Let the games begin

WT Writer
Nov 1, 2018
Step back in time and discover the traditional children’s games that shaped the UAE’s cultural identity at this fascinating exhibition in Abu Dhabi  


While smartphones, virtual reality and trending toys may be high-up on the wish list of the youth of today, in the past, a more imaginative approach to fun was required. 

In the UAE, children found creative ways to entertain themselves using the resources and materials available to them, taking inspiration from the surrounding environment. From the classic thrill of hide and seek (otherwise known as Al Dusays), to the balancing challenge of Al Karabi, these traditional games have played a pivotal role in developing the country’s shared and collective heritage. 


Culture fans will be pleased to learn that all of this is being celebrated by The Emirati Traditional Games exhibition, which is taking place from 1 November 2018 to 1 January 2019 at Al Qattara Arts Centre in Al Ain. Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, the exhibition, now in its second edition, will shine a light on five of the most popular local games: Al Saggala, Al Gaheef, Um Al Eyal, Khoosa Boosa and Adim Al Serra. These are being championed through a series of commissioned works by Emirati artists who are inspired by these games, each one using his or her unique technical and artistic skills to create a fresh understanding and interpretation of heritage. The result is a fusion of the past and the present, and a statement about the continuation and resilience of heritage. 

So no matter how the modern world affects our everyday lives, the games once invented by children, and their playful charm, will be preserved for generations to come.

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