Umrah is an Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca that can be taken any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj pilgrimage. During the pilgrimage, there are 2 key rituals that must be performed: the Tawaf and Sa’i. The Tawaf involve circling around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise direction for 7 times. The Sa’i consists of rapidly walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah.

For our client, Shahidah Travel and Tour, they offer travel packages as well as theory and practical courses for Muslims to prepare for the pilgrimage trip.

Learn and prepare

for the Umrah pilgrimage rituals in VR before the actual trip

Using the VR simulation, the course attendees are able to experience being in the mosque in Mecca and also moving around the environment to simulate the 2 rituals while the Ustad (religious teacher) guide them in the steps and prayers. This is not just more immersive than reading text and watching videos but also more effective in aiding preparation for the trip. Even non-first timers find it helpful to revisit the scene in VR.

An added benefit is also for the elderly to be able to judge better if they need mobility aids like wheelchair in advance before they go instead of rushing to get it when they are over in Mecca. This might sound like a small issue but is actually a logistical nightmare when you consider that the Masjid Al-Haram (Grand Mosque of Mecca) can accommodate up to 1.5 million worshippers. The participants also enjoy viewing the inside of the Kaaba, which is not possible in real life.

In this project, other than creating the 3D environment and crowd simulation of Masjid Al-Haram in VR, we also tested multiple ways of moving including teleportation, joystick movement, swinging arms movement as well as using Cybershoes, a shoe accessory that allow you to simulate walking by moving your feet naturally while sitting down.