It all started in 2011, in a city that never sleeps, one of the sacred city in the world, Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
We have been living in Makkah for years. We have seen people from all around the world visit Makkah, looked at the wide smiles on their way to Masjidil Haram, caught the first tears while watching Ka’bah and the last tears before leaving Makkah.
So, we thought, “What could we give to these pilgrims, so they can always “have” Makkah in their home?”
It was 2011, one fine Friday night, and all we could think is to have a virtual tour of Makkah, especially Masjidil Haram, that people could relive at their homes. So, we did it, from the very scratch: the funding and all.
It was later called Makkah Window, launched in 2014.
Surprisingly, it got very positive reviews, brought us to the Entrepreneurship Centre of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and got our very first seed funding, won a UNESCO award for its unique content.
In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus, and that year marked the spot we launched our company, Visual Experience, the first virtual reality company in the Gulf countries.
And, so, it went…
We did our very first project under the name of this company, partnered with Virtual Reality Laboratory at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Effat University.
We worked on virtual reality projects for big cooperations in the Gulf Cooperation Council, such as Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Sabic, Samsung.
More than that, we even ranked #19 as one of the promising Saudi startups by Forbes Middle East.
We also launched the most artful VR and 360 viewer, sold at stores in Saudi Arabia.
All good things happened.
And then, it came.
The moment when we heard some companies went cold on virtual reality. Facebook shuts down its award-winning Oculus Story Studio. Intel stopped Project Alloy. It’s growing slower than expected. People start assuming virtual reality is dead. People who are working on virtual reality division might start questioning things. And, all people are wondering what’s actually happening.
Well, there’s a big difference between what’s been told in the media and what’s happened in real life.
Negative news is spread so easily, yet it doesn’t define the whole industry, even a little.
In fact, here in Saudi Arabia, we’ve just done doing a virtual reality marketing campaign for a clothing brand, projecting Behind the Scene of the brand in attempt to increase customers’ trust and loyalty through a virtual tour in the factory. We have a list of scheduled meetings to introduce and propose virtual reality to some corporations.
Because one thing we all know: Virtual reality is inevitably potential in the future, but it still lacks awareness.
So, we take that responsibility. We want to be the bridge between virtual reality and businesses. Because we love seeing the exciting smiles every time our potential clients try virtual reality for the first time.
And, we love it when their eyes, after taking off the headset, sparkling and saying, “This is the future.”
We also love it when they open our BeThere Book, and their eyes will spark as if they said, “I’ve never thought a book could turn into this amazing stuff.”
We like it when a company approaches us and starts brainstorming about how they can blend their businesses with virtual reality because it produces unlimited creativity in this industry.
How can we let go of these things?
How can we give up on VR when…
… everyone who tried it out saying, “This is the future.”?
… we all know virtual reality is the next generation of the technology?
… we all know that all these big giant techs are working on it?
Also — even though we don’t really rely on numbers — according to the International Data Corporation, the Middle East and Africa market for augmented and virtual reality is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2020.
We won’t get that number if we stop spreading virtual reality.
We will keep becoming a leading virtual reality company that passionately introduces, proposes, blends virtual reality idea with businesses.
One day, we will be remembered for doing this.
We hope you do, too.
Never give up on VR.
It’s going to be a long road, but we will be proud, eventually.