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Out of around 3,000 tech entrepreneurs, three winning teams got crowned in the largest tech event in the MENA region.
Attracting around 3,000 coders and tech entrepreneurs, the Hajj Hackathon took place from August 1st to August 3rd in Jeddah, hosted by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones in collaboration with Google, and RiseUp with the aim of revolutionising the yearly Muslim pilgrimage. The challenge’s objective was to come up with a digital solution to tackle some of the problems that face more than two million pilgrims doing Hajj every year.
Participants were asked to focus on issues like transportation, housing, transportation and communication among many other issues that plague the annual pilgrim. Many tech giants were present to witness the collaboration of thousands of people who came together to innovate a 2000-year-old ritual. With more than a 100 experts who flew in from all over the world to mentor, support and eventually judge the participants, the region's largest tech event of the year was underway. Participants were judged based on creativity, simplicity, impact and design.
Turjuman - 1st place
The ladies of “Turjuman” won 1st place with their innovative idea. Utilizing QR codes embedded on street signs, the app is able to immediately translate the sign to the user’s native language. The Saudi based all-female team was able to solve a difficult communication issue using a very simple and creative idea without even the need for any sort of internet connection. First place prize included a seed investment of SAR 1,000,000, tickets to Google IO Developer Conference 2019, as well as free tickets to RiseUp Summit 2018.
Hajj Wallet - 2nd place
Second place went to Egypt’s team behind Hajj Wallet. Tackling the issue of payment during Hajj was no easy task; lost cash, busted payment terminals and oversized wallets were a problem for many pilgrims. In an increasingly cashless world, the Hajj wallet team was able to bring a simple solution that enables pilgrims to pay for all Hajj related goods and services by turning their phones into a digital wallet. Second place gets SAR 500,000 seed investment, free tickets to Google IO Developer Conference 2019, and free RiseUp Summit 2018 tickets.
Roaa - 3rd place
In the age of the likes of Instagram and Snapchat where we thought more image apps would be redundant, Algeria’s “Roaa” team changed the jury's minds. The idea of their app is that it maps the user’s location and enables the user to share their journey with friends and family through images stored on a private network. The app also uses facial recognition technology to tag user pictures. This enables all users to view their whole journey from a whole other perspective and a story resume with minimal effort. 3rd place gets SAR 350,000 seed investment, a Google Home Mini, and free RiseUp Summit 2018 tickets.
Other innovators however, did not walk away empty handed. Apart from the experience gained from participating in the biggest tech event in the region, the top 20 teams got free Google Cloud Credits, and every member of the top ten teams went home with a free Google Home Mini.
Main Image: Turjuman entrepreneurs holding their flag after winning.
All images courtesy of The Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.
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