Traditional Arabic Board Games
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16.12.2017

Traditional Arabic Board Games

Board games are immensely popular all over the world. Traditional Arabic board games have regained their popularity in the recent past. These board games are equally enjoyed by players ranging from the age of 8-80. With the café culture back in vogue, these traditional Arabic board games have regained a faithful fan following.

Tables or board games are one of the common games, similar to games like backgammon. Such games are played on a board that has two rows with 12 vertical markings. These markings are known as “points”. To determine individual player piece movement, you have to roll the dice in the game. Luck is a significant element in the traditional Arabic board games; rolling the die symbolizes the transience of luck in our lives. Arabic board games have been influenced by a lot of different elements in Middle Eastern culture. Their religion, their landscape and their weather, all have roles to play when it comes to the creation of leisure activities. How people spend their leisure time speaks volumes on what they believe in, what they hold important, and what they consider trivial.

There are various board games available attributed to Middle Eastern cultures including the Nabataean game, Mancala, Mah jongg, so on, and so forth. The game of Nabataean is played on a 4x12 board. In some variations of the game a 4x14 board was also used. A strategy game, Nabataean followed complex rules. Sega is another popular board game of the Arabic countries. This game has been played throughout Middle east and Egypt. It is a simple game to learn and play, main element of which was luck. Novice players need not invest much time to understand the technique of this particular game. To out do your opponent on the board, all you had to do was roll the dice to high numbers.

In Egypt, players usually take play on 5x5 boards. There was also a tradition of playing on 9x9 game boards or 7x7 game boards. Most of the Arabic board games could be played on any of these boards, depending on the skill level of the players and the game rules. One of such games that could be played on different boards was Petra’s square game. it has 5, 7 or 9 places square. Seega boards also have the same place. There is a similarity between the original size of Petra’s square game boards and seega board, however they are flexible, so any size could be used.

Senet is hugely popular game in Egypt; played since ancient times. Earlier, nobility played this game but later the game was played by the common person. To play this game, you have to use a 30 squares board with s-shaped outline. Unique strategy is needed to play this game. Individual pieces required in this game were 5 reel shaped pieces and 5 cone shaped pieces. Although earlier, it was ‘two players game’, but this game could well be played alone. This game had a religious significance as well, attributed to the clerics who modified the game later on.
May 6, 2008, 3:50 am


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