MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Mansour al-Amer swipes a card to reveal a narrow sleep pod, reminiscent of Japan’s famed capsule hotels.
But this pod is in Saudi Arabia, where the Muslim hajj pilgrimage begins Sunday.
The kingdom has plans to introduce capsule rooms in the western city of Mina in the coming days, as an estimated 2 million Muslim faithful gather for the six-day hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
But for hajj, which takes pilgrims across Mecca and Mina — two cities in western Saudi Arabia home to the holiest sites of Islam — the pods were also inspired by the rising popularity of car and bike-sharing.
The annual pilgrimage sees the Muslim faithful gather in Mecca, all clad in white, to perform rituals around the black Kaaba cube.