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Lighthouse - September, 2014.

Traditional Children’s Games

Dating back to as early as 2600 BC, games have been a universal part of human experience and are present in all cultures. Games play an important role in the development of children and this is true throughout the world. Like everywhere there are traditional games that are specific to this region.

Emirati traditional games can be categorised based on whether the child was born on the coast, in the desert, or in the mountains, and whether they were played by girls, boys or both. However, these games are not specific to just one region, as tribes used to travel from one place to another, in search of work. For example, camel herders used to travel to the coast in summer months to join diving expeditions, and all these movements influenced and spread the children’s games. Some of them are to be found throughout Arabia, or even beyond. A lot of the games can be recognised universally, just with a few slight changes. For example Gabat Mestal is very similar to tag where there is a thief that needs to be caught.

El Karrabi is a game that maybe isn’t as recognisable. El Karrabi, or Fort and Water, is played by either boys or girls facing each other in two lines and while holding one foot behind them, they hop towards each other while trying to push their opponent over.

A lot of the games can include cultural traditions and expressions, traditional craftsmanship, performing arts, and social practices and rituals. These are what make the games unique to this region.

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