The largest hackathon competition in the Middle East, organized by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, was launched in Jeddah on Tuesday.
The three-day “Hajj Hackathon” will see the participation of thousands of developers from both sexes and from 51 countries and is part of Saudi Arabia’s continuous efforts to serve the annual Hajj pilgrims. It also seeks to take advantage of young talents, highlighting the participation of programmers in the exploration and development Hajj techniques.
This event is part of the Kingdom’s commitment to stimulating innovation and reaching regional and global leadership in the field of technology. It helps support the youth, providing them with diverse opportunities and also achieves the objectives of Vision 2030.
Saud bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, Advisor at the Royal Court and chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, thanked Saudi leaders for presenting unlimited support for the youth.
He said that the Kingdom’s hosting of the largest hackathon in the history of the region aims to reach technical solutions that contribute to enriching and improving the experience of pilgrims.
During a speech at the opening ceremony, Nouf Al Rakan, CEO of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity and Programming, said that under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, the Kingdom is moving towards a new era to serve the greatest pillar of Islam.
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, said: “It is a great honor to be with you tonight in this event that speaks of innovation and I am happy to see this great crowd of young innovators at this event… I see thousands of people around me, I am very excited.”
“This event is one of the most important developments for a country that has great ambition to become the gateway to technology in the Middle East,” he added.
Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, said that success is not about imitating others, but about innovation and the creation and development of ideas.
For private enterprises to succeed, “you have to work hard and you must love what you do,” he stressed.
The first edition of “Hajj Hackathon” attracted developers from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states.
More than 20,000 people been registered, 3,000 of whom have been selected to participate in the event.
Google has supported the hackathon, holding several workshops.
The Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones has allocated prizes and funding, worth SR2 million, for participating projects in order to transform their ideas into reality. The first place winner will receive SR1 million, second place receives SR500,000 and third SR350,000, while SR150,000 will recognize excellence.
Competitions in the event include the sectors surrounding the Hajj season, its services and challenges, including food and beverage, public health, financial solutions, transportation, crowd management, traffic control, travel and accommodation arrangements, waste management, housing and communication solutions.