Saudi Arabia is planning to test Japan-inspired capsule rooms in Mina in the coming days as an estimated two million pilgrims are expected to arrive for the six-day hajj.
The nap pods will be available for free and is in line with the efforts to bring in modernise the traditions of the annual hajj, an AFP report said. Each fibreglass pod is three metres long and about one metre high and includes a mattress, clean sheets, air conditioning and a mirror. The pods can be stacked wither horizontally or vertically.
Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association head Mansour al-Amer is offering between 18 and 24 capsule for pilgrims. He said: "We are always thinking about pilgrims and how to make them more comfortable during the rituals of hajj.”
The nap pods are supposed to provide a means of shelter for hajj visitors who can’t afford alternative accommodations. Users can access the pod, which was imported from Japan for US $1,114 each, for three hours at a stretch. After each use, the pod will be sterilised for the next person for use.
"The idea already exists globally, in Japan for example, and in several cities across the world," Amer said. "We believe it's extremely well-suited for crowded places in our holy sites and in Makkah."
"The capsules work through a share economy, like bicycles that you can rent for an hour and then leave for someone else," Amer noted.
Earlier this year, 12 pods were put to the test and around 60 people tried it out successfully during Ramadan.
With each year witnessing growing influx of pilgrims and religious tourists, providing accurate accommodation has become a challenge to the Saudi authorities, the story noted, with travellers choosing to stay in tents to five-star hotels.
To contend with the rising demands during hajj, the report noted that Saudi authorities are pushing a "smart hajj" initiative to modernise the offerings.