Saudi Arabia launches health robots in Medina for pilgrims

Saudi Arabia launches health robots in Medina for pilgrims
Robots are now assisting in 11 languages in Saudi Arabia. / bne IntelliNews
By bne Gulf bureau June 9, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry in Medina has launched a new smart robot cohort in the central area around the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the city, local social media reported on June 9.

The Kingdom is rapidly advancing in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, marking significant milestones that align with its Vision 2030 goals. This technological surge is characterised by introducing sophisticated AI robots, substantial investments, and strategic partnerships to enhance various sectors, including religious services, customer experiences, and the overall technological landscape.

The robot was developed by Ab Robots and aims to present and broadcast direction and educational messages to visitors of the Islamic holy city.

The robots are backed up by teams of humans sponsored by the ministry who will assist visitors to the country’s holy sites.

According to the videos of the new robots, they can respond in Arabic and several other languages.

The robots are also available in several other locations in the kingdom, including Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport and Haramain Train Station, as well as the mosques of Quba, Khandaq, Sayyid Al-Shuhada, and Miqat Dhul-Hulaifah, Saudi Gazette reported.

Another use of AI robotics has been in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where robots have been deployed to assist pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah. They can communicate in 11 languages, providing guidance and information to millions of visitors at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Saudi Arabia has also introduced its first humanoid robots, Sara and Mohammad. Developed by QSS AI & Robots, these robots are designed to reflect Saudi cultural values while showcasing cutting-edge AI capabilities. Sara, the first interactive robot, can speak Arabic and perform local dances, embodying a blend of technological advancement and traditional social norms.

Faced with the impending demographic challenges of a large youth, an economy which for the past twenty years has been relatively dormant compared to its Gulf peers, Saudi Arabia’s royal family saw a need to overhaul the trappings of bureaucracy, itself a fiscal drag on the economy. The push towards AI is backed up by the latest Stanford University International AI Index for 2024, which has ranked Saudi Arabia among the leading nations worldwide for developing a national AI strategy.