Tawakkalna: the mobile app developed by Saudi Arabia in response to COVID-19 (includes video story)

Since the beginning of last March, countries and people around the world have found new ways to adapt to life in a global pandemic. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia specifically has developed a system to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Tawakkalna is an app that was invented by the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. Tawakkalna is a mobile app compatible with smart devices that is designed to mitigate the virus by acting much like a coronavirus passport. The app allows users to identify early symptoms and report suspected cases. It also tracks the movements of users to make contract tracing more accurate and efficient.

The app also alerts users when they are close to someone who has tested positive and alerts them when they are entering an area of high infection. It is mandatory for all people in the country to have the application in order to go to work and gain entry into any public spaces. Residents are required to enter their national ID information so that the app can link to their personal ID card and can be used to verify their identity.

Tawakkalna is connected to all the hospitals’ systems and provides records of how many times users have been tested for the virus and if they were ever infected.

The application utilizes a color-coded system. If a person is not infected, a green barcode appears under the identity card. If a person is infected with the virus, the barcode will have a brown color. A blue barcode indicates the person is from outside of the country and the app will then provide information as to whether that person has completed the mandatory 7 day quarantine. Orange is used to show that a person has come into contact with someone who was infected with the virus, and dark green shows that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Every place residents go they must present the Tawakkalna app, whether it is restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals or work. Because users must provide up-to-date health screenings on the app, it is the best way of determining whether the person is in good health and should be granted entry into public areas.

Residents are prevented from entering a public place without exception if they are unable to show the Tawakkalna app or if they forget their phone at home.  

The Tawakkalna program has had a negative impact on businesses because it has set limits on who is able to enter public spaces, and has made the process for customers to enter their businesses more tedious. Now there are checkpoints making lines longer at places such as malls. This in turn lowers the number of people who venture out into the public overall.

Despite these minor issues, the app has given people throughout the country a sense of security and has lowered the number of coronavirus cases substantially. 


Kayla Ayala is a junior at FIU majoring in Broadcast Journalism. She is keen on discussing women's issues and animal rights. Kayla was a member of her high school’s television production program Cypress Bay Television or “CBTV.” Her ambitions for her career as a journalist is to report for VICE News, as well as work independently to uncover and report on social injustices locally and globally.

Farah Algabsany is an FIU student majoring in digital communications and media, and minoring in social media and e-marketing. She is from Saudi Arabia and her interests are learning new things about culture and fashion, traveling around the world and painting on stones. She hopes to have her own business, work for the Alarabiya television channel and travel to Italy.