Saudi Inventor Makes Hajj Safer with Anti-Covid Protector

Nanotechnology Used to Protect Pilgrims Against Coronavirus
Saudi inventor Hamad El-Yami posing in a photo with his nanotechnology-based products in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 26, 2021. (Supplied)

For the second year in a row, clothing produced with the use of nanotechnology will be available for pilgrims during the hajj season to protect them against coronavirus and offer a safer pilgrimage experience.

The clothing was introduced by Saudi inventor Hamad El-Yami last year and will also be distributed this year.

In an exclusive interview with Majalla, El-Yami, 34, said that the ihram (pilgrimage clothing) was used to “protect the safety of the pilgrims, support precautionary measures against the coronavirus pandemic and back the advanced national industry."

“The new ihram clothing is characterized by preventing the reproduction of bacteria, is made of 100% cotton fabric and can be washed more than 90 times. It has also obtained ISO international quality and is consistent with Saudi standards,” El Yami told Majalla.

He added that it was found that when particles in the manufacture of ihram are nano-sized they have the ability to absorb moisture and prevent the reproduction of bacteria.

El-Yami, who is a former employee at the Saudi Ministry of Heath, has produced face masks, bags and clothing using this technology to help protect pilgrims for the second year in a row.

This technology was used earlier by the Hajj and Umrah Research Institute for Kaaba carpets in 2008, which encouraged El-Yami to apply it in the Ihram robe and other clothing.

Saudi Arabia had announced that the hajj season this year will be limited to its citizens and residents inside the Kingdom, due to the continued spread of the coronavirus and the emergence of new mutations around the world.

The Ministry of Hajj said that only about 60,000 people will be allowed to perform hajj this year and they will be between 18 and 65 years old, and all of them must have received the vaccination, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Last year, Saudi Arabia allowed only 1,000 people to perform the hajj due to the pandemic.

Usually, more than two million pilgrims perform the annual pilgrimage.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj said that the pilgrimage will be only for people who have been vaccinated according to the controls and mechanisms followed in the Kingdom for immunization categories.  The electronic systems accurately record everyone who took the vaccine and there is no possibility of forged certificates.

The Ministry added that "priority for registration for hajj this year will be for those who did not perform hajj during the past five years. It stressed that arrangements for this year's hajj were based on the Kingdom's constant concern for the safety and health of pilgrims.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY USEFUL FOR CORONAVIRUS

El-Yami said that nanotechnology can be used in to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic according to scientific studies and research in several fields. For example, there is the possibility of using nanotechnology in making vaccines, diagnosing infection with the virus, producing nano-drugs as well as manufacturing antibacterial and antiviral surfaces.

According to the Arab Scientific Community Organization, nanotechnology may offer valuable solutions to the COVID-19 crisis as nanoparticles can be used to successfully eliminate populations of coronaviruses within the human body by utilizing their capabilities to trap, freeze and prevent these viruses from attacking host cells.

Researchers have managed to develop a nanoparticle that keeps the air away from coronaviruses and these nanomaterials are degradable and non-toxic.

A research team in Germany also succeeded in preparing a nanomaterial that fights the virus by encapsulating the COVID-19 virus.

This packaging prevents the virus from infecting host cells. One of the advantages of this material is that it attacks the virus only when it infects lung cells.

Researchers are also developing nanosensors to improve the methods and accuracy of testing for infection with the coronavirus.

FUTURE PLANS

El-Yami hopes that he can open a factory that can produce these products in larger numbers as well as create job opportunities for many Saudi citizens.

The young inventor also aspires to have an office to support inventors and to be its president so that registration for inventions can be speeded up.

“They can also be transformed into products that advance and boost the country's economy and create new job opportunities,” he added.