Saudi to host first ever Hajj Hackathon in Jeddah

Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones with support from Google, and in collaboration with Egypt’s RiseUp is organizing Hajj Hackathon, the largest tech challenge ever held in the Kingdom.

The 36-hour hackathon will be held in Jeddah next month from 1st to 3rd August and is open to tech entrepreneurs, designers, developers and innovators from all around the region.

As the name suggests, the participants will have to build technology solutions that could help streamline the process and improve the experience of pilgrims who come to Saudi from all over the world.

For those of you who don’t know, Hajj is a five-day religious pilgrimage to Makkah and some other holy sites around it. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and mandatory for all the Muslims to perform it at least once in their lives if their physical strength and financial position allow them to do so.

Every year, 2-3 million Muslims from all over the world turn to Saudi to take part in it. It is one of the world’s largest gatherings and hence involves tens of complicated logistical challenges for the government and other stakeholders. The Saudi government makes efforts every year to ensure safety of pilgrims and offer them a good experience.

For the first time, they’re extending these efforts to take help from innovators who can build tech solutions to improve experience of the pilgrims. The challenges will be around food and beverage, transportation, travel and accommodation arrangements, crowd management and traffic control, waste management, housing and communication solutions.

The participating individuals and teams will be evaluated for their products on the basis of their design, simplicity, creativity, and impact. Each of these criteria will have five points.

The competition has prizes of 2 million Saudi Riyal (~$533,000) as equity investment in the products built during the hackathon. The grand prize is 1 million Saudi Riyal (~266,000) as 15% equity investment with 500,000 Saudi Riyal (10% equity) and 350,000 Saudi Riyal (7% equity) for the first and second runner-up respectively.

The prizes also include free tickets to Google IO 2019 Developers Conference in the United States in April-June next year, Google Home Mini with the Google Assistant built in, Google Cloud Credit, and free tickets for RiseUp Summit 2018.

For those selected to participate in the Hajj Hackathon, the organizers will take care of the flights, accommodation and visa.

The event will also feature some breakout sessions by Google and RiseUp.

To learn more and apply, please visit this link.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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