UAE Continues to Break World Records
Talal Omar does not like to use words like “wacky” or “crazy”.
When it comes to describing the people compelled to set and break records on a daily basis in the UAE, Mr Omar, the Middle East and North Africa manager for Guinness World Records, prefers words like “creativity” and “passion”.
There have been attempts at the world’s largest hopping race, riding a horse on its hind legs, and the biggest number of knuckle push-ups.
More than 400 people in the UAE apply to join the record books each year and an average of 70 a year succeed – that is more than one a week.
“They are really special people,” insists Mr Omar. “Not every record is interesting to different people, but we value every one and do not distinguish between records. It is all inclusive, and we appreciate that everyone has a different talent.”
Last week, two records were set – just another week in the office, as far as Guinness’s Dubai headquarters in the Middle East is concerned.
At Gitex technology week in an event hosted by the electronics giant Samsung, 461 people wore headsets to set the record of the most number of people riding a virtual reality rollercoaster at the same time for an hour.
On Friday, a vast stainless steel vat was filled with 2,831 kilograms of mango sticky rice to set a record for the world’s largest batch of the dish. It took seven months of planning and 10 hours to prepare.
What is more noteworthy is that the effort was not a record waiting to be broken. A thousand kilograms of rice, 400kg of fresh mangoes, 500 litres of coconut milk, 500l of coconut cream, 250kg of sugar and 25kg of salt were used.
It was dreamt up by Maurice Fitzgerald, executive chef at the Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort and Spa, who wanted to launch the hotel’s gourmet food festival “with a bang”.
“It was always on my bucket list,” he says. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and we will be able to talk about it for years to come.”
It is up to prospective record-setters to suggest a challenge, the only criteria being that it should be possible to beat anywhere in the world and it should be quantifiable.
Dubai outstrips the rest of the Middle East when it comes to setting records – no surprise for a city known for its superlatives and priding itself on boasting the biggest, the grandest and the most expensive.
There are records for the longest, driverless metro network, the tallest man-made structure on land, the largest indoor ski resort, the highest restaurant and the longest queue of taxis. Dubai Taxi Corporation set a record by assembling 1,100 cabs for a parade along Sheikh Zayed Road in March 2000.
Even government officials, charities and police have been eager to show their willingness to achieve the extraordinary.
Last year, Dubai Police gathered the largest number of signatures (13,288) expressing loyalty to the country’s leadership, beating the previous record of 12,884 signatures set in China.
In Abu Dhabi, records have been set for the following: the most expensively decorated Christmas tree, at Emirates Palace Hotel; the most expensive car licence plate, sold to Saeed Khouri for Dh52.2 million in 2008; and the most numbers of pull-ups in 24 hours, burpees in an hour and knuckle push-ups, all completed by Australian Eva Clarke at Al Wahda Mall.