The first ever Hajj Hackathon has officially kicked off in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and is on it’s way to becoming the largest hackathon in the world. Over 3,000 hackers have assembled to take a shot at top spot which will earn them 1,000,000 SAR for 15% equity investment in their venture.
Their mission is to find ways that improves the Hajj experience which sees over 2 million pilgrims arrive into Mecca each year. The first day, prior to the official kick-off of the 36-hour hackathon, saw participants connecting with each other over Slack or in-person to create teams that can work together.
The diversity of programmers that showed up was sight to be seen. The youngest participant is just 14 years old while the oldest one we could spot was probably in their 60s.
There are people from all over the world- from Egypt to Pakistan to Oman and the locals. Most impressive was the number of women participating in the challenge. We saw a mother and her daughter hacking their way together.
In a typical hackathon fashion, there were pizzas, tons on wires and laptops with stickers that showcased the individual personalities of each hacker. Over 800 teams were formed and there are tons of mentors that are experts in the areas of business, tech and Hajj to guide these dreamers.
When the final bell rings on Friday, these teams will have two minutes to present their past two days where, between a panel of 150 judges, a hundred teams will move forward to the next round and then ten to the final round.
There will be sweat and there will be tears and though not everyone will go back home with a prize, they will go back with pride. The future for coders and entrepreneurs in the Middle East is looking really good and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is poised to take the lead with events such as Hajj Hackathon.