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

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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)
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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)
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Updated 10 May 2020

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.

 


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