Arabic Board Games

More detail in Introduction to Arabian Board Games

Arabic board games have been part of the Arab world for centuries. These games come with a rich cultural and artistic history that has its roots in the earliest stages of civilization. Games such as Mancala, Chess, Backgammon and Snakes & Ladders are all examples of Arabic board games with a long and storied past.

The origins of these games can be traced back to the Egyptian dynasties, where hieroglyphics found on ancient tombs often depict predecessors of these timeless classics. Chess is believed to have originated in India before it was spread to Persia, then gradually making its way into the Arab world – eventually morphing into its various forms seen today. Similarly, Mancala is a strategy game believed to date back to the 7th century AD and was joined by Backgammon later in 1100 AD – being spread from Persia through Mesopotamia and ultimately reaching Europe from North Africa.

In many countries throughout the Arab world these board games are still used today as an integral part of their culture; they are often connected with certain religious beliefs or customs practiced in each region. Examples include certain geographical areas creating game boards with specific shapes related to Islamic art; chess sets constructed with elaborate markers representing characters from Islamic mythology or paradise;and tiles inscribed with verses from both religious books and poems written in classical Arabic calligraphy. In addition, references to some of these iconic traditional gaming pieces can also be seen in National Emblems representing certain nations like Iraq – even though legislation surrounding such emblems has changed over time due to various political changes taking place within Middle Eastern countries but still maintain their importance within local cultures representing diversity ranging widely between them.

It is clear that board games have been an integral part of Arabian culture for centuries, extending far beyond popular recreational activities enjoyed by locals and tourists alike – it is professionalized competitions up on a much larger scale played throughout multiple countries across Middle Eastern shores, bringing communities together which speaks volumes about this activity’s importance within regional socio-cultural settings down historical timescales!

Comparing Modern Versions of Arabian Board Games

The original versions of these Arabian board games were played with materials that could be found in the everyday Arabic home – such as clay, wood, and paper. They would often feature a board which was either hand-drawn or constructed out of materials like stones and tiles, while the game itself consisted of rolling dice and moving around the board, to reach your goal. The goal of the game varied based on what kind of game it was, but could include collecting items, working your way through puzzles, or winning a race.

Modern versions have seen a shift away from using home-made boards and pieces made from natural materials. Instead now there are usually store bought digital boards and plastic pieces to represent the different players, or characters in some cases. Game mechanics have also changed over time – with some games introducing elements such as points and levels – where you can earn rewards for completing them. This could include unlocking digital items in virtual marketplaces like gems or levels. Additionally, many modern interpretations now revolve around stories and adventure – with chance encounters and challenges that players must maneuver their way around while advancing their game pieces on the board.

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Suggestions for Variations on Arabian Board Games

1. Alquerque – Players must move their pieces not only between the points of their board, but also between those points and their neighboring stones in an effort to conquer them, as well as to fill up the board spaces with pieces from both sides.

2. Senet – As an added level of strategy and complexity, two sets of pawns could be used instead of one for each player, thus adding more blocking options and forcing players to think ahead about how to move all pawns in harmony without getting stuck.

3. Sugoroku – To make the game slightly less predictable, players can roll three dice at once — a normal die plus two different colored dice each with a randomizer on the back (like a 6 sided spinner, or coin flip). They then must decide which dice to use in their turn based on what rolls they would prefer given their current position in the game and strategies.

4. Mancala – Playing with odd numbered pits instead of even ones can help spice up the game as a player might randomly have more than one stone when collecting them in each round which could force him/her into making increasingly difficult decisions in pursuit of victory.

Tips for Outperforming Specific Opponents

When playing traditional Arabic board games, such as Backgammon, there are a few tips that could help you win against certain opponents.

First, try to anticipate your opponent’s moves by thinking ahead. This can give you an edge in the game and help you stay one step ahead of them. Consider where they are most likely to move their pieces and plan accordingly.

Next, check any possible traps or risks they may be setting up in their move. Make sure they don’t gain an advantage by outsmarting you in this way.

Additionally, consider how well-versed your opponent is in the game. If they are a more experienced player, pay attention to the tactics they use and focus on countering their strategies with clever plays of your own.

Finally, remember to stay focused on the game and try not to become too rattled if your opponent gets ahead in the match. If you remain calm and keep playing smartly it will give you a better chance of turning things around in your favour.

Recommended Resources to Learn More About Arabian Board Games

1. The Thousand and One Nights : A manual of Arabian boardgames by Zahra Kassim-Lakha (2009)
2. Board Games From Around the World by Chriss Anne Waterbury (2015)
3. The History of Chess, and Other Games of Skill: Containing an Account Of Their Origin, Nature, Rules, Varieties and Uses by Francis Beckett and Martin Hughes (2011).

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1. Understanding Cribbage – Arabian Board Game by Abbey Costel on
2. Discovering Arabic Board Games by Yara Alsalman on
3. How to PlayQatara: An Arabic Board Gameby Saif Hameed on

1. How to Play Mheibes an old Arabic Boardgame by Kamal Badawi on YouTube
2. Learning Egyptian Board Games with Dr Seham El Toukhy on YouTube
3. Five Minutes with Shamma – a Qatari game played my mother’s generation shows how board games have impacted all our livesby the Qatar Foundation Internationalon YouTube
1. Exploring Arab Games in Jordan Episode 89 from ‘The Middle East Reality Check’ podcast hosted by ESJ Radio Incorporatedon Apple Podcasts
2. Behind the Scene of a Resort – Arab Fun & Sharing Stories with Jana Hourani Episode 79 from ‘Destination Leverage’ podcast hosted on Apple Podcasts
3. Interview With Fisahurubshavatar Speaking about Azerbaijanian Chess By Storyboard Radio hosted by Harper Reeveson Apple Podcasts

Fun Facts About Arabian Board Games

1. One of the oldest known Arabic board games is ‘Two Lines’, a game that has been played since ancient times and was popular during the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258CE).

2. The eastern game of chess had its origins in India and traveled to Europe via Persia were it was given the same name in Arabic, shatranj (or chatrang).

3. Asaq al- banat (the girl’s ladder) is an example of a traditional Arabic counting game, similar to snakes and ladders.

4. ‘Gisas’ or ‘Jangsariyah’ is thought to be one of the earliest forms of backgammon and was played in Mesopotamia as early as 3000BCE.

5. The Bedouin tribes of North Africa also made use of stones for their own version, namely ‘Dabka’, which is still popular today among rural communities in Tunisia and Libya.

6. One form of mancala called ‘Awale’ has been extremely popular amongst African, French-speaking countries such as Ivory Coast and Senegal since the 18th Century due to their European colonial relations with France at that time.

7. Sheesha (also known as Alquerque), which dates back to ancient Egypt in the 12th Century BC is another version of mancala where players win by aligning five counters on the board consecutively before their opponent does so first.

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