Virtual reality experience takes Muslims inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque during Ramadan

Virtual reality experience takes Muslims inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque during Ramadan
1 / 2
General view of Kaaba at empty Grand Mosque, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 7, 2020. (Reuters)
Virtual reality experience takes Muslims inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque during Ramadan
2 / 2
Muslim worshippers perform the "Tarawih" nightly prayer during the holy month of Ramadan, while keeping their distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, in the Saudi city of Mecca, late on May 8, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 May 2020

Virtual reality experience takes Muslims inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque during Ramadan

Virtual reality experience takes Muslims inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque during Ramadan
  • Muslims will be able to digitally attend the prayers thanks to “Wahi,” a virtual reality experience that can bring them to Makkah

LOS ANGELES: With coronavirus shutdowns continuing throughout Ramadan, Makkah will only be allowing clerics to attend the nightly Taraweeh prayers in person.

But Muslims will be able to digitally attend the prayers thanks to “Wahi,” a virtual reality experience that can bring them to Makkah from the safety of their homes. 

The nine-minute film was made using a VR camera rig: six cameras pointing in every direction. The footage was then edited together to give a 360 degree view during the challenging post production process.

“The virtual reality glasses give you a full experience of the visit,” Almotaz Aljefri, the film’s Saudi director, told Arab News. “You can go in all directions, raise your head or switch it right. This gives you more information than a regular video.”

The crew received support from the Saudi government, granting them access to Makkah, as well as the use of drones and helicopters.

The film, which was made alongside the New Media Center at the Ministry of Culture and Information, is available on YourTube and has now been viewed more than 11 million times.

“We were surprised along with the staff that the views reached just last month more than 8 million and we discovered that the reason is definitely the coronavirus, the movie has given the chance to many people who cannot now go to the Grand Mosque in Makkah, to visit it through this technology,” AlJafri said.

“I believe that “Wahi” will allow you to practice all your rituals in Ramadan from your home.

“You can wear the glasses to see and tour the Grand Mosque and there is also historical landmarks and even the people who visit the Grand Mosque personally they might find it hard to get close to certain spots for example the Black Stone, circumambulation area, you can now easily wander around it as you wish at any time.”

In the midst of a global health crisis, Muslims are having to observe Ramadan in a new way. But thanks to new technologies, films like “Wahi,” mean they will not let the virus get in the way of their faith.

 


Car enthusiast puts her fellow Saudi women in the driving seat

Times have changed in Saudi society and gender is no longer the barrier it once was to pursuing a career in previously male-dominated fields such as the automobile industry. (Supplied)
Times have changed in Saudi society and gender is no longer the barrier it once was to pursuing a career in previously male-dominated fields such as the automobile industry. (Supplied)
Updated 25 min 38 sec ago

Car enthusiast puts her fellow Saudi women in the driving seat

Times have changed in Saudi society and gender is no longer the barrier it once was to pursuing a career in previously male-dominated fields such as the automobile industry. (Supplied)
  • Nada Hambzaza aims to pass on what she has learned about cars to the Kingdom’s newly empowered female drivers

JEDDAH: Trying to choose the perfect car can be a confusing and intimidating experience for anyone, but especially new drivers. Dealing with the problems that come with car ownership can be even more vexing.
With a growing number of women getting behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia, one Saudi woman is on a mission to teach them what lurks under the hood so that they are better able to choose a vehicle that suits them and keep it running well.
In 2018 women in the Kingdom were officially given permission to drive, empowering many to take to the road for the first time. For many new drivers, however, trying to decide which vehicle is best can feel like a leap into the unknown, to say nothing of the stress and confusion when basic mechanical problems arise.
Nada Hambzaza, a public relations manager at an automotive and marketing agency in Jeddah, grew up with a love of cars and decided she wanted to learn how they work. This ultimately inspired her to launch a YouTube channel to teach other women about cars, and now she plans to take the next step by providing some basic lessons on maintenance and repairs.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In 2018 women in the Kingdom were officially given permission to drive, empowering many to take to the road for the first time. For many new drivers, however, trying to decide which vehicle is best can feel like a leap into the unknown, to say nothing of the stress and confusion when basic mechanical problems arise.

