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Hajj Hackathon enters Guinness Book of Records, Muslim Pilgrimage goes High-Tech

Friday August 3, 2018 9:36 AM, News Network

Hajj Hackathon

[Female developers at the Hajj Hackathon held at Jeddah’s International Exhibition and Convention Center. (Photo: Amer Hilab/AFP)]

Jeddah: With the participation of 2,950 tech experts, developers and programmers from different parts of the world, Saudi Arabia’s first Hajj Hackathon became largest ever and entered the Guinness Book of World Records replacing India.

The Hajj Hackathon was organized by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP) and was held at Jeddah’s International Exhibition and Convention Center this week.

The record-breaking Hajj Hackathon was announced at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Arab News.

Saud Al-Qahtani, an advisor at the Royal Court and head of Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones received the Guiness Book confirmation of the record achievement from arbitrator Ahmed Jabr.

The record breaking Hackathon with 2,950 participants, smashed the previous event that saw 2,577 people registered in India in 2012.

Tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts were set a challenge to create programs that would make the Hajj experience easier and more enjoyable for the 2 million pilgrims who travel to the Kingdom each year.

The three-day event was launched with addresses by tech legends Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. And six hours after getting down to work, the assembled techies had their first breakthrough — a Guinness world record.

A representative of Guinness International announced on Wednesday that the Jeddah gathering was officially the world’s largest, with the 2,950 attendance figure eclipsing the previous hackathon record set of 2,577 set in India in 2012.

Rayan Al-Zahab from Lebanon — the first Arab woman to work as a developer for Google — delivered an inspirational speech and shared details of her career at the record breaking event.

The programming experts, including a good number of female developers, came mostly from the Kingdom, the UAE, US, Algeria, Egypt, India, Japan, Tunisia, Turkey and Pakistan.

“I am here with my team from Japan plus one member from Saudi Arabia. We want to make difference. It is great to be able to participate in something like this", Tatsu Carelton, one of the participants, told Arab News.

Winning ideas in the hackathon will be selected by 150 judges from around the world. The top three will receive a share of prizes valued at SR2 million ($533,000) to help turn their ideas into businesses. First place will receive SR1 million, second SR500,000 and third SR350,000.

Coinciding with Eid al Adha, Haj is the annual ritual to commemorate the sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hager and his son Prophet Ismael. The likely date of Wuqoof e Arafat - the key ritual of the Hajj, is August 20 or 19.

As the Islamic calendar is based on sighting of moon, the final date will be decided once the new moon of the month of Dhul Hijjah is sighted. Last year, Wuqoof-e-Arafat was on August 31, 2017. More than 02 million pilgrims from over 150 countries will arrive in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

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