Saudi store leads fightback as board games throw down the gauntlet to online rivals

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One of the main aims behind this store is to encourage families to find interesting ways of coming together instead of becoming isolated playing video or phone games. (AN photos)
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One of the main aims behind this store is to encourage families to find interesting ways of coming together instead of becoming isolated playing video or phone games. (AN photos)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Saudi store leads fightback as board games throw down the gauntlet to online rivals

JEDDAH: Chess, Monopoly, Baloot, Snakes and Ladders — board and card games have been part of family and social life for thousands of years.
Now a Saudi store is helping these age-old pastimes fight back against the dominance of their online and mobile phone rivals, and the social isolation that these encourage.
Challenge Round offers more than 200 board games from around the world, with eight playing tables. Each table seats eight players and, for a SR35 ($9.30) fee, visitors can play with friends and family — or alone.
Rami Sunnari, Challenge Round’s founder and business manager, told Arab News: “We sometimes have one player, and in this case we help him to either socialize with a new group of friends or, if not, then the game masters gladly help him to enjoy the game.”
Four game masters at the store offer customers advice on games, with tips on rules and tactics, Sunnari said.
Dixit, Games Magazine’s best new game of 2010, is one of the store’s top sellers. It features a group of cards illustrated with dreamlike images. Players select cards that match a title suggested by the “storyteller,” and attempt to guess which card the “storyteller” selected. The game was introduced in 2008.
“A friend of mine told me about a fun game that can make people laugh out loud,” Sunnari said. “It was Dixit. I bought it from Amazon, then played it with family and friends, and we had great fun.
“I kept searching for similar games and found this huge industry of board gaming that I wasn’t aware of. In fact, only a handful of people knew about these games in our part of the world, while the industry has reached its peak in Germany, the US, Britain, France, and other European countries.
Sunnari said games could be an enjoyable way of teaching and learning, as developments in “edutainment” showed.
But while video and online games can help us to think more critically and engage with people from all over the world, they also carry the risk of social isolation, and even depression and violence.
“One of the main aims behind this store is to encourage families to find interesting ways of coming together instead of becoming isolated playing video or phone games,” Sunnari said.
“I started buying games and playing them with family and friends at weekends and even on weekdays. After a while, I owned 27 different games. And it wasn’t easy to get them because I ordered them online most of the time. Later my friends and family invited me over and asked me to play these games with them. It wasn’t long before the idea of a board gaming business came to my mind,” he said.
In March, Challenge Round will open a new branch with more space for families to play. “It can accommodate up to 100 people to play games and enjoy coffee and smoothies. And in the next five years, we aim to have our own games events and shows for the people of Saudi Arabia,” Sunnari said.


Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

Updated 17 November 2018
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Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

  • The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah
  • More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show

DUBAI: After a successful run in Khobar last week, Road to Ad Diriyah, a racing-themed entertainment event, is set to visit Jeddah as the country gears up for all-electric street car-racing activities in December.
More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show, which featured racing-themed activities heralding the upcoming 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Dec. 13 to 15, a first-of-its-kind sporting event in the Middle East.
The Jeddah edition opens on Nov. 22, with most of the activities from the previous one, as well as an e-sports competition whose winner will take home SAR 1,000,000.


The ABB FIA Formula E Road to Ad Diriyah e-sports championship allows fans to command a SAR 250,000 professional racing simulator. The 16 best participants will then be invited to Ad Diriyah in December for the grand finals.
The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of what the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah will be like.
Bavaria Zaman, who visited the Khobar show with husband Rashid Khan and kids Nawal, Daiin and Nashin, said: “I think it’s fantastic. The kids are running around and having fun.”
The upcoming E-Prix is the first in a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).