• Nada Hambzaza’s YouTube channel, the Arabic name of which translates as ‘for safer driving,’ provides content in Arabic for an Arab audience.

• Hambazaza has more than 15 years of experience working in office management and public relations. She said her mission with her YouTube channel is to ensure women are capable of looking after their vehicles themselves without needing any help for basic maintenance.

“I have had a passion for cars since I was a kid,” she told Arab News. “I used to see my family members taking care of their cars and I spent a lot of time with them. So I understand more than most females, at least in the terminologies related to cars.

Nada Hambzaza launched a YouTube channel to teach other women about cars, and now she plans to provide some basic lessons on maintenance and repairs. (Supplied)

“Learning is a nonstop journey; I always keep educating myself through web searches and watching related material to advance my knowledge.”
Hambzaza’s YouTube channel, the Arabic name of which translates as “for safer driving,” provides content in Arabic for an Arab audience.
“I’m not by any means a mechanic but I know basic maintenance,” she said. “Different people have different thoughts — you don’t have to physically work on the car yourself, but at least gain the knowledge and delegate the physical work to a specialist.
“You can be sure that there are some tasks that can be done easily by yourself without the need for a mechanic’s help; just a little knowledge can get the job done.”
Hambazaza has more than 15 years of experience working in office management and public relations. She said her mission with her YouTube channel is to ensure women are capable of looking after their vehicles themselves without needing any help for basic maintenance.

Learning is a nonstop journey; I always keep educating myself through web searches and watching related material to advance my knowledge.

Nada Hambzaza

“The main purpose of the program is to spread awareness, mainly to new drivers, so that they get to know more about their vehicle, the main parts and how they are structured, in addition to knowing how to handle certain situations,” she explained. In addition, viewers can send their questions about specific scenarios or issues for Hambazaza to answer.
Her short videos aim to be informative and easy to understand, she said, and to provide Saudi women with information in a simple and engaging way that will appeal to new and experienced drivers alike who might lack important, basic knowledge that could make their motoring lives easier.
In addition to the backing of her husband and family, Hambazaza said she has received support and positive feedback from other people, which helped ease her initial fears about how her videos would be received.
“I was a bit nervous in the beginning, thinking I would receive tons of comments about how girls can’t work on cars,” she said. “But the overall reaction has been very supportive and my close circle of friends and family is pushing me to do more and encouraging me to continue.”
Times have changed in Saudi society and gender is no longer the barrier it once was to pursuing a career in previously male-dominated fields such as the automobile industry.
“Underestimating women getting into this field is no longer applicable to today’s world,” Hambazaza said. She encouraged girls and young women always to pursue their passions, and added that if they find their dream job in the automotive industry “don’t allow anything to pull you back — follow your dreams.”


Special needs pilgrims completed Hajj with ease

The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
Updated 43 min ago

Special needs pilgrims completed Hajj with ease

The 17 special needs pilgrims performed Hajj during this season. (Supplied)
  • The transportation process between the holy sites was perfect

