance of this sacred event.

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Binance Receives Virtual Assets License To Operate In Dubai

As its user base nears 200 million, CEO Richard Teng believes crypto adoption will soar over the next half of the decade.

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binance receives virtual assets license to operate in dubai

Global crypto exchange Binance has been granted a full operational license in Dubai, in a move that’s expected to accelerate digital asset adoption and strengthen the UAE’s regulatory landscape.

The virtual asset service provider license (VASP) was granted by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) and will allow Binance to extend its current range of services to retail investors, the company announced yesterday.

The move by Dubai authorities will be critical to Binance’s strategy of growing its user base globally. The crypto exchange expects to pass the 200 million user mark “quite shortly”, according to Richard Teng, the company’s CEO.

Once that milestone is achieved, Binance will have around twice as many users as rival platform Coinbase. Meanwhile, Crypto.com, another popular exchange with 80 million users, received a Dubai VASP license last week.

“We’re seeing much greater institutional adoption and institutional money coming into this space [along with] much greater regulatory clarity and a lot more jurisdictions approving [digital asset] products that bring in new investor classes,” Binance’s Richard Tang explained, adding: “As of now, we stand at about 5% crypto adoption globally, but that will become much faster moving forward”.

Also Read: Microsoft Invests $1.5 Billion In Abu Dhabi AI Tech Firm G42

Dubai and the UAE are extremely supportive of technologies like digital assets, and have already launched initiatives to boost adoption. The UAE has ambitious plans to become a world leader in the crypto economy of the future, with Dubai in particular being noteworthy for passing a new law to regulate virtual assets to support investors and exchanges.

“Global crypto regulation is currently showing diverging signs. Some developed countries have long suffered from crypto-related frauds and illegal exchanges. On the other hand, emerging nations like the UAE and Singapore have enacted crypto laws at faced pace,” said Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer of Dubai-based Century Financial.

As the UAE gears up to become one of the fastest-growing crypto capitals worldwide, investors and talent are flocking to places like Dubai. During 2023, the Emirates as a whole realized $204 million in capital gains from cryptocurrency investments, according to blockchain data analysts Chainalysis.

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