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Doha: Dama, a traditional board game of the region, was replayed yesterday at Katara as part of National Sport Day activities.
Faraj Al Mohammad, along with a group of Qatari men, gathered to play the game that was once an integral part of Qatari lifestyle.
They invited onlookers to learn something about the game which looked similar to the English Draughts and American Checkers but had completely different rules.
“No one plays Dama in Qatar anymore. In the past, it was an important part of people’s lives, it was a source of entertainment for them,” said Al Mohammad.
Not too long ago Qatari fishermen would gather at the shores to play the game, which some experts say originated in ancient Egypt. Today, with the flood of technology and luxury items, a large majority of people have even forgotten to play the game.
“The people who went to sea used to carry the items of the game in their pockets and played Dama wherever they could. Now we have the luxury of tables and boards. Before it was just a piece of cloth” he said.
The ancient game is generally played across the Middle East. It is very popular in Turkey and the Philippines.
The origin of Dama, however, is disputed, says Al Mohammad.
A few men gather at Souq Waqif to play the game every once in a while but there is a need to revive more interest in the game. Then there are people like Abu Mehmood who play the game on the Internet. “The younger generation these days has a very fast lifestyle and they don’t have time for board games anymore,” said Al Mohammad.
Yesterday at Katara, some 50 people, including youngsters, learned about the game.
“Many youngsters are finding out about it now. We are teaching people and some of them are very interested to play the game. It also depends on how we communicate with people,” said Al Mohammad.