Saudi: Japan-inspired ‘nap pods’ being introduced for pilgrims

Saudi Arabia plans to introduce sleep pods, reminiscent of Japan’s famed capsule hotels, in the western city of Mina in the coming days, as an estimated two million Muslims gather for the six-day hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

The free pods are part of new measures being rolled out this year in a bid to modernise the centuries-old practice of hajj.

The government has also introduced apps for on-the-spot translation and emergency medical care.

A Saudi charity, the Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association, is offering between 18 and 24 capsules for pilgrims to nap in for free in the coming days.

Each fibreglass pod – less than three metres long and just over one metre high – features a mattress, clean sheets, air conditioning and a large, well-lit mirror.

The pods can be lined up horizontally or stacked vertically to save on space.

Each napper will have three hours so sleep in the pods, which are imported from Japan at cost of around $1,114 each.

When the pilgrim wakes for prayer time – five times daily in Islam – workers will sterilise the pod before handing it over to the next pilgrim.

“We believe it’s extremely well-suited for crowded places in our holy sites and in Mecca,” Amer said.

But for hajj, which takes pilgrims across Mecca and Mina – cities in western Saudi Arabia home to the holiest sites of Islam – the pods were also inspired by the rising popularity of car and bike-sharing.

“The capsules work through a share economy, like bicycles that you can rent for an hour and then leave for someone else,” said Amer.

A trial run of 12 pods earlier this year was, he said, a success. Amer estimates 60 people used each pod every day during the fasting month of Ramadan.

 

Source Credit: The Guardian

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