MAKKAH: Special needs pilgrims in the Kingdom performing Hajj have received continued support for years, and this year was no exception.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with Harakiya Adults Motor Disability Association, managed to help 17 adults from the association to perform Hajj during this season through a fully equipped campaign that took into account their health conditions, to assure an easy and comfortable experience.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is keen to enable the disabled to perform their pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfattah Mashat, has given the matter special care personally, conducting inspection visits to the disabled Hajj camp in Muzdalifah to reassure and listen to the suggestions of people there.
The 17 special needs Saudi pilgrims’ disabilities range from paraplegics to polio survivors, from different areas including Riyadh, Jouf, Dammam, Dawadmi, Madinah, Asir, Qassim, the Eastern Province, Hail, and Taif.
Majed Al-Soraya, director of the Campaign Beneficiaries Services Department, who suffers from a motor disability, told Arab News: “Selecting candidates was based on many conditions, including that the beneficiary had never performed Hajj before.
“Participation was limited to persons with motor disabilities who could rely on themselves, and were immunized with (a coronavirus disease vaccine) second dose,” he added.
Al-Soraya also mentioned the ministry’s readiness to offer pilgrims with motor disabilities a comfortable stay and fully equipped transpiration. “Technical inspection and maintenance procedures were carried out as a preparation stage. We made sure to prepare travel medical supplies, first aid, Ihrams, and pilgrims’ needs. We also made preparations to ensure a well-equipped secure residence in Mina.”
One of the participants, Abdullah Alraishan, a paraplegic whose condition was caused by a car accident in 2011, told Arab News: “To be honest, I was not expecting a chance to perform Hajj this year. It is an unexpected feeling. I’m really speechless; everything was well organized. Indeed, all sectors have made an exceptional effort.
“Being a person with disabilities, I found very comprehensive access, care, and attention by the campaign. The transportation process between the holy sites was perfect. Thanks to our government, security sectors, and to everyone who worked on such an initiative for people with disabilities.”
Khalid Al-Hajjri, 38, has had a movement disability since birth. He told Arab News that he decided to participate in this year’s Hajj because it was an irreplaceable opportunity, in light of the small numbers, organization and precautions in place.
“The experience of Hajj this year was wonderful, full of spirituality and indescribable feelings,” he said. “The movement between the holy sites was carried out with ease (with) the well-equipped cars, the sufficient number of organizers and the integrated coordination with all sectors.”
Naji Al-Fahiqi, 43, who also suffers from a movement disability caused by poliomyelitis said that he was not expecting to get the opportunity to participate in this year’s Hajj. “I was lucky enough and blessed to be among (the) pilgrims this year,” he said.


Saudi Arabia’s daily case count remains stable

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available nationwide to the 12-18 age group. (SPA/file photo)
The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available nationwide to the 12-18 age group. (SPA/file photo)
Updated 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s daily case count remains stable

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available nationwide to the 12-18 age group. (SPA/file photo)
  • A total of 69.2 percent of the Kingdom’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 daily case count remains stable, with numbers remaining within the 1,000-1,400 case count for more than two months.
On Saturday the Ministry of Health (MoH) recorded 1,256 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 516,949 cases since the start of the pandemic.
With Saturday’s numbers, there are now 10,829 active cases, 1,385 of which are critical; a rise of 2 in the past 24 hours.
The region with the highest cases is Riyadh at 280, followed by Makkah with 244 and the Eastern Province at 170. The region with the lowest cases is Jouf with 6.
Cases that have recovered in the past day are at 1,115, bringing the total number of recoveries to 497,965.

INNUMBERS

516,949 Total cases

497,965 Recoveries

8,155 Deaths 10,829

Active cases

The region with the highest recovery rate is Riyadh at 309, followed by the Eastern Province at 219 and Makkah at 210.
COVID-19 related deaths have reached 14, raising the national toll to 8,155.

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available nationwide to the 12-18 age group. (SPA/file photo)

As 89,482 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, more than 24.2 million vaccines have been administered at a rate of 69.4 doses per 100. A total of 69.2 percent of the Kingdom’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
With vaccine doses continuing to be administered at a high rate, the MoH has announced that the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available nationwide to the 12-18 age group.


King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
Updated 24 July 2021

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
  • King Salman expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely
  • Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near Mumbai

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president of India after 119 people died in monsoon-triggered landslides and building collapses.
More than 135,000 people have been evacuated and dozens are still missing.
In the cable to Ram Nath Kovind, the king said “We share the pain of this affliction with you and we send you, the families of the deceased and your people, our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy.”
He also expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely.
Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near the financial capital Mumbai and causing the worst floods in decades in the resort state of Goa.


Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 July 2021

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed three Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The Houthi militia continues its aggression by trying to target civilians and civilian objects, the coalition said.

The coalition is taking operational measures to protect civilians from Houthi hostilities, it added.