Every year, millions of Muslims visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform a religious pilgrimage, which is one of the largest, most culturally and geographically diverse mass gatherings in the world.
When the pilgrims arrive at the Holy Grand Mosque of Mecca, they each make seven circumambulations (Tawaf) around the Kaaba (“The Cube”), in a counter-clockwise direction.
In addition to Tawaf movement which is the main movement pattern, there are many rituals that are performed by visitors creating very complex movement patterns. Some visitors kiss the black stone located in the south-east corner of Kaaba, some others stand below Kaaba golden door, while others pray first raw to Kaaba. Some enter Hijr Ismail, a small area north-west of the Kaaba with a low semi-circular wall, for private praying.
Entering or exiting Hijr-Ismail can be very difficult during a crowded Tawaf, so effective and efficient crowd management is critical.
How Oasys proved invaluable
All of these complex mobility patterns have created mobility friction around Kaaba. The research team at Umm Al-Qura University used MassMotion, the pedestrian simulation software from Oasys, because of its capable of simulating hundreds of thousands of people in a short time. They modelled complex mobility patterns around Kaaba including:
- Entering and exiting from Tawaf Plaza
- Entering and exiting from Tawaf rituals including 7 circumambulations
- Entering and exiting from Hijr Ismail
- Stopping around Kaaba
- Slowing down around Maqam Ibrahim
- Stopping for kissing Black Stone
- Pausing at end/start of each circumambulation
MassMotion software analysed and measured the density around the Kaaba to identify the critical areas. The analysis helped the team to calculate the total time needed to complete the Tawaf in very crowded and less crowded situations. The MassMotion analysis provided insight on how crowd movement would be affected if new constructions were added in the area.
The simulation model will be used later in a bigger research project to analyse and evaluate proposals to mitigate movement problems around Kaaba.