For the first time in the country's history, Saudi Arabia is introducing "nap pods" in the city of Mina for pilgrims performing Hajj.

The free pods, offered by Saudi charity Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association in an attempt to modernize Hajj, resemble Japan's famous capsule hotels.

Between 18 to 24 capsules will be available for pilgrims to take a nap, free of charge. It is a great solution for those who cannot afford hotels on site.

The fiberglass pods are less than three meters long and include a mattress, sheets, air conditioning, and a mirror.

"We are always thinking about pilgrims and how to make them more comfortable during the rituals of Hajj," Mansour Al Amer, head of the Saudi charity, told AFP.

Pilgrims can access the pods for three hours. The capsules are sterilized before another pilgrim enters it.

An estimated two million Muslims made it out to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam.

"Only 24 capsules for 2 million pilgrims?"


The "Smart Hajj" initiative

Saudi Arabia aims to modernize the annual pilgrimage in various ways. In 2018, the kingdom launched the "Smart Hajj" initiative to do so.

The initiative includes the launch of a number of apps to facilitate things for pilgrims, from travel plans to medical care.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia introduced electronic identification bracelets in an effort to increase safety measures, following the stampede that killed thousands in 2015.

Pilgrims received a GPS-connected bracelet, including personal and medical information, helping authorities identify people and provide care if needed.