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The game of hatha bayt mennou


The game of hatha bayt mennou


Hatha bayt mennou (Whose house is this?) is a popular traditional game that is usually played by both boys and girls separately. It is a simple game that requires good memory. Children mostly play it at night, sitting in a circle at their home’s sandy yard. The game is usually played in groups of 2-4. The game

starts with one of the players flattening the sand with their palms, then drawing one of the neighbours’ houses, i.e., the components that make up the house, including the walls and main door and where it faces, followed by the rooms and their doors, the kitchen and other features. All of these structures are accurately drawn in terms of the player’s perception of the house.


The figure drawn does not exceed an area of 1 x 1 metre. Once the player has finished drawing, the others are asked to recognise whose house the figure represents, as in the name or family name of the homeowner. Each of the players attempts to recall the name or family name of the homeowner.1 The players rely on the drawings in front of them to make a guess, but sometimes, when it is difficult for them, they may ask for more clarification.


A player might ask if there is a tree by the house or not, and what type of tree it is, if any, or how many trees are by the house. If no one is able to figure out who the owner of the house is, they say tabat, meaning that they do not know who the homeowner is and ask the player to disclose it. He then reveals the homeowner’s name, and the game starts all over again.


The player draws another house, and the game continues until they can recognise whose house it is. When a player correctly identifies whose house was drawn, it is their turn to draw and have the others guess. The game is played for hours until everyone agrees that it’s time to finish it. It requires good memory and observational skills, as it requires players to be familiar with the houses of their neighbourhoods, where they often visit and play together.2


The game also requires intelligence, acumen and a strong memory. The children often have to ask about certain details regarding the homes of their neighbourhoods in order to find out whose house it is.


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