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Quarantine: 3 Middle Eastern board games to kill your boredom

Mancala game

Being confined doesn't mean you should be stuck watching Netflix all day. To better resist the lockdown, and forced proximity to your family members, KAWA proposes 3 board games, coming straight from the Middle East, for all those tired of losing in the usual Monopoly.

1. Mancala

Hundreds of similar variations of this game exist throughout Africa, the Caribbean, India and Arab world. This two-player turn-based strategy game is played with small stones or seeds dropped into either holes or small pits in the ground, on game boards or on any playing surface, really. The objective of the game is to capture more of your opponent’s stones than they do of yours. The word “mancala” comes from word “naqala,” literally meaning “to move” in Arabic.



2. Carrom 

It’s often described as a “miniature pool table”… The game of Carrom is played on a square wooden board on which the players slide a large weighted disc (the batter) onto smaller wooden discs (the Carrom-men). The goal is to drop the 9 Carrom-men (black or white), along with as the Red Queen, into the four corner pockets. The first player or team to do so wins the points for the turn… The game continues until one player scores 25 points, or 8 boards have been entirely filled. 


A game of Carrom in the sultanate of Oman.


3. Barjees 

It is a rather complex board game which, although born in India, has made its way into Middle Eastern culture and into countless Arabic family traditions. It is conventionally played by two players, with each individual holding 4 pieces, all of which they have to move on board at each turn. Rather than using dice to determine their moves, the game of Barjees calls for shells, usually on a cloth board.