The BBC is launching Damming The Nile VR, a two-part virtual reality news documentary series exploring the water politics of the river Nile.

Produced by BBC VR Hub and BBC News, the two-part series is available now through a new BBC VR app on the Oculus Gear VR store.

Damming the Nile VR takes viewers on a journey down the famous river and also looks at major new project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which threatens to upset the balance of power between neighbours and rivals Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

BBC Africa Correspondent Alastair Leithead will hear from locals “in the cafés of Khartoum and street corners of Sudan, meet the richest man in Sudan, and grill ministers fighting their countries’ corners.” Cameras will also inspect the dam up-close, explore ancient Sudanese pyramids and Egyptian temples from a hot air balloon, and from the ground in Cairo.

The film is in full immersive VR, is stereoscopic and features fully spatialised audio. Damming the Nile VR also features music from The Nile Project, a collective of musicians from countries along the river, including songs from their new album.

Damming the Nile VR will be available to watch via a new website,, along with other BBC VR highlights. In addition to watching the series on a Samsung Gear VR, both parts can viewed in full on YouTube with or without a VR headset like a Google Cardboard. A special 360° version of the films will be available to to watch through the BBC News website and on Facebook. The story will aired as a news documentary on BBC TV channels, and will be available to read on the BBC News website.

Alastair Leithead, BBC Africa Correspondent says: “As a foreign correspondent, my job is to introduce people to new and fascinating places, challenge stereotypes and explain how countries are growing and changing. Virtual reality means films like Damming the Nile VR can actually take our audiences there so they can see it for themselves. Once you put on a headset and enter the virtual world, you come with us on assignment to Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to explore their issues up close, and understand the politics of the Nile through a unique new perspective.”

Zillah Watson, head of BBC VR Hub, says: “We want to create high quality mobile VR pieces that give audiences experiences they can’t find anywhere else. Damming the Nile VR does this by making you feel like you’re there, unearthing the story as you go, and getting a better understanding of the different cultures and points of view at play. Audiences can also enjoy the sheer scale and beauty of the Nile, alongside the major infrastructure projects that have shaped its past and will continue to shape its future.”

BBC VR Hub is also launching a new BBC VR app on the Oculus Gear VR store  on 21 February. Previously released VR titles will join Damming the Nile VR in the app at launch, with others coming throughout the year.

Staff Reporter

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