Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Fun and games in Arabic?

Some enterprising companies have been developing Arabic fun and games for children of all ages, reports Amira Al-Noshokaty

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Al-Ahram Weekly

“No, ya Abdel-Rahman” is a kind of family joke, one that mocks the sociocultural standards of many upper middle-class Egyptians who on the one hand insist on pronouncing the names of their children in proper Arabic while continuing to address them in English on the other. A new generation of “local foreigners” grows up as a result that some might say does not really represent the nation.

From the same line of thought comes the idea of promoting a sense of patriotism and belonging in children by giving them educational yet super-fun games in their mother tongue and drawing on their own traditions.

Weladna (Our children), one local company, has developed an enchanting series of board games that tries to do just that. The first is Baladna (Our country), a game that can be folded like a map and has numerous questions relating to Egypt. There is also a game called Million Kilometre Morabaa, (A million square kilometres), which shows locations in the country’s different governorates and the heritage they contain.

Da begad? (For real?) is another game in Egyptian Arabic that promotes general knowledge while applying it to Egypt. Wesal (Connection) also plays on Egypt’s heritage. The idea is to establish connections, or rather reconnect, with children on numerous levels. It takes the form of a series of illustrated books that help record the daily lives of school children and hence make it easier for mothers to read to them. The series includes a set of inspirational cards to be added to lunchboxes, reminding children of how much they are loved and also to share their thoughts with others.

A real treat is the Farhet Ramadan (Ramadan joy) book. This sets out the unique Ramadan traditions of Egyptian culture. There is a 30-day calendar to plan outings and cultural events, in addition to reminders of Ramadan ethics.

The EduFun series of Arabic games is equally interesting. There are wooden puzzles of Aladdin and scenes from the Arabian Nights, as well as wooden block games set in Nubian villages. There are also fun word games in Arabic, something which has long been the company’s strength.

Om Al-Dunia makes games of dominos, for the new generations a game that is quite a blast from the past. Dominos used to be a kind of official summer game along with backgammon, and of course there was also always chess. Om Al-Dunia also makes colourful wooden tangram games in which geometrical shapes are wrapped in colourful khayamiyya (tent cloth) print wrap – ideal for nostalgic players.

There are lots of figures in traditional clothes available for children. Male dolls in traditional galabiyyas allow boys to see dolls as not being for girls only. There are handmade dolls that hold pens, and there are figures from famous children’s television shows like Boggi and Tamtam.

Cow Gifts has an interesting collection of games inspired by the classic children’s puppet operetta Al-Leila Al-Kebira (The big night). This draws on Egypt’s unique mulid celebrations, veritable carnivals of faith. The puppets and their words are printed on notebooks and mugs and will delight children.  

Rahala (Explorers) is an interesting take on Middle Eastern civilisations, as this board game is designed to showcase the rich heritage of the region in different ways. Like explorers, players of the game delve into the multicultural Middle East and learn more about its history while having fun and being entertained.

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