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Traditional Games

Tahir is 11 years old. He is going to tell you about some of the games he likes to play with his friends. Many of the games have similarities with British games.

“I like to sit and talk to my father and grandfather and learn about the olden days in Saudi Arabia. I love to hear their stories about when they were children like me and what their lives were like. I particularly like it when they tell me about the games they played and I try them out with my friends. It’s good to get outside when the weather is cooler”.

The Hunter

The Hunter is a very old game and is like the English game “Hide and Seek”. My friends and I love this game and we play it nearly every day.

My father and grandfather used to play this game with their brothers and friends. What you do is this: choose one person to be the hunter or “it”. The hunter closes his eyes and counts up to 10 or 20. While he has his eyes closed everyone else runs and hides. The hunter has to find each member of the group and “tag” them. Of course when they are found, everyone tries to run away, so the hunter has to chase after them. After everyone has been caught and “tagged”, the game starts again and the first one caught is the next hunter.


Playing Carrom

Another game I love to play with my friends and with my brothers and sisters is Carrom. This is another very old game and my father tells me that it is played all over the world and that there are competitions and clubs for people who are really keen.

It is a board game a bit like snooker. It is a game for 2, 3 or 4 players. On the board are nine black disks, nine white disks and one red Queen disk and one larger Striker white disk. The object of the game is to “pot” all of your disks (the black or the white ones) into the pockets. As soon as you have “potted” one of your colour you can then pot the Queen. The winner is the player who clears all his disks first. He wins the “board” and gets a point for each of the opponent’s disks left on the board and 3 points for the Queen if he potted one of his coloured disks immediately after potting the Queen.

There are all sorts of different “shooting” styles. My father is a very good player and he tells me that you must line your shot up by shifting your sitting position but you mustn’t leave your seat and then you flick the striker disk with either your first or middle finger. You mustn’t push the striker disk either, you can only flick it.


This is another very old game that my father and grandfather and uncles used to play. My great grandfather lived in the desert. He was a Bedouin and when my grandfather was a boy they had to make up games using whatever they could find to play with.

To play Balboul, you take a stick about one foot long and a long whip. Wind a strip of cloth round the stick leaving enough cloth to hold on to. Stand the stick upright and give the cloth a sharp pull to set the stick spinning. Flick the whip at the stick to keep it spinning. Whoever keeps his stick spinning the longest is the winner.


My friends and I sometimes play this when we are getting ready for running races at school because it is good training for the long jump and the high jump!

Two boys sit on the ground with their legs out straight, just touching. A third child has to jump over the legs. Every time the jumper succeeds the gap between the extended legs is widened and then the arms are extended to make it more difficult. Sometimes we fall over and get covered in dust!


My father and mother say that this game is played all over the world. In English it is called “Blind Man’s Buff”. My little sister, Amina, loves this game. One person in a group is blindfolded and the others run about while the blindfolded child has to catch hold of one of them. Whoever is caught then takes their turn to be blindfolded.


This is another game that is played by children. You need a bicycle wheel, or large tyre, and a stick. Set the wheel rolling and then run after it and keep it rolling by pushing it along with the stick. In the old times in Saudi Arabia, children would use rolled up palm leaves to make a stick.

BackgammonBackgammon board

This is one of the oldest games in the world. It originated in Arabia over 5,000 years ago and is still very popular today.

Carrom photograph courtesy of Matthew Tomkinson/In Partnership ©2005

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