Traditional Games in Bahrain

Instructor: Sunday Moulton

Sunday recently earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.

Kids around the world know how to have fun and invent their own games. In this lesson, we look at three fun games from Bahrain that you can share with family and friends.

The Land and People of Bahrain

Bahrain is a country composed of about thirty islands in the Persian Gulf. The majority of the Bahrani people identify as Arab, speak Arabic, and practice Islam. One of the first Middle Eastern countries to discover oil, the nation has many prosperous citizens, but still struggles with poverty and unemployment.

Flag of Bahrain
Flag of Bahrain

Children in Bahrain are raised separately based on gender. Girls learn household responsibilities early, while boys have more time to play. Nevertheless, both boys and girls find time to play and they engage in several traditional games. Let's take a look at a few of these.

Map of Bahrain
Map of Bahrain


Gutalaguti shares some similarities with games you may be familiar with, like baseball. In this game, two teams alternate between the team hitting and running and the catching team. The only equipment needed is a stick about 2-feet long, a stick about 6-inches long, and a rock. Traditionally, both sticks were made from dried and shaped palm leaves.

The small stick is positioned on the ground with one end leaning against the rock. The hitter uses the other stick to flip the small stick into the air, where he or she will hit it again. Once the small stick is launched, the hitter runs around a number of bases while the other team tries to catch or retrieve the stick. If the runner reaches the last base, they get a point. If the other team catches the stick first, they get a point. However, the runner must yell 'gut-ta-la-gut-ti' over and over while running, otherwise his team forfeits the point.


A dawama is a popular, traditional toy used in several competitive ways with a number of variations. The dawama itself (seen below) is a round or pear-shaped top with a pointed metal piece on the bottom to aid spinning. Around the top of the dawama, a player wraps a string and pulls to start the spinning action. In one version of game play, children will try to rewrap the string on the spinning top and flip it into the air, catching it. If the dawama tips over, stops spinning, or the child fails to catch it, he or she loses the round.

A dawama is a form of spinning top.
Cartoon representation of a top

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