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Jeddah’s Hajj Hackathon Is On!

With those unfamiliar with the “Hajj Hackathon” – it’s a three-day event, one of the biggest of its kind across the Middle East, that gives attendees, the opportunity to create technology and mobile apps that will enable pilgrims to have an easier and enjoyable Hajj experience.At present, it is said that more than 3,000 developers and programmers from around the world have gathered at Jeddah’s International Exhibition and Convention Center, since Tuesday for the event.

The “Hajj Hackathon” has bought together IT experts and tech enthusiasts together, mostly from the UAE, UK, USA, Algeria, Egypt, India, Japan, Tunisia, Turkey and Pakistan, who spent the first day meeting, forming teams and getting creative before getting to work on executing their ideas for the competition.

The event has also been hosting talks with renowned digital and tech experts, including one discussion titled, “KSA Is The Gateway For Advanced Technology” where Abdullah Amer Al-Sawah, the minister of communications and information technology; Abdulrahman bin Mutrib, the executive vice president of Al-Tayyar; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer; and Essam Al-Thukair, deputy governor of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat), were speaking.

“Monshaat is participating in this event in cooperation with the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming (SAFCSP),” said Al-Thukair. “This official partnership aims to create an innovative environment that supports the young talents and creates opportunities for them, and to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030. We are pleased to announce that we will allocate 20 seats in business incubators to the best developers, underscoring the interest in supporting the digital transformation and innovation that contribute to the Kingdom’s growth in small and medium enterprises.”

Wozniak, who founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, said: “Thousands of people are participating here trying to be useful and productive. One of the most powerful points of being here is to help the community ... as the country has one of the greatest missions: Hajj.”

Also aiming to empower Saudi women, the Hackathon is giving them a chance to serve their country and the world by showcasing their own talents and technical expertise in programming.

The event ends on 2nd August and the winning ideas will be announced. The top 3 winning ideas will get prizes of the value of SR2,000,000 to help turn their ideas into fully fledged businesses, with 1st place receiving SR1,000,000, 2nd place, SR500,000 and 3rd SR350,000. An additional SR150,000 will be awarded to someone as a prize for excellence.

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