Emirati Traditional Games Exhibition

‘Emirati Traditional Games Exhibition’ celebrates traditional heritage elements of the UAE. The exhibition displays artworks inspired by the games Emirati children created to entertain themselves in the past. With time, these traditional games became a crucial aspect of the heritage of the United Arab Emirates.

As part of ‘The National Traditional Handicrafts Festival’ the ‘Emirati Traditional Games Exhibition’ highlights five of the most popular local games: Al Saggala, Al Gaheef, Um Al Eyal, Khoosa Boosa and Adim Al Serra. Continuing on the success of last year’s edition, the exhibition’s second edition features a selection of five professional Emirati artiste’s creative installations of the featured games.

The exhibition is designed to instill national pride and pass on UAE’s heritage to future generations while promoting UAE’s heritage amongst residents and tourists.
The event also supports UAE artists by commissioning and giving them the opportunity to showcase and display their work to the national and international audience.


The highlighted events include:

  • Al Sagla
  • Al Gaheef
  • Um Al Eyal
  • Khoosa Boosa
  • Adhem Al Serra

date and time

Thu, Nov 01, 2018 08:00 AM - Mon, Jul 01, 2019 08:00 PM

event location

Al Qattara Arts Centre, Al Ain

contact info



Date Time Location Notes
Nov 01, 2018 - Jul 01, 2019 08:00 AM 08:00 PM Al Qattara Arts Centre, Al Ain Exhibition opening timing on November 1: From 5:00pm

Um Al Iyal

Um Al Iyal or Um Al Awlad (mother of the children) is one of the most popular tag games played by children in many countries. 

The game is accompanied by songs and comprises an attentive mother played by one of the older or bigger children. The rest of the children line up to take cover behind her, forming a train. Another child plays the role of the wily wolf. The game begins with the ‘mother’ tying her an apron and sheltering the children behind her from the swaying wolf. 

Khoosa Boosa

Khoosa Boosa is a group game based on a rhyme and counting to ten. The game is more popular with girls and is played in the UAE and elsewhere.

The girls start by sitting in a circle with their hands placed palms down on the floor between them. One of the girls recites the rhyme and counts to ten while touching the spread out fingers of the other girls, one after the other. 

Al Sagala

Al Sagala is a quick and fun traditional Emirati game mostly played by girls. It is played between two or four alert, quick and skilled girls with good manual dexterity using five pebbles. 

The game begins with a player throwing the five pebbles to the ground and picking one up and tossing it into the air. While the pebble is in the air, the player picks up another pebble from the ground and catches the one in the air so that she ends up with two pebbles in her hand. She then throws up the two pebbles and picks up a third, and then a fourth, ending up with five pebbles in her hand. She then draws an arch on the ground with her hand, throws four of the pebbles to the ground and one in the air. She tries to grab the remaining four all at once and then catch the fifth from the air. If she grabs all four and catches the fifth then she wins the game. If she does not, she loses the game and the next girl takes her place to play.

Adim Al Sira

This is a traditional Emirati game that is usually played on moonlit nights. It requires good sportsmanship and physical fitness.  In some parts of the UAE, such as Al Ain, Sharjah and Dubai, this game is called Adim allawh.

Usually played in open spaces like the desert or beach, the players draw a pitch on the ground. One of the players is selected to throw a piece of white bone that can be spotted in the moon-light into the pitch in such a way as to trick the other players from knowing where he threw it. 

Al Gahee

Al Gaheef is one of the most popular games for girls in the Emirates and the Arabian Gulf. In many countries, the game is better known by the name al hejlah. Al gaheef is a nickname for gahaf, which is a small round clay pellet slightly bigger than a dirham. It is made by rounding the edges with a stone then rubbing it against a level wall to grind away sharp edges so that it does not hurt the players. 

Al gaheef is played during most of the year at home, in neighbourhood or at the beach at low tide. There are two to six players in each game.  



Eman A Hashemi 
Eman A Hashemi predominantly works in print; her creative practice is inherently experimental and encompasses a wide range of mediums, processes and techniques. Her focus is always on finding new innovations and applications in printmaking, papermaking, drawing, casting, sculpture and manipulation of materials.

Eman Al Hashemi's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including Bankside Gallery, London. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art from the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah. February 2016, she was announced as part of The International Emerging Artist Award winners.

Abdalla Almulla
Abdalla Almulla is a Dubai based architect/designer and founder of MULA; a creative practice that is driven by the creative energy, which is constantly in flux; creating new ideas and developing them as the design advances. The methodologies are perceived as a sequence of theoretical and visual design explorations within a focused subject by using patterns and geometry as regulators in setting the design guidelines.

Abdalla simultaneously studies the subject’s attributes to develop them through a preliminary study of concepts, prototyping and digital technology. He uses the method of prototyping to learn and repeat. In doing so, a creative value is added to the practice of constant evolvement, providing the customers with unique designs.

Afra Al Dhaheri 
Afra Al Dhaheri is an Emirati artist born and raised in the UAE. In her works, she expresses herself in various mediums including mixed media, sculpture, drawing, painting, installation, photography and printmaking. Her practice is heavily process-based and driven by her constant material explorations. Afra has been a part of ‘Emirati Expressions’ 2011 and 2015, an intern at the Guggenheim Museum New York, and an intern at the Venice Biennale 2011. 

Her exposure to different art scenes influenced her to develop a pop up art collective project, where she collaborates with other artists to develop a theme for a show to work within and then curate a show at spaces alternative to the traditional art venues; ‘ARTwec’ project. 

Aya Riad
Aya Riad is an experimental architect, design researcher and digital fabricator. She has a master’s graduate (Design Research Lab) from the renowned Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Her work is positioned at the intersection of architecture, robotics, emergent technologies and art. She is passionate about interactive, participatory design that begins from the person and expands to the surrounding environment.

Salama Nasib
Salama Nasib is an established and successful emerging Emirati artist specialised in printmaking. Nasib completed her MA in Print from the Royal College of Art in London, UK. She has exhibited at local and international venues, including Tashkeel and Emirates Palace, as well as at The Meridian International Centre in Washington DC, and The Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin. She has been part of the inaugural batch of the Salama Emerging Artist fellowship, provided by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and in collaboration with Rhode Island School of Design. 

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