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Fueled by caffeine, pizza and adrenaline, sleep-deprived programmers in a marathon Saudi contest this week explored high-tech solutions to prevent a repeat of past calamities in the annual hajj pilgrimage.The hajj, expected to draw more than 2 million pilgrims to Mecca this year, represents a key rite of passage for Muslims and a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites.The tragedies prompted scathing criticism from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said at the time that the Saudi ruling family did not deserve to manage Islam's holiest sites.The scheme for the post-oil era aims to attract 6 million hajj pilgrims annually.Additionally, the kingdom hopes to attract another 30 million pilgrims to umrah, a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca that can be completed during the rest of the year.
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