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Tired Hajj pilgrims can rest up in mobile nap pods

Sleep capsules like the ones found all over Japan are helping Hajjis get some quick shut-eye in Mecca this year.

A Saudi man sits inside a sleep pod in Mecca. 

Ahmad Al-rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

This year's tired Hajj pilgrims can stop to rest in sleek mobile nap pods.    

The free sleep capsules are part of new measures Saudi Arabia rolled out this year to modernize the centuries-old annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and nearby holy sites.   

The fiberglass pods measure a little less than 10 feet (3 meters) and just over 3.2 feet (a meter) high and feature a mattress, clean sheets and a large lit-up mirror. Thankfully, they also have air conditioning, as temperatures in Mecca are currently hovering around 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius).

The Saudi charity Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association, which provides services to Mecca visitors, imported the pods from Japan, where capsule hotels are common, as an economic solution for those wanting to take breaks in crowded public areas. The pods are stackable, to take up less space.

"The capsules work through a share economy, like bicycles that you can rent for an hour and then leave for someone else," Mansour al-Amer, head of the Haji and Mutamer Gift Charitable Association, told The Guardian.

The Hajj is considered a religious duty that adults must carry out at least once in their lives, if they're physically and financially able. Taking the journey is one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam. 

This year's Hajj started Sunday, and some 2 million pilgrims from dozens of countries and all walks of life are expected to make the pilgrimage. Very few will get to try the mobile sleep pods, however, as there are just a couple dozen this first time around. 

They're not meant for long snoozes either. Hajjis get only three hours at a time in a pod. When they wake for prayers, which take place five times daily, workers sterilize the small structures for the next pilgrim.

The sleep pods stack, to save space. 

Ahmad Al-rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

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