Hajj Hackathon, the largest event of its kind ever held had 2,950 competitors from all over the world who were competing to find techniques to help serve pilgrims. A team of Saudi young women, ‘Turjuman’, came out as the overall winner in the competition.
Turjuman proposed state-of-the-art technological solutions to the massive challenges of accommodating about 2 million pilgrims for Haj and millions of others for Umrah throughout the year. The application will translate the guidance plates in Mecca and the Holy Places without the need for an Internet connection. The innovative idea received an award of SR 1 million.
Bahrain This Week introduces the master brains of ‘ Turjuman’ to our Bahrain readers.
A brief introduction ‘ Turjuman’
The Turjuman team consists of five Saudi girls: Samaher Al-Hothali, Ragda Al-Qadi, Bayan Al-Ghamdi, Rawan Al-Matrafi and Reham Al-Marghlani.
Samahar Abdullah Al-Hothali, a Master graduate of Computer Science from King Saud University in Riyadh and a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University College in Yanbu is the team leader.
Reham Zaher Almarghlani, a Post Graduate student in Enterprise Information Technology at the University of Jeddah and a graduate of Computer Science from the University College Yanbu is the programmer and designer.
Ragda Mohammad Al-Qadi, is a graduate programmer from King Abdul Aziz University. She is a graduate of the General Diploma in Education from King Abdulaziz University is the programmer.
Bayan Ali Al-Ghamdi is a computer science graduate from the university college in Yanbu. She is a graduate of the General Diploma in Education from King Abdulaziz University is the programmer.
Rawan Ali Al-Matrafi is a computer science graduate from the university college in Yanbu is the programmer.
In short, all members of the Turjuman team are graduates from Saudi government universities.
How was the foundation of ‘ Turjuman’?
We were friends at the university college in Yanbu. Ragda joined us later and the team was formed to register at the Hajj Hackathon.
What is Turjuman App?
Turjuman application is a translation application of the guiding signs in the Makkah. The application scans the QR code on the guiding signs and translates it into the language of the pilgrim without the need of the Internet or language setting. We will add also the voice feature for the people with the special need.
Non-Arabic speakers will benefit from this application. It will solve the problem of communication due to different languages.
How did you get the idea of Turjuman?
Samaher: The idea came from the observation of non-Arabic speaking pilgrims. It is difficult for them to understand the signs and places of service in the Makkah, Madinah and holy sites.
We created the team and brainstormed the idea. There were nine 9 challenges put forward by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity. We convinced them that solutions to the communication is a problem faced by many pilgrims as they come from all over the world. They adopted this idea.
The application prepared by team Turjuman for the Hackathon was well prepared in comparison to the random and deviant preparations presented there.
Rawan: The idea was chosen in line with the development in Saudi Arabia and Vision 2030, where all ideas were related to the use of technology. Turjuman used the technology in the most simple and effective way to facilitate Hajj for the beneficent guests.
Saudi Arabia is witnessing the influx of pilgrims from outside the Kingdom to perform Hajj from all over the world. How can the whole world understand the guiding signs that exist in emotions? Hence the idea of the application arose and we placed ourselves at the place of the pilgrim. What does a service need to facilitate the argument? How much will this service cost? We decided to implement the translation of the application, which translates the guide plates in the language of the pilgrim according to his mobile phone and without internet connection.
How would you describe your experience in the Hajj Hackathon? What were the best moments for you?
This experience is literally priceless. For Muslims in general and for Saudi Arabia in particular, Hajj is a remarkable season. As for the event itself, it was huge. There were 2950 participating teams. The environment was comforting and friendly to the point that we felt as if we were receiving some sort of special treatment. So just imagine how much effort the SAFCSP had put to make us feel that way.
All the involved organizing parties (Individuals or institutions) try their utmost to facilitate the Hajj rituals for pilgrims. Participating in facilitating Hajj to pilgrims has been our dream for a long time. We got a chance to participate in this Hackathon, and we devoted our technical skills to provide a technical solution that can help pilgrims, and we won the first prize for that! This is just spectacular. It’s just beyond what we’ve dreamt of.
The best moment was when they announced that the first prize went to “Turjuman”. That moment was so emotional and overwhelming.
Was the Hackathon Hajj is the first place where the app was launched?
Of course, the Turjuman was inaugurated for the first time in the Hajj Hackathon and this was one of the conditions of the competition.
The application programming started during the beginning of the hackathon and completed at the end.
The Hackathon was for two days. We tried to design and program the application of Turjuman and got the result. God willing, we will complete this application as per the responses from Makkah and Madinah. We are happy to be of assistance Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to complete their pilgrimage.
What motivated you to participate?
Samaher: The Hackathon was the biggest international technical challenge and was a strong motivation for me. I found support from my parents and husband, who was very encouraging to participate.
Ragda: The new experience, passion for programming and interaction with developers and designers from all over the world was a dream for me. That is what made me to participate.
Raham: I have programmed 15 educational applications for children on Windows Phone in 2012 and won an award from Microsoft earlier. The reason for the participation is to serve the guests of the Lord; to be service of the party concerned and to share ideas for the development that improve the service of the pilgrims at the House of God.
Bayan: First of all is to serve the guests of “Allah” and make hajj process easier to all pilgrims and the people who are responsible about them. The other reason is to try something new and gain new experience.
Rawan: It is very interesting to have a deadline within three days to accomplish the goal and coming up with a creative ideas to improve the process of AlHajj and find a way to make it more efficient and effective, So I decided to challenge myself and working well as a part of a great team in order to help the pilgrims using technology. We worked very hard to complete the project and we won the first place as well as the challenge.
After winning, do you want to continue in these areas? How can Saudi women be represented in such successes?
Ragda: My continued efforts in this field, my field of study, as well as my passion for improving the lives of others with such applications always motivated me. Saudi women are always leading in such events and able to succeed.
Reham: After winning, we will continue in the field of programming and design. We will complete “Turjuman” that will aid the guests of the Lord in their mobility and communication.
As for the success of Saudi women, they are armed with science and knowledge and to achieve the successes they need. God willing, we will continue provide more that will be effective to inspire, Saudi women to be the leaders in the industry of miracles and to achieve the impossible.
Rawan: Saudi women are capable of achieving the greatest successes with qualifications and skills and insist on achieving their goals with the standards of with international centers. Saudi women have proved themselves in many areas.
As first-place winners, what is your plan/vision for the translation app and how do you plan to use the funds? What is next?
We will try our best to make the app available for use during the Hajj in next year.
As for the fund, it will be dedicated for the development and the improvement of the app.
“What is next” is our biggest mission now. Anyhow, for us, this is just the beginning of a wonderful journey and the best is yet to come. Further details will be announced in a timely manner.
What would be your advice to all amateur programmers?
I don’t imagine that there are those who are ashamed of what they are doing. Programming is a hobby, art and creativity that God had given for us. My words to the programmers “You are all creative! Show us your creativity!”
Anything you would wish to add?
We congratulate the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity and Programming and the Drones Historical Achievement, through which it achieved the record in the world’s largest Hackathon and its entry into the Guinness World Encyclopedia.
The work we have done is only to serve Pilgrims in Hajj. Yes, we won the first place and we commend this victory to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to our King, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, all Saudis, the Arab world and all Muslims. Nor do we forget our people, our friends and all our supporters.