Saudi Arabia will introduce free sleeping capsules or nap pods to this year’s Hajj season starting Sunday, to modernize the centuries-old practice of the Hajj, a Saudi charity said recently.
Between 18 and 24 modern hotel capsules will be offered to pilgrims to nap in for free in the coming six days, said the Haji and Mu’tamer’s Gift Charitable Association.
These free nap pods — each less than three meters long and just over one meter high — will be placed in Mina, a western city near the Holy city of Mecca, said Mansour Al-Amer, head of the charity.
The pods provide a space in which pilgrims can change their clothes, take a shower and store their luggage and valuables, Al-Amer said.
It is a solution for pilgrims of limited means who cannot afford to book hotels on site but need a quick rest during the Hajj, he said.
Each napper has three hours of access to the pods.
When the pilgrim wakes for prayer time, workers will clean the pod before handing it over to the next pilgrim, he said.
“The capsules work through a share economy, like bicycles that you can rent for an hour and then leave for someone else,” he said.
Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, begins today.
Two million pilgrims from around the world are performing the rites, beginning from mark ingthe Day of Tarwiyah, the first Hajj ritual, in Mina, a neighborhood of the holiest Islamic city of Mecca.
Afterwards, pilgrims will leave Mina at dawn on Monday for Arafat to mark the Day of Arafat, the most important Hajj ritual.
To ensure the safety of pilgrims, a comprehensive security and safety plan has been set up to transport people between ritual sites.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Health Ministry announced a plan to protect pilgrims with the allocations of 25 hospitals and 155 health centres at all sites, with a capacity of 5,000 beds, 180 ambulances and 100 vehicles converted into mobile medical units.