Simulation Study of Tawaf Project

Project Overview 

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 the Tawaf movement which is the main movement pattern, there are many rituals that could be performed by visitors creating very complex movement patterns. Some visitors like to kiss the black stone located in the SOUTH/EAST corner of the Kaaba, some others like to stand below Kaaba golden door, while others like to pray first raw to Kaaba. Some others like to enter Hijr Ismail, a small area northwest 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 required for this situation.


The Hijr-Ismail is shown in front of the Kaaba.

Using MassMotion 

All of these complex mobility patterns have created mobility friction around Kaaba. The research team at Umm Al-Qura University has used MassMotion, the pedestrian simulation software from Oasys, because of its capability of simulating hundreds of thousands of people in a short time. As a task within a bigger project for analyzing mobility patterns around Kaaba, they have developed a simulation model that modeled complex mobility patterns around Kaaba including:

  1. Entering and Exiting from Tawaf Plaza

  2. Entering and Exiting from Tawaf rituals including 7 circumambulations     

  3. Entering and Exiting from Hijr Ismail

  4. Stopping around Kaaba

  5. Slowing down around Maqam Ibrahim

  6. Stopping for Kissing Black Stone

  7. Pausing at End/Start of each circumambulation  

Mass Motion model of the inner circle.

The Results

MassMotion software enabled them to analyze and measure 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 was also used to provide insight into how crowd movement would be affected if new constructions were added into the area. The simulation model will be used later in a bigger research project to analyze and evaluate some suggestions to mitigate movement problems around Kaaba. 


                      MassMotion reenacts circumambulations (Tawaf) crowd movement

                                     MassMotion simulates the complex mobility patterns

MassMotion average density - the red represents a crowd of up to 6.50 people per m^2