Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday has launched an initiative to enable Muslims to touch the Black Stone at the Kaaba in Makkah online via Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Virtual Black Stone initiative was launched by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, Head of the Presidency for the Affairs of Two Holy Mosque.
Speaking on the occasion, Al Sudais said in a statement that, “We have great religious and historical sites that we must digitise and communicate to everyone through the means of the latest technology.”
He stressed the importance of creating a virtual simulation environment, to simulate the largest possible number of senses, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell.
The Virtual Black stone initiative allows Muslims to experience the Hajr-e-Aswad virtually prior to the pilgrimage to Makkah.
It was not clear how and when the public will have access to virtual reality technology.
On November 20, 2021, the Saudi authorities announced the launch of the service to book appointment for kissing the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad), touching the Yemeni Corner (Al-Rukn Al-Yamaani), and performing prayer at Hijr Ismail, through the approved electronic application—Tawakkalna, for the first time after lifting the measures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 6, 2021, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques said that it had documented the Black Stone with the ‘Focus Stack Panorama’ technology. This was done to bring out the details of the Black Stone and the shrine of Ibrahim – peace be upon him – with a high degree of clarity for the first time.
The Black Stone is located in the southeastern corner of the Ka’aba or the House of God from the outside, and it is the starting and ending point of performing the Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Ka’aba. It has an oval shape and is reddish-black in colour, and is 30 centimetres in diameter, according to the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques affairs.
The Black Stone consists of eight pieces from the remainder of it on its face, grouped together in varying shapes, according to published reports.