Why Baloot is so popular with Saudis

Some sources say that Baloot entered the Kingdom more than 100 years ago, and spread rapidly in Saudi society. (AN photo)
Updated 04 April 2018
0

Why Baloot is so popular with Saudis

  • Baloot game said to have entered the Kingdom more than 100 years ago
  • People play the game everywhere, during friendly meetings, family gatherings, and weddings too
JEDDAH: For decades, Baloot has been one of the most popular card games among the Arabian Gulf youth, and Saudis in particular. People of all ages play it, but it is mostly popular among young men.
It is similar to the French Belote. Some say it is originally a French game, others believe it is Indian. Some sources say that Baloot entered the Kingdom more than 100 years ago, and spread rapidly in Saudi society.
There are those who say the name of the game came from the English word “plot,” which means a plan or a deal, and this describes how the game is played.
The game has many rules that may slightly differ from one region to another. Players need time to master the game. To play it you need only playing cards, and four players familiar with the rules of the game.
The four players are divided into two teams, two players each. Baloot uses 32 cards only, cards with numbers from 2 to 6 are excluded from the game.
One player distributes 32 cards and each player gets five cards each. The two players facing each other work as a team to win as many high-ranking cards as possible.
The main goal is to win the rounds in which high-ranking cards are played. The players collect cards by “eating” the cards of the opponent.
The game is played by two systems, San and Hokom, and the first is stronger than the second. The systems differ in the way the cards are ordered from strong to weak.
Hamad Al-Harbi, 26, is from Riyadh. He has been playing Baloot for more than 12 years. “The reason for Baloot’s popularity is the availability of playing cards — if you have them you can play — and that it does not need any physical effort or a certain suitable place,” he told Arab News.
“It is not an easy game. The player needs skill and there is a lot of competition and enjoyment,” he added.
Amen Sembawi, 59, from Jeddah, has been playing Baloot for more than 30 years. He told Arab News: “I am extremely happy that finally, Baloot has had the chance to be known internationally. Good players need to be alert, smart and skillful because it is a highly competitive game.”
Sembawi added: “Baloot is very popular. People play it everywhere, during friendly meetings, family gatherings, and weddings too. Each group who usually play together may make their own rules and they are called Bashkah.
“A new player needs first to learn about Baloot rules, watch others playing it, then practice it until he or she masters the game.”
The General Sports Authority announced that Riyadh will host the first Baloot championship at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, from April 4-18.
The top four players will receive prize money totaling more than SR1 million ($270,000), including SR500,000 for the winner.


Local designers to share the spotlight during second Saudi Fashion Week

Updated 55 min 50 sec ago
0

Local designers to share the spotlight during second Saudi Fashion Week

  • Riyadh will be the hub of Saudi Fashion Week
  • The Grazia Middle East Style Awards will this year take place in Riyadh

RIYADH: Emerging Saudi fashion designers will get a chance to showcase their work alongside internationally renowned peers — including Yahya Couture, Yuliya Yanina and Lama Askari — during the second edition of Saudi Fashion Week, which runs from October 21 to 25, 2018.

The dates were revealed by the event’s founder, Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, who made a statement with her choice of outfit for the official announcement: a black abaya with a traditional Saudi hand embroidered, red design.

The princess, who is the founder of Saudi fashion community and Saudi Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia, said she always dreamed of being part of the fashion industry and is working hard to help the dreams of others come true as well, by supporting local designers,providing them with a platform on which to showcase their creativity, and supplying them with the tools they need to succeed.

“This fashion week is sponsored by the GCA and we want to highlight our Saudi culture,” she said when asked how the second edition will differ from the inaugural event in April 2018. “Every designer is unique and designs in a different way. Our culture is not only about wearing an abaya; it’s what makes you comfortable as a person.

“We have more local names coming out and a program to support emerging designers. This is a platform with which we support Saudi designers, in their country, which they represent.”

However, it also embraces the wider international fashion industry, as well.

“it’s an exchange of cultures. It’s a platform for Saudi and other countries,” said Princess Noura. “When we speak about fashion, it’s a mirror that reflects our culture and modernity.”

To help launch the careers of Saudis who are just starting out in the fashion industry, a “Top emerging Saudi designers” program has been developed, and the country’s fashion community has chosen six designers to participate, some of whom are recentcollege graduates. It will offer them support and give them real-world experience of the fashion industry.

Riyadh will be the hub of Saudi Fashion Week, with three runway shows each day, beginning at 8pm. In addition, a fashion festival featuring pop-up stores will run throughout the event. The Grazia Middle East Style Awards, which is usually held in Dubai, will this year take place in Riyadh on the final day of Saudi Fashion Week.

“I want every designer in Saudi Arabia to not be afraid and to come out and show what they are made of. Be Brave,” added Princess Noura.