“I just drank eighteen whiskies. That must be a record.” Dylan Thomas
Now there are things about living here in the UAE that make me chuckle and others that simply do not (won’t go into them now but if you have ever tried to get ‘official’ things done or sort out your phone/internet you will know where I am coming from!)
Two little snippets of news that had me chortling to myself this week are related to this regions well documented obsession with collecting World Records and how it has surpassed itself yet again with the latest accolade. Last week, Abu Dhabi added the official record for ‘the waving of the most flags for five minutes’ to its repertoire, why, seriously why I ask? 258 people waved checkered flags continuously for five minutes, without leaving the location or dropping their flags on the Corniche beach to mark the F1 coming to town, and now the latest proposal is to break the record for the world’s ‘largest parade of decorated cars’.
Now, I have to give you some history, anyone who lives here will know that the annual celebrations on 2nd December for National Day include a large majority of car owners decorating their vehicles in Green, Red, Black and White, the colours of the UAE flag to celebrate the nation’s Independence from the UK. As a very proud and patriotic nation, decorate they do and this year they are celebrating 42 years of Independence. The shops are full of memorabilia to cover the cars from flag emblazoned wing mirror covers to full on reproduced photos of the highly regarded Sheikh Zayed, the founder who negotiated the UAE’s formation into an independent union (federation of six emirates, later seven when Ras Al Khaimah) on 2nd December 1971, after the existing treaty with the UK expired.
The organisers are anticipating that this year over 3,000 cars will take part in the National Day Car Parade, according to local press, with more than 300 featuring in the Guinness World Record attempt. The bid aims to harness the abundance of national pride to claim the record with the parade route starting at du Forum on Yas Island and cover more than 3.5 kilometres. It will be quite a sight, I am sure!
It may seem crazy but it’s serious stuff this patriotic vehicle decorating and the Tourist Council even has a set of strict official guidelines that participants need to adhere to as follows “Creativity in designs and patterns is encouraged for the parade. Those wishing to take part in the world record attempt must decorate their car in the UAE colours on at least two sides of their vehicle; either the roof, the bonnet, the entire left or right hand side of the car, and each part of the decorated side of the car must be completely covered”
Examples of decorated Cars in the UAE (source:local media)
Once fully decorated, some of which need to be seen to be believed, the owners usually descend on the Corniche and basically beep their horns constantly for hours in celebratory parade, a great colourful sight but a noisy one, especially if you live near there. So this year, the plan is to take those decorated cars to Yas Island, line them up and get another world record under their belts! What I want to know is, who is driving this world record obsession, is there someone on the tourist board payroll just to seek out new record-breaking missions?
Now the about the collecting of world records, I am not sure how that originated or why it’s so important here (apart from the obvious PR benefits) in the UAE, but it is and now it looks like AD, fresh from last weeks flag waving success, will have another one soon, if the latest attempt with the lining up of colourful cars is successful. As the number of applications for World Records from this region continues to increase year on year, the Guinness World Records have actually opened up an office in Dubai to meet the demand as they were sending someone here on a weekly basis! Unbelievable you might think, nope nothing is unbelievable here in the UAE!
Just to give you an idea of the extent of this obsession, the UAE has 103 World Records in the new 2014 edition of the book that has just been published. Dubai has the most records that include the ‘tallest man-made structure’, the Burj Khalifa (828m), the highest restaurant in the aforementioned tower, At.mosphere on level 122 (441.3m) and the adjacent Dubai Mall is currently the world’s largest mall (12 million sq ft), you can seriously be in there for days and the ‘longest driverless metro line’ (52.1 km) to name just a few, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg, I really could go on and on!
World Record for ‘Most people to parachute simultaneously from a balloon’ (Skydive Dubai/Sport 360)
In Abu Dhabi, we are clearly lagging behind our glitzy neighbour, with fewer records to date so far, but we do hold the World Record for having the ‘fastest roller coaster’ (Formula Rossa at Ferrari World that goes a speedy 240km/h), the ‘Farthest Manmade Leaning Building’, yes I kid you not! The thirty-five story Capital Gate building has an inclination of 18 degrees, crazy but true and the world’s greenest city at Masdar, the world’s first carbon neutral and zero-waste city , which quite funny as in the rest of the municipality supermarket packers put literally one or two items per carrier bag (constantly saying put more in each bag) and recycling is not that common place. The mosque has a few records of its own and the Emirates Palace had the most expensively decorated Christmas tree covered in 181 pieces of jewellery and watches worth 41.3 million dirhams (£6.9).
Formula Rossa, the worlds fastest roller coaster located in AD (source:themeparkinsider)
Five of the UAE’s strangest World Records to date
- ‘Largest packaged food mosaic’, 24.7m x 38.6m (Sharp MEA). All 79,300 packs of food were then donated to the UAE Red Crescent.
- ‘Fastest text message in arabic blindfolded’, typed in 2 minutes, 13 seconds by Mohamed Ahmed Al Mulla (Global Village, Dubai)
- ‘Most nationalities washing their hands simultaneously’ 200 participants from 72 countries (Lifebuoy, Dubai)
- ‘Largest same name gathering, first name’ 1,096 Mohammed’s all together at Dubai Shopping Festival
- ‘Most sand moved with a teaspoon in 30 seconds’ 194ml moved by Majid Mohammed at Global Village, Dubai
One of the funnier records that the UAE held and has now lost to Spain, was for the ‘longest line of sandwiches’! I must question not only the UAE’s obsession with collecting World Records, but also who makes up some of these challenges in the first place?? With all the things going on in the world, I wonder if this just provides light relief or could all this energy be channelled in other ways? On that note I am off to the beach to make the biggest free-standing sandcastle in the world with the smallest bucket and spade, wish me luck!
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved.