Traditional Arabic Games of Saudi Arabia – How to Play
Saudi Arabian kids know how to have fun. They often still play traditional Arabic games that their parents and grandparents played before them. This is despite the fact that their country has somewhat of a conservative culture. Here are some of the most common ones:
This great outdoor game is a combination of hide and seek and freeze tag. A player is the hunter who counts to 50 while all the other kids run and hide. After he reaches the number 50, the hunter then goes to search for the children. Once he finds them, he tags them, and they must stay in place until the hunter finds all of the children. After which, the first person tagged is new hunter.
Similar to Blind Man’s Bluff, Ghommemah is another traditional Arabic game played by Saudi kids. More challenging than tag because the player who is “it” has to wear a blind-fold and then run after all the other players. When they catch one, they guess who they are, and if they are right, that person then wears the blind-fold.
Fashkah seems to be a cousin of the Leapfrog game, but in this game, instead of jumping over players backs, two players sit next to each other on the ground, with their legs straight out and touching. The third player runs and tries to jump over their legs. If he makes it over, then they move a little bit further apart to make the gap wider. Each time the jumper clears their legs, the two players move further apart. The round continues until the jumper fails to make it over in one leap.
“Finger pool” is perhaps the easiest way to describe this game played on a 29″ x 29″ wooden carrom board. If you don’t know how to play, let us explain: Players flick a large weighted disc called the striker at smaller black or white wooden discs called “carrom-men” and a red queen. The goal is to sink your nine carrom-men, as well as the red Queen, in the four corner pockets. The first player or team to accomplish this collects points for the round commonly known as a “board”. A standard traditional game of carrom continues until one player has cleared all of his disks, winning the round and earning one point for each of his opponent’s disks still on the board. If he also pocketed the Queen, then he receives a bonus of five points. Play continues until a player reaches 25 points, or eight boards have been played.
Played in Saudi Arabia for hundreds of years and you can still find a person toting around their backgammon set looking for someone to play. Backgammon is played on a board with a bar splitting the middle of the board. One side of the bar is called the home board, and the other is known as the outer board. There are 24 triangles on the board grouped into four quadrants of six. Each triangle is numbered 1-24 starting on each player’s home board, meaning the 24th spot for one player is the first spot for his opponent.
Both players have fifteen checkers. Two are placed on their 24-point triangle, five on the 13-point, three on the 8-point, and finally five on the 6-point. The moves are determined by rolling two dice which indicate two separate moves. For example, if a two and a six are rolled, then the player can move one checker two spots and another checker six spots. Alternatively, they could just move one checker eight spots. A checker cannot be moved, however, to a spot that has two or more of his opponent’s checkers. The winner of a backgammon game is the player who is the first to move all of his checkers to the six triangles on his home board, and then off the board completely.
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