The kingdom will be taking its part in a safety drive, a year after the annual Islamic rite suffered its deadliest disaster in a generation.

Muslims pray and gather around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 8, 2016.
Muslims pray and gather around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 8, 2016.

Saudi Arabia will introduce electronic identification bracelets for all pilgrims to Mecca starting this year, Saudi media stated.

Mecca will be taking its part in a safety drive, a year after the annual Islamic rite suffered its deadliest disaster in a generation.

Last year, in September, over 2,400 people died in a crush when thousands of pilgrims converged on a walkway intersection near the Muslim holy city of Mecca. It was the highest loss of life at the annual pilgrimage since 1990.

That death toll is based on figures of fatalities provided by countries who repatriated the bodies of their citizens, but Saudi Arabia had put the official death toll at just over 750.

Containing personal and medical information, the bracelets will help authorities provide care and identify people, the official Saudi Press Agency SPA said.

Water-resistant and connected to GPS, the devices will also instruct worshippers on timings of prayers and a multi-lingual help desk to guide especially non-Arabic speaking pilgrims around the various rituals of the annual Islamic event.

Saudi Arabia is to issue electronic bracelets to pilgrims travelling to Mecca for this year's Hajj, the world's largest Islamic gathering.

Posted by Nurul Haque on Friday, July 1, 2016

Saudi Arabia oversees the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by more than two million Muslims from around the world.

The hajj, the world's largest annual gathering of Muslims, has witnessed numerous deadly stampedes, fires and riots in the past with authorities having only limited ability to control the masses.

Muslims gather around the Kaaba inside the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 8, 2016.
Muslims gather around the Kaaba inside the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 8, 2016.

Nearly a thousand new surveillance cameras were installed this month at Mecca's Grand Mosque and linked to control rooms staffed by special forces monitoring pilgrim movements for the event scheduled for August, Saudi newspapers reported.

Safety during the pilgrimage is also at the heart of a dispute with the kingdom's regional arch-rival, Iran, which lost 400 of its citizens to last year's stampede.

The two countries have failed to strike a deal for Iranian pilgrims to attend this year's hajj, given their lack of diplomatic relations. Iran's leadership said in May it remained "very concerned" for the safety of Iranian pilgrims.

Source: Reuters