Saudi Arabia has picked private security contractor G4S to make e-bracelets for the pilgrims that come to the country for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
These electronic bracelets will be distributed among the millions of pilgrims that converge at Mecca each year. Officials stated that the bracelets would be given to the pilgrims the moment they arrive in the country, and they will have to wear them until their departure. Authorities went on to add that this measure would allow them to identify people should the need arise.
The move by Saudi Arabia has surprised many as the security contractor is collaborating with Israeli spy agencies. Also, the fact that officials would be able to monitor bracelet wearers at all times is causing a stir.
Officials revealed that the electronic bracelets would store medical as well as personal information. Only security and relevant Saudi officials will be able to access the stored information. However, a local newspaper stated that the bracelets would also be connected to a GPS so that officials could pinpoint the precise location of each wearer.
The Saudi Government introduced the bracelet in June after it was severely criticised for the stampede in 2015 when thousands of pilgrims died. The stampede occurred in Mina when two groups of pilgrims congregated at a crossroads during the ritual of the Stoning of Satan. Saudi officials claimed that about 770 people died during the tragedy. However, Iranian officials dispute this figure, stating that the number of victims was more than 4,000, with Iran losing 464 pilgrims.
To avert a repeat of 2015, the authorities have installed over 800 cameras in the Grand Mosque. These cameras will be connected to various control rooms, which will be manned by special forces. It will allow the authorities to closely monitor the movements of the pilgrims during the rituals.
Iran has stated emphatically that its citizens will not be participating in the Hajj pilgrimage this year since authorities from both nations could not come to an understanding over the safety of Iranian nationals.