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Al Qabba - a traditional game

Children in the UAE have been playing Al Qabba - a game involving two stick and two teams of 10 players each- for decades
Thirty years back, children in Fujairah and Dibba played simple games to amuse themselves. They probably derived as much pleasure from them as the computer games enjoyed by the younger generation today.
Al Qabba is one of the most common traditional games that children in the UAE and Fujairah have been playing for decades, long before the advent of modern technology. It is a game that is similar, in some parts, to the baseball or rounders. Some adventurous youngsters still play the game. Naser Abdullah bin Juma, a 14-year-old UAE national from Dibba Al Fujairah and leader of an Al Qabba team says this game is a tradition he inherited from his father and grandfather.
"It is an enjoyable game for children as well as for adults, and for both sexes. The most important thing it teaches is sportsmanship - the loser should not be angry, because the losing team can play again if they pass another test, "said Naber. Each team consists of 10 players including the leader. The leader chooses his team according to their strength at batting the Al Qabba - a small piece of wood. Then the leaders of the two teams select the playground, which should be large and level. "The game tools consist of two pieces," Naber says. "The first is Al Miqab, a one-meter long wooden stick, which is used as a bat, and Al Qabba, a 20 centimeter piece of wood that has two sharp ends. The al Qabba is used as a ball.
" Each team plays with only one piece of Qabba while each player has his own stick, or Miqab. One of the two team leaders digs a small hole in the tough muddy ground, or Mithwar, to put the Qabba in with one of its sharp edges bent up. Al Qabba and Al Miqab are made of wood brought from al Sidr, Al Samar or Al Mazi trees. When the game starts, each player hits the small piece of wood placed on the hole with the edge of his stick, and when it flies over the ground, the player hits it again with the stick to launch it as far as he can. The winner among the players is the one who can hit the small piece of wood farthest. "A player from the first team hits the stick followed by another player from the second team and so on. The leaders of the two teams play after the all the players from the two teams have had a go to achieve more points," says Naber. The losing team has to stay 50 meters away from the playing hole while the winning team continues to play and throw the small piece of wood towards the losing players. If one of the losing players is able to catch the Qabba, he throws it to the playing circle around the hole with his hand, and if the Qabba lands inside the circle his team comes back to play again.

By Tahseen Shaghouri
Staff Reporter

Tabloid Gulf News
Sunday, January 18, 2004