Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia

Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
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This year’s winners will go home with SR2 million. (AN Photo/Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia

Outsmart, outplay: 3rd Baloot Championship begins in Saudi Arabia
  • 40 female groups will participate for the first time

JEDDAH: The 2020 Baloot Championship is underway in Riyadh with over 18,000 players participating. 

For the first time, 40 female groups will participate in this, the championship’s third edition, that commenced on Thursday, Feb. 13, and will continue on until Feb. 22.

Organized by the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS) and supported by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), this year’s winners will go home with SR2 million ($533,234). There are 600 judges monitoring the teams.

In 2018, the first every Baloot Championship took place under the patronage of the GEA with 2,000 participants. The winners received a prize of one million Saudi riyals.

Many apps of the popular game are available to download on Apple Store and Google Play, with over 2 million downloads. 

Believed to have been brought to the Hijazi region from Indian immigrants through trading routes during the time of the Ottoman Empire, the origins of the game could also have come from France where it’s known as “Belote” and migrated during the Ottoman Expansion in the region.

The objective of the game is to outsmart and outplay your opponent. For decades, Baloot has been one of the most popular games in the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia in particular. Men and women alike have played the game in which four players are divided into two teams, two players each. The rules are strict and straight forward. The game uses 32 cards, includes the Joker card and excludes the numbers 2 and 6. There are two systems, Hokom and San, with the latter being the strongest set.

The key component of the game is to constantly be vigilant, no speaking allowed and players must keep a poker face.
 


Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 

Updated 02 December 2020

Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 

Saudi ‘virus busters’ on fast track to global success 
  • California latest state to praise Kingdom’s rapid-response strategy

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus are gaining global attention after researchers across the Kingdom highlighted the success of a string of measures adopted in recent months.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in early March, the Kingdom has launched a range of health protocols that have reduced the number of infections from a high of approximately 5,000 in mid-June to only hundreds today.
The World Health Organization has praised the Kingdom’s approach, while many heads of state cited the Saudi example as a “success story” during the G20 leaders summit on Nov. 22.
A study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal titled “Importance of early precautionary actions in avoiding the spread of COVID-19: Saudi Arabia as an example,” highlighted the effectiveness of the Kingdom’s efforts.
Speaking to Arab News, co-author Khalidah Alenzi said that the objective of the research was to measure the readiness of countries around the globe to deal with the pandemic.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Thamir Alshammari and Dr. Ali Altebainawi, was recently praised by Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, who said that he planned to use it — together with studies from France and Germany — as model for tougher restrictions in the state.
Alenzi, supervisor of the Ministry of Health’s Regional Center for Drug Information and Vigilance in Tabuk, said: “When the Californian governor presented Saudi Arabia as one of the best models for preventive and precautionary measures against the coronavirus, based on the research of the Saudi team, he shed light on only a tiny fraction of Saudi capabilities that have excelled in dealing with the pandemic.”
She said that the research team had shown that preventive and precautionary measures and health protocols had limited the number of deaths, despite criticism directed at these measures initially.
“We were surprised to find that we started early compared with other countries hit by the pandemic, especially those bordering China such as South Korea, and countries in East Asia,” Alenzi said.
“Based on this logic, we got the idea of carrying out independent research on Saudi Arabia to detect the cases of early reaction and present these as a model to be followed. In the beginning we thought of presenting comparative research with other countries such as Italy and France, but we discovered that data analysis would be marked by a huge difference.”
Alenzi said that the Kingdom’s initial measures faced criticism from some foreign experts for being too strict.
Critics had later “backtracked” after a spike in cases and the uncontrollable spread of the virus in their respective countries, she said.
“Had it not been for the extreme precautionary measures proposed by the research team, we never would have been able to avoid a second and third wave of the pandemic,” Alenzi said.
She said that countries such as Spain, where there are over 1.6 million confirmed cases and rising, have faced protests against measures adopted by their governments, and are now suffering from a second wave because of their failure to follow protocols set in place.
Residents of the Kingdom, in cooperation with the government and its institutions, were able to maintain control and have successfully controlled the spread of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia’s total confirmed cases are at 357,000, with less than 5,000 active cases as of Tuesday.
“This pandemic has proven the Kingdom’s highly capable and skilled cadres compared with European states. It has set an example with its ability to provide precautionary and treatment medicines to fight the pandemic,” she added.