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Mecca's Sterilization Gates, Virtual Prayers & Eid Curfew Announced

As the lockdown ensues across the globe, Saudi Arabia continues to implement key preventive measures at home in a bid to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that worshippers at its holy sites stay safe and protected. From distance praying for small groups of worshippers, to prayer sanitizing carpets and entire buildings, sterilization efforts have been ongoing in the Kingdom’s most revered places of worships.

Last week, the country stepped up its preventive measures, this time installing sophisticated self-sterilization gates at the Holy Mosque in Mecca. According to Gulf News, these new gates are fitted with thermal cameras that can check the temperature of people walking in from a distance of six meters. The gates also spray disinfectant, are regular disinfected themselves, and have smart screens that clearly display the temperature of entrants. 

In addition to these on-ground measures, Saudi Arabia has also implemented digital measures by launching “Wahi,” a virtual reality experience that allows anyone to attend prayers in Mecca during the month of Ramadanfrom the safety of their homes. As reported by Arab News, the experience is in the form of VR nine-minute film that was made using a six-camera rig. edited together to offer the viewer a 360-degree view of the holy site. According the film’s director Almotaz Aljefri, the film garnered more than 8 million last month.

“[W]e 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 […] 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,” AlJafriwas quoted as saying in the news article. 

On the night of May 12th , Saudi Arabia announced a 24-hour country lockdown during the upcoming Eid holidays to contain the number of COVID-19 cases that surged during the lockdown ease. All of these measures are taken to mitigate this pandemic virus as much as possible and to safeguard the public health. Thankfully technology has offered us many ways ot connect with family during these trying times, so let's all push through!

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