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

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.


Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 15 September 2019

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.