While a Dubai edition of the classic Monopoly game is available, we take a look at some traditional Arabic games you should try
What if we told you, you could buy a villa, take out a bank loan, buy a business and enjoy 3 days public holiday every so often while living in Dubai?
You're right, it's far too good to be true. In fact, for many of us it would only be possible if we bought the board game Dubai Monopoly. The game is a twist on the classic Monopoly game many of us love, and comes with Dubai-style scenarios, perks and challenges to enjoy.
Far from the original Monopoly game, which was first created by Charles Darrow in 1935 then later bought by the Parker Brothers, Dubai Monopoly has been made with the intention of promoting Dubai as a hub for trade and business.
Players can see some of the Emirate's most iconic landmarks, like the Arabian Ranches, Dubai Marina, Za'abeel and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). Plus, it features some of the most popular aspects of living and working in Dubai.
But before you rush to purchase the new board game, have you ever stopped to try a traditional Arabic game that hails from the region? Indeed, the idea of owning the Burj Khalifa and having a Maserati as your player's piece are attractive thoughts, but here's some more humble Arabic games we recommend trying...
Simply put, this is backgammon... But with a Middle Eastern twist. In fact, Tawla is the Turkish name for backgammon, and the rules are similar, but not exactly the same as Western backgammon some of us may be familiar with.
The object of the game is to move all of your checkers into your own home board, and then bear them off. The first player to bear off all of his checkers, wins the game.
One of the popular games embedded in the ancestry of the region is something called dama.
It's a form of checkers played in the Middle East, and is a simple strategy board game but it has different rules to other forms of chess.
Dama is played on a wooden board with 64 squares, and each player has 16 pieces to begin with and as the game proceeds, the player can win or lose pieces to their competitor.
Hundreds of variations of this game exist across Africa, the West Indies, India and Arabia, but is similar across the board.
It's a 2 player turn-based strategy board game played with small stones or seeds and rows of holes or pits in the earth, a board or a playing surface. The aim of Mancala is to capture all or some set of your opponent's stones. The world 'mancala' derives from the Arabic 'naqala', which means literally 'to move'.
Trix is a card game and is popular in many Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Trix is played by four people using a standard international 52 card pack without the jokers. The cards in each suit rank from high to low, A, K, Q, J and so on until 2, and deal and play are counter-clockwise.
To begin, cards are shuffled and dealth one at a time, until each player has 13 cards. The first rule is, whoever is dealt the 7 of hearts will 'own the kingdom'. This player then chooses which contract will be played, and will be the dealer for the next four deals.
Players swap who rules the kingdom until all players have had a go. There are five contracts in total. The first four are trick-taking games, called Sheikh Koobbah (King of Hearts), Dinari (diamonds), Banat (girls) and Eltoosh (slapping). Contract 5 is called Trix, which is not a trick-taking game, which is similar to Card Dominoes in Western games.
5. Carrom Board
Easily described as 'finger pool', the game of Carrom is played using a large, square wooden board on which players can flick a large weighted disc (the striker) at smaller, wooden discs (the Carrom-men).
The goal is to sink your 9 Carrom-men (black or white), as well as the red Queen, into the four corner pockets. The first player or team to accompish this collects points for the round.
A standard game continues until one player has 25 points, or 8 boards have been completed.
This is a complex, 'cross and circle' race board game. While it originally hails from India, Barjees made its way into Middle Eastern culture and is now part of many family traditions.
It's a two player game, where each player has 4 pieces and must move all of their pieces across the board from start to finish. Rather than using dice to determine the moves, Barjees uses cowry shells, and traditionally, the game is played on a cloth board.