Female Baloot players show off their skills at Saudi championship

More than $500,000 prize money is up for grabs at the tournament. (AN photo)
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Updated 17 February 2020

Female Baloot players show off their skills at Saudi championship

  • Six rounds were played on day two of the Baloot Championship, 520 teams with two rounds for women

RIYADH, JEDDAH: Female Baloot players have been taking part in the second day of a tournament being held in Riyadh Front, with the inclusion of women’s rounds being seen as a boost for female enthusiasts of the card game.

Six rounds were played on day two of the Baloot Championship, 520 teams with two rounds for women.

The game is believed to have been brought to the Hijazi region from Indian immigrants through trading routes during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Its origins could also have come from France where it is known as Belote and migrated during the Ottoman expansion in the region. The objective is to outsmart and outplay your opponent. 

Four players are divided into two teams, with two players on each. The rules are strict and straightforward. One player distributes 32 cards and each player gets five cards each. The two players facing each other work as a team to win as many high-ranking cards as possible. The main goal is to win the rounds in which high-ranking cards are played. The players collect cards by “eating” the cards of the opponent. Baloot uses 32 cards only, cards with numbers from 2 to 6 are excluded from the game.

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PHOTOS: Women join men at Saudi Arabia's Baloot Championship in Riyadh

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Jawaher Al-Mansoour, a 24-year-old law student, said she was excited to be taking part.  

“I’ve just completed the first round, I can say that the atmosphere is a very professional one, everyone is understanding and there are no tensions between players,” she told Arab News. 

She learned the game alongside her friend, Deema Al-Mutairi, six years ago  and plays almost daily. “When we heard of the championship last year, we got excited but we weren’t able to participate because there were no female teams at the time,”Al-Mansour added. 

“We registered as soon as we heard that females were allowed in this year’s championship and though we weren’t taken that seriously by our friends and families, we made it to the next round and are looking forward to reaching the end, hopefully the SR2 million ($533,333) prize.”

It took her two years to learn the game correctly, playing with her brothers and father to hone her skills. Al-Mansour is keen on helping to teach the game to other women who want to learn.

Her friend, Al-Mutairi, is also a law student. She learned baloot from her older sister who is an avid player and then continued learning the tricks of the game with school friends.

“I enjoy playing the game and especially with my group of friends,” she told Arab News. “We’re nine friends altogether and play rounds. This is how I perfected the game and I’m excited to participate in the championship. I’m striving for the SR2 million prize, it’s what we’re here for.”

Both players said that many young women were keen to learn how to play the game, with the duo helping them out. 

Baloot has been one of the most popular games in the Gulf for decades, and Saudi Arabia in particular.


Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum

Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum

  • Event is part of project to develop ministry’s internal and external communications to meet the requirements of modern media applications and practices

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Defense held its first Strategic Communication Forum on Thursday in Riyadh. The aim was to engage the ministry’s communication staff across the Kingdom with its targeted operating model, to help achieve the objectives of its transformation program.

The event, which took place under the patronage of Khalid Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, also formed part of the ministry’s project to develop its internal and external communications to meet the requirements of modern media applications and practices.

The forum included a number of workshops, presented by Prince Ahmed bin Salman Applied Media Academy, focusing on communications-related subjects such as creative content creation, video production for social media and event management. The participants included officials and communication specialists from the Saudi Armed Forces, joint forces and the military’s Health Services Department.

Al-Biyari said during the forum that the ministry views strategic communication as a crucial approach to achieving excellence in performance.

“Adding strategic value to communications raises our media practices to a more advanced level in terms of planning the dissemination of key messages,” he said. “The rapid and frequent advancements in technology make it inevitable that all organizations, not only the Ministry of Defense, must think of communication with audiences strategically.”

Ahmed Ali Asiri, the deputy minister for strategic affairs and a keynote speaker at the event, stressed the importance of strategic communications to the ministry’s media activities. He said it is imperative for all employees to receive updated information accurately and in a timely manner, to ensure the quality and efficiency of operations.

He added that strategic communication is vital to send the right messages about the work of the ministry.

Abdullrahman Al-Sultan, the ministry’s director-general of strategic communications and media, gave a presentation about the role of his directorate, its organizational structure and the strategy behind its operating model.

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Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call

Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call

NEOM: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in a phone call on Thursday with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The pair discussed bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Spain and ways to enhance them.


Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay

Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay

BAMAKO: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center recently launched a project to distribute food aid to the poor in Mali.

An event to mark the distribution was attended by Saudi ambassador to Mali Khalid Al-Khalid, a KSrelief team and a number of Malian officials.

The aid includes 15,038 bags of rice, weighing 752 tons. It will be distributed to a number of Malian regions, benefiting 120,304 individuals.

It comes within the framework of humanitarian and relief projects being implemented by the Kingdom, through KSrelief, for countries and peoples around the world.

Meanwhile, KSrelief delivered medical and preventive assistance to Uruguay in order to help the country combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of KSrelief, Saudi Ambassador to Uruguay Eyad bin Ghazi Hakim officially handed over the support in the presence of Uruguayan Minister of Public Health Daniel Salinas.

Salinas said that Uruguay has “benefited greatly” from Saudi assistance in its fight against the pandemic.


Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day

Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has joined the world in celebrating World Patient Safety Day 2021.

The Saudi Patient Safety Center said that the 72nd World Health Assembly, affiliated with the World Health Organization, adopted in May 2019 a global action on patient safety, which guarantees celebrating a world day on patient safety each year.

The SPSC noted that this year saw the inauguration of an awareness campaign under the theme “safe maternal and newborn care,” which aims at raising community awareness on the safety of mothers and newborns.

It also aims to support the best health practices to reduce risks and deaths that can be avoided during delivery.


Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community

Updated 17 September 2021

Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jahez International Company to strengthen their partnership, activating initiatives for charitable and community work, supporting working families and training young men and women in the province.

The agreement also covers the exchange of and participation in relevant studies and statistics to achieve the objectives of joint initiatives, empowering and developing the Diriyah community by providing opportunities for working families, offering training programs and offers and discounts to target groups and promoting events and initiatives to support community groups.

Jahez is one of the most important active partners for many community and charitable events organized by the DGDA, the most recent of which was the “Jahiziyat Al-Diriyah” initiative, during which the authority provided hundreds of free dishes from restaurants offering authentic Najd cuisine.

The initiative also featured many competitions and events during the holy month of Ramadan, introducing the historical monuments and the ancient human and cultural heritage in the land of kings and heroes.

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