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Muslims can now experience the Black Stone in Mecca virtually through new initiative

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Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative that will allow Muslims all around the world to touch the Black Stone at the Kaaba in Mecca virtually through Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

The initiative was launched by Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais, the General President for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

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The “Virtual Black Stone Initiative” will be part of the Kingdom’s Agency for Exhibitions and Museums Affairs represented by the General Administration of Digital Exhibitions, in cooperation with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research at the University of Umm al-Qura. The initiative aims to use virtual reality (VR) and digital experiences that simulate the real reality.

In May, Saudi Arabian authorities released new pictures that offer a never-before-seen close up view of the Black Stone in the Kaaba in Mecca. The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques captured the details on the Black Stone – known as Hajar Aswad in Arabic – with a new technique that uses stacked panoramic focus.

Muslims believe the famous Black Stone descended directly from heaven and was given to the Prophet Abraham by the angel Gabriel.

The stone is set within a pure silver covering and is located in the corner of the Kaaba, about a meter and a half from the ground.

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US considering moving troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe: NATO diplomat

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The United States is considering transferring some troops stationed in Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks, a NATO diplomat told Reuters, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“This has to do with American troops that are already in Europe,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a New York Times report that said US President Joe Biden was considering sending US troops to the Baltics and Eastern European allies.

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NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.

The diplomat said the potential troop movements would be gradual and that any filling of NATO gaps on its eastern flank could take place in the coming weeks.

Read more: From Kyiv, top US diplomat warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

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Several wounded in shooting in German city; gunman dead

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A lone gunman wounded several people at a lecture theater in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg on Monday, police said.

Police said in a brief statement that the perpetrator was dead, but didn’t give details of how that happened. They had earlier asked people on Twitter to avoid the Neuenheimer Feld area of Heidelberg, where the city’s university campus is located.

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Police didn’t specify how many people were wounded, or how seriously, and there was no information on their identities or that of the suspected shooter. The university’s press office declined to give any details on the shooting and referred all inquiries to police.

German news agency dpa cited unidentified security sources as saying that the gunman killed himself.

Police said the weapon used in the shooting was a long-barreled firearm.

Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known.

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Aramco CEO says oil demand nearing pre-pandemic levels: Report

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Al Nasser said that the demand for oil is nearing pre-pandemic levels, Asharq Business reported in a tweet on Monday.

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Saudi Aramco to establish presence in China to focus on non-metals in construction

EIG-led investors in Aramco oil pipelines hire banks for dual-tranche bonds

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